New Poems

Page 05


STOUT marches lead to certain ends, We seek no Holy Grail, my friends - That dawn should find us every day Some fraction farther on our way.

The dumb lands sleep from east to west, They stretch and turn and take their rest. The cock has crown in the steading-yard, But priest and people slumber hard.

We two are early forth, and hear The nations snoring far and near. So peacefully their rest they take, It seems we are the first awake!

- Strong heart! this is no royal way, A thousand cross-roads seek the day; And, hid from us, to left and right, A thousand seekers seek the light.


AWAY with funeral music - set The pipe to powerful lips - The cup of life's for him that drinks And not for him that sips.


NOT thine where marble-still and white Old statues share the tempered light And mock the uneven modern flight, But in the stream Of daily sorrow and delight To seek a theme.

I too, O friend, have steeled my heart Boldly to choose the better part, To leave the beaten ways of art, And wholly free To dare, beyond the scanty chart, The deeper sea.

All vain restrictions left behind, Frail bark! I loose my anchored mind And large, before the prosperous wind Desert the strand - A new Columbus sworn to find The morning land.

Nor too ambitious, friend. To thee I own my weakness. Not for me To sing the enfranchised nations' glee, Or count the cost Of warships foundered far at sea And battles lost.

High on the far-seen, sunny hills, Morning-content my bosom fills; Well-pleased, I trace the wandering rills And learn their birth. Far off, the clash of sovereign wills May shake the earth.

The nimble circuit of the wheel, The uncertain poise of merchant weal, Heaven of famine, fire and steel When nations fall; These, heedful, from afar I feel - I mark them all.

But not, my friend, not these I sing, My voice shall fill a narrower ring. Tired souls, that flag upon the wing, I seek to cheer: Brave wines to strengthen hope I bring, Life's cantineer!

Some song that shall be suppling oil To weary muscles strained with toil, Shall hearten for the daily moil, Or widely read Make sweet for him that tills the soil His daily bread.

Such songs in my flushed hours I dream (High thought) instead of armour gleam Or warrior cantos ream by ream To load the shelves - Songs with a lilt of words, that seem To sing themselves.


HAD I the power that have the will, The enfeebled will - a modern curse - This book of mine should blossom still A perfect garden-ground of verse.

White placid marble gods should keep Good watch in every shadowy lawn; And from clean, easy-breathing sleep The birds should waken me at dawn.

- A fairy garden; - none the less Throughout these gracious paths of mine All day there should be free access For stricken hearts and lives that pine;

And by the folded lawns all day - No idle gods for such a land - All active Love should take its way With active Labour hand in hand.


O DULL cold northern sky, O brawling sabbath bells, O feebly twittering Autumn bird that tells The year is like to die!

O still, spoiled trees, O city ways, O sun desired in vain, O dread presentiment of coming rain That cloys the sullen days!

Thee, heart of mine, I greet. In what hard mountain pass Striv'st thou? In what importunate morass Sink now thy weary feet?

Thou run'st a hopeless race To win despair. No crown Awaits success, but leaden gods look down On thee, with evil face.

And those that would befriend And cherish thy defeat, With angry welcome shall turn sour the sweet Home-coming of the end.

Yea, those that offer praise To idleness, shall yet Insult thee, coming glorious in the sweat Of honourable ways.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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