"Nothing but danger about me, Danger behind and before, Death at wait in the heather In Appin and Mamore, Hate at all of the ferries, And death at each of the fords, Camerons priming gun-locks And Camerons sharpening swords."
But this was a man of counsel, This was a man of a score, There dwelt no pawkier Stewart In Appin or Mamore. He looked on the blowing mist, He looked on the awful dead, And there came a smile on his face And there slipped a thought in his head.
Out over cairn and moss, Out over scrog and scaur, He ran as runs the clansman That bears the cross of war. His heart beat in his body, His hair clove to his face, When he came at last in the gloaming To the dead man's brother's place. The east was white with the moon, The west with the sun was red, And there, in the house-doorway, Stood the brother of the dead.
"I have slain a man to my danger, I have slain a man to my death. I put my soul in your hands," The panting Stewart saith. "I lay it bare in your hands, For I know your hands are leal; And be you my targe and bulwark From the bullet and the steel."
Then up and spoke the Cameron, And gave him his hand again: "There shall never a man in Scotland Set faith in me in vain; And whatever man you have slaughtered, Of whatever name or line, By my sword and yonder mountain, I make your quarrel mine. I bid you in to my fireside, I share with you house and hall; It stands upon my honour To see you safe from all."
It fell in the time of midnight, When the fox barked in the den, And the plaids were over the faces In all the houses of men, That as the living Cameron Lay sleepless on his bed, Out of the night and the other world, Came in to him the dead.
"My blood is on the heather, My bones are on the hill; There is joy in the home of ravens That the young shall eat their fill. My blood is poured in the dust, My soul is spilled in the air; And the man that has undone me Sleeps in my brother's care." "I'm wae for your death, my brother, But if all of my house were dead, I couldna withdraw the plighted hand, Nor break the word once said."
"O, what shall I say to our father, In the place to which I fare? O, what shall I say to our mother, Who greets to see me there? And to all the kindly Camerons That have lived and died long-syne— Is this the word you send them, Fause-hearted brother mine?"
"It's neither fear nor duty, It's neither quick nor dead, Shall gar me withdraw the plighted hand, Or break the word once said."
Thrice in the time of midnight, When the fox barked in the den, And the plaids were over the faces In all the houses of men, Thrice as the living Cameron Lay sleepless on his bed, Out of the night and the other world Came in to him the dead, And cried to him for vengeance On the man that laid him low; And thrice the living Cameron Told the dead Cameron, no.
"Thrice have you seen me, brother, But now shall see me no more, Till you meet your angry fathers Upon the farther shore. Thrice have I spoken, and now, Before the cock be heard, I take my leave for ever With the naming of a word. It shall sing in your sleeping ears, It shall hum in your waking head, The name—Ticonderoga, And the warning of the dead."
Now when the night was over And the time of people's fears, The Cameron walked abroad, And the word was in his ears. "Many a name I know, But never a name like this; O, where shall I find a skilly man Shall tell me what it is?" With many a man he counselled Of high and low degree, With the herdsman on the mountains And the fishers of the sea. And he came and went unweary, And read the books of yore, And the runes that were written of old On stones upon the moor. And many a name he was told, But never the name of his fears— Never, in east or west, The name that rang in his ears: Names of men and of clans; Names for the grass and the tree, For the smallest tarn in the mountains, The smallest reef in the sea: Names for the high and low, The names of the craig and the flat; But in all the land of Scotland, Never a name like that.
THE SEEKING OF THE NAME
And now there was speech in the south, And a man of the south that was wise, A periwig'd lord of London, Called on the clans to rise. And the riders rode, and the summons Came to the western shore, To the land of the sea and the heather, To Appin and Mamore. It called on all to gather From every scrog and scaur, That loved their fathers' tartan And the ancient game of war. And down the watery valley And up the windy hill, Once more, as in the olden, The pipes were sounding shrill; Again in Highland sunshine The naked steel was bright; And the lads, once more in tartan, Went forth again to fight.
"O, why should I dwell here With a weird upon my life, When the clansmen shout for battle And the war-swords clash in strife? I canna joy at feast, I canna sleep in bed, For the wonder of the word And the warning of the dead. It sings in my sleeping ears, It hums in my waking head, The name—Ticonderoga, The utterance of the dead. Then up, and with the fighting men To march away from here, Till the cry of the great war-pipe Shall drown it in my ear!"
Where flew King George's ensign The plaided soldiers went: They drew the sword in Germany, In Flanders pitched the tent. The bells of foreign cities Rang far across the plain: They passed the happy Rhine, They drank the rapid Main. Through Asiatic jungles The Tartans filed their way, And the neighing of the war-pipes Struck terror in Cathay.
"Many a name have I heard," he thought, "In all the tongues of men, Full many a name both here and there, Full many both now and then. When I was at home in my father's house, In the land of the naked knee, Between the eagles that fly in the lift And the herrings that swim in the sea, And now that I am a captain-man With a braw cockade in my hat— Many a name have I heard," he thought, "But never a name like that."
THE PLACE OF THE NAME
There fell a war in a woody place, Lay far across the sea, A war of the march in the mirk midnight And the shot from behind the tree, The shaven head and the painted face, The silent foot in the wood, In the land of a strange, outlandish tongue That was hard to be understood.
It fell about the gloaming, The general stood with his staff, He stood and he looked east and west With little mind to laugh. "Far have I been, and much have I seen, And kennt both gain and loss, But here we have woods on every hand And a kittle water to cross. Far have I been, and much have I seen, But never the beat of this; And there's one must go down to that water-side To see how deep it is."
It fell in the dusk of the night When unco things betide, The skilly captain, the Cameron, Went down to that waterside. Canny and soft the captain went; And a man of the woody land, With the shaven head and the painted face, Went down at his right hand. It fell in the quiet night, There was never a sound to ken; But all of the woods to the right and the left Lay filled with the painted men.
"Far have I been, and much have I seen, Both as a man and boy, But never have I set forth a foot, On so perilous an employ." It fell in the dusk of the night When unco things betide, That he was aware of a captain-man Drew near to the water-side. He was aware of his coming Down in the gloaming alone; And he looked in the face of the man, And lo! the face was his own. "This is my weird," he said, "And now I ken the worst; For many shall fall the morn, But I shall fall with the first. O, you of the outland tongue, You of the painted face, This is the place of my death; Can you tell me the name of the place?"
"Since the Frenchmen have been here They have called it Sault-Marie; But that is a name for priests, And not for you and me. It went by another word," Quoth he of the shaven head: "It was called Ticonderoga In the days of the great dead." And it fell on the morrow's morning, In the fiercest of the fight, That the Cameron bit the dust As he foretold at night; And far from the hills of heather, Far from the isles of the sea, He sleeps in the place of the name As it was doomed to be.
A GALLOWAY LEGEND
From the bonny bells of heather They brewed a drink long-syne, Was sweeter far than honey, Was stronger far than wine. They brewed it and they drank it, And lay in a blessed swound For days and days together In their dwellings underground.
There rose a king in Scotland, A fell man to his foes, He smote the Picts in battle, He hunted them like roes. Over miles of the red mountain He hunted as they fled, And strewed the dwarfish bodies Of the dying and the dead.
Summer came in the country, Red was the heather bell; But the manner of the brewing Was none alive to tell. In the graves that were like children's On many a mountain head, The Brewsters of the Heather Lay numbered with the dead.
The king in the red moorland Rode on a summer's day; And the bees hummed, and the curlews Cried beside the way. The king rode, and was angry, Black was his brow and pale, To rule in a land of heather And lack the Heather Ale.
It fortuned that his vassals, Riding free on the heath, Came on a stone that was fallen And vermin hid beneath. Rudely plucked from their hiding, Never a word they spoke: A son and his aged father— Last of the dwarfish folk.
The king sat high on his charger, He looked on the little men; And the dwarfish and swarthy couple Looked at the king again. Down by the shore he had them; And there on the giddy brink— "I will give you life, ye vermin, For the secret of the drink."
There stood the son and father; And they looked high and low; The heather was red around them, The sea rumbled below. And up and spoke the father, Shrill was his voice to hear: "I have a word in private, A word for the royal ear.
"Life is dear to the aged, And honour a little thing; I would gladly sell the secret," Quoth the Pict to the king. His voice was small as a sparrow's, And shrill and wonderful clear; "I would gladly sell my secret, Only my son I fear.
