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Title: Songs of Travel
Author: Stevenson, Robert Louis, 1850-1894
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Songs of Travel" ***

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Transcribed from the 1908 Chatto & Windus edition by David Price, email
ccx074@pglaf.org



                             Songs of Travel


                             AND OTHER VERSES

                                    BY
                          ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

                     [Picture: Chatto & Windus logo]

                            EIGHTH IMPRESSION

                                * * * * *

                                  LONDON
                             CHATTO & WINDUS
                                   1908

_The following collection of verses_, _written at various times and
places_, _principally after the author’s final departure from England in_
1887, _was sent home by him for publication some months before his
death_.  _He had tried them in several different orders and under several
different titles_, _as_ “_Songs and Notes of Travel_,” “_Posthumous
Poems_,” _etc._, _and in the end left their naming and arrangement to the
present editor_, _with the suggestion that they should be added as Book
III. to future editions of_ “_Underwoods_.”  _This suggestion it is
proposed to carry out_; _but in the meantime_, _for the benefit of those
who possess_ “_Underwoods_” _in its original form_, _it has been thought
desirable to publish them separately in the present volume_.  _They have
already been included in the Edinburgh Edition of the author’s works_.

                                                                   _S. C._

                                 CONTENTS

           I.  THE VAGABOND—Give to me the life I love

          II.  YOUTH AND LOVE: I.—Once only by the garden gate

         III.  YOUTH AND LOVE: II.—To the heart of youth the world is
               a highwayside

          IV.  In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand

           V.  She rested by the Broken Brook

          VI.  The infinite shining heavens

         VII.  Plain as the glistering planets shine

        VIII.  To you, let snows and roses

          IX.  Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful dreams

           X.  I know not how it is with you

          XI.  I will make you brooches and toys for your delight

         XII.  WE HAVE LOVED OF YORE—Berried brake and reedy island

        XIII.  MATER TRIUMPHANS—Son of my woman’s body, you go, to
               the drum and fife

         XIV.  Bright is the ring of words

          XV.  In the highlands, in the country places

         XVI.  Home no more home to me, wither must I wander?

        XVII.  WINTER—In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane

       XVIII.  The stormy evening closes now in vain

         XIX.  TO DR. HAKE—In the belovèd hour that ushers day

          XX.  TO ---—I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills

         XXI.  The morning drum-call on my eager ear

        XXII.  I have trod the upward and downward slope

       XXIII.  He hears with gladdened heart the thunder

        XXIV.  Farewell, fair day and fading light!

         XXV.  IF THIS WERE FAITH—God, if this were enough

        XXVI.  MY WIFE—Trusty, dusky, vivid, true

       XXVII.  TO THE MUSE—Resign the rhapsody, the dream

      XXVIII.  TO AN ISLAND PRINCESS—Since long ago, a child at home

        XXIX.  TO KALAKAUA—The Sliver Ship, my King—that was her name

         XXX.  TO PRINCESS KAIULANI—Forth form her land to mine she
               goes

        XXXI.  TO MOTHER MARYANNE—To see the infinite pity of this
               place

       XXXII.  IN MEMORIAM E. H.—I knew a silver head was bright
               beyond compare

      XXXIII.  TO MY WIFE—Long must elapse ere you behold again

       XXXIV.  TO MY OLD FAMILIARS—Do you remember—can we e’er
               forget?

        XXXV.  The tropics vanish, and meseems that I

       XXXVI.  TO S. C.—I heard the pulse of the besieging sea

      XXXVII.  THE HOUSE OF TEMBINOKA—_Let us_, _who part like
               brothers_, _part like bards_

     XXXVIII.  THE WOODMAN—In all the grove, not stream nor bird

       XXXIX.  TROPIC RAIN—As the single pang of the blow, when the
               metal is mingled well

          XL.  AN END OF TRAVEL—Let now your soul in this substantial
               world

         XLI.  We uncommiserate pass into the night

        XLII.  Sing me a song of a lad that is gone

       XLIII.  TO S. R. CROCKETT—Blows the wind to-day, and the sun
               and rain are flying

        XLIV.  EVENSONG—The embers of the day are red

I—THE VAGABOND
(_To an air of Schubert_)


   Give to me the life I love,
      Let the lave go by me,
   Give the jolly heaven above
      And the byway nigh me.
   Bed in the bush with stars to see,
      Bread I dip in the river—
   There’s the life for a man like me,
      There’s the life for ever.

   Let the blow fall soon or late,
      Let what will be o’er me;
   Give the face of earth around
      And the road before me.
   Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
      Nor a friend to know me;
   All I seek, the heaven above
      And the road below me.

   Or let autumn fall on me
      Where afield I linger,
   Silencing the bird on tree,
      Biting the blue finger.
   White as meal the frosty field—
      Warm the fireside haven—
   Not to autumn will I yield,
      Not to winter even!

   Let the blow fall soon or late,
      Let what will be o’er me;
   Give the face of earth around,
      And the road before me.
   Wealth I ask not, hope nor love,
      Nor a friend to know me;
   All I ask, the heaven above
      And the road below me.



II—YOUTH AND LOVE—I


   Once only by the garden gate
      Our lips we joined and parted.
   I must fulfil an empty fate
      And travel the uncharted.

   Hail and farewell!  I must arise,
      Leave here the fatted cattle,
   And paint on foreign lands and skies
      My Odyssey of battle.

   The untented Kosmos my abode,
      I pass, a wilful stranger:
   My mistress still the open road
      And the bright eyes of danger.

   Come ill or well, the cross, the crown,
      The rainbow or the thunder,
   I fling my soul and body down
      For God to plough them under.



