OPIFEX - Francis William Bourdillon Poems


Poems » francis william bourdillon » opifex


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."