"For life is a little matter, And death is nought to the young; And I dare not sell my honour Under the eye of my son. Take him, O king, and bind him, And cast him far in the deep: And it's I will tell the secret, That I have sworn to keep."
They took the son and bound him, Neck and heels in a thong, And a lad took him and swung him, And flung him far and strong, And the sea swallowed his body, Like that of a child of ten;— And there on the cliff stood the father, Last of the dwarfish men.
"True was the word I told you: Only my son I feared; For I doubt the sapling courage That goes without the beard. But now in vain is the torture, Fire shall never avail; Here dies in my bosom The secret of Heather Ale."
CHRISTMAS AT SEA
CHRISTMAS AT SEA
The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand; The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand; The wind was a nor'-wester, blowing squally off the sea; And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.
They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day; But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay. We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout, And we gave her the maintops'l, and stood by to go about.
All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North; All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth; All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread, For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.
We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared; But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard: So's we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high, And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.
The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam; The good red fires were burning bright in every 'long-shore home; The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out; And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.
The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer; For it's just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year) This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn, And the house above the coastguard's was the house where I was born.
O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there, My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver hair; And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves, Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.
And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me, Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea; And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way, To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.
They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall. "All hands to loose topgallant sails," I heard the captain call. "By the Lord, she'll never stand it," our first mate, Jackson, cried. ... "It's the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson," he replied.
She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good, And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood, As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the night, We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.
And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me, As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea; But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold, Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.
NOTES TO THE SONG OF RAHERO
INTRODUCTION.—This tale, of which I have not consciously changed a single feature, I received from tradition. It is highly popular through all the country of the eight Tevas, the clan to which Rahero belonged; and particularly in Taiarapu, the windward peninsula of Tahiti, where he lived. I have heard from end to end two versions; and as many as five different persons have helped me with details. There seems no reason why the tale should not be true.
Note 1, page 140. "The aito", quasi champion, or brave. One skilled in the use of some weapon, who wandered the country challenging distinguished rivals and taking part in local quarrels. It was in the natural course of his advancement to be at last employed by a chief, or king; and it would then be a part of his duties to purvey the victim for sacrifice. One of the doomed families was indicated; the aito took his weapon and went forth alone; a little behind him bearers followed with the sacrificial basket. Sometimes the victim showed fight, sometimes prevailed; more often, without doubt, he fell. But whatever body was found, the bearers indifferently took up.
Note 2, page 141. "Pai", "Honoura", and "Ahupu". Legendary persons of Tahiti, all natives of Taiarapu. Of the first two I have collected singular although imperfect legends, which I hope soon to lay before the public in another place. Of Ahupu, except in snatches of song, little memory appears to linger. She dwelt at least about Tepari,—"the sea-cliffs,"—the eastern fastness of the isle; walked by paths known only to herself upon the mountains; was courted by dangerous suitors who came swimming from adjacent islands, and defended and rescued (as I gather) by the loyalty of native fish. My anxiety to learn more of "Ahupu Vehine" became (during my stay in Taiarapu) a cause of some diversion to that mirthful people, the inhabitants.
Note 3, page 142. "Covered an oven." The cooking fire is made in a hole in the ground, and is then buried.
Note 4, page 143. "Flies." This is perhaps an anachronism. Even speaking of to-day in Tahiti, the phrase would have to be understood as referring mainly to mosquitoes, and these only in watered valleys with close woods, such as I suppose to form the surroundings of Rahero's homestead. A quarter of a mile away, where the air moves freely, you shall look in vain for one.
Note 5, page 144. "Hook" of mother-of-pearl. Bright-hook fishing, and that with the spear, appear to be the favourite native methods.
Note 6, page 145. "Leaves," the plates of Tahiti.
Note 7, page 146. "Yottowas," so spelt for convenience of pronunciation, quasi Tacksmen in the Scottish Highlands. The organisation of eight sub-districts and eight yottowas to a division, which was in use (until yesterday) among the Tevas, I have attributed without authority to the next clan (see page 155).
Note 8, page 146. "Omare," pronounce as a dactyl. A loaded quarterstaff, one of the two favourite weapons of the Tahitian brave; the javelin, or casting spear, was the other.
Note 9, page 148. "The ribbon of light." Still to be seen (and heard) spinning from one marae to another on Tahiti; or so I have it upon evidence that would rejoice the Psychical Society.
Note 10, page 149. "Namunu-ura." The complete name is Namunu-ura te aropa. Why it should be pronounced Namunu, dactylically, I cannot see, but so I have always heard it. This was the clan immediately beyond the Tevas on the south coast of the island. At the date of the tale the clan organisation must have been very weak. There is no particular mention of Tamatea's mother going to Papara, to the head chief of her own clan, which would appear her natural recourse. On the other hand, she seems to have visited various lesser chiefs among the Tevas, and these to have excused themselves solely on the danger of the enterprise. The broad distinction here drawn between Nateva and Namunu-ura is therefore not impossibly anachronistic.
Note 11, page 149. "Hiopa the king." Hiopa was really the name of the king (chief) of Vaiau; but I could never learn that of the king of Paea—pronounce to rhyme with the Indian ayah—and I gave the name where it was most needed. This note must appear otiose indeed to readers who have never heard of either of these two gentlemen; and perhaps there is only one person in the world capable at once of reading my verses and spying the inaccuracy. For him, for Mr. Tati Salmon, hereditary high chief of the Tevas, the note is solely written: a small attention from a clansman to his chief.
Note 12, page 150. "Let the pigs be tapu." It is impossible to explain tapu in a note; we have it as an English word, taboo. Suffice it, that a thing which was tapu must not be touched, nor a place that was tapu visited.
Note 13, page 155. "Fish, the food of desire." There is a special word in the Tahitian language to signify hungering after fish. I may remark that here is one of my chief difficulties about the whole story. How did king, commons, women, and all come to eat together at this feast? But it troubled none of my numerous authorities; so there must certainly be some natural explanation.
Note 14, page 160. "The mustering word of the clan."
Teva te ua, Teva te matai!
Teva the wind, Teva the rain!
Notes 15 and 16, page 165. "The star of the dead." Venus as a morning star. I have collected much curious evidence as to this belief. The dead retain their taste for a fish diet, enter into copartnery with living fishers, and haunt the reef and the lagoon. The conclusion attributed to the nameless lady of the legend would be reached to-day, under the like circumstances, by ninety per cent. of Polynesians: and here I probably under-state by one-tenth.
NOTES TO THE FEAST OF FAMINE
In this ballad I have strung together some of the more striking particularities of the Marquesas. It rests upon no authority; it is in no sense, like "Rahero," a native story; but a patchwork of details of manners and the impressions of a traveller. It may seem strange, when the scene is laid upon these profligate islands, to make the story hinge on love. But love is not less known in the Marquesas than elsewhere; nor is there any cause of suicide more common in the islands.
Note 1, page 169. "Pit of popoi." Where the bread-fruit was stored for preservation.
Note 2, page 169. "Ruby-red." The priest's eyes were probably red from the abuse of kava. His beard (ib.) is said to be worth an estate; for the beards of old men are the favourite head-adornment of the Marquesans, as the hair of women formed their most costly girdle. The former, among this generally beardless and short-lived people, fetch to-day considerable sums.
Note 3, page 169. "Tikis." The tiki is an ugly image hewn out of wood or stone.
Note 4, page 172. "The one-stringed harp." Usually employed for serenades.
Note 5, page 173. "The sacred cabin of palm." Which, however, no woman could approach. I do not know where women were tattooed; probably in the common house, or in the bush, for a woman was a creature of small account. I must guard the reader against supposing Taheia was at all disfigured; the art of the Marquesan tattooer is extreme; and she would appear to be clothed in a web of lace, inimitably delicate, exquisite in pattern, and of a bluish hue that at once contrasts and harmonises with the warm pigment of the native skin. It would be hard to find a woman more becomingly adorned than "a well-tattooed" Marquesan.
Note 6, page 175. "The horror of night." The Polynesian fear of ghosts and of the dark has been already referred to. Their life is beleaguered by the dead.
Note 7, page 176. "The quiet passage of souls." So, I am told, the natives explain the sound of a little wind passing overhead unfelt.
