Room 4: The Painter Chap by Robert William Service
He gives me such a bold and curious look, That young American across the way, As if he'd like to put me in a book (Fancies himself a poet, so they say.) Ah well! He'll make no "document" of me. I lock my door. Ha! ha! Now none shall see. . . .
Pictures, just pictures piled from roof to floor, Each one a bit of me, a dream fulfilled, A vision of the beauty I adore, My own poor glimpse of glory, passion-thrilled . . . But now my money's gone, I paint no more.
For three days past I have not tasted food; The jeweled colors run . . . I reel, I faint; They tell me that my pictures are no good, Just crude and childish daubs, a waste of paint. I burned to throw on canvas all I saw -- Twilight on water, tenderness of trees, Wet sands at sunset and the smoking seas, The peace of valleys and the mountain's awe: Emotion swayed me at the thought of these. I sought to paint ere I had learned to draw, And that's the trouble. . . . Ah well! here am I, Facing my failure after struggle long; And there they are, my croutes that none will buy (And doubtless they are right and I am wrong); Well, when one's lost one's faith it's time to die. . . .
This knife will do . . . and now to slash and slash; Rip them to ribands, rend them every one, My dreams and visions -- tear and stab and gash, So that their crudeness may be known to none; Poor, miserable daubs! Ah! there, it's done. . . .
And now to close my little window tight. Lo! in the dusking sky, serenely set, The evening star is like a beacon bright. And see! to keep her tender tryst with night How Paris veils herself in violet. . . .
Oh, why does God create such men as I? -- All pride and passion and divine desire, Raw, quivering nerve-stuff and devouring fire, Foredoomed to failure though they try and try; Abortive, blindly to destruction hurled; Unfound, unfit to grapple with the world. . . .
And now to light my wheezy jet of gas; Chink up the window-crannies and the door, So that no single breath of air may pass; So that I'm sealed air-tight from roof to floor. There, there, that's done; and now there's nothing more. . . .
Look at the city's myriad lamps a-shine; See, the calm moon is launching into space . . . There will be darkness in these eyes of mine Ere it can climb to shine upon my face. Oh, it will find such peace upon my face! . . .
City of Beauty, I have loved you well, A laugh or two I've had, but many a sigh; I've run with you the scale from Heav'n to Hell. Paris, I love you still . . . good-by, good-by. Thus it all ends -- unhappily, alas! It's time to sleep, and now . . . blow out the gas. . . .
Now there's that little midinette Who goes to work each morning daily; I choose to call her Blithe Babette, Because she's always humming gaily; And though the Goddess "Comme-il-faut" May look on her with prim expression, It's Pagan Paris where, you know, The queen of virtues is Discretion.