Were I A Skilful Painter.

A poem by George MacDonald

Were I a skilful painter,
My pencil, not my pen,
Should try to teach thee hope and fear,
And who would blame me then?--
Fear of the tide of darkness
That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on
In the journey of the mind.

Were I a skilful painter,
What should I paint for thee?--
A tiny spring-bud peeping out
From a withered wintry tree;
The warm blue sky of summer
O'er jagged ice and snow,
And water hurrying gladsome out
From a cavern down below;

The dim light of a beacon
Upon a stormy sea,
Where a lonely ship to windward beats
For life and liberty;
A watery sun-ray gleaming
Athwart a sullen cloud
And falling on some grassy flower
The rain had earthward bowed;

Morn peeping o'er a mountain,
In ambush for the dark,
And a traveller in the vale below
Rejoicing like a lark;
A taper nearly vanished
Amid the dawning gray,
And a maiden lifting up her head,
And lo, the coming day!

I am no skilful painter;
Let who will blame me then
That I would teach thee hope and fear
With my plain-talking pen!--
Fear of the tide of darkness
That floweth fast behind,
And hope to make thee journey on
In the journey of the mind.

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