Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Human Frailty with Thy Secret Woes!

Ballade of Modest Confession
by Hilaire Belloc

My reading is extremely deep and wide;
And as our modern education goes—
Unique I think, and skilfully applied
To Art and Industry and Autres Choses
Through many years of scholarly repose.
But there is one thing where I disappoint
My numerous admirers (and my foes).
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point. 

 I ride superbly. When I say I 'ride'
The word's too feeble. I am one of those
That dominate a horse. It is my pride
To tame the fiercest with tremendous blows
Of heel and knee. The while my handling shows
Such lightness as a lady's. But Aroint
Thee! Human frailty with thy secret woes! 
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point. 

Painting on Vellum: not on silk or hide
Or ordinary Canvas: I suppose
No painter of the present day has tried
So many mediums with success, or knows
As well as I do how the subject grows
Beneath the hands of genius, that anoint
With balm. But I have something to disclose--
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point. 

Envoi
Prince! do not let your Nose, your royal Nose,
Your large imperial Nose get out of Joint.
For though you cannot touch my golden Prose,
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point. 

 If I am ever again in an interview in which it is asked, "What would you say is your greatest weakness?" I think I may just say, "Alas, I have never been able to learn how to paint on vellum."

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