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
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 skilled!
Thou hast not known the Master; in thy soul
His spirit moves not with a sweet control;
Thou art outside, and art not of the guild.
Thereat I rose, and from his presence passed,
But, going, murmured:--"To the God above,
Who holds my heart, and knows its store of love,
I turn from thee, thou proud iconoclast.
Then on the shore God stooped 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.
"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.