Original Text: 
Thomas Edward Brown, Old John, and other poems (London: Macmillan, 1893). PR 4175 B5 O4 Robarts Library
2    And tinting them with soft ethereal dyes
3    Pressed from the pulp of dreams, one comes, and cries:--
4"Forbear!" and all my heaven with gloom enshrouds.
5  "Forbear!" Thou hast no tools wherewith to essay
6    The delicate waves of that elusive grain:
7    Wouldst have due recompense of vulgar pain?
8The potter's wheel for thee, and some coarse clay!
9  "So work, if work thou must, O humbly skilled!
10    Thou hast not known the Master; in thy soul
11    His spirit moves not with a sweet control;
12Thou art outside, and art not of the guild."
13  Thereat I rose, and from his presence passed,
14    But, going, murmured:--"To the God above,
15    Who holds my heart, and knows its store of love,
17  Then on the shore God stooped to me, and said:--
18    "He spake the truth: even so the springs are set
19    That move thy life, nor will they suffer let,
20Nor change their scope; else, living, thou wert dead.
21  "This is thy life: indulge its natural flow,
22    And carve these forms. They yet may find a place
23    On shelves for them reserved. In any case,
24I bid thee carve them, knowing what I know."


1] An opifex is a worker; here an artist rather than an artisan. Cicero speaks of an artist in words, "opifex verborum." Back to Line
16] iconoclast: an image-breaker; here in the general sense of a destroyer of dreams. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
J. D. Robins
RPO Edition: 
2RP.2.595; RPO 1996-2000.