New Poems

Page 03


AS swallows turning backward When half-way o'er the sea, At one word's trumpet summons They came again to me - The hopes I had forgotten Came back again to me.

I know not which to credit, O lady of my heart! Your eyes that bade me linger, Your words that bade us part - I know not which to credit, My reason or my heart.

But be my hopes rewarded, Or be they but in vain, I have dreamed a golden vision, I have gathered in the grain - I have dreamed a golden vision, I have not lived in vain.


MY first gift and my last, to you I dedicate this fascicle of songs - The only wealth I have: Just as they are, to you.

I speak the truth in soberness, and say I had rather bring a light to your clear eyes, Had rather hear you praise This bosomful of songs

Than that the whole, hard world with one consent, In one continuous chorus of applause Poured forth for me and mine The homage of ripe praise.

I write the finis here against my love, This is my love's last epitaph and tomb. Here the road forks, and I Go my way, far from yours.


THE old Chimaeras, old receipts For making "happy land," The old political beliefs Swam close before my hand.

The grand old communistic myths In a middle state of grace, Quite dead, but not yet gone to Hell, And walking for a space,

Quite dead, and looking it, and yet All eagerness to show The Social-Contract forgeries By Chatterton - Rousseau -

A hundred such as these I tried, And hundreds after that, I fitted Social Theories As one would fit a hat!

Full many a marsh-fire lured me on, I reached at many a star, I reached and grasped them and behold - The stump of a cigar!

All through the sultry sweltering day The sweat ran down my brow, The still plains heard my distant strokes That have been silenced now.

This way and that, now up, now down, I hailed full many a blow. Alas! beneath my weary arm The thicket seemed to grow.

I take the lesson, wipe my brow And throw my axe aside, And, sorely wearied, I go home In the tranquil eventide.

And soon the rising moon, that lights The eve of my defeat, Shall see me sitting as of yore By my old master's feet.


BY sunny market-place and street Wherever I go my drum I beat, And wherever I go in my coat of red The ribbons flutter about my head.

I seek recruits for wars to come - For slaughterless wars I beat the drum, And the shilling I give to each new ally Is hope to live and courage to die.

I know that new recruits shall come Wherever I beat the sounding drum, Till the roar of the march by country and town Shall shake the tottering Dagons down.

For I was objectless as they And loitering idly day by day; But whenever I heard the recruiters come, I left my all to follow the drum.


I HAVE left all upon the shameful field, Honour and Hope, my God, and all but life; Spurless, with sword reversed and dinted shield, Degraded and disgraced, I leave the strife.

From him that hath not, shall there not be taken E'en that he hath, when he deserts the strife? Life left by all life's benefits forsaken, O keep the promise, Lord, and take the life.


I SEND to you, commissioners, A paper that may please ye, sirs (For troth they say it might be worse An' I believe't) And on your business lay my curse Before I leav't.

I thocht I'd serve wi' you, sirs, yince, But I've thocht better of it since; The maitter I will nowise mince, But tell ye true: I'll service wi' some ither prince, An' no wi' you.

I've no been very deep, ye'll think, Cam' delicately to the brink An' when the water gart me shrink Straucht took the rue, An' didna stoop my fill to drink - I own it true.

I kent on cape and isle, a light Burnt fair an' clearly ilka night; But at the service I took fright, As sune's I saw, An' being still a neophite Gaed straucht awa'.

Anither course I now begin, The weeg I'll cairry for my sin, The court my voice shall echo in, An' - wha can tell? - Some ither day I may be yin O' you mysel'.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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