Robert William Service (16 January 1874 - 11 September 1958 / Preston)
A Canvas For A Crust
Aye, Montecelli, that's the name.
You may have heard of him perhaps.
Yet though he never savoured fame,
Of those impressionistic chaps,
Monet and Manet and Renoir
He was the avatar.
He festered in a Marseilles slum,
A starving genius, god-inspired.
You'd take him for a lousy bum,
Tho' poetry of paint he lyred,
In dreamy pastels each a gem: . . .
How people laughed at them!
He peddled paint from bar to bar;
From sordid rags a jewel shone,
A glow of joy and colour far
From filth of fortune woe-begone.
'Just twenty francs,' he shyly said,
'To take me drunk to bed.'
Of Van Gogh and Cezanne a peer;
In dreams of ecstasy enskied,
A genius and a pioneer,
Poor, paralysed and mad he died:
Yet by all who hold Beauty dear
May he be glorified!
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