"Dante Meets Beatrice" by Henry Holiday‘The Untrue Artist’ and Other Poetry by Reid McGrath The Society September 30, 2021 Beauty, Humor, Love Poems, Poetry 17 Comments . The Untrue Artist “The true artist will let his wife starve, his children go barefoot, his mother drudge for his living at seventy, sooner than work at anything but his art” —George Bernard Shaw I’ve put untapped potential on a shelf much like a book one someday wants to read. I’m less concerned with cultivating “Self;” and now am more concerned with what we need. We’re married. You’re more beautiful than books. The Muse is not my mistress anymore. Despite how mainstream or mundane he looks, the Pragmatist is no one to abhor. If I can make it to retirement, I’ll pen the poems you deserve to hear. But if the artist in his art is pent, I’ll eschew those poor penthouses, my dear. I hope you know that when I stoke the stove, get out the door, then labor out of sight, I show my love—not with poems of love, but with books of poems I won’t write. Previously published in First Things. . . Marriage as a Dance Everything that’s living craves Existence: Plants stretch for soil, sun and sky, and rain. What creature will not devise a defense against destruction and impending pain? Of entities with constituent parts, like ecosystems—engines which burn fuel— my heart is one. But in my heart of hearts you are ensconced like an illumined jewel. More potent than petroleum or wine, I crave your fuel that helps my engine run. Beatrice led Dante nearer to the Son as you help me back to my Maker’s manse— Who is Existence; He designed the dance and called it “Good.” His ducks were in a line. . . Reid McGrath lives and writes in the Hudson Valley Region of New York. 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Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 17 Responses Damian Robin September 30, 2021 Thanks Reid for telling of your good husbandry of poetry and ‘real’ life. And telling it well. Here’s what I might say to my wife now (though the ‘payoff’ may not be as grand as yours above). Good words from Reid that I once had in mind, But now ‘retired’ from hunting cash and goods-in-kind, Our ‘hobbies’ get more effort as we find Both our focused timetables are much aligned. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thank you, Damian. I’m glad you enjoyed it. And thanks for the rendition of your own. I like it. Reply Andrew Benson Brown September 30, 2021 Enjoyed these greatly, thanks. I especially liked the lines contrasting the Muse and the Pragmatist. I would like to imagine though, that as when Hesiod was approached by the muses while herding sheep, the inspiration for these poems came to you in the fields during a moment when you stopped to wipe the sweat from your brow. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thanks Andrew. While many of my poems come to me out “in the fields,” I cannot be still or stop in order to encourage them along. I usually have to be moving to count out the meter on my fingers. Sitting atop a tractor while mowing hay and bouncing along is typically the most efficacious, in my experience. Glad you enjoyed. Reply Peter Hartley September 30, 2021 Reid – a splendid but genial counterblast to the dedicated but tunnel- visioned outlook of GBS’s poet, and headed, too, by a painting from Henry Holiday, one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite pictures in the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, the city where I was born, and so apposite a choice to go alongside your second poem, whose last line I particularly like. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thanks for the kind words, Peter. Evan and SCP are the best at pairing poems with Classical Art, aren’t they? Reply Paul Freeman September 30, 2021 Very thought-provoking, especially ‘The Untrue Artist’, I felt. Funnily enough, arguably the most famous quote by Shaw – ‘Those who can, do. Those who cant, teach.’ – to some extent contradicts the quote at the beginning. Thanks for the reads. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thank you, Paul. That is another gem. Thanks for reminding me of it. Reply Sally Cook September 30, 2021 Dear Reid – I admire yoiu. Instead of waiting until retirement to create, you apparently are rolling along throiugh life in a thoughtful way, caring for yoiur own and – gasp – still writing ! Isn’t it amazing what one can do when necessary? You are someone who knows. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thanks Sally! I admire you as well. These poems are a little dated, haha; and I am not as prolific as I once was, but that is probably a good thing. I only want what’s necessary to come to me. Reply Sally Cook October 3, 2021 Dear Reid – Your words mean more than most because of what you know. Your work has such depth and maturity! I was getting a bit tired of those who feel first, and think later; then you showed up. Please, let us see more. Yael September 30, 2021 The Untrue Artist is great! I admire untrue artists and strive to be one myself. Lovely poem, thank you for sharing. Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Thanks Yael. It’s good to be a little bit of both, no? But when you have a family, as St. Paul says, a man or woman has to think about his earthly responsibilities too. Reply James Sale October 1, 2021 Fabulous work, Reid – the Muse has not abandoned you, as you clearly know!! Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Cheers, James. We will see about that! Reply Cynthia Erlandson October 1, 2021 I especially love “The Untrue Artist” — in fact, it is so memorable that I recognized it right away, from having read it in First Things! Reply Reid McGrath October 2, 2021 Ah, Cynthia. That’s great. I’m glad I could make something stick in your head and I’ll take that as a win. We need more memorable, and memorizable, poetry. Thank you! Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.