III—YOUTH AND LOVE—II


   To the heart of youth the world is a highwayside.
   Passing for ever, he fares; and on either hand,
   Deep in the gardens golden pavilions hide,
   Nestle in orchard bloom, and far on the level land
   Call him with lighted lamp in the eventide.

   Thick as the stars at night when the moon is down,
   Pleasures assail him.  He to his nobler fate
   Fares; and but waves a hand as he passes on,
   Cries but a wayside word to her at the garden gate,
   Sings but a boyish stave and his face is gone.



IV


   In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand
         As heretofore:
   The unremembered tokens in your hand
         Avail no more.

   No more the morning glow, no more the grace,
         Enshrines, endears.
   Cold beats the light of time upon your face
         And shows your tears.

   He came and went.  Perchance you wept a while
         And then forgot.
   Ah me! but he that left you with a smile
         Forgets you not.



V


   She rested by the Broken Brook,
      She drank of Weary Well,
   She moved beyond my lingering look,
      Ah, whither none can tell!

   She came, she went.  In other lands,
      Perchance in fairer skies,
   Her hands shall cling with other hands,
      Her eyes to other eyes.

   She vanished.  In the sounding town,
      Will she remember too?
   Will she recall the eyes of brown
      As I recall the blue?



VI


   The infinite shining heavens
      Rose and I saw in the night
   Uncountable angel stars
      Showering sorrow and light.

   I saw them distant as heaven,
      Dumb and shining and dead,
   And the idle stars of the night
      Were dearer to me than bread.

   Night after night in my sorrow
      The stars stood over the sea,
   Till lo!  I looked in the dusk
      And a star had come down to me.



VII


   Plain as the glistering planets shine
      When winds have cleaned the skies,
   Her love appeared, appealed for mine,
      And wantoned in her eyes.

   Clear as the shining tapers burned
      On Cytherea’s shrine,
   Those brimming, lustrous beauties turned,
      And called and conquered mine.

   The beacon-lamp that Hero lit
      No fairer shone on sea,
   No plainlier summoned will and wit,
      Than hers encouraged me.

   I thrilled to feel her influence near,
      I struck my flag at sight.
   Her starry silence smote my ear
      Like sudden drums at night.

   I ran as, at the cannon’s roar,
      The troops the ramparts man—
   As in the holy house of yore
      The willing Eli ran.

   Here, lady, lo! that servant stands
      You picked from passing men,
   And should you need nor heart nor hands
      He bows and goes again.



VIII


   To you, let snow and roses
      And golden locks belong.
   These are the world’s enslavers,
      Let these delight the throng.
   For her of duskier lustre
      Whose favour still I wear,
   The snow be in her kirtle,
      The rose be in her hair!

   The hue of highland rivers
      Careering, full and cool,
   From sable on to golden,
      From rapid on to pool—
   The hue of heather-honey,
      The hue of honey-bees,
   Shall tinge her golden shoulder,
      Shall gild her tawny knees.



IX


   Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful dreams,
         Beauty awake from rest!
         Let Beauty awake
         For Beauty’s sake
   In the hour when the birds awake in the brake
         And the stars are bright in the west!

   Let Beauty awake in the eve from the slumber of day,
         Awake in the crimson eve!
         In the day’s dusk end
         When the shades ascend,
   Let her wake to the kiss of a tender friend
         To render again and receive!



X


   I know not how it is with you—
      _I_ love the first and last,
   The whole field of the present view,
      The whole flow of the past.

   One tittle of the things that are,
      Nor you should change nor I—
   One pebble in our path—one star
      In all our heaven of sky.

   Our lives, and every day and hour,
      One symphony appear:
   One road, one garden—every flower
      And every bramble dear.



XI


   I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
   Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
   I will make a palace fit for you and me
   Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

   I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
   Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
   And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
   In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

   And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
   The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
   That only I remember, that only you admire,
   Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.



XII—WE HAVE LOVED OF YORE
(_To an air of Diabelli_)


   Berried brake and reedy island,
      Heaven below, and only heaven above,
   Through the sky’s inverted azure
      Softly swam the boat that bore our love.
         Bright were your eyes as the day;
         Bright ran the stream,
         Bright hung the sky above.
   Days of April, airs of Eden,
      How the glory died through golden hours,
   And the shining moon arising,
      How the boat drew homeward filled with flowers!
         Bright were your eyes in the night:
         We have lived, my love—
         O, we have loved, my love.

   Frost has bound our flowing river,
      Snow has whitened all our island brake,
   And beside the winter fagot
      Joan and Darby doze and dream and wake.
         Still, in the river of dreams
         Swims the boat of love—
         Hark! chimes the falling oar!
   And again in winter evens
      When on firelight dreaming fancy feeds,
   In those ears of agèd lovers
      Love’s own river warbles in the reeds.
         Love still the past, O my love!
         We have lived of yore,
         O, we have loved of yore.



XIII—MATER TRIUMPHANS


   Son of my woman’s body, you go, to the drum and fife,
   To taste the colour of love and the other side of life—
   From out of the dainty the rude, the strong from out of the frail,
   Eternally through the ages from the female comes the male.

   The ten fingers and toes, and the shell-like nail on each,
   The eyes blind as gems and the tongue attempting speech;
   Impotent hands in my bosom, and yet they shall wield the sword!
   Drugged with slumber and milk, you wait the day of the Lord.

   Infant bridegroom, uncrowned king, unanointed priest,
   Soldier, lover, explorer, I see you nuzzle the breast.
   You that grope in my bosom shall load the ladies with rings,
   You, that came forth through the doors, shall burst the doors of
   kings.



