Underwoods

Page 05

And lo, as my serener soul Did these unhappy shores patrol, And wait with an attentive ear The coming of the gondolier, Your fire-surviving roll I took, Your spirited and happy book; (1) Whereon, despite my frowning fate, It did my soul so recreate That all my fancies fled away On a Venetian holiday.

Now, thanks to your triumphant care, Your pages clear as April air, The sails, the bells, the birds, I know, And the far-off Friulan snow; The land and sea, the sun and shade, And the blue even lamp-inlaid. For this, for these, for all, O friend, For your whole book from end to end - For Paron Piero's muttonham - I your defaulting debtor am.

Perchance, reviving, yet may I To your sea-paven city hie, And in FELZE, some day yet Light at your pipe my cigarette.

(1) LIFE ON THE LAGOONS, by H. F. Brown, originally burned in the fire at Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench. and Co.'s.

XIV - TO ANDREW LANG

Dear Andrew, with the brindled hair, Who glory to have thrown in air, High over arm, the trembling reed, By Ale and Kail, by Till and Tweed: An equal craft of band you show The pen to guide, the fly to throw: I count you happy starred; for God, When He with inkpot and with rod Endowed you, bade your fortune lead Forever by the crooks of Tweed, Forever by the woods of song And lands that to the Muse belong; Or if in peopled streets, or in The abhorred pedantic sanhedrim, It should be yours to wander, still Airs of the morn, airs of the hill, The plovery Forest and the seas That break about the Hebrides, Should follow over field and plain And find you at the window pane; And you again see hill and peel, And the bright springs gush at your heel. So went the fiat forth, and so Garrulous like a brook you go, With sound of happy mirth and sheen Of daylight - whether by the green You fare that moment, or the gray; Whether you dwell in March or May; Or whether treat of reels and rods Or of the old unhappy gods: Still like a brook your page has shone, And your ink sings of Helicon.

XV - ET TU IN ARCADIA VIXISTI (TO R. A. M. S.)

In ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt; There, from of old, thy childhood passed; and there High expectation, high delights and deeds, Thy fluttering heart with hope and terror moved. And thou hast heard of yore the Blatant Beast, And Roland's horn, and that war-scattering shout Of all-unarmed Achilles, aegis-crowned And perilous lands thou sawest, sounding shores And seas and forests drear, island and dale And mountain dark. For thou with Tristram rod'st Or Bedevere, in farthest Lyonesse.

Thou hadst a booth in Samarcand, whereat Side-looking Magians trafficked; thence, by night, An Afreet snatched thee, and with wings upbore Beyond the Aral mount; or, hoping gain, Thou, with a jar of money, didst embark, For Balsorah, by sea. But chiefly thou In that clear air took'st life; in Arcady The haunted, land of song; and by the wells Where most the gods frequent. There Chiron old, In the Pelethronian antre, taught thee lore: The plants, he taught, and by the shining stars In forests dim to steer. There hast thou seen Immortal Pan dance secret in a glade, And, dancing, roll his eyes; these, where they fell, Shed glee, and through the congregated oaks A flying horror winged; while all the earth To the god's pregnant footing thrilled within. Or whiles, beside the sobbing stream, he breathed, In his clutched pipe unformed and wizard strains Divine yet brutal; which the forest heard, And thou, with awe; and far upon the plain The unthinking ploughman started and gave ear.

Now things there are that, upon him who sees, A strong vocation lay; and strains there are That whoso hears shall hear for evermore. For evermore thou hear'st immortal Pan And those melodious godheads, ever young And ever quiring, on the mountains old.

What was this earth, child of the gods, to thee? Forth from thy dreamland thou, a dreamer, cam'st And in thine ears the olden music rang, And in thy mind the doings of the dead, And those heroic ages long forgot. To a so fallen earth, alas! too late, Alas! in evil days, thy steps return, To list at noon for nightingales, to grow A dweller on the beach till Argo come That came long since, a lingerer by the pool Where that desired angel bathes no more.

Underwoods Page 06

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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