New Poems
by Robert Louis Stevenson
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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.


CLINKUM-CLANK in the rain they ride, Down by the braes and the grey sea-side; Clinkum-clank by stane and cairn, Weary fa' their horse-shoe-airn!

Loud on the causey, saft on the sand, Round they rade by the tail of the land; Round and up by the Bour-Tree Den, Weary fa' the red-coat men!

Aft hae I gane where they hae rade And straigled in the gowden brooms - Aft hae I gane, a saikless maid, And O! sae bonny as the bour-tree blooms!

Wi' swords and guns they wanton there, Wi' red, red coats and braw, braw plumes. But I gaed wi' my gowden hair, And O! sae bonny as the bour-tree blooms!

I ran, a little hempie lass, In the sand and the bent grass, Or took and kilted my small coats To play in the beached fisher-boats.

I waded deep and I ran fast, I was as lean as a lugger's mast, I was as brown as a fisher's creel, And I liked my life unco weel.

They blew a trumpet at the cross, Some forty men, both foot and horse. A'body cam to hear and see, And wha, among the rest, but me. My lips were saut wi' the saut air, My face was brown, my feet were bare The wind had ravelled my tautit hair, And I thought shame to be standing there.

Ae man there in the thick of the throng Sat in his saddle, straight and strong. I looked at him and he at me, And he was a master-man to see. . . . And who is this yin? and who is yon That has the bonny lendings on? That sits and looks sae braw and crouse? . . . Mister Frank o' the Big House!

I gaed my lane beside the sea; The wind it blew in bush and tree, The wind blew in bush and bent: Muckle I saw, and muckle kent!

Between the beach and the sea-hill I sat my lane and grat my fill - I was sae clarty and hard and dark, And like the kye in the cow park!

There fell a battle far in the north; The evil news gaed back and forth, And back and forth by brae and bent Hider and hunter cam and went: The hunter clattered horse-shoe-airn By causey-crest and hill-top cairn; The hider, in by shag and shench, Crept on his wame and little lench.

The eastland wind blew shrill and snell, The stars arose, the gloaming fell, The firelight shone in window and door When Mr. Frank cam here to shore. He hirpled up by the links and the lane, And chappit laigh in the back-door-stane. My faither gaed, and up wi' his han'! . . . Is this Mr. Frank, or a beggarman?

I have mistrysted sair, he said, But let me into fire and bed; Let me in, for auld lang syne, And give me a dram of the brandy wine.

They hid him in the Bour-Tree Den, And I thought it strange to gang my lane; I thought it strange, I thought it sweet, To gang there on my naked feet. In the mirk night, when the boats were at sea, I passed the burn abune the knee; In the mirk night, when the folks were asleep, I had a tryst in the den to keep.

Late and air', when the folks were asleep, I had a tryst, a tryst to keep, I had a lad that lippened to me, And bour-tree blossom is fair to see!

O' the bour-tree leaves I busked his bed, The mune was siller, the dawn was red: Was nae man there but him and me - And bour-tree blossom is fair to see!

Unco weather hae we been through: The mune glowered, and the wind blew, And the rain it rained on him and me, And bour-tree blossom is fair to see!

Dwelling his lane but house or hauld, Aft he was wet and aft was cauld; I warmed him wi' my briest and knee - And bour-tree blossom is fair to see!

There was nae voice of beast ae man, But the tree soughed and the burn ran, And we heard the ae voice of the sea: Bour-tree blossom is fair to see!



NOR judge me light, tho' light at times I seem, And lightly in the stress of fortune bear The innumerable flaws of changeful care - Nor judge me light for this, nor rashly deem (Office forbid to mortals, kept supreme And separate the prerogative of God!) That seaman idle who is borne abroad To the far haven by the favouring stream. Not he alone that to contrarious seas Opposes, all night long, the unwearied oar, Not he alone, by high success endeared, Shall reach the Port; but, winged, with some light breeze Shall they, with upright keels, pass in before Whom easy Taste, the golden pilot, steered.


So shall this book wax like unto a well, Fairy with mirrored flowers about the brim, Or like some tarn that wailing curlews skim, Glassing the sallow uplands or brown fell; And so, as men go down into a dell (Weary with noon) to find relief and shade, When on the uneasy sick-bed we are laid, We shall go down into thy book, and tell The leaves, once blank, to build again for us Old summer dead and ruined, and the time Of later autumn with the corn in stook. So shalt thou stint the meagre winter thus Of his projected triumph, and the rime Shall melt before the sunshine in thy book.