XIV


   Bright is the ring of words
      When the right man rings them,
   Fair the fall of songs
      When the singer sings them.
   Still they are carolled and said—
      On wings they are carried—
   After the singer is dead
      And the maker buried.

   Low as the singer lies
      In the field of heather,
   Songs of his fashion bring
      The swains together.
   And when the west is red
      With the sunset embers,
   The lover lingers and sings
      And the maid remembers.



XV


   In the highlands, in the country places,
   Where the old plain men have rosy faces,
   And the young fair maidens
   Quiet eyes;
   Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
   And for ever in the hill-recesses
   _Her_ more lovely music
   Broods and dies.

   O to mount again where erst I haunted;
   Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,
   And the low green meadows
   Bright with sward;
   And when even dies, the million-tinted,
   And the night has come, and planets glinted,
   Lo, the valley hollow
   Lamp-bestarred!

   O to dream, O to awake and wander
   There, and with delight to take and render,
   Through the trance of silence,
   Quiet breath;
   Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses,
   Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
   Only winds and rivers,
   Life and death.



XVI
(_To the tune of Wandering Willie_)


   Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
      Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
   Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
      Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
   Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
      The true word of welcome was spoken in the door—
   Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
      Kind folks of old, you come again no more.

   Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
      Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
   Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland;
      Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
   Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland,
      Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
   Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
      The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.

   Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
      Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
   Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,
      Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
   Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood—
      Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
   Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney—
      But I go for ever and come again no more.



XVII—WINTER


   In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane
   The redbreast looks in vain
   For hips and haws,
   Lo, shining flowers upon my window-pane
   The silver pencil of the winter draws.

   When all the snowy hill
   And the bare woods are still;
   When snipes are silent in the frozen bogs,
   And all the garden garth is whelmed in mire,
   Lo, by the hearth, the laughter of the logs—
   More fair than roses, lo, the flowers of fire!

_Saranac Lake_.



XVIII


   The stormy evening closes now in vain,
   Loud wails the wind and beats the driving rain,
         While here in sheltered house
         With fire-ypainted walls,
         I hear the wind abroad,
         I hark the calling squalls—
   ‘Blow, blow,’ I cry, ‘you burst your cheeks in vain!
   Blow, blow,’ I cry, ‘my love is home again!’

   Yon ship you chase perchance but yesternight
   Bore still the precious freight of my delight,
         That here in sheltered house
         With fire-ypainted walls,
         Now hears the wind abroad,
         Now harks the calling squalls.
   ‘Blow, blow,’ I cry, ‘in vain you rouse the sea,
   My rescued sailor shares the fire with me!’



XIX—TO DR. HAKE
(_On receiving a Copy of Verses_)


   In the belovèd hour that ushers day,
   In the pure dew, under the breaking grey,
   One bird, ere yet the woodland quires awake,
   With brief réveillé summons all the brake:
   _Chirp_, _chirp_, it goes; nor waits an answer long;
   And that small signal fills the grove with song.

   Thus on my pipe I breathed a strain or two;
   It scarce was music, but ’twas all I knew.
   It was not music, for I lacked the art,
   Yet what but frozen music filled my heart?

   _Chirp_, _chirp_, I went, nor hoped a nobler strain;
   But Heaven decreed I should not pipe in vain,
   For, lo! not far from there, in secret dale,
   All silent, sat an ancient nightingale.
   My sparrow notes he heard; thereat awoke;
   And with a tide of song his silence broke.



XX—TO ---


   I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills;
   I knew thee apt to pity, brave to endure,
   In peace or war a Roman full equipt;
   And just I knew thee, like the fabled kings
   Who by the loud sea-shore gave judgment forth,
   From dawn to eve, bearded and few of words.
   What, what, was I to honour thee?  A child;
   A youth in ardour but a child in strength,
   Who after virtue’s golden chariot-wheels
   Runs ever panting, nor attains the goal.
   So thought I, and was sorrowful at heart.

   Since then my steps have visited that flood
   Along whose shore the numerous footfalls cease,
   The voices and the tears of life expire.
   Thither the prints go down, the hero’s way
   Trod large upon the sand, the trembling maid’s:
   Nimrod that wound his trumpet in the wood,
   And the poor, dreaming child, hunter of flowers,
   That here his hunting closes with the great:
   So one and all go down, nor aught returns.

   For thee, for us, the sacred river waits,
   For me, the unworthy, thee, the perfect friend;
   There Blame desists, there his unfaltering dogs
   He from the chase recalls, and homeward rides;
   Yet Praise and Love pass over and go in.
   So when, beside that margin, I discard
   My more than mortal weakness, and with thee
   Through that still land unfearing I advance:
   If then at all we keep the touch of joy
   Thou shalt rejoice to find me altered—I,
   O Felix, to behold thee still unchanged.



XXI


   The morning drum-call on my eager ear
   Thrills unforgotten yet; the morning dew
   Lies yet undried along my field of noon.

   But now I pause at whiles in what I do,
   And count the bell, and tremble lest I hear
   (My work untrimmed) the sunset gun too soon.



XXII


   I have trod the upward and the downward slope;
   I have endured and done in days before;
   I have longed for all, and bid farewell to hope;
   And I have lived and loved, and closed the door.



XXIII


   He hears with gladdened heart the thunder
      Peal, and loves the falling dew;
   He knows the earth above and under—
      Sits and is content to view.

   He sits beside the dying ember,
      God for hope and man for friend,
   Content to see, glad to remember,
      Expectant of the certain end.



