My Picture

I made a picture; all my heart
I put in it, and all I knew
Of canvas-cunning and of Art,
Of tenderness and passion true.
A worshipped Master came to see;
Oh he was kind and gentle, too.
He studied it with sympathy,
And sensed what I had sought to do.

Said he: "Your paint is fresh and fair,
And I can praise it without cease;
And yet a touch just here and there
Would make of it a masterpiece."
He took the brush from out my hand;
He touched it here, he touched it there.
So well he seemed to understand,
And momently it grew more fair.

Oh there was nothing I could say,
And there was nothing I could do.
I thanked him, and he went his way,
And then - I slashed my picture through.
For though his brush with soft caress
Had made my daub a thing divine,
Oh God! I wept with bitterness,
. . . It wasn't mine, it wasn't mine.

by Robert William Service

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