I have a hoard of treasure in my breast; The grange of memory steams against the door, Full of my bygone lifetime's garnered store - Old pleasures crowned with sorrow for a zest, Old sorrow grown a joy, old penance blest, Chastened remembrance of the sins of yore That, like a new evangel, more and more Supports our halting will toward the best. Ah! what to us the barren after years May bring of joy or sorrow, who can tell? O, knowing not, who cares? It may be well That we shall find old pleasures and old fears, And our remembered childhood seen thro' tears, The best of Heaven and the worst of Hell.


As starts the absent dreamer when a train, Suddenly disengulphed below his feet, Roars forth into the sunlight, to its seat My soul was shaken with immediate pain Intolerable as the scanty breath Of that one word blew utterly away The fragile mist of fair deceit that lay O'er the bleak years that severed me from death. Yes, at the sight I quailed; but, not unwise Or not, O God, without some nervous thread Of that best valour, Patience, bowed my head, And with firm bosom and most steadfast eyes, Strong in all high resolve, prepared to tread The unlovely path that leads me toward the skies.


Not undelightful, friend, our rustic ease To grateful hearts; for by especial hap, Deep nested in the hill's enormous lap, With its own ring of walls and grove of trees, Sits, in deep shelter, our small cottage - nor Far-off is seen, rose carpeted and hung With clematis, the quarry whence she sprung, O mater pulchra filia pulchrior, Whither in early spring, unharnessed folk, We join the pairing swallows, glad to stay Where, loosened in the hills, remote, unseen, From its tall trees, it breathes a slender smoke To heaven, and in the noon of sultry day Stands, coolly buried, to the neck in green.


As in the hostel by the bridge I sate, Nailed with indifference fondly deemed complete, And (O strange chance, more sorrowful than sweet) The counterfeit of her that was my fate, Dressed in like vesture, graceful and sedate, Went quietly up the vacant village street, The still small sound of her most dainty feet Shook, like a trumpet blast, my soul's estate. Instant revolt ran riot through my brain, And all night long, thereafter, hour by hour, The pageant of dead love before my eyes Went proudly; and old hopes, broke loose again From the restraint of wisely temperate power, With ineffectual ardour sought to rise.


The strong man's hand, the snow-cool head of age, The certain-footed sympathies of youth - These, and that lofty passion after truth, Hunger unsatisfied in priest or sage Or the great men of former years, he needs That not unworthily would dare to sing (Hard task!) black care's inevitable ring Settling with years upon the heart that feeds Incessantly on glory. Year by year The narrowing toil grows closer round his feet; With disenchanting touch rude-handed time The unlovely web discloses, and strange fear Leads him at last to eld's inclement seat, The bitter north of life - a frozen clime.


As Daniel, bird-alone, in that far land, Kneeling in fervent prayer, with heart-sick eyes Turned thro' the casement toward the westering skies; Or as untamed Elijah, that red brand Among the starry prophets; or that band And company of Faithful sanctities Who in all times, when persecutions rise, Cherish forgotten creeds with fostering hand: Such do ye seem to me, light-hearted crew, O turned to friendly arts with all your will, That keep a little chapel sacred still, One rood of Holy-land in this bleak earth Sequestered still (our homage surely due!) To the twin Gods of mirthful wine and mirth.

About my fields, in the broad sun And blaze of noon, there goeth one, Barefoot and robed in blue, to scan With the hard eye of the husbandman My harvests and my cattle. Her, When even puts the birds astir And day has set in the great woods, We seek, among her garden roods, With bells and cries in vain: the while Lamps, plate, and the decanter smile On the forgotten board. But she, Deaf, blind, and prone on face and knee, Forgets time, family, and feast, And digs like a demented beast.

Tall as a guardsman, pale as the east at dawn, Who strides in strange apparel on the lawn? Rails for his breakfast? routs his vassals out (Like boys escaped from school) with song and shout? Kind and unkind, his Maker's final freak, Part we deride the child, part dread the antique! See where his gang, like frogs, among the dew Crouch at their duty, an unquiet crew; Adjust their staring kilts; and their swift eyes Turn still to him who sits to supervise. He in the midst, perched on a fallen tree, Eyes them at labour; and, guitar on knee, Now ministers alarm, now scatters joy, Now twangs a halting chord, now tweaks a boy. Thorough in all, my resolute vizier Plays both the despot and the volunteer, Exacts with fines obedience to my laws, And for his music, too, exacts applause.

The Adorner of the uncomely - those Amidst whose tall battalions goes Her pretty person out and in All day with an endearing din, Of censure and encouragement; And when all else is tried in vain See her sit down and weep again. She weeps to conquer; She varies on her grenadiers From satire up to girlish tears!