Note 8, page 178. "The first of the victims fell." Without doubt, this whole scene is untrue to fact. The victims were disposed of privately and some time before. And indeed I am far from claiming the credit of any high degree of accuracy for this ballad. Even in the time of famine, it is probable that Marquesan life went far more gaily than is here represented. But the melancholy of to-day lies on the writer's mind.
NOTES TO TICONDEROGA
INTRODUCTION.—I first heard this legend of my own country from that friend of men of letters, Mr. Alfred Nutt, "there in roaring London's central stream," and since the ballad first saw the light of day in Scribner's Magazine, Mr. Nutt and Lord Archibald Campbell have been in public controversy on the facts. Two clans, the Camerons and the Campbells, lay claim to this bracing story; and they do well: the man who preferred his plighted troth to the commands and menaces of the dead is an ancestor worth disputing. But the Campbells must rest content: they have the broad lands and the broad page of history; this appanage must be denied them; for between the name of Cameron and that of Campbell the muse will never hesitate.
Note 1, page 191. Mr. Nutt reminds me it was "by my sword and Ben Cruachan" the Cameron swore.
Note 2, page 194. "A periwig'd lord of London." The first Pitt.
Note 3, page 195. "Cathay." There must be some omission in General Stewart's charming "History of the Highland Regiments," a book that might well be republished and continued; or it scarce appears how our friend could have got to China.
NOTE TO HEATHER ALE
Among the curiosities of human nature this legend claims a high place. It is needless to remind the reader that the Picts were never exterminated, and form to this day a large proportion of the folk of Scotland, occupying the eastern and the central parts, from the Firth of Forth, or perhaps the Lammermoors, upon the south, to the Ord of Caithness on the north. That the blundering guess of a dull chronicler should have inspired men with imaginary loathing for their own ancestors is already strange; that it should have begotten this wild legend seems incredible. Is it possible the chronicler's error was merely nominal? that what he told, and what the people proved themselves so ready to receive, about the Picts, was true or partly true of some anterior and perhaps Lappish savages, small of stature, black of hue, dwelling underground—possibly also the distillers of some forgotten spirit? See Mr. Campbell's "Tales of the West Highlands."
SONGS OF TRAVEL
AND OTHER VERSES
SONGS OF TRAVEL
(TO AN AIR OF SCHUBERT)
Give to me the life I love, Let the lave go by me, Give the jolly heaven above And the byway nigh me. Bed in the bush with stars to see, Bread I dip in the river— There's the life for a man like me, There's the life for ever.
Let the blow fall soon or late, Let what will be o'er me; Give the face of earth around And the road before me. Wealth I seek not, hope nor love, Nor a friend to know me; All I seek, the heaven above And the road below me.
Or let autumn fall on me Where afield I linger, Silencing the bird on tree, Biting the blue finger. White as meal the frosty field— Warm the fireside haven— Not to autumn will I yield, Not to winter even!
Let the blow fall soon or late, Let what will be o'er me; Give the face of earth around, And the road before me. Wealth I ask not, hope nor love, Nor a friend to know me. All I ask, the heaven above And the road below me.
YOUTH AND LOVE—I
Once only by the garden gate Our lips were joined and parted. I must fulfil an empty fate And travel the uncharted.
Hail and farewell! I must arise, Leave here the fatted cattle, And paint on foreign lands and skies My Odyssey of battle.
The untented Kosmos my abode, I pass, a wilful stranger: My mistress still the open road And the bright eyes of danger.
Come ill or well, the cross, the crown, The rainbow or the thunder, I fling my soul and body down For God to plough them under.
YOUTH AND LOVE—II
To the heart of youth the world is a highwayside. Passing for ever, he fares; and on either hand, Deep in the gardens golden pavilions hide, Nestle in orchard bloom, and far on the level land Call him with lighted lamp in the eventide.
Thick as the stars at night when the moon is down, Pleasures assail him. He to his nobler fate Fares; and but waves a hand as he passes on, Cries but a wayside word to her at the garden gate, Sings but a boyish stave and his face is gone.
In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand As heretofore: The unremembered tokens in your hand Avail no more.
No more the morning glow, no more the grace, Enshrines, endears. Cold beats the light of time upon your face And shows your tears.
He came and went. Perchance you wept a while And then forgot. Ah, me! but he that left you with a smile Forgets you not.
She rested by the Broken Brook, She drank of Weary Well, She moved beyond my lingering look, Ah, whither none can tell!
She came, she went. In other lands, Perchance in fairer skies, Her hands shall cling with other hands, Her eyes to other eyes.
She vanished. In the sounding town, Will she remember too? Will she recall the eyes of brown As I recall the blue?
The infinite shining heavens Rose and I saw in the night Uncountable angel stars Showering sorrow and light.
I saw them distant as heaven, Dumb and shining and dead, And the idle stars of the night Were dearer to me than bread.
Night after night in my sorrow The stars stood over the sea, Till lo! I looked in the dusk And a star had come down to me.
Plain as the glistering planets shine When winds have cleaned the skies, Her love appeared, appealed for mine And wantoned in her eyes.
Clear as the shining tapers burned On Cytherea's shrine, Those brimming, lustrous beauties turned, And called and conquered mine.
The beacon-lamp that Hero lit No fairer shone on sea, No plainlier summoned will and wit, Than hers encouraged me.
I thrilled to feel her influence near, I struck my flag at sight. Her starry silence smote my ear Like sudden drums at night.
I ran as, at the cannon's roar, The troops the ramparts man— As in the holy house of yore The willing Eli ran.
Here, lady, lo! that servant stands You picked from passing men, And should you need nor heart nor hands He bows and goes again.
To you, let snow and roses And golden locks belong. These are the world's enslavers, Let these delight the throng. For her of duskier lustre Whose favour still I wear, The snow be in her kirtle, The rose be in her hair!
The hue of highland rivers Careering, full and cool, From sable on to golden, From rapid on to pool— The hue of heather-honey, The hue of honey-bees, Shall tinge her golden shoulder, Shall gild her tawny knees.
Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful dreams, Beauty awake from rest! Let Beauty awake For Beauty's sake In the hour when the birds awake in the brake And the stars are bright in the west!
Let Beauty awake in the eve from the slumber of day, Awake in the crimson eve! In the day's dusk end When the shades ascend, Let her wake to the kiss of a tender friend To render again and receive!
I know not how it is with you— I love the first and last, The whole field of the present view, The whole flow of the past.
One tittle of the things that are, Nor you should change nor I— One pebble in our path—one star In all our heaven of sky.
Our lives, and every day and hour, One symphony appear: One road, one garden—every flower And every bramble dear.
I will make you brooches and toys for your delight Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night. I will make a palace fit for you and me Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room, Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom, And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.
And this shall be for music when no one else is near, The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear! That only I remember, that only you admire, Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.
WE HAVE LOVED OF YORE
(TO AN AIR OF DIABELLI)
Berried brake and reedy island, Heaven below, and only heaven above, Through the sky's inverted azure Softly swam the boat that bore our love. Bright 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.
Frost has bound our flowing river, Snow has whitened all our island brake, And beside the winter fagot Joan and Darby doze and dream and wake. Still, in the river of dreams, Swims the boat of love— Hark! chimes the falling oar! And again in winter evens When on firelight dreaming fancy feeds, In those ears of aged lovers Love's own river warbles in the reeds. Love still the past, O my love! We have lived of yore, O, we have loved of yore.
Son of my woman's body, you go, to the drum and fife, To taste the colour of love and the other side of life— From out of the dainty the rude, the strong from out of the frail, Eternally through the ages from the female comes the male.
The ten fingers and toes, and the shell-like nail on each, The eyes blind as gems and the tongue attempting speech; Impotent hands in my bosom, and yet they shall wield the sword! Drugged with slumber and milk, you wait the day of the Lord.
Infant bridegroom, uncrowned king, unanointed priest, Soldier, lover, explorer, I see you nuzzle the breast. You that grope in my bosom shall load the ladies with rings, You, that came forth through the doors, shall burst the doors of kings.
Bright is the ring of words When the right man rings them, Fair the fall of songs When the singer sings them. Still they are carolled and said— On wings they are carried— After the singer is dead And the maker buried.
Low as the singer lies In the field of heather, Songs of his fashion bring The swains together. And when the west is red With the sunset embers, The lover lingers and sings And the maid remembers.
In the highlands, in the country places, Where the old plain men have rosy faces, And the young fair maidens Quiet eyes; Where essential silence cheers and blesses, And for ever in the hill-recesses Her more lovely music Broods and dies.