XXIV


   Farewell, fair day and fading light!
   The clay-born here, with westward sight,
   Marks the huge sun now downward soar.
   Farewell.  We twain shall meet no more.

   Farewell.  I watch with bursting sigh
   My late contemned occasion die.
   I linger useless in my tent:
   Farewell, fair day, so foully spent!

   Farewell, fair day.  If any God
   At all consider this poor clod,
   He who the fair occasion sent
   Prepared and placed the impediment.

   Let him diviner vengeance take—
   Give me to sleep, give me to wake
   Girded and shod, and bid me play
   The hero in the coming day!



XXV—IF THIS WERE FAITH


   God, if this were enough,
   That I see things bare to the buff
   And up to the buttocks in mire;
   That I ask nor hope nor hire,
   Nut in the husk,
   Nor dawn beyond the dusk,
   Nor life beyond death:
   God, if this were faith?

   Having felt thy wind in my face
   Spit sorrow and disgrace,
   Having seen thine evil doom
   In Golgotha and Khartoum,
   And the brutes, the work of thine hands,
   Fill with injustice lands
   And stain with blood the sea:
   If still in my veins the glee
   Of the black night and the sun
   And the lost battle, run:
   If, an adept,
   The iniquitous lists I still accept
   With joy, and joy to endure and be withstood,
   And still to battle and perish for a dream of good:
   God, if that were enough?

   If to feel, in the ink of the slough,
   And the sink of the mire,
   Veins of glory and fire
   Run through and transpierce and transpire,
   And a secret purpose of glory in every part,
   And the answering glory of battle fill my heart;
   To thrill with the joy of girded men
   To go on for ever and fail and go on again,
   And be mauled to the earth and arise,
   And contend for the shade of a word and a thing not seen with the
   eyes:
   With the half of a broken hope for a pillow at night
   That somehow the right is the right
   And the smooth shall bloom from the rough:
   Lord, if that were enough?



XXVI—MY WIFE


   Trusty, dusky, vivid, true,
   With eyes of gold and bramble-dew,
   Steel-true and blade-straight,
   The great artificer
   Made my mate.

   Honour, anger, valour, fire;
   A love that life could never tire,
   Death quench or evil stir,
   The mighty master
   Gave to her.

   Teacher, tender, comrade, wife,
   A fellow-farer true through life,
   Heart-whole and soul-free
   The august father
   Gave to me.



XXVII—TO THE MUSE


   Resign the rhapsody, the dream,
      To men of larger reach;
   Be ours the quest of a plain theme,
      The piety of speech.

   As monkish scribes from morning break
      Toiled till the close of light,
   Nor thought a day too long to make
      One line or letter bright:

   We also with an ardent mind,
      Time, wealth, and fame forgot,
   Our glory in our patience find
      And skim, and skim the pot:

   Till last, when round the house we hear
      The evensong of birds,
   One corner of blue heaven appear
      In our clear well of words.

   Leave, leave it then, muse of my heart!
      Sans finish and sans frame,
   Leave unadorned by needless art
      The picture as it came.



XXVIII—TO AN ISLAND PRINCESS


   Since long ago, a child at home,
   I read and longed to rise and roam,
   Where’er I went, whate’er I willed,
   One promised land my fancy filled.
   Hence the long roads my home I made;
   Tossed much in ships; have often laid
   Below the uncurtained sky my head,
   Rain-deluged and wind-buffeted:
   And many a thousand hills I crossed
   And corners turned—Love’s labour lost,
   Till, Lady, to your isle of sun
   I came, not hoping; and, like one
   Snatched out of blindness, rubbed my eyes,
   And hailed my promised land with cries.

   Yes, Lady, here I was at last;
   Here found I all I had forecast:
   The long roll of the sapphire sea
   That keeps the land’s virginity;
   The stalwart giants of the wood
   Laden with toys and flowers and food;
   The precious forest pouring out
   To compass the whole town about;
   The town itself with streets of lawn,
   Loved of the moon, blessed by the dawn,
   Where the brown children all the day
   Keep up a ceaseless noise of play,
   Play in the sun, play in the rain,
   Nor ever quarrel or complain;—
   And late at night, in the woods of fruit,
   Hark! do you hear the passing flute?

   I threw one look to either hand,
   And knew I was in Fairyland.
   And yet one point of being so
   I lacked.  For, Lady (as you know),
   Whoever by his might of hand,
   Won entrance into Fairyland,
   Found always with admiring eyes
   A Fairy princess kind and wise.
   It was not long I waited; soon
   Upon my threshold, in broad noon,
   Gracious and helpful, wise and good,
   The Fairy Princess Moë stood. {44}

_Tantira_, _Tahiti_, _Nov._ 5, 1888.



XXIX—TO KALAKAUA
(_With a present of a Pearl_)


   The Silver Ship, my King—that was her name
   In the bright islands whence your fathers came {45}—
   The Silver Ship, at rest from winds and tides,
   Below your palace in your harbour rides:
   And the seafarers, sitting safe on shore,
   Like eager merchants count their treasures o’er.
   One gift they find, one strange and lovely thing,
   Now doubly precious since it pleased a king.

   The right, my liege, is ancient as the lyre
   For bards to give to kings what kings admire.
   ’Tis mine to offer for Apollo’s sake;
   And since the gift is fitting, yours to take.
   To golden hands the golden pearl I bring:
   The ocean jewel to the island king.

_Honolulu_, _Feb._ 3, 1889.



