The autobiography of some great delight

Another reading from The Voice of the Machines, Gerald Stanley Lee’s “Introduction to the Twentieth Century”:

The truest definition of a gentleman is that he is a man who loves his work. This is also the truest definition of a poet. The man who loves his work is a poet because he expresses delight in that work. He is a gentleman because his delight in that work makes him his own employer. No matter how many men are over him, or how many men pay him, or fail to pay him, he stands under the wide heaven the one man who is master of the earth. He is the one infallibly overpaid man on it. The man who loves his work has the single thing the world affords that can make a man free, that can make him his own employer, that admits him to the ranks of gentlemen, that pays him, or is rich enough to pay him, what a gentleman’s work is worth.

The poets of the world are the men who pour their passions into it, the men who make the world over with their passions. Everything that these men touch, as with some strange and immortal joy from out of them, has the thrill of beauty in it, and exultation and wonder. They cannot have it otherwise even if they would. A true man is the autobiography of some great delight mastering his heart for him, possessing his brain, making his hands beautiful.

… While the definition of a poet and a gentleman—that he is a man who loves his work—might appear to make a new division of society, it is a division that already exists in the actual life of the world, and constitutes the only literal aristocracy the world has ever had.

You can get The Voice of the Machines at Gutenberg.org. This selection is from Part I: “The Men Behind the Machines”.