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Art Versus Cupid
by [?]

[A room in a private house. A maiden sitting before a fire meditating.]


Now have I fully fixed upon my part.
Good-bye to dreams; for me a life of art!
Beloved art! Oh, realm serene and fair,
Above the mean and sordid world of care,
Above earth’s small ambitions and desires!
Art! art! the very word my soul inspires!
From foolish memories it sets me free.
Not what has been, but that which is to be
Absorbs me now. Adieu to vain regret!
The bow is tensely drawn–the target set.
[A knock at the door.]

MAID (aside)

The night is dark and chill; the hour is late.
Who knocks upon my door?

A Voice Outside

‘Tis I, your fate!


Thou dost deceive, not me, but thine own self.
My fate is not a wandering, vagrant elf.
My fate is here, within this throbbing heart
That beats alone for glory, and for art.

[Another knock at door.]

Pray, let me in; I am so faint and cold.
[Door is pushed ajar. Enter CUPID, who aproaches the fire with outstretched hands.]

MAID (indignantly)

Methinks thou art not faint, however cold,
But rather too courageous, and most bold;
Surprisingly ill-mannered, sir, and rude,
Without an invitation to intrude
Into my very presence.

CUPID (warming his hands)

But, you see,
Girls never mind a little chap like me.
They’re always watching for me on the sly,
And hoping I will call.

MAID (haughtily)

Indeed, not I!
My heart has listened to a sweeter voice,
A clarion call that gives command–not choice.
And I have answered to that call, ‘I come’;
To other voices shall my ears be dumb.
To art alone I consecrate my life –
Art is my spouse, and I his willing wife.

CUPID (slowly, gazing in the grate)

Art is a sultan, and you must divide
His love with many another ill-fed bride.
Now I know one who worships you alone.

MAID (impatiently)

I will not listen! for the dice is thrown
And art has won me. On my brow some day
Shall rest the laurel wreath–

CUPID (sitting down and looking at MAID critically)

Just let me say
I think sweet orange blossoms under lace
Are better suited to your type of face.

MAID (ignoring interruption)

I yet shall stand before an audience
That listens as one mind, absorbed, intense,
And with my genius I shall rouse its cheers,
Still it to silence, soften it to tears,
Or wake its laughter. Oh, the play! the play!
The play’s the thing! My boy, THE PLAY!!

CUPID (suddenly clapping his hands)

Oh, say!
I know a splendid role for you to take,
And one that always keeps the house awake –
And calls for pretty dressing. Oh, it’s great!

MAID (excitedly)

Well, well, what is it? Wherefore make me wait?

CUPID (tapping his brow, thoughtfully)

How is it those lines run–oh, now I know;
You make a stately entrance–measured–slow–
To stirring music, then you kneel and say
Something about–to honour and obey –
For better and for worse–till death do part.

MAID (angrily)

Be still, you foolish boy; that is not ART.

CUPID (seriously)

She needs great skill who takes the role of wife
In God’s stupendous drama human life.

MAID (suddenly becoming serious)

So I once thought! Oh, once my very soul
Was filled and thrilled with dreaming of that role.
Life seemed so wonderful; it held for me
No purpose, no ambition, but to be
Loving and loved. My highest thought of fame
Was some day bearing my dear lover’s name.
Alone, I ofttimes uttered it aloud,
Or wrote it down, half timid, and all proud
To see myself lost utterly in him:
As some small star might joy in growing dim
When sinking in the sun; or as the dew,
Forgetting the brief little life it knew
In space, might on the ocean’s bosom fall
And ask for nothing–only to give all.