O to mount again where erst I haunted; Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted, And the low green meadows Bright with sward; And when even dies, the million-tinted, And the night has come, and planets glinted, Lo, the valley hollow Lamp-bestarred!
O to dream, O to awake and wander There, and with delight to take and render, Through the trance of silence, Quiet breath; Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses, Only the mightier movement sounds and passes; Only winds and rivers, Life and death.
(TO THE TUNE OF WANDERING WILLIE)
Home no more home to me, whither must I wander? Hunger my driver, I go where I must. Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather; Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust. Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree, The true word of welcome was spoken in the door— Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight, Kind folks of old, you come again no more.
Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces, Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child. Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland; Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild. Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland, Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold. Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed, The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of old.
Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moor-fowl, Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers; Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley, Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours; Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood— Fair shine the day on the house with open door; Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney— But I go for ever and come again no more.
In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane The redbreast looks in vain For hips and haws, Lo, shining flowers upon my window-pane The silver pencil of the winter draws.
When all the snowy hill And the bare woods are still; When snipes are silent in the frozen bogs, And all the garden garth is whelmed in mire, Lo, by the hearth, the laughter of the logs— More fair than roses, lo, the flowers of fire!
The stormy evening closes now in vain, Loud wails the wind and beats the driving rain, While here in sheltered house With fire-ypainted walls, I hear the wind abroad, I hark the calling squalls— "Blow, blow," I cry, "you burst your cheeks in vain! Blow, blow," I cry, "my love is home again!"
Yon ship you chase perchance but yesternight Bore still the precious freight of my delight, That here in sheltered house With fire-ypainted walls, Now hears the wind abroad, Now harks the calling squalls. "Blow, blow," I cry, "in vain you rouse the sea, My rescued sailor shares the fire with me!"
TO DR. HAKE
(ON RECEIVING A COPY OF VERSES)
In the beloved hour that ushers day, In the pure dew, under the breaking grey, One bird, ere yet the woodland quires awake, With brief reveille summons all the brake: Chirp, chirp, it goes; nor waits an answer long; And that small signal fills the grove with song.
Thus on my pipe I breathed a strain or two; It scarce was music, but 'twas all I knew. It was not music, for I lacked the art, Yet what but frozen music filled my heart? Chirp, chirp, I went, nor hoped a nobler strain; But Heaven decreed I should not pipe in vain, For, lo! not far from there, in secret dale, All silent, sat an ancient nightingale. My sparrow notes he heard; thereat awoke; And with a tide of song his silence broke.
I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills; I knew thee apt to pity, brave to endure, In peace or war a Roman full equipt; And just I knew thee, like the fabled kings Who by the loud sea-shore gave judgment forth, From dawn to eve, bearded and few of words. What, what, was I to honour thee? A child; A youth in ardour but a child in strength, Who after virtue's golden chariot-wheels Runs ever panting, nor attains the goal. So thought I, and was sorrowful at heart.
Since then my steps have visited that flood Along whose shore the numerous footfalls cease, The voices and the tears of life expire. Thither the prints go down, the hero's way Trod large upon the sand, the trembling maid's: Nimrod that wound his trumpet in the wood, And the poor, dreaming child, hunter of flowers, That here his hunting closes with the great: So one and all go down, nor aught returns.
For thee, for us, the sacred river waits, For me, the unworthy, thee, the perfect friend; There Blame desists, there his unfaltering dogs He from the chase recalls, and homeward rides; Yet Praise and Love pass over and go in. So when, beside that margin, I discard My more than mortal weakness, and with thee Through that still land unfearing I advance; If then at all we keep the touch of joy, Thou shalt rejoice to find me altered—I, O Felix, to behold thee still unchanged.
The morning drum-call on my eager ear Thrills unforgotten yet; the morning dew Lies yet undried along my field of noon. But now I pause at whiles in what I do, And count the bell, and tremble lest I hear (My work untrimmed) the sunset gun too soon.
I have trod the upward and the downward slope; I have endured and done in days before; I have longed for all, and bid farewell to hope; And I have lived and loved, and closed the door.
He hears with gladdened heart the thunder Peal, and loves the falling dew; He knows the earth above and under— Sits and is content to view.
He sits beside the dying ember, God for hope and man for friend, Content to see, glad to remember, Expectant of the certain end.
Farewell, fair day and fading light! The clay-born here, with westward sight, Marks the huge sun now downward soar. Farewell. We twain shall meet no more.
Farewell. I watch with bursting sigh My late contemned occasion die. I linger useless in my tent: Farewell, fair day, so foully spent!
Farewell, fair day. If any God At all consider this poor clod, He who the fair occasion sent Prepared and placed the impediment.
Let Him diviner vengeance take— Give me to sleep, give me to wake Girded and shod, and bid me play The hero in the coming day!
IF THIS WERE FAITH
God, if this were enough, That I see things bare to the buff And up to the buttocks in mire; That I ask nor hope nor hire, Nut in the husk, Nor dawn beyond the dusk, Nor life beyond death: God, if this were faith?
Having felt Thy wind in my face Spit sorrow and disgrace, Having seen Thine evil doom In Golgotha and Khartoum, And the brutes, the work of Thine hands, Fill with injustice lands And stain with blood the sea: If still in my veins the glee Of the black night and the sun And the lost battle, run: If, an adept, The iniquitous lists I still accept With joy, and joy to endure and be withstood, And still to battle and perish for a dream of good: God, if that were enough?
If to feel in the ink of the slough, And the sink of the mire, Veins of glory and fire Run through and transpierce and transpire, And a secret purpose of glory in every part, And the answering glory of battle fill my heart; To thrill with the joy of girded men, To go on for ever and fail and go on again, And be mauled to the earth and arise, And contend for the shade of a word and a thing not seen with the eyes: With the half of a broken hope for a pillow at night That somehow the right is the right And the smooth shall bloom from the rough: Lord, if that were enough?
Trusty, dusky, vivid, true, With eyes of gold and bramble-dew, Steel-true and blade-straight, The great artificer Made my mate.
Honour, anger, valour, fire; A love that life could never tire, Death quench or evil stir, The mighty master Gave to her.
Teacher, tender, comrade, wife, A fellow-farer true through life, Heart-whole and soul-free The august father Gave to me.
TO THE MUSE
Resign the rhapsody, the dream, To men of larger reach; Be ours the quest of a plain theme, The piety of speech.
As monkish scribes from morning break Toiled till the close of light, Nor thought a day too long to make One line or letter bright:
We also with an ardent mind, Time, wealth, and fame forgot, Our glory in our patience find And skim, and skim the pot:
Till last, when round the house we hear The evensong of birds, One corner of blue heaven appear In our clear well of words.
Leave, leave it then, muse of my heart! Sans finish and sans frame, Leave unadorned by needless art The picture as it came.
TO AN ISLAND PRINCESS
Since long ago, a child at home, I read and longed to rise and roam, Where'er I went, whate'er I willed, One promised land my fancy filled. Hence the long roads my home I made; Tossed much in ships; have often laid Below the uncurtained sky my head, Rain-deluged and wind-buffeted: And many a thousand hills I crossed And corners turned—Love's labour lost, Till, Lady, to your isle of sun I came not hoping; and, like one Snatched out of blindness, rubbed my eyes, And hailed my promised land with cries.
Yes, Lady, here I was at last; Here found I all I had forecast: The long roll of the sapphire sea That keeps the land's virginity; The stalwart giants of the wood Laden with toys and flowers and food; The precious forest pouring out To compass the whole town about; The town itself with streets of lawn, Loved of the moon, blessed by the dawn, Where the brown children all the day, Keep up a ceaseless noise of play, Play in the sun, play in the rain, Nor ever quarrel or complain;— And late at night, in the woods of fruit, Hark I do you hear the passing flute?
I threw one look to either hand, And knew I was in Fairyland. And yet one point of being so I lacked. For, Lady (as you know), Whoever by his might of hand Won entrance into Fairyland, Found always with admiring eyes A Fairy princess kind and wise. It was not long I waited; soon Upon my threshold, in broad noon, Gracious and helpful, wise and good, The Fairy Princess Moe stood.
TANTIRA, TAHITI, Nov. 5, 1888.
 This is the same Princess Moe whose charms of person and disposition have been recorded by the late Lord Pembroke in "South Sea Bubbles," and by M. Pierre Loti in the "Mariage de Loti."
