(15 August 1858 – 4 May 1924 / Kennington / Surrey / England)

The Last Ditch

LOVE, through your varied views on Art
Untiring have I followed you,
Content to know I had your heart
And was your Art-ideal, too.


As, dear, I was when first we met.
('Twas at the time you worshipped Leighton,
And were attempting to forget
Your Foster and your Noel Paton.)


'Love rhymes with Art,' said your dear voice,
And, at my crude, uncultured age,
I could but blushingly rejoice
That you had passed the Rubens stage.


When Madox Brown and Morris swayed
Your taste, did I not dress and look
Like any Middle Ages maid
In an illuminated book?


I wore strange garments, without shame,
Of formless form and toneless tones,
I might have stepped out of the frame
Of a Rossetti or Burne-Jones.


I stole soft frills from Marcus Stone,
My waist wore Herkomer's disguise,
My slender purse was strained, I own,
But--my silk lay as Sargent's lies.


And when you were abroad--in Prague--
'Mid Cherets I had shone, a star;
Then for your sake I grew as vague
As Mr. Whistler's ladies are.


But now at last you sue in vain,
For here a life's submission ends:
Not even for you will I grow plain
As Aubrey Beardsley's 'lady friends.'


Here I renounce your hand--unless
You find your Art-ideal elsewhere;
I will not wear the kind of dress
That Laurence Housman's people wear!

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