Or rather to behold her when She plies for me the unresting pen, And when the loud assault of squalls Resounds upon the roof and walls, And the low thunder growls and I Raise my dictating voice on high.

What glory for a boy of ten Who now must three gigantic men And two enormous, dapple grey New Zealand pack-horses array And lead, and wisely resolute Our day-long business execute In the far shore-side town. His soul Glows in his bosom like a coal; His innocent eyes glitter again, And his hand trembles on the rein. Once he reviews his whole command, And chivalrously planting hand On hip - a borrowed attitude - Rides off downhill into the wood.

I meanwhile in the populous house apart Sit snugly chambered, and my silent art Uninterrupted, unremitting ply Before the dawn, by morning lamplight, by The glow of smelting noon, and when the sun Dips past my westering hill and day is done; So, bending still over my trade of words, I hear the morning and the evening birds, The morning and the evening stars behold; So there apart I sit as once of old Napier in wizard Merchiston; and my Brown innocent aides in home and husbandry Wonder askance. What ails the boss? they ask. Him, richest of the rich, an endless task Before the earliest birds or servants stir Calls and detains him daylong prisoner? He whose innumerable dollars hewed This cleft in the boar and devil-haunted wood, And bade therein, from sun to seas and skies, His many-windowed, painted palace rise Red-roofed, blue-walled, a rainbow on the hill, A wonder in the forest glade: he still,

Unthinkable Aladdin, dawn and dark, Scribbles and scribbles, like a German clerk. We see the fact, but tell, O tell us why? My reverend washman and wise butler cry. Meanwhile at times the manifold Imperishable perfumes of the past And coloured pictures rise on me thick and fast: And I remember the white rime, the loud Lamplitten city, shops, and the changing crowd; And I remember home and the old time, The winding river, the white moving rhyme, The autumn robin by the river-side That pipes in the grey eve.

The old lady (so they say), but I Admire your young vitality. Still brisk of foot, still busy and keen In and about and up and down.

I hear you pass with bustling feet The long verandahs round, and beat Your bell, and "Lotu! Lotu!" cry; Thus calling our queer company, In morning or in evening dim, To prayers and the oft mangled hymn.

All day you watch across the sky The silent, shining cloudlands ply, That, huge as countries, swift as birds, Beshade the isles by halves and thirds, Till each with battlemented crest Stands anchored in the ensanguined west, An Alp enchanted. All the day You hear the exuberant wind at play, In vast, unbroken voice uplift, In roaring tree, round whistling clift.


CALL it to mind, O my love. Dear were your eyes as the day, Bright as the day and the sky; Like the stream of gold and the sky above, Dear were your eyes in the grey. We have lived, my love, O, we have lived, my love! Now along the silent river, azure Through the sky's inverted image, Softly swam the boat that bore our love, Swiftly ran the shallow of our love Through the heaven's inverted image, In the reedy mazes round the river. See along the silent river,

See of old the lover's shallop steer. Berried brake and reedy island, Heaven below and only heaven above. Through the sky's inverted image Swiftly swam the boat that bore our love. Berried brake and reedy island, Mirrored flower and shallop gliding by. All the earth and all the sky were ours, Silent sat the wafted lovers, Bound with grain and watched by all the sky, Hand to hand and eye to . . . eye.

Days of April, airs of Eden, Call to mind how bright the vanished angel hours, Golden hours of evening, When our boat drew homeward filled with flowers. O darling, call them to mind; love the past, my love. Days of April, airs of Eden. How the glory died through golden hours, And the shining moon arising; How the boat drew homeward filled with flowers. Age and winter close us slowly in.

Level river, cloudless heaven, Islanded reed mazes, silver weirs; How the silent boat with silver Threads the inverted forest as she goes, Broke the trembling green of mirrored trees. O, remember, and remember How the berries hung in garlands.

Still in the river see the shallop floats. Hark! Chimes the falling oar. Still in the mind Hark to the song of the past! Dream, and they pass in their dreams.

Those that loved of yore, O those that loved of yore! Hark through the stillness, O darling, hark! Through it all the ear of the mind

Knows the boat of love. Hark! Chimes the falling oar.

O half in vain they grew old.

Now the halcyon days are over, Age and winter close us slowly round, And these sounds at fall of even Dim the sight and muffle all the sound. And at the married fireside, sleep of soul and sleep of fancy, Joan and Darby. Silence of the world without a sound; And beside the winter faggot

Joan and Darby sit and dose and dream and wake - Dream they hear the flowing, singing river, See the berries in the island brake; Dream they hear the weir, See the gliding shallop mar the stream. Hark! in your dreams do you hear?

