Treasure Island

William Bell Scott

(1811-1890 / Scotland)

Art For Art’s Sake


‘Art for art's sake,’—very well,
Your picture you don't care to sell?
Yes, yes, I do, and thus I try
To paint so bright they want to buy—
‘Art for art's sake,’—then I fear
You want no sympathetic tear
From the stalls and boxes here?
Yes, yes, I do, I write it so,
A hundred nights the crowds shall go—
‘Art for art's sake,’—Heavens! once more,
You'd say again things said before?
And pray, why not? I wish I could
Stand as Shakespeare, Fletcher, stood—
Nay, dear aspirant, rather write
As Shakespeare were he here to-night;
That would be far more worth prizing:—
But who can rise to that high pass—
Who can rise? alas, alas,
Shakespeare little thought of rising!

Submitted: Thursday, April 22, 2010

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