XXX—TO PRINCESS KAIULANI


[Written in April to Kaiulani in the April of her age; and at Waikiki,
within easy walk of Kaiulani’s banyan!  When she comes to my land and her
father’s, and the rain beats upon the window (as I fear it will), let her
look at this page; it will be like a weed gathered and pressed at home;
and she will remember her own islands, and the shadow of the mighty tree;
and she will hear the peacocks screaming in the dusk and the wind blowing
in the palms; and she will think of her father sitting there alone.—R. L.
S.]

   Forth from her land to mine she goes,
   The island maid, the island rose,
   Light of heart and bright of face:
   The daughter of a double race.

   Her islands here, in Southern sun,
   Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone,
   And I, in her dear banyan shade,
   Look vainly for my little maid.

   But our Scots islands far away
   Shall glitter with unwonted day,
   And cast for once their tempests by
   To smile in Kaiulani’s eye.

_Honolulu_.



XXXI—TO MOTHER MARYANNE


   To see the infinite pity of this place,
   The mangled limb, the devastated face,
   The innocent sufferer smiling at the rod—
   A fool were tempted to deny his God.
   He sees, he shrinks.  But if he gaze again,
   Lo, beauty springing from the breast of pain!
   He marks the sisters on the mournful shores;
   And even a fool is silent and adores.

_Guest House_, _Kalawao_, _Molokai_.



XXXII—IN MEMORIAM E. H.


   I knew a silver head was bright beyond compare,
   I knew a queen of toil with a crown of silver hair.
   Garland of valour and sorrow, of beauty and renown,
   Life, that honours the brave, crowned her himself with the crown.

   The beauties of youth are frail, but this was a jewel of age.
   Life, that delights in the brave, gave it himself for a gage.
   Fair was the crown to behold, and beauty its poorest part—
   At once the scar of the wound and the order pinned on the heart.

   The beauties of man are frail, and the silver lies in the dust,
   And the queen that we call to mind sleeps with the brave and the just;
   Sleeps with the weary at length; but, honoured and ever fair,
   Shines in the eye of the mind the crown of the silver hair.

_Honolulu_.



XXXIII—TO MY WIFE
(_A Fragment_)


   Long must elapse ere you behold again
   Green forest frame the entry of the lane—
   The wild lane with the bramble and the brier,
   The year-old cart-tracks perfect in the mire,
   The wayside smoke, perchance, the dwarfish huts,
   And ramblers’ donkey drinking from the ruts:—
   Long ere you trace how deviously it leads,
   Back from man’s chimneys and the bleating meads
   To the woodland shadow, to the sylvan hush,
   When but the brooklet chuckles in the brush—
   Back from the sun and bustle of the vale
   To where the great voice of the nightingale
   Fills all the forest like a single room,
   And all the banks smell of the golden broom;
   So wander on until the eve descends.
   And back returning to your firelit friends,
   You see the rosy sun, despoiled of light,
   Hung, caught in thickets, like a schoolboy’s kite.

   Here from the sea the unfruitful sun shall rise,
   Bathe the bare deck and blind the unshielded eyes;
   The allotted hours aloft shall wheel in vain
   And in the unpregnant ocean plunge again.
   Assault of squalls that mock the watchful guard,
   And pluck the bursting canvas from the yard,
   And senseless clamour of the calm, at night
   Must mar your slumbers.  By the plunging light,
   In beetle-haunted, most unwomanly bower
   Of the wild-swerving cabin, hour by hour . . .

_Schooner_ ‘_Equator_.’



XXXIV—TO MY OLD FAMILIARS


   Do you remember—can we e’er forget?—
   How, in the coiled-perplexities of youth,
   In our wild climate, in our scowling town,
   We gloomed and shivered, sorrowed, sobbed and feared?
   The belching winter wind, the missile rain,
   The rare and welcome silence of the snows,
   The laggard morn, the haggard day, the night,
   The grimy spell of the nocturnal town,
   Do you remember?—Ah, could one forget!

   As when the fevered sick that all night long
   Listed the wind intone, and hear at last
   The ever-welcome voice of chanticleer
   Sing in the bitter hour before the dawn,—
   With sudden ardour, these desire the day:
   So sang in the gloom of youth the bird of hope;
   So we, exulting, hearkened and desired.
   For lo! as in the palace porch of life
   We huddled with chimeras, from within—
   How sweet to hear!—the music swelled and fell,
   And through the breach of the revolving doors
   What dreams of splendour blinded us and fled!

   I have since then contended and rejoiced;
   Amid the glories of the house of life
   Profoundly entered, and the shrine beheld:
   Yet when the lamp from my expiring eyes
   Shall dwindle and recede, the voice of love
   Fall insignificant on my closing ears,
   What sound shall come but the old cry of the wind
   In our inclement city? what return
   But the image of the emptiness of youth,
   Filled with the sound of footsteps and that voice
   Of discontent and rapture and despair?
   So, as in darkness, from the magic lamp,
   The momentary pictures gleam and fade
   And perish, and the night resurges—these
   Shall I remember, and then all forget.

_Apemama_.



XXXV


   The tropics vanish, and meseems that I,
   From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir,
   Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again.
   Far set in fields and woods, the town I see
   Spring gallant from the shallows of her smoke,
   Cragged, spired, and turreted, her virgin fort
   Beflagged.  About, on seaward-drooping hills,
   New folds of city glitter.  Last, the Forth
   Wheels ample waters set with sacred isles,
   And populous Fife smokes with a score of towns.