Snow has filled the drifted forest; Ice has bound the . . . stream. Frost has bound our flowing river; Snow has whitened all our island brake.

Berried brake and reedy island, Heaven below and only heaven above azure Through the sky's inverted image Safely swam the boat that bore our love. Dear were your eyes as the day, Bright ran the stream, bright hung the sky above. Days of April, airs of Eden. How the glory died through golden hours, And the shining moon arising, How the boat drew homeward filled with flowers. Bright were your eyes in the night: We have lived, my love; O, we have loved, my love. Now the . . . days are over, Age and winter close us slowly round.

Vainly time departs, and vainly Age and winter come and close us round.

Hark the river's long continuous sound.

Hear the river ripples in the reeds.

Lo, in dreams they see their shallop Run the lilies down and drown the weeds Mid the sound of crackling faggots. So in dreams the new created Happy past returns, to-day recedes, And they hear once more,

From the old years, Yesterday returns, to-day recedes, And they hear with aged hearing warbles

Love's own river ripple in the weeds. And again the lover's shallop; Lo, the shallop sheds the streaming weeds; And afar in foreign countries In the ears of aged lovers.

And again in winter evens Starred with lilies . . . with stirring weeds. In these ears of aged lovers Love's own river ripples in the reeds.


HERE lies Erotion, whom at six years old Fate pilfered. Stranger (when I too am cold, Who shall succeed me in my rural field), To this small spirit annual honours yield! Bright be thy hearth, hale be thy babes, I crave And this, in thy green farm, the only grave.


NOW Antoninus, in a smiling age, Counts of his life the fifteenth finished stage. The rounded days and the safe years he sees, Nor fears death's water mounting round his knees. To him remembering not one day is sad, Not one but that its memory makes him glad. So good men lengthen life; and to recall The past is to have twice enjoyed it all.


NOW in the sky And on the hearth of Now in a drawer the direful cane, That sceptre of the . . . reign, And the long hawser, that on the back Of Marsyas fell with many a whack, Twice hardened out of Scythian hides, Now sleep till the October ides.

In summer if the boys be well.


O NEPOS, twice my neigh(b)our (since at home We're door by door, by Flora's temple dome; And in the country, still conjoined by fate, Behold our villas standing gate by gate), Thou hast a daughter, dearer far than life - Thy image and the image of thy wife. Thy image and thy wife's, and be it so!

But why for her, { neglect the flowing } can { O Nepos, leave the }

And lose the prime of thy Falernian? Hoard casks of money, if to hoard be thine; But let thy daughter drink a younger wine! Let her go rich and wise, in silk and fur;

Lay down a { bin that shall } grow old with her; { vintage to }

But thou, meantime, the while the batch is sound, With pleased companions pass the bowl around; Nor let the childless only taste delights, For Fathers also may enjoy their nights.


YOU, Charidemus, who my cradle swung, And watched me all the days that I was young; You, at whose step the laziest slaves awake, And both the bailiff and the butler quake; The barber's suds now blacken with my beard, And my rough kisses make the maids afeared; But with reproach your awful eyebrows twitch, And for the cane, I see, your fingers itch. If something daintily attired I go, Straight you exclaim: "Your father did not so." And fuming, count the bottles on the board As though my cellar were your private hoard. Enough, at last: I have done all I can, And your own mistress hails me for a man.


YOU fear, Ligurra - above all, you long - That I should smite you with a stinging song. This dreadful honour you both fear and hope - Both all in vain: you fall below my scope. The Lybian lion tears the roaring bull, He does not harm the midge along the pool.

Lo! if so close this stands in your regard, From some blind tap fish forth a drunken barn, Who shall with charcoal, on the privy wall, Immortalise your name for once and all.


BEYOND the gates thou gav'st a field to till; I have a larger on my window-sill. A farm, d'ye say? Is this a farm to you, Where for all woods I spay one tuft of rue, And that so rusty, and so small a thing, One shrill cicada hides it with a wing; Where one cucumber covers all the plain; And where one serpent rings himself in vain To enter wholly; and a single snail Eats all and exit fasting to the pool? Here shall my gardener be the dusty mole. My only ploughman the . . . mole. Here shall I wait in vain till figs be set, And till the spring disclose the violet. Through all my wilds a tameless mouse careers, And in that narrow boundary appears, Huge as the stalking lion of Algiers, Huge as the fabled boar of Calydon. And all my hay is at one swoop impresst By one low-flying swallow for her nest, Strip god Priapus of each attribute Here finds he scarce a pedestal to foot. The gathered harvest scarcely brims a spoon; And all my vintage drips in a cocoon. Generous are you, but I more generous still: Take back your farm and stand me half a gill!


