Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Opifex
By Thomas Edward Brown (1830–1897)
 
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        5
  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 skill’d!
  Thou hast not known the Master; in thy soul        10
  His spirit moves not with a sweet control;
Thou art outside, and art not of the guild.’
 
Thereat I rose, and from his presence pass’d,
  But, going, murmur’d:—‘To the God above,
  Who holds my heart, and knows its store of love,        15
I turn from thee, thou proud iconoclast.’
 
Then on the shore God stoop’d 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.        20
 
‘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.’
 
 
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