W.S. George
writer composer

The Artist and the Builder

Once an artist and a builder met and thought what fun it will be if they worked on something monumental together. They were friends and had interacted over the ropes many times before. They knew and respected each other for what they did. Each one was brilliant in their chosen fields; that was a matter that could not be disputed. And so they gathered together what tools they had and set to work one morning.

The builder, true to his passion to build, immediately set hammer to steel and beat away until the poor thing gave way and bended its might to his sterner will. He laboured night and day without rest over a fire, worked the bellows with one hand and struck the anvil with another. When something went wrong, he smelted and welded and patched and beat to submission his raw material until it did as he pleased. The artist sat back for a while and watched with some wild fascination as his friend laboured. Though they were great companions the artist had never seen the builder at work. When the builder took a moment to rest, the artist came over and looked at what work had been done. He marveled at the speed but was taken aback by the percieved quality of his rigorous execution. My! He must have cried, What have you done?!

The builder did not understand his concern. I am building the monument, sir. What of it? But the artist stroked his beard and considered the mess that lay before him. I see no beauty in this! he protested, waving his arms like the windswept grass on a field. All I see are mangled, tortured irons crying for some sense to be breathed through them, for some dignity to be restored in them.

But the builder could not see what the artist saw and only suggested When I’m finished building, you can paint it what pretty colours you wish. Then it will be complete.

The artist might have as well had a heart attack at that moment. Draping this specimen in the finest colours will do nothing to make it beautiful. You cannot hide the ugliness of the core by covering it with a good coat, sir. I am sorry but that will not do.

Unmake this monstrosity and let me guide the forging of our monument. Do not beat the metal to submission — coax it to do your bidding. Seduce it with your finest graces and let it follow you where you will.

The builder will have none of that nonsense. He cried, We cannot waste any more time on such trivialities when there is work to be done. The artist protested, saying that it is not a trivial thing to forge a monument. And so they went on, back and forth for seven days until the last bits of their friendship had rusted away with what was left of the unfinished monument. The fires of the furnace died and the bellows collapsed and the paint and brushes dried and flaked.

And these two friends walked away, one from the other and did not look back again at the catastrophe they had created together.

The End


© 2017 William Saint George