New Poems

Page 16


SO live, so love, so use that fragile hour, That when the dark hand of the shining power Shall one from other, wife or husband, take, The poor survivor may not weep and wake.


DEAR sir, good-morrow! Five years back, When you first girded for this arduous track, And under various whimsical pretexts Endowed another with your damned defects, Could you have dreamed in your despondent vein That the kind God would make your path so plain? Non nobis, domine! O, may He still Support my stumbling footsteps on the hill!


BEFORE this little gift was come The little owner had made haste for home; And from the door of where the eternal dwell, Looked back on human things and smiled farewell. O may this grief remain the only one! O may our house be still a garrison Of smiling children, and for evermore The tune of little feet be heard along the floor!


GO, little book - the ancient phrase And still the daintiest - go your ways, My Otto, over sea and land, Till you shall come to Nelly's hand.

How shall I your Nelly know? By her blue eyes and her black brow, By her fierce and slender look, And by her goodness, little book!

What shall I say when I come there? You shall speak her soft and fair: See - you shall say - the love they send To greet their unforgotten friend!

Giant Adulpho you shall sing The next, and then the cradled king: And the four corners of the roof Then kindly bless; and to your perch aloof, Where Balzac all in yellow dressed And the dear Webster of the west Encircle the prepotent throne Of Shakespeare and of Calderon, Shall climb an upstart.

There with these You shall give ear to breaking seas And windmills turning in the breeze, A distant undetermined din Without; and you shall hear within The blazing and the bickering logs, The crowing child, the yawning dogs, And ever agile, high and low, Our Nelly going to and fro.

There shall you all silent sit, Till, when perchance the lamp is lit And the day's labour done, she takes Poor Otto down, and, warming for our sakes, Perchance beholds, alive and near, Our distant faces reappear.


MY love was warm; for that I crossed The mountains and the sea, Nor counted that endeavour lost That gave my love to me.

If that indeed were love at all, As still, my love, I trow, By what dear name am I to call The bond that holds me now


TO her, for I must still regard her As feminine in her degree, Who has been my unkind bombarder Year after year, in grief and glee, Year after year, with oaken tree; And yet betweenwhiles my laudator In terms astonishing to me - To the Right Reverend The Spectator I here, a humble dedicator, Bring the last apples from my tree.

In tones of love, in tones of warning, She hailed me through my brief career; And kiss and buffet, night and morning, Told me my grandmamma was near; Whether she praised me high and clear Through her unrivalled circulation, Or, sanctimonious insincere, She damned me with a misquotation - A chequered but a sweet relation, Say, was it not, my granny dear?

Believe me, granny, altogether Yours, though perhaps to your surprise. Oft have you spruced my wounded feather, Oft brought a light into my eyes - For notice still the writer cries. In any civil age or nation, The book that is not talked of dies. So that shall be my termination: Whether in praise or execration, Still, if you love me, criticise!


FAREWELL, and when forth I through the Golden Gates to Golden Isles Steer without smiling, through the sea of smiles, Isle upon isle, in the seas of the south, Isle upon island, sea upon sea, Why should I sail, why should the breeze? I have been young, and I have counted friends. A hopeless sail I spread, too late, too late. Why should I from isle to isle Sail, a hopeless sailor?

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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