‘She has genius; I am only a painstaking fellow’

  • Alexandra Orr


He would … declaim passages from his wife’s poems; and when, on one of these occasions, Madame du Quaire1 had said, as so many persons now say, that she much preferred his poetry to hers, he made this characteristic answer, to be repeated in substance some years afterwards to another friend: ‘You are wrong — quite wrong — she has genius; I am only a painstaking fellow. Can’t you imagine a clever sort of angel who plots and plans, and tries to build up something — he wants to make you see it as he sees it — shows you one point of view, carries you off to another, hammering into your head the thing he wants you to understand; and whilst this bother is going on God Almighty turns you off a little star — that’s the difference between us. The true creative power is hers, not mine.2

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© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2000

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  • Alexandra Orr

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