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What would you have me do? Search out some powerful patronage, and be Like crawling ivy clinging to a tree? No thank you. Dedicate, like all the others, Verses to plutocrats, while caution smothers Whatever might offend my lord and master? No thank you. Kneel until my knee-caps fester, Bend my back until I crack my spine, And scratch another’s back if he’ll scratch mine? No thank you. Dining out to curry favour, Meeting the influential till I slaver, Suiting my style to what the critics want With slavish copy of the latest can’t? No thanks! Ready to jump through any hoop To be the great man of a little group? Be blown off course, with madrigals for sails, By the old women sighing through their veils? Labouring to write a line of such good breeding Its only fault is that it’s not worth reading? To ingratiate myself, abject with fear, And fawn and flatter to avoid a sneer? No thanks, no thanks, no thanks! But just to sing, Dream, laugh, and take my tilt of wing, To cock a snook whenever I shall choose, To fight for yes and no, come win or lose, To travel without thought of fame or fortune Wherever I care to go to under the moon! Never to write a line that hasn’t come Directly from my heart: and so, with some Modesty, to tell myself: My boy, Be satisfied with a flower, a fruit, the joy Of a single leaf, so long as it was grown In your own garden. Then, if success is won By any chance, you have nothing to render to A hollow Caesar: the merit belongs to you. In short, I won’t be a parasite; I’ll be My own intention, stand alone and free, And suit my voice to what my own eyes see!

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