Underwoods

Page 07

XX- TO F. J. S.

I read, dear friend, in your dear face Your life's tale told with perfect grace; The river of your life, I trace Up the sun-chequered, devious bed To the far-distant fountain-head.

Not one quick beat of your warm heart, Nor thought that came to you apart, Pleasure nor pity, love nor pain Nor sorrow, has gone by in vain;

But as some lone, wood-wandering child Brings home with him at evening mild The thorns and flowers of all the wild, From your whole life, O fair and true Your flowers and thorns you bring with you!

XXI - REQUIEM

Under the wide and starry sky, Dig the grave and let me lie. Glad did I live and gladly die, And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me: HERE HE LIES WHERE HE LONGED TO BE; HOME IS THE SAILOR, HOME FROM SEA, AND THE HUNTER HOME FROM THE HILL.

XXII - THE CELESTIAL SURGEON

If I have faltered more or less In my great task of happiness; If I have moved among my race And shown no glorious morning face; If beams from happy human eyes Have moved me not; if morning skies, Books, and my food, and summer rain Knocked on my sullen heart in vain:- Lord, thy most pointed pleasure take And stab my spirit broad awake; Or, Lord, if too obdurate I, Choose thou, before that spirit die, A piercing pain, a killing sin, And to my dead heart run them in!

XXIII - OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS

Out of the sun, out of the blast, Out of the world, alone I passed Across the moor and through the wood To where the monastery stood. There neither lute nor breathing fife, Nor rumour of the world of life, Nor confidences low and dear, Shall strike the meditative ear. Aloof, unhelpful, and unkind, The prisoners of the iron mind, Where nothing speaks except the hell The unfraternal brothers dwell.

Poor passionate men, still clothed afresh With agonising folds of flesh; Whom the clear eyes solicit still To some bold output of the will, While fairy Fancy far before And musing Memory-Hold-the-door Now to heroic death invite And now uncurtain fresh delight: O, little boots it thus to dwell On the remote unneighboured hill!

O to be up and doing, O Unfearing and unshamed to go In all the uproar and the press About my human business! My undissuaded heart I hear Whisper courage in my ear. With voiceless calls, the ancient earth Summons me to a daily birth.

Thou, O my love, ye, O my friends - The gist of life, the end of ends - To laugh, to love, to live, to die, Ye call me by the ear and eye!

Forth from the casemate, on the plain Where honour has the world to gain, Pour forth and bravely do your part, O knights of the unshielded heart! Forth and forever forward! - out From prudent turret and redoubt, And in the mellay charge amain, To fall but yet to rise again! Captive? ah, still, to honour bright, A captive soldier of the right! Or free and fighting, good with ill? Unconquering but unconquered still!

And ye, O brethren, what if God, When from Heav'n's top he spies abroad, And sees on this tormented stage The noble war of mankind rage: What if his vivifying eye, O monks, should pass your corner by? For still the Lord is Lord of might; In deeds, in deeds, he takes delight; The plough, the spear, the laden barks, The field, the founded city, marks; He marks the smiler of the streets, The singer upon garden seats; He sees the climber in the rocks: To him, the shepherd folds his flocks. For those he loves that underprop With daily virtues Heaven's top, And bear the falling sky with ease, Unfrowning caryatides. Those he approves that ply the trade, That rock the child, that wed the maid, That with weak virtues, weaker hands, Sow gladness on the peopled lands, And still with laughter, song and shout, Spin the great wheel of earth about.

But ye? - O ye who linger still Here in your fortress on the hill, With placid face, with tranquil breath, The unsought volunteers of death, Our cheerful General on high With careless looks may pass you by.

XXIV

Not yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert, Where thou with grass, and rivers, and the breeze, And the bright face of day, thy dalliance hadst; Where to thine ear first sang the enraptured birds; Where love and thou that lasting bargain made. The ship rides trimmed, and from the eternal shore Thou hearest airy voices; but not yet Depart, my soul, not yet awhile depart.

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Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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