The Priest Rides By & Tells His Beads
Inspired by “The Young King” from “The Fairy Stories Of Oscar Wilde”
Acrylic and water soluble pastel on canvas
Painting size: 46 x 65cm
Professionally framed in a white wooden frame, size: 50.5 x 69.5 x 5cm
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The young King went over to one of the weavers, and stood by him and watched him.
And the weaver looked at him angrily, and said, ‘Why art thou watching me? Art thou a spy set on us by our master?’
‘Who is thy master?’ asked the young King.
‘Our master!’ cried the weaver, bitterly. ‘He is a man like myself. Indeed, there is but this difference between us–that he wears fine clothes while I go in rags, and that while I am weak from hunger
he suffers not a little from overfeeding.’
‘The land is free,’ said the young King, ‘and thou art no man’s slave.’
‘In war,’ answered the weaver, ‘the strong make slaves of the weak, and in peace the rich make slaves of the poor. We must work to live, and they give us such mean wages that we die. We toil for them all day long, and they heap up gold in their coffers, and our children fade away before their time, and the faces of those we love become hard and evil. We tread out the grapes, and another drinks the wine. We sow the corn, and our own board is empty. We have chains, though no eye beholds them; and are slaves, though men call us free.’
‘Is it so with all?’ he asked,
‘It is so with all,’ answered the weaver, ‘with the young as well as with the old, with the women as well as with the men, with the little children as well as with those who are stricken in years. The merchants grind us down, and we must needs do their bidding. The priest rides by and tells his beads, and no man has care of us. Through our sunless lanes creeps Poverty with her hungry eyes, and Sin with his sodden face follows close behind her. Misery wakes us in the morning, and Shame sits with us at night. But what are these things to thee? Thou art not one of us. Thy face is too happy.’ And he turned away scowling, and threw the shuttle across the loom, and the young King saw that it was threaded with a thread of gold.
From “The Young King”