(WITH A PRESENT OF A PEARL)
The Silver Ship, my King—that was her name In the bright islands whence your fathers came— The Silver Ship, at rest from winds and tides, Below your palace in your harbour rides: And the seafarers, sitting safe on shore, Like eager merchants count their treasures o'er. One gift they find, one strange and lovely thing, Now doubly precious since it pleased a king.
The right, my liege, is ancient as the lyre For bards to give to kings what kings admire. 'Tis mine to offer for Apollo's sake; And since the gift is fitting, yours to take. To golden hands the golden pearl I bring: The ocean jewel to the island king.
HONOLULU, Feb. 3, 1889.
FOOTNOTE:  The yacht Casco had been so called by the people of Fakarava in Tahiti.
TO PRINCESS KAIULANI
[Written in April to Kaiulani in the April of her age; and at Waikiki, within easy walk of Kaiulani's banyan! When she comes to my land and her father's, and the rain beats upon the window (as I fear it will), let her look at this page; it will be like a weed gathered and pressed at home; and she will remember her own islands, and the shadow of the mighty tree; and she will hear the peacocks screaming in the dusk and the wind blowing in the palms; and she will think of her father sitting there alone.—R. L. S.]
Forth from her land to mine she goes, The island maid, the island rose, Light of heart and bright of face: The daughter of a double race.
Her islands here, in Southern sun, Shall mourn their Kaiulani gone, And I, in her dear banyan shade, Look vainly for my little maid.
But our Scots islands far away Shall glitter with unwonted day, And cast for once their tempests by To smile in Kaiulani's eye.
TO MOTHER MARYANNE
To see the infinite pity of this place, The mangled limb, the devastated face, The innocent sufferer smiling at the rod— A fool were tempted to deny his God. He sees, he shrinks. But if he gaze again, Lo, beauty springing from the breast of pain; He marks the sisters on the mournful shores; And even a fool is silent and adores.
GUEST HOUSE, KALAWAO, MOLOKAI.
IN MEMORIAM E.H.
I knew a silver head was bright beyond compare, I knew a queen of toil with a crown of silver hair. Garland of valour and sorrow, of beauty and renown, Life, that honours the brave, crowned her himself with the crown.
The beauties of youth are frail, but this was a jewel of age. Life, that delights in the brave, gave it himself for a gage. Fair was the crown to behold, and beauty its poorest part— At once the scar of the wound and the order pinned on the heart.
The beauties of man are frail, and the silver lies in the dust, And the queen that we call to mind sleeps with the brave and the just; Sleeps with the weary at length; but, honoured and ever fair, Shines in the eye of the mind the crown of the silver hair.
TO MY WIFE
Long must elapse ere you behold again Green forest frame the entry of the lane— The wild lane with the bramble and the briar, The year-old cart-tracks perfect in the mire, The wayside smoke, perchance, the dwarfish huts, And ramblers' donkey drinking from the ruts:— Long ere you trace how deviously it leads, Back from man's chimneys and the bleating meads To the woodland shadow, to the silvan hush, When but the brooklet chuckles in the brush— Back from the sun and bustle of the vale To where the great voice of the nightingale Fills all the forest like a single room, And all the banks smell of the golden broom; So wander on until the eve descends, And back returning to your firelit friends, You see the rosy sun, despoiled of light, Hung, caught in thickets, like a schoolboy's kite.
Here from the sea the unfruitful sun shall rise, Bathe the bare deck and blind the unshielded eyes; The allotted hours aloft shall wheel in vain And in the unpregnant ocean plunge again. Assault of squalls that mock the watchful guard, And pluck the bursting canvas from the yard, And senseless clamour of the calm, at night Must mar your slumbers. By the plunging light, In beetle-haunted, most unwomanly bower Of the wild-swerving cabin, hour by hour....
TO MY OLD FAMILIARS
Do you remember—can we e'er forget?— How, in the coiled perplexities of youth, In our wild climate, in our scowling town, We gloomed and shivered, sorrowed, sobbed and feared? The belching winter wind, the missile rain, The rare and welcome silence of the snows, The laggard morn, the haggard day, the night, The grimy spell of the nocturnal town, Do you remember?—Ah, could one forget! As when the fevered sick that all night long Listed the wind intone, and hear at last The ever-welcome voice of chanticleer Sing in the bitter hour before the dawn,— With sudden ardour, these desire the day: So sang in the gloom of youth the bird of hope; So we, exulting, hearkened and desired. For lo! as in the palace porch of life We huddled with chimeras, from within— How sweet to hear!—the music swelled and fell, And through the breach of the revolving doors What dreams of splendour blinded us and fled!
I have since then contended and rejoiced; Amid the glories of the house of life Profoundly entered, and the shrine beheld: Yet when the lamp from my expiring eyes Shall dwindle and recede, the voice of love Fall insignificant on my closing ears, What sound shall come but the old cry of the wind In our inclement city? what return But the image of the emptiness of youth, Filled with the sound of footsteps and that voice Of discontent and rapture and despair? So, as in darkness, from the magic lamp, The momentary pictures gleam and fade And perish, and the night resurges—these Shall I remember, and then all forget.
The tropics vanish, and meseems that I, From Halkerside, from topmost Allermuir, Or steep Caerketton, dreaming gaze again. Far set in fields and woods, the town I see Spring gallant from the shallows of her smoke, Cragged, spired, and turreted, her virgin fort Beflagged. About, on seaward-drooping hills, New folds of city glitter. Last, the Forth Wheels ample waters set with sacred isles, And populous Fife smokes with a score of towns.
There, on the sunny frontage of a hill, Hard by the house of kings, repose the dead, My dead, the ready and the strong of word. Their works, the salt-encrusted, still survive; The sea bombards their founded towers; the night Thrills pierced with their strong lamps. The artificers, One after one, here in this grated cell, Where the rain erases and the rust consumes, Fell upon lasting silence. Continents And continental oceans intervene; A sea uncharted, on a lampless isle, Environs and confines their wandering child In vain. The voice of generations dead Summons me, sitting distant, to arise, My numerous footsteps nimbly to retrace, And, all mutation over, stretch me down In that denoted city of the dead.
TO S. C.
I heard the pulse of the besieging sea Throb far away all night. I heard the wind Fly crying and convulse tumultuous palms. I rose and strolled. The isle was all bright sand, And flailing fans and shadows of the palm; The heaven all moon and wind and the blind vault; The keenest planet slain, for Venus slept. The king, my neighbour, with his host of wives, Slept in the precinct of the palisade; Where single, in the wind, under the moon, Among the slumbering cabins, blazed a fire, Sole street-lamp and the only sentinel. To other lands and nights my fancy turned— To London first, and chiefly to your house, The many-pillared and the well-beloved. There yearning fancy lighted; there again In the upper room I lay, and heard far off The unsleeping city murmur like a shell; The muffled tramp of the Museum guard Once more went by me; I beheld again Lamps vainly brighten the dispeopled street; Again I longed for the returning morn, The awaking traffic, the bestirring birds, The consentaneous trill of tiny song That weaves round monumental cornices A passing charm of beauty. Most of all, For your light foot I wearied, and your knock That was the glad reveille of my day. Lo, now, when to your task in the great house At morning through the portico you pass, One moment glance, where by the pillared wall Far-voyaging island gods, begrimed with smoke, Sit now unworshipped, the rude monument Of faiths forgot and races undivined; Sit now disconsolate, remembering well The priest, the victim, and the songful crowd, The blaze of the blue noon, and that huge voice, Incessant, of the breakers on the shore. As far as these from their ancestral shrine, So far, so foreign, your divided friends Wander, estranged in body, not in mind.
THE HOUSE OF TEMBINOKA
[At my departure from the island of Apemama, for which you will look in vain in most atlases, the King and I agreed, since we both set up to be in the poetical way, that we should celebrate our separation in verse. Whether or not his Majesty has been true to his bargain, the laggard posts of the Pacific may perhaps inform me in six months, perhaps not before a year. The following lines represent my part of the contract, and it is hoped, by their pictures of strange manners, they may entertain a civilised audience. Nothing throughout has been invented or exaggerated; the lady herein referred to as the author's muse has confined herself to stringing into rhyme facts or legends that I saw or heard during two months' residence upon the island.—R. L. S.]
