The Artist

Let us leave off loving, Madonna: 
You have kissed me grey
And still I have no peace. 
We thought we could make the night
A tapestry of passion. 
Dear Love! What a vain caprice. 

Where’s the immortal design
We thought we had splashed on the indigo cloth? 
And where is the cloth? 
Dawn is forever the cynic. 
He shows us love is the flame, 
Our flesh the eternal moth. 

Madonna. . . loose me and rise. 
We are brief as apple-blossom
And I am heart-weary with the thought of the end. 
Creation is all. 
The hours are thieves, Time a beggar, 
And we have little to spend. 

I ache for the brush in my hand. 
The thrall of the compliant pigment
Governs my blood. 
I will paint you, Madonna, 
The afterglow in your face; 

I would deify you if I could
With enchantments of color, 
Bind you with fetters of terrible beauty
Fast to my canvas forever, 
Give you the eternality God has denied you, 
Bind you to life with art’s sacred chains
That death cannot sever. 

Love has betrayed us enough with its treacherous wonder: 
Let us go now while we ache with the magic
Or what is the gain? 
Art is our one immortality, 
All we may win from the gods 
In exchange for our labor and pain. 

From On a Grey Thread (Will Ransom, 1923) by Elsa Gidlow. This poem is in the public domain.