Ego Dominus Tuus

Hic. On the grey sand beside the shallow stream
    Under your old wind-beaten tower, where still
    A lamp burns on beside the open book
    That Michael Robartes left, you walk in the moon
    And though you have passed the best of life still trace,
    Enthralled by the unconquerable delusion,
    Magical shapes.
Ille.                 By the help of an image
    I call to my own opposite, summon all
    That I have handled least, least looked upon.
Hic. And I would find myself and not an image.
Ille. That is our modern hope and by its light
    We have lit upon the gentle, sensitive mind
    And lost the old nonchalance of the hand;
    Whether we have chosen chisel, pen or brush,
    We are but critics, or but half create,
    Timid, entangled, empty and abashed,
    Lacking the countenance of our friends.
Hic.                     And yet
    The chief imagination of Christendom,
    Dante Alighieri, so utterly found himself
    That he has made that hollow face of his
    More plain to the mind’s eye than any face
    But that of Christ.
Ille.                     And did he find himself
    Or was the hunger that had made it hollow
    A hunger for the apple on the bough
    Most out of reach? and is that spectral image
    The man that Lapo and that Guido knew?
    I think he fashioned from his opposite
    An image that might have been a stony face
    Staring upon a Bedouin’s horse-hair roof
    From doored and windowed cliff, or half upturned
    Among the coarse grass and the camel-dung.
    He set his chisel to the hardest stone.
    Being mocked by Guido for his lecherous life,
    Derided and deriding, driven out
    To climb that stair and eat that bitter bread,
    He found the unpersuadable justice, he found
    The most exalted lady loved by a man.
Hic. Yet surely there are men who have made their art
    Out of no tragic war, lovers of life,
    Impulsive men that look for happiness
    And sing when they have found it.
Ille.                     No, not sing,
    For those that love the world serve it in action,
    Grow rich, popular and full of influence,
    And should they paint or write, still it is action:
    The struggle of the fly in marmalade.
    The rhetorician would deceive his neighbours,
    The sentimentalist himself; while art
    Is but a vision of reality.
    What portion in the world can the artist have
    Who has awakened from the common dream
    But dissipation and despair?
Hic.                     And yet
    No one denies to Keats love of the world;
    Remember his deliberate happiness.
Ille. His art is happy, but who knows his mind?
    I see a schoolboy when I think of him,
    With face and nose pressed to a sweet-shop window,
    For certainly he sank into his grave
    His senses and his heart unsatisfied,
    And made—being poor, ailing and ignorant,
    Shut out from all the luxury of the world,
    The coarse-bred son of a livery-stable keeper—
    Luxuriant song.
Hic.                     Why should you leave the lamp
    Burning alone beside an open book,
    And trace these characters upon the sands?
    A style is found by sedentary toil
    And by the imitation of great masters.
Ille. Because I seek an image, not a book.
    Those men that in their writings are most wise
    Own nothing but their blind, stupefied hearts.
    I call to the mysterious one who yet
    Shall walk the wet sands by the edge of the stream
    And look most like me, being indeed my double,
    And prove of all imaginable things
    The most unlike, being my anti-self,
    And standing by these characters disclose
    All that I seek; and whisper it as though
    He were afraid the birds, who cry aloud
    Their momentary cries before it is dawn,
    Would carry it away to blasphemous men.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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