Skip to main content

The Dead Painter

ISSUE:  Autumn 1925

Day after day he sat beneath these eaves
Daubing colours on a canvas. Here
He dreamed dreams of a time,
Distant and far too dear,
When men should know him for the artist
That he was; when little feet,
Expensively shod, should clatter on his stair;
Swirl of silk, heavy odours of furs
Rouse him to knowledge, intimate and sweet,
That beauty waited with sleek, dark hair,
Heavy white lids, perhaps a touch of kohl,
And eyes whose depths an artist dare not plumb.

Yes, beauty waited on his stair to beg
That he would sell this tiny sketch;
See, there it is, with evening mist
Rosy and chrome,
Splashed by a dead eternalist
Who forgot the transiency of art
And dreamed, yes, dreamed of beauty and of fame:
Of that great picture which would place his name
Above that of his fellows. . . Now he is dead
These two days and none knew him gone.
His eyes are void and his dreams snuffed out.

Pick up the dusty little canvas;
Beauty will never know he saw her sleek dark head
Outside his door and made his soul the pawn
For her sweet satisfaction.
Let us go out into the sunshine
Where we may corral a swift reaction
From this mood of dreams.

The painter is dead.
Sweep up his broken tubes of lake and gold,
His palette with its dull patinas,
His canvases with green and nacre splashes.
None will ever know his brief dream’s end.
He has eternity in his cold heart
And we,—we take the way that seems
More transient than before.
We must forget the painter; he is dead,
And beauty with her sleek dark head
May wait upon some stair for you and me,
Whose vision holds a moment, not eternity.


This question is for testing whether or not you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.

Recommended Reading