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Full text of "Selected Essays Of Robert Louis Stevenson"

wz                 A CHK1STMAS SERMON

there need be few illusions left about himself. Here lies
one who meant well, tried a little, failed much :—surely
that may be his epitaph, of which he need not be ashamed.
Nor will complain at the summons which calls a defeated
soldier from the field : defeated, ay, if he were Paul or
Marcus Aurelius !—but if there is still one inch of fight
in his old spirit, undishonoured. The faith which sustained
him in his life-long blindness and life-long disappointment
will scarce even be required in this last formality of laying
down his arms. Give him a march with his old bones ;
there, out of the glorious sun-coloured earth, out of the
day and the dust and the ecstasy—there goes another
Faithful Failure !

From a recent book of verse, where there is more than
one such beautiful and manly poem, I take this memorial
piece : it says better than I can, what I love to think ;
let it be our parting word.

4 A late lark twitters from the quiet skies ;

And from the west,

Where the sun, his day's work ended.

Lingers as in content,

There falls on the old, gray city

An influence luminous and serene,

A shining peace.
6 The smoke ascends

In a rosy-and-golden haze.    The spires

Shine, and are changed.    In the valley

Shadows rise.    The lark sings on.    The sun,

Closing his benediction,

Sinks, and the darkening air

Thrills with a sense of the triumphing night—

Night, with her train of stars

And her great gift of sleep.

So be my passing !

My task accomplished and the long day done,

My wages taken, and in my heart

Some late lark singing,

Let me be gathered to the quiet west,

The sundown splendid and serene,

Death.' i

1 From .4 Book of Verses by William Ernest Henley.    D. Nutt

1888.