A nightingale in the sycamore."
ROBERT Louis STEVENSON
INTRODUCTION BY NEIL MUNRO
ILLUSTRATED BY NICK
LONDON &c GLASGOW
COLLINS' CLEAR-TYPE PRESS
Printed in Great Britain
THEY counted themselves lucky, who, thirty to forty years
ago, were able to make first acquaintance with the poetry
of the still-living Robert Louis Stevenson even at the
cost of tracking it through various volumes, or a series
of intermittent " Occ. Verses " in the old Pall Mall
Gazette. There was never any illusion among the
collectors that the reputation of the prose romancer was
likely to be overwhelmed by the fugitive bard, but his
verse was recognised by them as completing the evidence
of his manifold gifts as a literary artist, and it was rarely
that it disappointed. A Child's Garden of Verses, that
imaginative realisation of the make-believe of childhood,
had charmed in an unmistakable fashion, and indeed was
recognised as a tour-de-force never likely to be bettered
in its own way by any one else. Yet it was not exactly
all that was expected from a quite grown-up gentleman
whose name was becoming associated with that of Walter
Underwoods in its Scottish parts was more like the
thing ; here was verse that could be imposed on the more
innocent 25th of January celebrants as the veritable
work of Burns. Followed the Ballads of the South
Seas, which alarmed by the suggestion that Stevenson
had " lost the place " again and did not know wherein
his strength lay. But the subsequent Songs of Travel
restored our faith in him and our affection.
It was a considerable time after Stevenson's death
that his poetical % " remains," as the ambiguous old word
has it, were procurable in one volume. Readers of the
present edition are well-off to be able, hi a single book,
to read every poem of his worth re-printing. They can
the better judge the full effect and value of accumulated
verse which their predecessors knew only in fugitive
detached samples, though they may not enjoy the elation
felt by the older readers for whom every new individual
lyric of Stevenson's was a grand discovery.
The Child's Garden, as we realise to-day, was a happier
choice for a novice to cultivate than the youthful Scott
selected in his translations of Burger's German ballads.
He is a wise poet who seeks his inspirations first in
emotions experienced not far from his mother's door.
The blowzy, exotic, night-blooming flowers of Lenore
and The Wild Huntsman are long since perished, but
The Child's Garden has still the morning dew and blossom
in it. It is concerned with childish thrills and speculations
that are universal ; that are the first intimations of another
world than that which is " too much with us."
At the age of thirty, Stevenson, with no conviction
that he could grow orchids, or even hollyhocks, was
content to stake out a little neglected patch of the big
folks' garden, and do the best he could with daises and
forget-me-nots. His childhood had been attended by
more hazards than those immediately due to ill-health.
His mother was delicate in his infancy, and nurses had
to be provided for him. The reign of the first nurse he
had was very short, as she was accidentally discovered
in a public-house much the worse for drink, while her
tender charge, done up in a parcel, " lay tucked out of
sight on a shelf behind the bar," a circumstance which
suggests that the publicans of Edinburgh last century
must have been remarkably accommodating. The little
Louis asleep behind the beer-pulls would make a touching
picture for some artist of the Scottish school. A second
nurse proved no better, and it was then that the faithful
Alison Cunningham, familiarly called Gummy, came to
his salvation. Gummy, however, was of a sulphurous
kind of piety ; it was her habit to scare the unfortunate
child out of his wits by her picturesque descriptions of
a veritable Tophet, which gave her young charge
" Smoutie " many a feverish night, but in her secular
hours she had graces and charms that almost made
Reared in a house on low, damp ground at Colin ton,
that " in any other part of the world would suggest
malaria," young Stevenson had to struggle for his life
against the ignorance of the medicine men of his age.
They dosed him with powerful drugs for gastric fever
instead of looking into the condition of the drains, which
were afterwards found to have been in a dangerous con-
dition for years ; and when, after taking pneumonia, he
was prostrated by cold after cold, antimonial wine was
administered continuously for a period extending into
months, " enough," says Dr. George Balfour, " to ruin
his constitution for life." It was in these early days of
sickness when his only play was confined to the make-
believe of " the Land of Counterpane," that Stevenson
drew for the memories that made up the Child's Garden of
Verses. The poems in that book in its own way unique
and inimitable were begun at Braemar, and completed
at Hyeres, when Stevenson was confined to bed and
temporarily blind from ophthalmia. " Across the bed
a board was laid, on which large sheets of paper were
pinned ; on these, or on a slate fastened to the board,
he laboriously wrote out in the darkness, with his left
hand, many of the songs of his childhood."
Very few of Stevenson's earlier poems were conceived
with any other purpose than the entertainment of the
moment. With no loftier aspiration most of the longest-
lived lyrics in the English language have been conceived.
The Scotsman's Return from Abroad was written to amuse
his father when Stevenson and his wife were staying with
the elder Stevenson family at Strathpeffer, " a dreary
hydropathic in the Highlands," as Mrs. Stevenson
characterised our famous Scottish Spa. Of all Stevenson's
Scots verse it is perhaps not the best (for the best, I
think, is The Lowdon Sabbath Morn), but at least the
second best. Stevenson's accurate knowledge of Scots
is not to be denied, but he used it in verse as a rule in
a manner not wholly unsophisticated ; the scrupulous
selection of epithet is too apparently that of an hour when
the artistic possibilities of the thing are the inspiration
and not the emotions. But in The Scotsman's Return from
Abroad the humour is spontaneous ; the ideas, measures
and words are in strict harmony.
An', man, I was a blythe hame-comer
When first I syndit out my rummer.