   There, on the sunny frontage of a hill,
   Hard by the house of kings, repose the dead,
   My dead, the ready and the strong of word.
   Their works, the salt-encrusted, still survive;
   The sea bombards their founded towers; the night
   Thrills pierced with their strong lamps.  The artificers,
   One after one, here in this grated cell,
   Where the rain erases, and the rust consumes,
   Fell upon lasting silence.  Continents
   And continental oceans intervene;
   A sea uncharted, on a lampless isle,
   Environs and confines their wandering child
   In vain.  The voice of generations dead
   Summons me, sitting distant, to arise,
   My numerous footsteps nimbly to retrace,
   And, all mutation over, stretch me down
   In that denoted city of the dead.

_Apemama_.



XXXVI—TO S. C.


   I heard the pulse of the besieging sea
   Throb far away all night.  I heard the wind
   Fly crying and convulse tumultuous palms.
   I rose and strolled.  The isle was all bright sand,
   And flailing fans and shadows of the palm;
   The heaven all moon and wind and the blind vault;
   The keenest planet slain, for Venus slept.
      The king, my neighbour, with his host of wives,
   Slept in the precinct of the palisade;
   Where single, in the wind, under the moon,
   Among the slumbering cabins, blazed a fire,
   Sole street-lamp and the only sentinel.
      To other lands and nights my fancy turned—
   To London first, and chiefly to your house,
   The many-pillared and the well-beloved.
   There yearning fancy lighted; there again
   In the upper room I lay, and heard far off
   The unsleeping city murmur like a shell;
   The muffled tramp of the Museum guard
   Once more went by me; I beheld again
   Lamps vainly brighten the dispeopled street;
   Again I longed for the returning morn,
   The awaking traffic, the bestirring birds,
   The consentaneous trill of tiny song
   That weaves round monumental cornices
   A passing charm of beauty.  Most of all,
   For your light foot I wearied, and your knock
   That was the glad réveillé of my day.
      Lo, now, when to your task in the great house
   At morning through the portico you pass,
   One moment glance, where by the pillared wall
   Far-voyaging island gods, begrimed with smoke,
   Sit now unworshipped, the rude monument
   Of faiths forgot and races undivined:
   Sit now disconsolate, remembering well
   The priest, the victim, and the songful crowd,
   The blaze of the blue noon, and that huge voice,
   Incessant, of the breakers on the shore.
   As far as these from their ancestral shrine,
   So far, so foreign, your divided friends
   Wander, estranged in body, not in mind.

_Apemama_.



XXXVII—THE HOUSE OF TEMBINOKA


[At my departure from the island of Apemama, for which you will look in
vain in most atlases, the King and I agreed, since we both set up to be
in the poetical way, that we should celebrate our separation in verse.
Whether or not his Majesty has been true to his bargain, the laggard
posts of the Pacific may perhaps inform me in six months, perhaps not
before a year.  The following lines represent my part of the contract,
and it is hoped, by their pictures of strange manners, they may entertain
a civilised audience.  Nothing throughout has been invented or
exaggerated; the lady herein referred to as the author’s muse has
confined herself to stringing into rhyme facts or legends that I saw or
heard during two months’ residence upon the island.—R. L. S.]

   _ENVOI_

   _Let us_, _who part like brothers_, _part like bards_;
   _And you in your tongue and measure_, _I in mine_,
   _Our now division duly solemnise_.
   _Unlike the strains_, _and yet the theme is one_:
   _The strains unlike_, _and how unlike their fate_!
   _You to the blinding palace-yard shall call_
   _The prefect of the singers_, _and to him_,
   _Listening devout_, _your valedictory verse_
   _Deliver_; _he_, _his attribute fulfilled_,
   _To the island chorus hand your measures on_,
   _Wed now with harmony_: _so them_, _at last_,
   _Night after night_, _in the open hall of dance_,
   _Shall thirty matted men_, _to the clapped hand_,
   _Intone and bray and bark_.  _Unfortunate_!
   _Paper and print alone shall honour mine_.

   THE SONG

   Let now the King his ear arouse
   And toss the bosky ringlets from his brows,
   The while, our bond to implement,
   My muse relates and praises his descent.

   I

   Bride of the shark, her valour first I sing
   Who on the lone seas quickened of a King.
   She, from the shore and puny homes of men,
   Beyond the climber’s sea-discerning ken,
   Swam, led by omens; and devoid of fear,
   Beheld her monstrous paramour draw near.
   She gazed; all round her to the heavenly pale,
   The simple sea was void of isle or sail—
   Sole overhead the unsparing sun was reared—
   When the deep bubbled and the brute appeared.
   But she, secure in the decrees of fate,
   Made strong her bosom and received the mate,
   And, men declare, from that marine embrace
   Conceived the virtues of a stronger race.

   II

   Her stern descendant next I praise,
   Survivor of a thousand frays:—
   In the hall of tongues who ruled the throng;
   Led and was trusted by the strong;
   And when spears were in the wood,
   Like a tower of vantage stood:—
   Whom, not till seventy years had sped,
   Unscarred of breast, erect of head,
   Still light of step, still bright of look,
   The hunter, Death, had overtook.

   III

   His sons, the brothers twain, I sing,
   Of whom the elder reigned a King.
   No Childeric he, yet much declined
   From his rude sire’s imperious mind,
   Until his day came when he died,
   He lived, he reigned, he versified.
   But chiefly him I celebrate
   That was the pillar of the state,
   Ruled, wise of word and bold of mien,
   The peaceful and the warlike scene;
   And played alike the leader’s part
   In lawful and unlawful art.
   His soldiers with emboldened ears
   Heard him laugh among the spears.
   He could deduce from age to age
   The web of island parentage;
   Best lay the rhyme, best lead the dance,
   For any festal circumstance:
   And fitly fashion oar and boat,
   A palace or an armour coat.
   None more availed than he to raise
   The strong, suffumigating blaze,
   Or knot the wizard leaf: none more,
   Upon the untrodden windward shore
   Of the isle, beside the beating main,
   To cure the sickly and constrain,
   With muttered words and waving rods,
   The gibbering and the whistling gods.
   But he, though thus with hand and head
   He ruled, commanded, charmed, and led,
   And thus in virtue and in might
   Towered to contemporary sight—
   Still in fraternal faith and love,
   Remained below to reach above,
   Gave and obeyed the apt command,
   Pilot and vassal of the land.

