Thomas Edward Brown

(1830-1897 / England)

Opifex Poem by Thomas Edward Brown


As I was carving images from clouds,
And tinting them with soft ethereal dyes
Pressed from the pulp of dreams, one comes, and cries:--
"Forbear!" and all my heaven with gloom enshrouds.

"Forbear!" Thou hast no tools wherewith to essay
The delicate waves of that elusive grain:
Wouldst have due recompense of vulgar pain?
The potter's wheel for thee, and some coarse clay!

"So work, if work thou must, O humbly skilled!
Thou hast not known the Master; in thy soul
His spirit moves not with a sweet control;
Thou art outside, and art not of the guild."

Thereat I rose, and from his presence passed,
But, going, murmured:--"To the God above,
Who holds my heart, and knows its store of love,
I turn from thee, thou proud iconoclast."

Then on the shore God stooped to me, and said:--
"He spake the truth: even so the springs are set
That move thy life, nor will they suffer let,
Nor change their scope; else, living, thou wert dead.

"This is thy life: indulge its natural flow,
And carve these forms. They yet may find a place
On shelves for them reserved. In any case,
I bid thee carve them, knowing what I know."

Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002

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