Humility in Art

By George Sterling

What do they know who did not see the Dream?
    O brother! tho men praise thee and acclaim,
    They did not see the vision and the flame,
Nor saw the wings of Beauty lift and gleam.

Thou to thyself in silence shalt confess
    How scant thy tidings of that angel are
    That blazed upon thee like a holy star,
Shaking all Heaven with its loveliness.

But thou has seen—and what thy tale to men?
    The vouchsafed Presence canst thou render whole?—
    The iris of her footprints in thy soul?—
The Wind that passed and cometh not again?

"Be meek, who saw'st the marvel of her face,
    Nor canst restore her semblance to the throng!
    Bow down, who knowest how thy sorry song
Shall never be the witness of her grace!

From that high garden where thy feet were led,
    What evanescent lilies dost thou bring!
    Thou who hast heard the seas of Heaven sing,
Return an echo of their quiring fled!

Is it for these that thou wouldst take thy throne,
    Or mail thy spirit with indifference—
    The stammered words, the music dulled by sense,
The tawdry colors and the mangled stone?

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