Which Was Served?

Image from theguardianSecret lives: The Artist’s Studio at Compton Verney
Interesting exhibit charts, “how the artist’s studio has changed in function and depiction over the last three centuries.”


What gave this picture such divine
Perfection or each curve and ling?
Why does this song about a rose
Bring back forgotten long agoes?
Why is it that the spoken word
Stirs depths that seldom have been stirred?
A heart-throb in a ‘cello’s string —
What is the secret of the thing?

Why do we sing or play at all,
Or paint a mural on a wall?
Why do we speak upon the stage,
With words like these despoil a page?
What is the secret of success,
And something good, yet something less?
What mark denotes, so hard to see,
Genius and mediocrity?

What is it that all art divides,
The great, the commonplace, decides?
Is not the answer this, that they
Who failed were thinking of the pay?
That those who greatly play or sing
Or paint, are thinking of the thing?
I ask you this, whate’er your part,
Did art serve you, or you serve art?

Copyright, 1936, by Douglas Malloch

Sheboygan Press (Sheboygan, Wisconsin) Feb 4, 1936

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