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Ambition and Art

Written by: Andrew Barton Paterson | Biography
 | Quotes (1) |
I am the maid of the lustrous eyes 
Of great fruition, 
Whom the sons of men that are over-wise 
Have called Ambition. 

And the world's success is the only goal 
I have within me; 
The meanest man with the smallest soul 
May woo and win me. 

For the lust of power and the pride of place 
To all I proffer. 
Wilt thou take thy part in the crowded race 
For what I offer? 

The choice is thine, and the world is wide -- 
Thy path is lonely. 
I may not lead and I may not guide -- 
I urge thee only. 

I am just a whip and a spur that smites 
To fierce endeavour. 
In the restless days and the sleepless nights 
I urge thee ever. 

Thou shalt wake from sleep with a startled cry, 
In fright unleaping 
At a rival's step as it passes by 
Whilst thou art sleeping. 

Honour and truth shall be overthrown 
In fierce desire; 
Thou shalt use thy friend as a stepping-stone 
To mount thee higher. 

When the curtain falls on the sordid strife 
That seemed so splendid, 
Thou shalt look with pain on the wasted life 
That thou hast ended. 

Thou hast sold thy life for a guerdon small 
In fitful flashes; 
There has been reward -- but the end of all 
Is dust and ashes. 

For the night has come and it brings to naught 
Thy projects cherished, 
And thine epitaph shall in brass be wrought -- 
"He lived, and perished." 

I wait for thee at the outer gate, 
My love, mine only; 
Wherefore tarriest thou so late 
While I am lonely? 

Thou shalt seek my side with a footstep swift; 
In thee implanted 
Is the love of Art and the greatest gift 
That God has granted. 

And the world's concerns with its rights and wrongs 
Shall seem but small things -- 
Poet or painter, or singer of songs, 
Thine art is all things. 

For the wine of life is a woman's love 
To keep beside thee; 
But the love of Art is a thing above -- 
A star to guide thee. 

As the years go by with the love of Art 
All undiminished, 
Thou shalt end thy days with a quiet geart -- 
Thy work is finished. 

So the painter fashions a picture strong 
That fadeth never, 
And the singer singeth a wondrous song 
That lives for ever.