Underwoods

Page 10

But there Eternal granite hewn from the living isle And dowelled with brute iron, rears a tower That from its wet foundation to its crown Of glittering glass, stands, in the sweep of winds, Immovable, immortal, eminent.

XXXVI

MY HOUSE, I say. But hark to the sunny doves That make my roof the arena of their loves, That gyre about the gable all day long And fill the chimneys with their murmurous song: OUR HOUSE, they say; and MINE, the cat declares And spreads his golden fleece upon the chairs; And MINE the dog, and rises stiff with wrath If any alien foot profane the path. So too the buck that trimmed my terraces, Our whilome gardener, called the garden his; Who now, deposed, surveys my plain abode And his late kingdom, only from the road.

XXXVII

My body which my dungeon is, And yet my parks and palaces:- Which is so great that there I go All the day long to and fro, And when the night begins to fall Throw down my bed and sleep, while all The building hums with wakefulness - Even as a child of savages When evening takes her on her way, (She having roamed a summer's day Along the mountain-sides and scalp) Sleeps in an antre of that alp:- Which is so broad and high that there, As in the topless fields of air, My fancy soars like to a kite

And faints in the blue infinite:- Which is so strong, my strongest throes And the rough world's besieging blows Not break it, and so weak withal, Death ebbs and flows in its loose wall As the green sea in fishers' nets, And tops its topmost parapets:- Which is so wholly mine that I Can wield its whole artillery, And mine so little, that my soul Dwells in perpetual control, And I but think and speak and do As my dead fathers move me to:- If this born body of my bones The beggared soul so barely owns, What money passed from hand to hand, What creeping custom of the land, What deed of author or assign, Can make a house a thing of mine?

XXXVIII

Say not of me that weakly I declined The labours of my sires, and fled the sea, The towers we founded and the lamps we lit, To play at some with paper like a child. But rather say: IN THE AFTERNOON OF TIME A STRENUOUS FAMILY DUSTED FROM ITS HANDS THE SAND OF GRANITE, AND BEHOLDING FAR ALONG THE SOUNDING COAST ITS PYRAMIDS AND TALL MEMORIALS CATCH THE DYING SUN, SMILED WELL CONTENT, AND TO THIS CHILDISH TASK AROUND THE FIRE ADDRESSED ITS EVENING HOURS.

BOOK II. - In Scots TABLE OF COMMON SCOTTISH VOWEL SOUNDS

ae } ae } = open A as in rare.

a' } au } = AW as in law aw }

ea = open E as in mere, but this with exceptions, as heather = heather, wean=wain, lear=lair.

ee } ei } = open E as in mere. ie }

oa = open O as in more. ou = doubled O as in poor. ow = OW as in bower. u = doubled O as in poor. ui or u-umlaut before R = (say roughly) open A as in rare. ui or u-umlaut before any other consonant = (say roughly) close I as in grin. y = open I as in kite. i = pretty nearly what you please, much as in English, Heaven guide the reader through that labyrinth! But in Scots it dodges usually from the short I, as in grin, to the open E, as in mere. Find the blind, I may remark, are prounced to rhyme with the preterite of grin.

I - THE MAKER TO POSTERITY

Far `yont amang the years to be When a' we think, an' a' we see, An' a' we luve, `s been dung ajee By time's rouch shouther, An' what was richt and wrang for me Lies mangled throu'ther,

It's possible - it's hardly mair - That some ane, ripin' after lear - Some auld professor or young heir, If still there's either - May find an' read me, an' be sair Perplexed, puir brither!

"What tongue does your auld bookie speak?" He'll spier; an' I, his mou to steik: "No bein' fit to write in Greek, I write in Lallan, Dear to my heart as the peat reek, Auld as Tantallon.

"Few spak it then, an' noo there's nane. My puir auld sangs lie a' their lane, Their sense, that aince was braw an' plain, Tint a'thegether, Like runes upon a standin' stane Amang the heather.

"But think not you the brae to speel; You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel; For a' your lear, for a' your skeel, Ye're nane sae lucky; An' things are mebbe waur than weel For you, my buckie.

Underwoods Page 11

Robert Louis Stevenson

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Robert Louis Stevenson
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