   IV

   My Tembinok’ from men like these
   Inherited his palaces,
   His right to rule, his powers of mind,
   His cocoa-islands sea-enshrined.
   Stern bearer of the sword and whip,
   A master passed in mastership,
   He learned, without the spur of need,
   To write, to cipher, and to read;
   From all that touch on his prone shore
   Augments his treasury of lore,
   Eager in age as erst in youth
   To catch an art, to learn a truth,
   To paint on the internal page
   A clearer picture of the age.
   His age, you say?  But ah, not so!
   In his lone isle of long ago,
   A royal Lady of Shalott,
   Sea-sundered, he beholds it not;
   He only hears it far away.
   The stress of equatorial day
   He suffers; he records the while
   The vapid annals of the isle;
   Slaves bring him praise of his renown,
   Or cackle of the palm-tree town;
   The rarer ship and the rare boat
   He marks; and only hears remote,
   Where thrones and fortunes rise and reel,
   The thunder of the turning wheel.

   V

   For the unexpected tears he shed
   At my departing, may his lion head
   Not whiten, his revolving years
   No fresh occasion minister of tears;
   At book or cards, at work or sport,
   Him may the breeze across the palace court
   For ever fan; and swelling near
   For ever the loud song divert his ear.

_Schooner_ ‘_Equator_,’ _at Sea_.



XXXVIII—THE WOODMAN


   In all the grove, nor stream nor bird
   Nor aught beside my blows was heard,
   And the woods wore their noonday dress—
   The glory of their silentness.
   From the island summit to the seas,
   Trees mounted, and trees drooped, and trees
   Groped upward in the gaps.  The green
   Inarboured talus and ravine
   By fathoms.  By the multitude
   The rugged columns of the wood
   And bunches of the branches stood;
   Thick as a mob, deep as a sea,
   And silent as eternity.
   With lowered axe, with backward head,
   Late from this scene my labourer fled,
   And with a ravelled tale to tell,
   Returned.  Some denizen of hell,
   Dead man or disinvested god,
   Had close behind him peered and trod,
   And triumphed when he turned to flee.
   How different fell the lines with me!
   Whose eye explored the dim arcade
   Impatient of the uncoming shade—
   Shy elf, or dryad pale and cold,
   Or mystic lingerer from of old:
   Vainly.  The fair and stately things,
   Impassive as departed kings,
   All still in the wood’s stillness stood,
   And dumb.  The rooted multitude
   Nodded and brooded, bloomed and dreamed,
   Unmeaning, undivined.  It seemed
   No other art, no hope, they knew,
   Than clutch the earth and seek the blue.
   ’Mid vegetable king and priest
   And stripling, I (the only beast)
   Was at the beast’s work, killing; hewed
   The stubborn roots across, bestrewed
   The glebe with the dislustred leaves,
   And bade the saplings fall in sheaves;
   Bursting across the tangled math
   A ruin that I called a path,
   A Golgotha that, later on,
   When rains had watered, and suns shone,
   And seeds enriched the place, should bear
   And be called garden.  Here and there,
   I spied and plucked by the green hair
   A foe more resolute to live,
   The toothed and killing sensitive.
   He, semi-conscious, fled the attack;
   He shrank and tucked his branches back;
   And straining by his anchor-strand,
   Captured and scratched the rooting hand.
   I saw him crouch, I felt him bite;
   And straight my eyes were touched with sight.
   I saw the wood for what it was:
   The lost and the victorious cause,
   The deadly battle pitched in line,
   Saw silent weapons cross and shine:
   Silent defeat, silent assault,
   A battle and a burial vault.

   Thick round me in the teeming mud
   Brier and fern strove to the blood:
   The hooked liana in his gin
   Noosed his reluctant neighbours in:
   There the green murderer throve and spread,
   Upon his smothering victims fed,
   And wantoned on his climbing coil.
   Contending roots fought for the soil
   Like frightened demons: with despair
   Competing branches pushed for air.
   Green conquerors from overhead
   Bestrode the bodies of their dead:
   The Caesars of the sylvan field,
   Unused to fail, foredoomed to yield:
   For in the groins of branches, lo!
   The cancers of the orchid grow.
   Silent as in the listed ring
   Two chartered wrestlers strain and cling;
   Dumb as by yellow Hooghly’s side
   The suffocating captives died;
   So hushed the woodland warfare goes
   Unceasing; and the silent foes
   Grapple and smother, strain and clasp
   Without a cry, without a gasp.
   Here also sound thy fans, O God,
   Here too thy banners move abroad:
   Forest and city, sea and shore,
   And the whole earth, thy threshing-floor!
   The drums of war, the drums of peace,
   Roll through our cities without cease,
   And all the iron halls of life
   Ring with the unremitting strife.