Let us, who part like brothers, part like bards; And you in your tongue and measure, I in mine, Our now division duly solemnise. Unlike the strains, and yet the theme is one: The strains unlike, and how unlike their fate! You to the blinding palace-yard shall call The prefect of the singers, and to him, Listening devout, your valedictory verse Deliver; he, his attribute fulfilled, To the island chorus hand your measures on, Wed now with harmony: so them, at last, Night after night, in the open hall of dance, Shall thirty matted men, to the clapped hand, Intone and bray and bark. Unfortunate! Paper and print alone shall honour mine.
Let now the King his ear arouse And toss the bosky ringlets from his brows, The while, our bond to implement, My muse relates and praises his descent.
Bride of the shark, her valour first I sing Who on the lone seas quickened of a King. She, from the shore and puny homes of men, Beyond the climber's sea-discerning ken, Swam, led by omens; and devoid of fear, Beheld her monstrous paramour draw near. She gazed; all round her to the heavenly pale, The simple sea was void of isle or sail— Sole overhead the unsparing sun was reared— When the deep bubbled and the brute appeared. But she, secure in the decrees of fate, Made strong her bosom and received the mate, And, men declare, from that marine embrace Conceived the virtues of a stronger race.
Her stern descendant next I praise, Survivor of a thousand frays:— In the hall of tongues who ruled the throng; Led and was trusted by the strong; And when spears were in the wood, Like a tower of vantage stood:— Whom, not till seventy years had sped, Unscarred of breast, erect of head, Still light of step, still bright of look, The hunter, Death, had overtook.
His sons, the brothers twain, I sing. Of whom the elder reigned a King. No Childeric he, yet much declined From his rude sire's imperious mind, Until his day came when he died, He lived, he reigned, he versified. But chiefly him I celebrate That was the pillar of the state, Ruled, wise of word and bold of mien, The peaceful and the warlike scene; And played alike the leader's part In lawful and unlawful art. His soldiers with emboldened ears Heard him laugh among the spears. He could deduce from age to age The web of island parentage; Best lay the rhyme, best lead the dance, For any festal circumstance: And fitly fashion oar and boat, A palace or an armour coat. None more availed than he to raise The strong, suffumigating blaze, Or knot the wizard leaf: none more, Upon the untrodden windward shore Of the isle, beside the beating main, To cure the sickly and constrain, With muttered words and waving rods, The gibbering and the whistling gods. But he, though thus with hand and head He ruled, commanded, charmed, and led, And thus in virtue and in might Towered to contemporary sight— Still in fraternal faith and love, Remained below to reach above, Gave and obeyed the apt command, Pilot and vassal of the land.
My Tembinok' from men like these Inherited his palaces, His right to rule, his powers of mind, His cocoa-islands sea-enshrined. Stern bearer of the sword and whip, A master passed in mastership, He learned, without the spur of need, To write, to cipher, and to read; From all that touch on his prone shore Augments his treasury of lore, Eager in age as erst in youth To catch an art, to learn a truth, To paint on the internal page A clearer picture of the age. His age, you say? But ah, not so! In his lone isle of long ago, A royal Lady of Shalott, Sea-sundered, he beholds it not; He only hears it far away. The stress of equatorial day He suffers; he records the while The vapid annals of the isle; Slaves bring him praise of his renown, Or cackle of the palm-tree town; The rarer ship and the rare boat He marks; and only hears remote, Where thrones and fortunes rise and reel, The thunder of the turning wheel.
For the unexpected tears he shed At my departing, may his lion head Not whiten, his revolving years No fresh occasion minister of tears; At book or cards, at work or sport, Him may the breeze across the palace court For ever fan; and swelling near For ever the loud song divert his ear.
SCHOONER Equator, AT SEA.
In all the grove, nor stream nor bird Nor aught beside my blows was heard, And the woods wore their noonday dress— The glory of their silentness. From the island summit to the seas, Trees mounted, and trees drooped, and trees Groped upward in the gaps. The green Inarboured talus and ravine By fathoms. By the multitude, The rugged columns of the wood And bunches of the branches stood: Thick as a mob, deep as a sea, And silent as eternity.
With lowered axe, with backward head, Late from this scene my labourer fled, And with a ravelled tale to tell, Returned. Some denizen of hell, Dead man or disinvested god, Had close behind him peered and trod, And triumphed when he turned to flee. How different fell the lines with me! Whose eye explored the dim arcade Impatient of the uncoming shade— Shy elf, or dryad pale and cold, Or mystic lingerer from of old: Vainly. The fair and stately things, Impassive as departed kings, All still in the wood's stillness stood, And dumb. The rooted multitude Nodded and brooded, bloomed and dreamed, Unmeaning, undivined. It seemed No other art, no hope, they knew, Than clutch the earth and seek the blue. 'Mid vegetable king and priest And stripling, I (the only beast) Was at the beast's work, killing; hewed The stubborn roots across, bestrewed The glebe with the dislustred leaves, And bade the saplings fall in sheaves; Bursting across the tangled math A ruin that I called a path, A Golgotha that, later on, When rains had watered, and suns shone, And seeds enriched the place, should bear And be called garden. Here and there, I spied and plucked by the green hair A foe more resolute to live, The toothed and killing sensitive. He, semi-conscious, fled the attack; He shrank and tucked his branches back; And straining by his anchor strand, Captured and scratched the rooting hand. I saw him crouch, I felt him bite; And straight my eyes were touched with sight. I saw the wood for what it was; The lost and the victorious cause; The deadly battle pitched in line, Saw silent weapons cross and shine: Silent defeat, silent assault, A battle and a burial vault.
Thick round me in the teeming mud Briar and fern strove to the blood. The hooked liana in his gin Noosed his reluctant neighbours in: There the green murderer throve and spread, Upon his smothering victims fed, And wantoned on his climbing coil. Contending roots fought for the soil Like frightened demons: with despair Competing branches pushed for air. Green conquerors from overhead Bestrode the bodies of their dead; The Caesars of the silvan field, Unused to fail, foredoomed to yield: For in the groins of branches, lo! The cancers of the orchid grow. Silent as in the listed ring Two chartered wrestlers strain and cling, Dumb as by yellow Hooghly's side The suffocating captives died: So hushed the woodland warfare goes Unceasing; and the silent foes Grapple and smother, strain and clasp Without a cry, without a gasp. Here also sound Thy fans, O God, Here too Thy banners move abroad: Forest and city, sea and shore, And the whole earth, Thy threshing-floor! The drums of war, the drums of peace, Roll through our cities without cease, And all the iron halls of life Ring with the unremitting strife.
The common lot we scarce perceive. Crowds perish, we nor mark nor grieve: The bugle calls—we mourn a few! What corporal's guard at Waterloo? What scanty hundreds more or less In the man-devouring Wilderness? What handful bled on Delhi ridge? —See, rather, London, on thy bridge The pale battalions trample by, Resolved to slay, resigned to die. Count, rather, all the maimed and dead In the unbrotherly war of bread. See, rather, under sultrier skies What vegetable Londons rise, And teem, and suffer without sound. Or in your tranquil garden ground, Contented, in the falling gloom, Saunter and see the roses bloom. That these might live, what thousands died! All day the cruel hoe was plied; The ambulance barrow rolled all day; Your wife, the tender, kind, and gay, Donned her long gauntlets, caught the spud And bathed in vegetable blood; And the long massacre now at end, See! where the lazy coils ascend, See, where the bonfire sputters red At even, for the innocent dead.
Why prate of peace? when, warriors all, We clank in harness into hall, And ever bare upon the board Lies the necessary sword. In the green field or quiet street, Besieged we sleep, beleaguered eat; Labour by day and wake o' nights, In war with rival appetites. The rose on roses feeds; the lark On larks. The sedentary clerk All morning with a diligent pen Murders the babes of other men; And like the beasts of wood and park, Protects his whelps, defends his den.
Unshamed the narrow aim I hold; I feed my sheep, patrol my fold; Breathe war on wolves and rival flocks, A pious outlaw on the rocks Of God and morning; and when time Shall bow, or rivals break me, climb Where no undubbed civilian dares, In my war harness, the loud stairs Of honour; and my conqueror Hail me a warrior fallen in war.
As the single pang of the blow, when the metal is mingled well, Rings and lives and resounds in all the bounds of the bell, So the thunder above spoke with a single tongue, So in the heart of the mountain the sound of it rumbled and clung.
