Thomas Bailey Aldrich




by Thomas Bailey Aldrich

"Let art be all in all," one time I said,
And straightway stirred the hypercritic gall:
I said not, Let technique be all in all,
But art -- a wider meaning. Worthless, dead --
The shell without its pearl, the corpse of things --
Mere words are, till the spirit lend them wings.
The poet who wakes no soul within his lute
Falls short of art: 'twere better he were mute.

The workmanship wherewith the gold is wrought
Adds yet a richness to the richest gold:
Who lacks the art to shape his thought, I hold,
Were little poorer if he lacked the thought.
The statue's slumber were unbroken still
In the dull marble, had the hand no skill.
Disparage not the magic touch that gives
The formless thought the grace whereby it lives!


Unguarded Gates: And Other Poems
Copyright 1895
Houghton, Mifflin And Company,Boston And New York