I pad along the swept and polished floor,
Stealthy and rubber-heeled; I meet and spy
One not so fortunately heeled as I,
Who teeters on his toes and creaks the more.
We eye each other slantwise and pass by.
I meet a friend; our whispered greeting stirs
No echo in the pale impartial glare
That skylights shed in corners bleakly bare.
I go my noiseless way and she goes hers.
If I should scream, would anybody care?
This agony of silence, does it aid
The straining sight? Do weird, relentless looms
Fashion the unseen web that still these rooms?
Or are the cluttering sounds that man has made
Swept out each day before industrious brooms?
Shall I be bound by such a senseless spell?
Once and for all this vacuum I'll shatter.
I'll scuff my feet and chortle as I chatter.
I'll end the thing with one ear-splitting yell.
Brass buttons gleam and I debate the matter.
The stern attendant notes my furtive ways;
No studied nonchalance can him deceive.
He knows I fear him; and I half believe,
Slinking away from his accusing gaze,
I have a Mona Lisa up my sleeve.
II. On Beginnings
I round a corner; all agog I stand; Washington crosses here the Delaware.
And these phenomena confront my stare,
"Paul and Virginia" and "The Helping Hand."
Originals? I never thought they were.
I somehow thought--when I have thought at all--
They spread amoeba-like. With pained regret
I see my life's convictions all upset.
It's just like coming in an empty hall
On the grand-uncle of the Alphabet.
III. On Beauty
Pink, pulpy Cupids; Psyches all too nude;
Smug, sallow saints; sunsets of cotton wool;
Acres of canvas for one prisoned bull;
Madonnas that eternally force food
On babes already obviously full.
Wall after wall, with sinking heart I scan
The stuffy, tarnished canvasses I hate,
Then find obscured (the hour is growing lade)
The clear lines and fresh tintings of a man
Too far from putrefaction to be great.
By what perversion do we worship them,
Cupid and saint, the bovine and its stall?
Dared we the truth, who would not burn them all
And set that thing of beauty like a gem
To glow unrivalled in the sombre wall?
IV. On Exhibitions
The newest school? Creation re-created--
All forms and colours known to _heaven_ and earth
In chaos far too terrible for mirth.
Art's Bolshevism. Or have I underrated?
Is this indeed the agony of _birth_?