Ballad of Imitation
Dobson, Austin (1840-1921)
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 peron 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, who 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!