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The Master Artists’ Prayer

Молитва мастеров

I remember an ancient artists’ prayer:
Keep us, Lord, from students

Who push our wretched genius
toward the blasphemy of new revelations.

Honest and open enemies we can deal with,
but this kind hangs in our footsteps

And smiles, and laughs, as we fight — until
Peter forswears, until Judas betrays.

Heaven alone knows our weakness;
the future will measure our secret fear.

What we create in that future is up to God,
but this time that we’ve made is ours.

We greet our enemies,
And to flatterers we say: NO!

Noisy fame-talk, and fawning critics,
are useless for shaping sacred forms:

How shameful to dull an artist with opium,
like Hannibal’s elephant before a battle!

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