Banjo Paterson

Ambition and Art

Ambition I am the maid of the lustrous eyes Of great fruition, Whom the sons of men that are over-wise Have called Ambition. And the world's success is the only goal I have within me; The meanest man with the smallest soul May woo and win me. For the lust of power and the pride of place To all I proffer. Wilt thou take thy part in the crowded race For what I offer? The choice is thine, and the world is wide -- Thy path is lonely. I may not lead and I may not guide -- I urge thee only. I am just a whip and a spur that smites To fierce endeavour. In the restless days and the sleepless nights I urge thee ever. Thou shalt wake from sleep with a startled cry, In fright unleaping At a rival's step as it passes by Whilst thou art sleeping. Honour and truth shall be overthrown In fierce desire; Thou shalt use thy friend as a stepping-stone To mount thee higher. When the curtain falls on the sordid strife That seemed so splendid, Thou shalt look with pain on the wasted life That thou hast ended. Thou hast sold thy life for a guerdon small In fitful flashes; There has been reward -- but the end of all Is dust and ashes. For the night has come and it brings to naught Thy projects cherished, And thine epitaph shall in brass be wrought -- "He lived, and perished." Art I wait for thee at the outer gate, My love, mine only; Wherefore tarriest thou so late While I am lonely? Thou shalt seek my side with a footstep swift; In thee implanted Is the love of Art and the greatest gift That God has granted. And the world's concerns with its rights and wrongs Shall seem but small things -- Poet or painter, or singer of songs, Thine art is all things. For the wine of life is a woman's love To keep beside thee; But the love of Art is a thing above -- A star to guide thee. As the years go by with the love of Art All undiminished, Thou shalt end thy days with a quiet geart -- Thy work is finished. So the painter fashions a picture strong That fadeth never, And the singer singeth a wondrous song That lives for ever.

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