New Poems

Page 14


YES, friend, I own these tales of Arabia Smile not, as smiled their flawless originals, Age-old but yet untamed, for ages Pass and the magic is undiminished.

Thus, friend, the tales of the old Camaralzaman, Ayoub, the Slave of Love, or the Calendars, Blind-eyed and ill-starred royal scions, Charm us in age as they charmed in childhood.

Fair ones, beyond all numerability, Beam from the palace, beam on humanity, Bright-eyed, in truth, yet soul-less houris Offering pleasure and only pleasure.

Thus they, the venal Muses Arabian, Unlike, indeed, the nobler divinities, Greek Gods or old time-honoured muses, Easily proffer unloved caresses.

Lost, lost, the man who mindeth the minstrelsy; Since still, in sandy, glittering pleasances, Cold, stony fruits, gem-like but quite in- Edible, flatter and wholly starve him.


BEHOLD, as goblins dark of mien And portly tyrants dyed with crime Change, in the transformation scene, At Christmas, in the pantomime,

Instanter, at the prompter's cough, The fairy bonnets them, and they Throw their abhorred carbuncles off And blossom like the flowers in May.

- So mankind, to angelic eyes, So, through the scenes of life below, In life's ironical disguise, A travesty of man, ye go:

But fear not: ere the curtain fall, Death in the transformation scene Steps forward from her pedestal, Apparent, as the fairy Queen;

And coming, frees you in a trice From all your lendings - lust of fame, Ungainly virtue, ugly vice, Terror and tyranny and shame.

So each, at last himself, for good In that dear country lays him down, At last beloved and understood And pure in feature and renown.


STILL I love to rhyme, and still more, rhyming, to wander Far from the commoner way; Old-time trills and falls by the brook-side still do I ponder, Dreaming to-morrow to-day.

Come here, come, revive me, Sun-God, teach me, Apollo, Measures descanted before; Since I ancient verses, I emulous follow, Prints in the marbles of yore.

Still strange, strange, they sound in old-young raiment invested, Songs for the brain to forget - Young song-birds elate to grave old temples benested Piping and chirruping yet.

Thoughts? No thought has yet unskilled attempted to flutter Trammelled so vilely in verse; He who writes but aims at fame and his bread and his butter, Won with a groan and a curse.


LONG time I lay in little ease Where, placed by the Turanian, Marseilles, the many-masted, sees The blue Mediterranean.

Now songful in the hour of sport, Now riotous for wages, She camps around her ancient port, As ancient of the ages.

Algerian airs through all the place Unconquerably sally; Incomparable women pace The shadows of the alley.

And high o'er dark and graving yard And where the sky is paler, The golden virgin of the guard Shines, beckoning the sailor.

She hears the city roar on high, Thief, prostitute, and banker; She sees the masted vessels lie Immovably at anchor.

She sees the snowy islets dot The sea's immortal azure, And If, that castellated spot, Tower, turret, and embrasure.


FLOWER god, god of the spring, beautiful, bountiful, Cold-dyed shield in the sky, lover of versicles, Here I wander in April Cold, grey-headed; and still to my Heart, Spring comes with a bound, Spring the deliverer, Spring, song-leader in woods, chorally resonant; Spring, flower-planter in meadows, Child-conductor in willowy Fields deep dotted with bloom, daisies and crocuses: Here that child from his heart drinks of eternity: O child, happy are children! She still smiles on their innocence, She, dear mother in God, fostering violets, Fills earth full of her scents, voices and violins: Thus one cunning in music Wakes old chords in the memory: Thus fair earth in the Spring leads her performances. One more touch of the bow, smell of the virginal Green - one more, and my bosom Feels new life with an ecstasy.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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