   The common lot we scarce perceive.
   Crowds perish, we nor mark nor grieve:
   The bugle calls—we mourn a few!
   What corporal’s guard at Waterloo?
   What scanty hundreds more or less
   In the man-devouring Wilderness?
   What handful bled on Delhi ridge?
   —See, rather, London, on thy bridge
   The pale battalions trample by,
   Resolved to slay, resigned to die.
   Count, rather, all the maimed and dead
   In the unbrotherly war of bread.
   See, rather, under sultrier skies
   What vegetable Londons rise,
   And teem, and suffer without sound:
   Or in your tranquil garden ground,
   Contented, in the falling gloom,
   Saunter and see the roses bloom.
   That these might live, what thousands died!
   All day the cruel hoe was plied;
   The ambulance barrow rolled all day;
   Your wife, the tender, kind, and gay,
   Donned her long gauntlets, caught the spud,
   And bathed in vegetable blood;
   And the long massacre now at end,
   See! where the lazy coils ascend,
   See, where the bonfire sputters red
   At even, for the innocent dead.

   Why prate of peace? when, warriors all,
   We clank in harness into hall,
   And ever bare upon the board
   Lies the necessary sword.
   In the green field or quiet street,
   Besieged we sleep, beleaguered eat;
   Labour by day and wake o’ nights,
   In war with rival appetites.
   The rose on roses feeds; the lark
   On larks.  The sedentary clerk
   All morning with a diligent pen
   Murders the babes of other men;
   And like the beasts of wood and park,
   Protects his whelps, defends his den.

   Unshamed the narrow aim I hold;
   I feed my sheep, patrol my fold;
   Breathe war on wolves and rival flocks,
   A pious outlaw on the rocks
   Of God and morning; and when time
   Shall bow, or rivals break me, climb
   Where no undubbed civilian dares,
   In my war harness, the loud stairs
   Of honour; and my conqueror
   Hail me a warrior fallen in war.

_Vailima_.



XXXIX—TROPIC RAIN


   As the single pang of the blow, when the metal is mingled well,
   Rings and lives and resounds in all the bounds of the bell,
   So the thunder above spoke with a single tongue,
   So in the heart of the mountain the sound of it rumbled and clung.

   Sudden the thunder was drowned—quenched was the levin light—
   And the angel-spirit of rain laughed out loud in the night.
   Loud as the maddened river raves in the cloven glen,
   Angel of rain! you laughed and leaped on the roofs of men;

   And the sleepers sprang in their beds, and joyed and feared as you
   fell.
   You struck, and my cabin quailed; the roof of it roared like a bell.
   You spoke, and at once the mountain shouted and shook with brooks.
   You ceased, and the day returned, rosy, with virgin looks.

   And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two;
   And the world has room for love, and death, and thunder, and dew;
   And all the sinews of hell slumber in summer air;
   And the face of God is a rock, but the face of the rock is fair.
   Beneficent streams of tears flow at the finger of pain;
   And out of the cloud that smites, beneficent rivers of rain.

_Vailima_.



XL—AN END OF TRAVEL


   Let now your soul in this substantial world
   Some anchor strike.  Be here the body moored;—
   This spectacle immutably from now
   The picture in your eye; and when time strikes,
   And the green scene goes on the instant blind—
   The ultimate helpers, where your horse to-day
   Conveyed you dreaming, bear your body dead.

_Vailima_.



XLI


   We uncommiserate pass into the night
   From the loud banquet, and departing leave
   A tremor in men’s memories, faint and sweet
   And frail as music.  Features of our face,
   The tones of the voice, the touch of the loved hand,
   Perish and vanish, one by one, from earth:
   Meanwhile, in the hall of song, the multitude
   Applauds the new performer.  One, perchance,
   One ultimate survivor lingers on,
   And smiles, and to his ancient heart recalls
   The long forgotten.  Ere the morrow die,
   He too, returning, through the curtain comes,
   And the new age forgets us and goes on.



XLII


   Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
      Say, could that lad be I?
   Merry of soul he sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye.

   Mull was astern, Rum on the port,
      Eigg on the starboard bow;
   Glory of youth glowed in his soul:
      Where is that glory now?

   Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
      Say, could that lad be I?
   Merry of soul he sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye.

   Give me again all that was there,
      Give me the sun that shone!
   Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
      Give me the lad that’s gone!

   Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
      Say, could that lad be I?
   Merry of soul he sailed on a day
      Over the sea to Skye.

   Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
      Mountains of rain and sun,
   All that was good, all that was fair,
      All that was me is gone.



XLIII—TO S. R. CROCKETT
(_On receiving a Dedication_)


   Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are flying,
      Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now,
   Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying,
      My heart remembers how!

   Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places,
      Standing stones on the vacant wine-red moor,
   Hills of sheep, and the howes of the silent vanished races,
      And winds, austere and pure:

   Be it granted me to behold you again in dying,
      Hills of home! and to hear again the call;
   Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying,
      And hear no more at all.

_Vailima_.



XLIV—EVENSONG


   The embers of the day are red
   Beyond the murky hill.
   The kitchen smokes: the bed
   In the darkling house is spread:
   The great sky darkens overhead,
   And the great woods are shrill.
   So far have I been led,
   Lord, by Thy will:
   So far I have followed, Lord, and wondered still.

   The breeze from the enbalmèd land
   Blows sudden toward the shore,
   And claps my cottage door.
   I hear the signal, Lord—I understand.
   The night at Thy command
   Comes.  I will eat and sleep and will not question more.

_Vailima_.



Footnotes


{44}  This is the same Princess Moë whose charms of person and
disposition have been recorded by the late Lord Pembroke in _South Sea
Bubbles_, and by M. Pierre Loti in the _Mariage de Loti_.

{45}  The yacht _Casco_ had been so called by the people of Fakarava in
the Paumotus.





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