New Poems

Page 21


TO all that love the far and blue: Whether, from dawn to eve, on foot The fleeing corners ye pursue, Nor weary of the vain pursuit; Or whether down the singing stream, Paddle in hand, jocund ye shoot, To splash beside the splashing bream Or anchor by the willow root:

Or, bolder, from the narrow shore Put forth, that cedar ark to steer, Among the seabirds and the roar Of the great sea, profound and clear; Or, lastly if in heart ye roam, Not caring to do else, and hear, Safe sitting by the fire at home, Footfalls in Utah or Pamere:

Though long the way, though hard to bear The sun and rain, the dust and dew; Though still attainment and despair Inter the old, despoil the new; There shall at length, be sure, O friends, Howe'er ye steer, whate'er ye do - At length, and at the end of ends, The golden city come in view.


THOU strainest through the mountain fern, A most exiguously thin Burn. For all thy foam, for all thy din, Thee shall the pallid lake inurn, With well-a-day for Mr. Swin-Burne! Take then this quarto in thy fin And, O thou stoker huge and stern, The whole affair, outside and in, Burn! But save the true poetic kin, The works of Mr. Robert Burn' And William Wordsworth upon Tin-Tern!


WHEN my young lady has grown great and staid, And in long raiment wondrously arrayed, She may take pleasure with a smile to know How she delighted men-folk long ago. For her long after, then, this tale I tell Of the two fans and fairy Rosabelle. Hot was the day; her weary sire and I Sat in our chairs companionably nigh, Each with a headache sat her sire and I.

Instant the hostess waked: she viewed the scene, Divined the giants' languor by their mien, And with hospitable care Tackled at once an Atlantean chair. Her pigmy stature scarce attained the seat - She dragged it where she would, and with her feet Surmounted; thence, a Phaeton launched, she crowned The vast plateau of the piano, found And culled a pair of fans; wherewith equipped, Our mountaineer back to the level slipped; And being landed, with considerate eyes, Betwixt her elders dealt her double prize; The small to me, the greater to her sire. As painters now advance and now retire Before the growing canvas, and anon Once more approach and put the climax on: So she awhile withdrew, her piece she viewed - For half a moment half supposed it good - Spied her mistake, nor sooner spied than ran To remedy; and with the greater fan, In gracious better thought, equipped the guest.

From ill to well, from better on to best, Arts move; the homely, like the plastic kind; And high ideals fired that infant mind. Once more she backed, once more a space apart Considered and reviewed her work of art: Doubtful at first, and gravely yet awhile; Till all her features blossomed in a smile. And the child, waking at the call of bliss, To each she ran, and took and gave a kiss.


NOW bare to the beholder's eye Your late denuded bindings lie, Subsiding slowly where they fell, A disinvested citadel; The obdurate corset, Cupid's foe, The Dutchman's breeches frilled below. Those that the lover notes to note, And white and crackling petticoat.

From these, that on the ground repose, Their lady lately re-arose; And laying by the lady's name, A living woman re-became. Of her, that from the public eye They do enclose and fortify, Now, lying scattered as they fell, An indiscreeter tale they tell: Of that more soft and secret her Whose daylong fortresses they were, By fading warmth, by lingering print, These now discarded scabbards hint.

A twofold change the ladies know: First, in the morn the bugles blow, And they, with floral hues and scents, Man their beribboned battlements. But let the stars appear, and they Shed inhumanities away; And from the changeling fashion see, Through comic and through sweet degree, In nature's toilet unsurpassed, Forth leaps the laughing girl at last.

Robert Louis Stevenson
Classic Literature Library

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