O CHIEF director of the growing race, Of Rome the glory and of Rome the grace, Me, O Quintilian, may you not forgive Before from labour I make haste to live? Some burn to gather wealth, lay hands on rule, Or with white statues fill the atrium full. The talking hearth, the rafters sweet with smoke, Live fountains and rough grass, my line invoke: A sturdy slave, not too learned wife, Nights filled with slumber, and a quiet life.


MY Martial owns a garden, famed to please, Beyond the glades of the Hesperides; Along Janiculum lies the chosen block Where the cool grottos trench the hanging rock. The moderate summit, something plain and bare, Tastes overhead of a serener air; And while the clouds besiege the vales below, Keeps the clear heaven and doth with sunshine glow. To the June stars that circle in the skies The dainty roofs of that tall villa rise. Hence do the seven imperial hills appear; And you may view the whole of Rome from here; Beyond, the Alban and the Tuscan hills; And the cool groves and the cool falling rills, Rubre Fidenae, and with virgin blood Anointed once Perenna's orchard wood. Thence the Flaminian, the Salarian way, Stretch far broad below the dome of day; And lo! the traveller toiling towards his home; And all unheard, the chariot speeds to Rome! For here no whisper of the wheels; and tho' The Mulvian Bridge, above the Tiber's flow, Hangs all in sight, and down the sacred stream The sliding barges vanish like a dream, The seaman's shrilling pipe not enters here, Nor the rude cries of porters on the pier. And if so rare the house, how rarer far The welcome and the weal that therein are! So free the access, the doors so widely thrown, You half imagine all to be your own.


GO(D) knows, my Martial, if we two could be To enjoy our days set wholly free; To the true life together bend our mind, And take a furlough from the falser kind. No rich saloon, nor palace of the great, Nor suit at law should trouble our estate; On no vainglorious statues should we look, But of a walk, a talk, a little book, Baths, wells and meads, and the veranda shade, Let all our travels and our toils be made. Now neither lives unto himself, alas! And the good suns we see, that flash and pass And perish; and the bell that knells them cries: "Another gone: O when will ye arise?"


WOULDST thou be free? I think it not, indeed; But if thou wouldst, attend this simple rede: When quite contented }thou canst dine at home Thou shall be free when } And drink a small wine of the march of Rome; When thou canst see unmoved thy neighbour's plate, And wear my threadbare toga in the gate; When thou hast learned to love a small abode, And not to choose a mistress A LA MODE: When thus contained and bridled thou shalt be, Then, Maximus, then first shalt thou be free.


CALL me not rebel, though { here at every word {in what I sing If I no longer hail thee { King and Lord { Lord and King I have redeemed myself with all I had, And now possess my fortunes poor but glad. With all I had I have redeemed myself, And escaped at once from slavery and pelf. The unruly wishes must a ruler take, Our high desires do our low fortunes make: Those only who desire palatial things Do bear the fetters and the frowns of Kings; Set free thy slave; thou settest free thyself.


LOOK round: You see a little supper room; But from my window, lo! great Caesar's tomb! And the great dead themselves, with jovial breath Bid you be merry and remember death.


THIS girl was sweeter than the song of swans, And daintier than the lamb upon the lawns Or Curine oyster. She, the flower of girls, Outshone the light of Erythraean pearls; The teeth of India that with polish glow, The untouched lilies or the morning snow. Her tresses did gold-dust outshine And fair hair of women of the Rhine. Compared to her the peacock seemed not fair, The squirrel lively, or the phoenix rare; Her on whose pyre the smoke still hovering waits; Her whom the greedy and unequal fates On the sixth dawning of her natal day, My child-love and my playmate - snatcht away.


FOR these are sacred fishes all Who know that lord that is the lord of all; Come to the brim and nose the friendly hand That sways and can beshadow all the land. Nor only so, but have their names, and come When they are summoned by the Lord of Rome. Here once his line an impious Lybian threw; And as with tremulous reed his prey he drew, Straight, the light failed him. He groped, nor found the prey that he had ta'en. Now as a warning to the fisher clan Beside the lake he sits, a beggarman. Thou, then, while still thine innocence is pure, Flee swiftly, nor presume to set thy lure; Respect these fishes, for their friends are great; And in the waters empty all thy bait.


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