(7 September 1876 - 22 June 1938 / Auburn, South Australia)

Futility

To gild refined gold, or to paint the lily,
Or seek by other means to overstress,
As Shakespeare has it, is not merely silly,
But 'wasteful and ridiculous excess.'

Yes, men still try it, for no other reason
Than that man ever would and ever will
Strive fatuously, in and out of season,
To paint perfection's cheek more perfect still.

Yet of all futile tasks, of all the foolish,
Absurd attempts that show of wit a lack,
The worst is his who, obstinate and mulish,
Insists that he should paint a collier black.

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