Sudden the thunder was drowned—quenched was the levin light— And the angel-spirit of rain laughed out loud in the night. Loud as the maddened river raves in the cloven glen, Angel of rain! you laughed and leaped on the roofs of men;
And the sleepers sprang in their beds, and joyed and feared as you fell. You struck, and my cabin quailed; the roof of it roared like a bell. You spoke, and at once the mountain shouted and shook with brooks. You ceased, and the day returned, rosy, with virgin looks.
And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two; And the world has room for love, and death, and thunder, and dew; And all the sinews of hell slumber in summer air; And the face of God is a rock, but the face of the rock is fair. Beneficent streams of tears flow at the finger of pain; And out of the cloud that smites, beneficent rivers of rain.
AN END OF TRAVEL
Let now your soul in this substantial world Some anchor strike. Be here the body moored;— This spectacle immutably from now The picture in your eye; and when time strikes, And the green scene goes on the instant blind— The ultimate helpers, where your horse to-day Conveyed you dreaming, bear your body dead.
We uncommiserate pass into the night From the loud banquet, and departing leave A tremor in men's memories, faint and sweet And frail as music. Features of our face, The tones of the voice, the touch of the loved hand, Perish and vanish, one by one, from earth: Meanwhile, in the hall of song, the multitude Applauds the new performer. One, perchance, One ultimate survivor lingers on, And smiles, and to his ancient heart recalls The long forgotten. Ere the morrow die, He too, returning, through the curtain comes, And the new age forgets us and goes on.
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say, could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day Over the sea to Skye.
Mull was astern, Rum on the port, Eigg on the starboard bow; Glory of youth glowed in his soul: Where is that glory now?
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say, could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day Over the sea to Skye.
Give me again all that was there, Give me the sun that shone! Give me the eyes, give me the soul, Give me the lad that's gone!
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone, Say, could that lad be I? Merry of soul he sailed on a day Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas, Mountains of rain and sun, All that was good, all that was fair, All that was me is gone.
TO S.R. CROCKETT
(ON RECEIVING A DEDICATION)
Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are flying, Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now, Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups are crying, My heart remembers how!
Grey recumbent tombs of the dead in desert places, Standing-stones on the vacant wine-red moor, Hills of sheep, and the homes of the silent vanished races, And winds, austere and pure:
Be it granted me to behold you again in dying, Hills of home! and to hear again the call; Hear about the graves of the martyrs the peewees crying, And hear no more at all.
The embers of the day are red Beyond the murky hill. The kitchen smokes: the bed In the darkling house is spread: The great sky darkens overhead, And the great woods are shrill. So far have I been led, Lord, by Thy will: So far I have followed, Lord, and wondered still.
The breeze from the embalmed land Blows sudden toward the shore, And claps my cottage door. I hear the signal, Lord—I understand. The night at Thy command Comes. I will eat and sleep and will not question more.
A FAMILIAR EPISTLE
Blame me not that this epistle Is the first you have from me; Idleness hath held me fettered; But at last the times are bettered, And once more I wet my whistle Here in France beside the sea.
All the green and idle weather, I have had in sun and shower Such an easy, warm subsistence, Such an indolent existence, I should find it hard to sever Day from day and hour from hour.
Many a tract-provided ranter May upbraid me, dark and sour, Many a bland Utilitarian, Or excited Millenarian, —"Pereunt et imputantur"— You must speak to every hour.
But (the very term's deception) You at least, my Friend, will see That in sunny grassy meadows, Trailed across by moving shadows, To be actively receptive Is as much as man can be.
He that all the winter grapples Difficulties—thrust and ward— Needs to cheer him thro' his duty Memories of sun and beauty, Orchards with the russet apples Lying scattered on the sward.
Many such I keep in prison, Keep them here at heart unseen, Till my muse again rehearses Long years hence, and in my verses You shall meet them re-arisen, Ever comely, ever green.
You know how they never perish, How, in time of later art, Memories consecrate and sweeten Those defaced and tempest-beaten Flowers of former years we cherish Half a life, against our heart.
Most, those love-fruits withered greenly, Those frail, sickly amourettes,— How they brighten with the distance, Take new strength and new existence, Till we see them sitting queenly Crowned and courted by regrets!
All that loveliest and best is, Aureole-fashion round their head, They that looked in life but plainly, How they stir our spirits vainly When they come to us, Alcestis— Like returning from the dead!
Not the old love but another, Bright she comes at memory's call, Our forgotten vows reviving To a newer, livelier living, As the dead child to the mother Seems the fairest child of all.
Thus our Goethe, sacred master, Travelling backward thro' his youth, Surely wandered wrong in trying To renew the old, undying Loves that cling in memory faster Than they ever lived in truth.
BOULOGNE-SUR-MER, September 1872.
Far have you come, my lady, from the town, And far from all your sorrows, if you please, To smell the good sea-winds and hear the seas, And in green meadows lay your body down.
To find your pale face grow from pale to brown, Your sad eyes growing brighter by degrees; Far have you come, my lady, from the town, And far from all your sorrows, if you please.
Here in this seaboard land of old renown, In meadow grass go wading to the knees; Bathe your whole soul a while in simple ease; There is no sorrow but the sea can drown; Far have you come, my lady, from the town.
Nous n'irons plus au bois We'll walk the woods no more, But stay beside the fire, To weep for old desire And things that are no more.
The woods are spoiled and hoar, The ways are full of mire; We'll walk the woods no more, But stay beside the fire. We loved, in days of yore, Love, laughter, and the lyre. Ah God, but death is dire, And death is at the door— We'll walk the woods no more.
CHATEAU RENARD, August 1875.
Since I am sworn to live my life And not to keep an easy heart, Some men may sit and drink apart, I bear a banner in the strife.
Some can take quiet thought to wife, I am all day at tierce and carte, Since I am sworn to live my life And not to keep an easy heart.
I follow gaily to the fife, Leave Wisdom bowed above a chart, And Prudence brawing in the mart, And dare Misfortune to the knife, Since I am sworn to live my life.
OF HIS PITIABLE TRANSFORMATION
I who was young so long, Young and alert and gay, Now that my hair is grey, Begin to change my song.
Now I know right from wrong, Now I know pay and pray, I who was young so long, Young and alert and gay.
Now I follow the throng, Walk in the beaten way, Hear what the elders say, And own that I was wrong— I who was young so long.
EPISTLE TO CHARLES BAXTER
Noo lyart leaves blaw ower the green, Red are the bonny woods o' Dean, An' here we're back in Embro, freen', To pass the winter. Whilk noo, wi' frosts afore, draws in, An' snaws ahint her.
I've seen 's hae days to fricht us a', The Pentlands poothered weel wi' snaw, The ways half-smoored wi' liquid thaw, An' half-congealin', The snell an' scowtherin' norther blaw Frae blae Brunteelan'.
I've seen 's been unco sweir to sally, And at the door-cheeks daff an' dally, Seen 's daidle thus an' shilly-shally For near a minute— Sae cauld the wind blew up the valley, The deil was in it!—
Syne spread the silk an' tak the gate, In blast an' blaudin', rain, deil hae 't! The hale toon glintin', stane an' slate, Wi' cauld an' weet, An' to the Court, gin we 'se be late, Bicker oor feet.
And at the Court, tae, aft I saw Whaur Advocates by twa an' twa Gang gesterin' end to end the ha' In weeg an' goon, To crack o' what ye wull but Law The hale forenoon.
That muckle ha', maist like a kirk, I've kent at braid mid-day sae mirk Ye'd seen white weegs an' faces lurk Like ghaists frae Hell, But whether Christian ghaists or Turk, Deil ane could tell.
The three fires lunted in the gloom, The wind blew like the blast o' doom, The rain upo' the roof abune Played Peter Dick— Ye wad nae'd licht enough i' the room Your teeth to pick!
But, freend, ye ken how me an' you, The ling-lang lanely winter through, Keep'd a guid speerit up, an' true To lore Horatian, We aye the ither bottle drew To inclination.
Sae let us in the comin' days Stand sicker on our auncient ways— The strauchtest road in a' the maze Since Eve ate apples; An' let the winter weet our cla'es— We'll weet oor thrapples.
EDINBURGH, October 1875.
