Ballade of Modest Confession

By Hilaire Belloc 1870–1953 Hilaire Belloc
My reading is extremely deep and wide;   
And as our modern education goes—
Unique I think, and skilfully applied   
To Art and Industry and Autres Choses
Through many years of scholarly repose.   
But there is one thing where I disappoint   
My numerous admirers (and my foes).   
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

I ride superbly. When I say I 'ride'
The word's too feeble. I am one of those   
That dominate a horse. It is my pride
To tame the fiercest with tremendous blows
Of heel and knee. The while my handling shows   
Such lightness as a lady's. But Aroint   
Thee! Human frailty with thy secret woes!   
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

Painting on Vellum: not on silk or hide   
Or ordinary Canvas: I suppose
No painter of the present day has tried   
So many mediums with success, or knows   
As well as I do how the subject grows
Beneath the hands of genius, that anoint
With balm. But I have something to disclose—
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

Prince! do not let your Nose, your royal Nose,   
Your large imperial Nose get out of Joint.
For though you cannot touch my golden Prose,   
Painting on Vellum is my weakest point.

Source: Complete Verse (1970)

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Poet Hilaire Belloc 1870–1953



Subjects Humor & Satire

Poetic Terms Ballad

 Hilaire  Belloc


Hilaire Belloc is considered one of the most controversial and accomplished men of letters of early 20th-century England. An author whose writings continue to draw either the deep admiration or bitter contempt of readers, he was an outspoken proponent of radical social and economic reforms, all grounded in his vision of Europe as a "Catholic society." Although many critics have attacked Belloc's prescriptive polemical works for . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Humor & Satire



Poetic Terms Ballad

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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