To An Artist

YOU tell me these great lords have raised up Art?
I say they have degraded it. Look you,
When ever did they let the Poet sing,
The Painter paint, the Sculptor hew and cast,
The Music raise her heavenly voice, except
To praise them and their wretched rule o'er men?
Behold our English poets that were poor
Since these great lords were rich and held the state:
Behold the glories of the German land,
Poets, Musicians, driven, like them, to death
Unless they'd tune their spirits' harps to play
Drawing-room pieces for the chattering fools
Who aped the taste for Art or for a leer.
I say, no Art was ever noble yet,
Noble and high, the speech of godlike men,
When fetters bound it, be they gold or flowers.
All that is noblest, highest, greatest, best,
Comes from the Galilean peasant's hut, comes from
The Stratford village, the Ayrshire plough, the shop
That gave us Chaucer, the humble Milton's trade
Bach's, Mozart's, great Beethoven's — and these are they
Who knew the People, being what they knew!
Wherefore, if in the future years no strain,
No picture of earth's glory like to what
Your Artists raised for that small clique or this
Of supercilious imbecilities —
O if no better demi-gods of Art
Can rise save those whose barbarous tinsel yet
Makes hideous all the beauty of old homes
Then let us seek the comforts of despair
In democratic efforts dead and gone;
Weep with Pheideian Athens, sigh an hour
With Raffaelle's Florence, beat the head and breast
O'er Shakspere's England that from Milton's took
In lips the name that leaped from lead and flame
From out her heart against the Spanish guns!

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"To An Artist" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 15 Sep. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/14057/to-an-artist>.

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