Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  Sonnets from “A Lover’s Diary.” III. Art

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Sir Gilbert Parker 1862–1932

Sonnets from “A Lover’s Diary.” III. Art


ART’S use; what is it but to touch the springs

Of nature? But to hold a torch up for

Humanity in Life’s large corridor,

To guide the feet of peasants and of kings!

What is it but to carry union through

Thoughts alien to thoughts kindred, and to merge

The lines of color that should not diverge,

And give the sun a window to shine through!

What is it but to make the world have heed

For what its dull eyes else would hardly scan!

To draw in a stark light a shameless deed,

And show the fashion of a kingly man!

To cherish honor, and to smite all shame,

To lend hearts voices, and give thoughts a name!

BUT wherein shall art work? Shall beauty lead

It captive, and set kisses on its mouth?

Shall it be strained unto the breast of youth,

And in a garden live where grows no weed?

Shall it, in dalliance with the flaunting world,

Play but soft airs, sing but sweet-tempered songs?

Veer lightly from the stress of all great wrongs,

And lisp of peace ’mid battle-flags unfurled?

Shall it but pluck the sleeve of wantonness,

And gently chide the folly of our time?

But wave its golden wand at sin’s duress,

And say, “Ah me! ah me!” to fallow crime?

Nay; Art serves Truth, and Truth, with Titan blows,

Strikes fearless at all evil that it knows.