What would you have me do?Search out some powerful patronage, and beLike crawling ivy clinging to a tree?No thank you. Dedicate, like all the others,Verses to plutocrats, while caution smothersWhatever might offend my lord and master?No thank you. Kneel until my knee-caps fester,Bend my back until I crack my spine,And scratch anothers back if hell scratch mine?No thank you. Dining out to curry favour,Meeting the influential till I slaver,Suiting my style to what the critics wantWith slavish copy of the latest cant?No thanks! Ready to jump through any hoopTo be the great man of a little group?Be blown off course, with madrigals for sails,By the old women sighing through their veils?Labouring to write a line of such good breedingIts only fault isthat its not worth reading?To ingratiate myself, abject with fear,And fawn and flatter to avoid a sneer?No thanks, no thanks, no thanks! But just to sing,Dream, laugh, and take my tilt of wing,To cock a snook whenever I shall choose,To fight for yes and no, come win or lose,To travel without thought of fame or fortuneWherever I care to go to under the moon!Never to write a line that hasnt comeDirectly from my heart: and so, with someModesty, to tell myself: My boy,Be satisfied with a flower, a fruit, the joyOf a single leaf, so long as it was grownIn your own garden. Then, if success is wonBy any chance, you have nothing to render toA hollow Caesar: the merit belongs to you. In short, I wont be a parasite; Ill beMy own intention, stand alone and free,And suit my voice to what my own eyes see!
Edmond Eugne Alexis Rostand (April 1, 1868 - December 2, 1918), French poet and dramatist.