THE SUSQUEHANNAH AND THE DELAWARE
Of where or how, I nothing know; And why, I do not care; Enough if, even so, My travelling eyes, my travelling mind can go By flood and field and hill, by wood and meadow fair, Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
I think, I hope, I dream no more The dreams of otherwhere, The cherished thoughts of yore; I have been changed from what I was before; And drunk too deep perchance the lotus of the air, Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
Unweary, God me yet shall bring To lands of brighter air, Where I, now half a king, Shall with enfranchised spirit loudlier sing, And wear a bolder front than that which now I wear Beside the Susquehannah and along the Delaware.
EPISTLE TO ALBERT DEW-SMITH
Figure me to yourself, I pray— A man of my peculiar cut— Apart from dancing and deray, Into an Alpine valley shut;
Shut in a kind of damned Hotel, Discountenanced by God and man; The food?—Sir, you would do as well To cram your belly full of bran.
The company? Alas, the day That I should dwell with such a crew, With devil anything to say, Nor any one to say it to!
The place? Although they call it Platz, I will be bold and state my view; It's not a place at all—and that's The bottom verity, my Dew.
There are, as I will not deny, Innumerable inns; a road; Several Alps indifferent high; The snow's inviolable abode;
Eleven English parsons, all Entirely inoffensive; four True human beings—what I call Human—the deuce a cipher more;
A climate of surprising worth; Innumerable dogs that bark; Some air, some weather, and some earth; A native race—God save the mark!—
A race that works, yet cannot work, Yodels, but cannot yodel right, Such as, unhelp'd, with rusty dirk, I vow that I could wholly smite.
A river that from morn to night Down all the valley plays the fool; Not once she pauses in her flight, Nor knows the comfort of a pool;
But still keeps up, by straight or bend, The selfsame pace she hath begun— Still hurry, hurry, to the end— Good God, is that the way to run?
If I a river were, I hope That I should better realise The opportunities and scope Of that romantic enterprise.
I should not ape the merely strange, But aim besides at the divine; And continuity and change I still should labour to combine.
Here should I gallop down the race, Here charge the sterling like a bull; There, as a man might wipe his face, Lie, pleased and panting, in a pool.
But what, my Dew, in idle mood, What prate I, minding not my debt? What do I talk of bad or good? The best is still a cigarette.
Me whether evil fate assault, Or smiling providences crown— Whether on high the eternal vault Be blue, or crash with thunder down—
I judge the best, whate'er befall, Is still to sit on one's behind, And, having duly moistened all, Smoke with an unperturbed mind.
DAVOS, November 1880.
FOOTNOTES:  "The whole front of the house was lighted, and there were pipes and fiddles, and as much dancing and deray within as used to be in Sir Robert's house at Pace and Yule, and such high seasons."—See "Wandering Willie's Tale" in "Redgauntlet," borrowed perhaps from "Christ's Kirk of the Green."
 In architecture, a series of piles to defend the pier of a bridge.
ALCAICS TO HORATIO F. BROWN
Brave lads in olden musical centuries, Sang, night by night, adorable choruses, Sat late by alehouse doors in April Chaunting in joy as the moon was rising:
Moon-seen and merry, under the trellises, Flush-faced they played with old polysyllables; Spring scents inspired, old wine diluted; Love and Apollo were there to chorus.
Now these, the songs, remain to eternity, Those, only those, the bountiful choristers Gone—those are gone, those unremembered Sleep and are silent in earth for ever.
So man himself appears and evanishes, So smiles and goes; as wanderers halting at Some green-embowered house, play their music, Play and are gone on the windy highway;
Yet dwells the strain enshrined in the memory Long after they departed eternally, Forth-faring tow'rd far mountain summits, Cities of men on the sounding Ocean.
Youth sang the song in years immemorial; Brave chanticleer, he sang and was beautiful; Bird-haunted, green tree-tops in springtime Heard and were pleased by the voice of singing;
Youth goes, and leaves behind him a prodigy— Songs sent by thee afar from Venetian Sea-grey lagunes, sea-paven highways, Dear to me here in my Alpine exile.
DAVOS, Spring 1881.
A LYTLE JAPE OF TUSHERIE
By A. Tusher
The pleasant river gushes Among the meadows green; At home the author tushes; For him it flows unseen.
The Birds among the Bushes May wanton on the spray; But vain for him who tushes The brightness of the day!
The frog among the rushes Sits singing in the blue. By 'r la'kin! but these tushes Are wearisome to do!
The task entirely crushes The spirit of the bard: God pity him who tushes— His task is very hard.
The filthy gutter slushes, The clouds are full of rain, But doomed is he who tushes To tush and tush again.
At morn with his hair-brushes, Still "tush" he says and weeps; At night again he tushes, And tushes till he sleeps.
And when at length he pushes Beyond the river dark— 'Las, to the man who tushes, "Tush" shall be God's remark!
HYERES, May 1883.
TO VIRGIL AND DORA WILLIAMS
Here, from the forelands of the tideless sea, Behold and take my offering unadorned. In the Pacific air it sprang; it grew Among the silence of the Alpine air; In Scottish heather blossomed; and at last By that unshapen sapphire, in whose face Spain, Italy, France, Algiers, and Tunis view Their introverted mountains, came to fruit. Back now, my Booklet! on the diving ship, And posting on the rails, to home return,— Home, and the friends whose honouring name you bear.
TO AENEAS WILLIAM MACKINTOSH
Thee, Mackintosh, artificer of light, Thee, the lone smoker hails! the student, thee; Thee, oft upon the ungovernable sea, The seaman, conscious of approaching night; Thou, with industrious fingers, hast outright Mastered that art, of other arts the key, That bids thick night before the morning flee, And lingering day retains for mortal sight. O Promethean workman, thee I hail, Thee hallowed, thee unparalleled, thee bold To affront the reign of sleep and darkness old, Thee William, thee AEneas, thee I sing; Thee by the glimmering taper clear and pale, Of light, and light's purveyance, hail, the king.
THE FINE PACIFIC ISLANDS
(HEARD IN A PUBLIC-HOUSE AT ROTHERHITHE)
The jolly English Yellowboy Is a 'ansome coin when new, The Yankee Double-eagle Is large enough for two. O, these may do for seaport towns, For cities these may do; But the dibbs that takes the Hislands Are the dollars of Peru: O, the fine Pacific Hislands, O, the dollars of Peru!
It's there we buy the cocoanuts Mast 'eaded in the blue; It's there we trap the lasses All waiting for the crew; It's there we buy the trader's rum What bores a seaman through.... In the fine Pacific Hislands With the dollars of Peru: In the fine Pacific Hislands With the dollars of Peru!
Now, messmates, when my watch is up, And I am quite broached to, I'll give a tip to 'Evving Of the 'ansome thing to do: Let 'em just refit this sailor-man And launch him off anew To cruise among the Hislands With the dollars of Peru: In the fine Pacific Hislands With the dollars of Peru!
TAHITI, August 1888.
When chitterin' cauld the day sall daw, Loud may your bonny bugles blaw And loud your drums may beat. Hie owre the land at evenfa' Your lamps may glitter raw by raw, Along the gowsty street.
I gang nae mair where ance I gaed, By Brunston, Fairmileheid, or Braid; But far frae Kirk and Tron. O still ayont the muckle sea, Still are ye dear, and dear to me, Auld Reekie, still and on!
THE LESSON OF THE MASTER
TO HENRY JAMES
Adela, Adela, Adela Chart, What have you done to my elderly heart? Of all the ladies of paper and ink I count you the paragon, call you the pink. The word of your brother depicts you in part: "You raving maniac!" Adela Chart; But in all the asylums that cumber the ground, So delightful a maniac was ne'er to be found.
I pore on you, dote on you, clasp you to heart, I laud, love, and laugh at you, Adela Chart, And thank my dear maker the while I admire That I can be neither your husband nor sire. Your husband's, your sire's, were a difficult part; You're a byway to suicide, Adela Chart; But to read of, depicted by exquisite James, O, sure you're the flower and quintessence of dames.
VAILIMA, October 1891.
THE CONSECRATION OF BRAILLE
TO MRS. A. BAKER
I was a barren tree before, I blew a quenched coal, I could not, on their midnight shore, The lonely blind console.
A moment, lend your hand, I bring My sheaf for you to bind, And you can teach my words to sing In the darkness of the blind.
VAILIMA, December 1893.
Light foot and tight foot, And green grass spread, Early in the morning, But hope is on ahead.
Brief day and bright day, And sunset red, Early in the evening, The stars are overhead.
CASSELL & CO., LIMITED, LA BELLE SAUVAGE