If they hint, O Musician, the piece that you played
Is nought but a copy of Chopin or Spohr;
That the ballad you sing is but merely 'conveyed'
From the stock of the Arnes and the Purcells of yore;
That there's nothing, in short, in the words or the score
That is not as out-worn as the 'Wandering Jew,'
Make answer-Beethoven could scarcely do more-
That the man who plants cabbages imitates, too!

If they tell you, Sir Artist, your light and your shade
Are simply 'adapted' from other men's lore;
That-plainly to speak of a 'spade' as a 'spade'-
You've 'stolen' your grouping from three or from four;
That (however the writer the truth may deplore),
'Twas Gainsborough painted your 'Little Boy Blue';
Smile only serenely-though cut to the core-
For the man who plants cabbages imitates, too!

And you too, my Poet, be never dismayed
If they whisper your Epic-'Sir Eperon d'Or'-
Is nothing but Tennyson thinly arrayed
In a tissue that's taken from Morris's store;
That no one, in fact, but a child could ignore
That you 'lift' or 'accommodate' all that you do;
Take heart-though your Pegasus' withers be sore-
For the man who plants cabbages imitates, too!

POSTSCRIPTUM-And you, whom we all so adore,
Dear Critics, whose verdicts are always so new!-
One word in your ear. There were Critics before . . .
And the man who plants cabbages imitates, too!

More verses by Henry Austin Dobson

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