“When the artist is truly the servant … ” Madeleine L’Engle


“When the artist is truly the servant of the work, the work is better than the artist; Shakespeare knew how to listen to his work, and so he often wrote better than he could write; Bach composed more deeply, more truly than he knew; Rembrandt’s brush put more of the human spirit on canvas than Rembrandt could comprehend.”

Madeleine L’Engle: from Walking On Water: Reflections On Faith & Art, Page 24 (Harold Shaw Publishers; Copyright 1980 by Crosswicks).

I learned from Madeleine’s website that November 29 is the anniversary of her birthday.  She would have been 94.  Her work is ever-new and her spirit lives. I continue to learn from her, and through her, I also found Luci Shaw’s poetry and prose.  They wrote a beautiful book together called Friends for the Journey (1997; Servant Publications, Ann Arbor, Michigan; copyright by the two authors).

The Rembrandt painting is courtesy of wpclipart.com.

9 thoughts on ““When the artist is truly the servant … ” Madeleine L’Engle

  1. It’s always amazing to me when simple words strike a deep chord. I loved this post. It’s such an affirmation of the creative process and how we are connected to something far larger than ourselves.
    Perfect timing. I can no longer doubt my writing.
    Thanks for sharing – Sue


  2. I love this post, Ellen. I am working on a similar post referencing the work of these two women. Madeleine L’Engle first came into my life when i enjoyed her books with my young sons many years ago. I love her writing, and the fact of her friendship with Luci Shaw, whose work I also admire. Shaw is my favorite poet and has influenced my own writing greatly.


  3. This is a beautifully powerful post! love both those writers! The quote you mentioned is strangely comforting. Sometimes I feel hypocritical that I don’t live up to all that I write… this quote encourages me to simply write anyways and be personally challenged to live up to the words by his grace. It’s all about his grace!
    Blessings ~ Wendy


  4. M. L’Engle’s Walking on Water changed my life. Every writer, musician, painter, dancer, singer and sculptor should read it. I think it’s time I read it again. And thanks for the link to Luci Shaw’s site. I think I’ll head over and read some of her wonderful words today.


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