Underwoods

Page 06

As when the Indian to Dakota comes, Or farthest Idaho, and where he dwelt, He with his clan, a humming city finds; Thereon awhile, amazed, he stares, and then To right and leftward, like a questing dog, Seeks first the ancestral altars, then the hearth Long cold with rains, and where old terror lodged, And where the dead. So thee undying Hope, With all her pack, hunts screaming through the years: Here, there, thou fleeest; but nor here nor there The pleasant gods abide, the glory dwells.

That, that was not Apollo, not the god. This was not Venus, though she Venus seemed A moment. And though fair yon river move, She, all the way, from disenchanted fount To seas unhallowed runs; the gods forsook Long since her trembling rushes; from her plains Disconsolate, long since adventure fled; And now although the inviting river flows, And every poplared cape, and every bend Or willowy islet, win upon thy soul And to thy hopeful shallop whisper speed; Yet hope not thou at all; hope is no more; And O, long since the golden groves are dead The faery cities vanished from the land!

XVI - TO W. E. HENLEY

The year runs through her phases; rain and sun, Springtime and summer pass; winter succeeds; But one pale season rules the house of death. Cold falls the imprisoned daylight; fell disease By each lean pallet squats, and pain and sleep Toss gaping on the pillows. But O thou! Uprise and take thy pipe. Bid music flow, Strains by good thoughts attended, like the spring The swallows follow over land and sea. Pain sleeps at once; at once, with open eyes, Dozing despair awakes. The shepherd sees His flock come bleating home; the seaman hears Once more the cordage rattle. Airs of home! Youth, love and roses blossom; the gaunt ward Dislimns and disappears, and, opening out, Shows brooks and forests, and the blue beyond Of mountains. Small the pipe; but oh! do thou, Peak-faced and suffering piper, blow therein The dirge of heroes dead; and to these sick, These dying, sound the triumph over death. Behold! each greatly breathes; each tastes a joy Unknown before, in dying; for each knows A hero dies with him - though unfulfilled, Yet conquering truly - and not dies in vain

So is pain cheered, death comforted; the house Of sorrow smiles to listen. Once again - O thou, Orpheus and Heracles, the bard And the deliverer, touch the stops again!

XVII - HENRY JAMES

Who comes to-night? We ope the doors in vain. Who comes? My bursting walls, can you contain The presences that now together throng Your narrow entry, as with flowers and song, As with the air of life, the breath of talk? Lo, how these fair immaculate women walk Behind their jocund maker; and we see Slighted DE MAUVES, and that far different she, GRESSIE, the trivial sphynx; and to our feast DAISY and BARB and CHANCELLOR (she not least!) With all their silken, all their airy kin, Do like unbidden angels enter in. But he, attended by these shining names, Comes (best of all) himself - our welcome James.

XVIII - THE MIRROR SPEAKS

Where the bells peal far at sea Cunning fingers fashioned me. There on palace walls I hung While that Consuelo sung; But I heard, though I listened well, Never a note, never a trill, Never a beat of the chiming bell. There I hung and looked, and there In my gray face, faces fair Shone from under shining hair. Well I saw the poising head, But the lips moved and nothing said; And when lights were in the hall, Silent moved the dancers all.

So awhile I glowed, and then Fell on dusty days and men; Long I slumbered packed in straw, Long I none but dealers saw; Till before my silent eye One that sees came passing by.

Now with an outlandish grace, To the sparkling fire I face In the blue room at Skerryvore; Where I wait until the door Open, and the Prince of Men, Henry James, shall come again.

XIX - KATHARINE

We see you as we see a face That trembles in a forest place Upon the mirror of a pool Forever quiet, clear and cool; And in the wayward glass, appears To hover between smiles and tears, Elfin and human, airy and true, And backed by the reflected blue.

Underwoods Page 07

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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