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.