Ye should hae seen me then, wi' care,
The less important pairts prepare ;
Syne, weel contentit wi' it a',
Pour in the speerits wi' a jaw'.
I didnae drink, I didnae speak,
I only snowkit up the reek.
I was sae pleased therein to paidle,
I sat and plowtered wi' my laidle.
In strict accord with traditional Scots satirical verse
though it is, an age earlier than Stevenson's could not
have produced quite the same kind of mocking spirit.
And the Scotsman's first Sunday in kirk after his return
from foreign parts is no less delightful :
Pleased as I was, I'm no' denyin'
Some maitters were not edifyin',
For first I fand and here was news 1
Mere hymn-books cockin' in the pews
A humanised abomination,
Unfit for ony congregation.
Syne, while I still was on the tenter,
I scunnered at the new prezentor ;
I thocht him gesterin' an' cauld
A sair declension frae the auld.
Syne, as though a' the faith was wreckit.
The prayer was not what I expeckit.
Himsel', as it appeared to me,
Was no' the man he used to be.
But just as I was growin' vext,
He waled a maist judeecious text.
An' launchin' into his prelections,
Swoopt, wi' a skirl, on all defections.
what a gale was on my speerit
To hear the p'ints o' doctrine clearit,
And a' the horrors o' damnation
Set furth wi' faithfu' ministration !
Nae shauchlin' testimony here
We a' were damned, and that was clear,
1 owned, wi' gratitude and wonder,
He was a pleasure to sit under.
I wonder how the elder Stevenson appreciated this
example of latitudinarian satire composed for his de-
One of Stevenson's ballads, Ticonderoga the best of
his efforts hi that field was composed in Heriot Street,
Edinburgh, while the elder Stevenson was on his death-
bed. For days Stevenson remained by his unconscious
father, and " found that he must turn his thoughts into
other channels, or he would be unable to fulfil the duties
that now devolved upon him." So he set himself re-
solutely at his desk and wrote the ballad of Ticonderoga,
the theme of which had already been discussed with his
father before that fine intellect had become obscured by
the clouds that settled round his last days. About a
poem of Stevenson's in Underwoods which has created
a good deal of speculation, Mrs. Stevenson has explained
something, but not enough to satisfy our curiosity.
This is the poem entitled
I am a kind of farthing dip,
Unfriendly to the nose and eyes ;
A blue-behinded ape I skip
Upon the trees of Paradise.
At mankind's feast I take my place
In solemn sanctimonious state,
And have the air of saying grace
While I defile the dinner plate.
I am " the smiler with the knife,"
The battener on garbage, I
Dear Heaven, with such a rancid life,
Were it not better far to die ?
Yet still about the human pale,
I love to scamper, love to race,
To swing by my irreverent tail
All over the most holy place ;
And when at length, some golden day,
The unfailing sportsman, aiming at,
Shall bag me all the world shall say :
Thank God, and there's an end of that !
" The verses entitled " A Portrait," so unlike anything else
my husband ever wrote," wrote Mrs Stevenson after her
husband's death, " do not explain themselves, and must
have puzzled many of his readers. He had just finished,
with wondering disgust, a book of poems in the most
musical English, but excessively morbid and unpleasant
in sentiment. His criticisms were generally sympathetic
and kind, but this ' battener upon garbage,' with his air
of ' saying grace,' was more than my husband could
endure, and in the first heat of his indignation he wrote
' A Portrait.' " We are left to guess at the " blue-
behinded ape's " identity.
In the poems that made up Songs of Travel, we have
Stevenson's best lyrical work. They were written between
1888 and 1894, and there must be many to recall the
eager expectancy with which the pages of the Pall Mall
Gazette, in which many of them first appeared, were
turned over each week for the latest. The metrical in-
spiration of some of them is easy to discern ; it
was always obvious that Stevenson, like Burns, and
like Kipling, was best at a song when he had an air to
fit it to.
I have suggested that a good many of Stevenson's
poems were produced in and for moods of simple enter-
tainment. That obvious fact has led to an absurd de-
preciation of his poetry as a whole in many quarters where
poetry is apparently regarded as a kind of verbal par-
quetry whereon the spirit of gaiety should never dance.
" In his verse Stevenson was only a brilliant amateur,"
says a writer in Chamber's Encyclopedia of English
Literature. It was in their amateur years not a few of
the greatest classic lyrists struck their happiest notes
in a first fine careless rapture, never to be recaptured
later on. In nothing of Stevenson's, either of prose or
verse that was published in his lifetime, was there the
slightest symptom of the congenital " amateur." Though
the volume of his verse is small, it all has the stamp of an
unusual personality ; something more than competence
even in its " juvenilia " ; and in the later lyrics a poignant
note that haunts the reader's memory. Thirty odd years
have not staled " I will make you brooches and toys for
your delight," " In the Highlands, in the country places,"
"Home no more home to me," " Blows the wind to-day
and the sun and the rain are flying," " Truth and Love "
or " Requiem."
A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
i. BED IN SUMMER 27
In winter I get up at night
n. A THOUGHT 27
It is very nice to think
in. AT THE SEA-SIDE 28
When I was down beside the sea
iv. YOUNG NIGHT THOUGHT 28
All night long, and every night
v. WHOLE DUTY OF CHILDREN 29
A child should always say what's true
vi. RAIN 29
The rain is raining all around
vii. PIRATE STORY 29
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing
vin. FOREIGN LANDS 30
Up into the cherry-tree
ix. WINDY NIGHTS 31
Whenever the moon and stars are set
x. TRAVEL 31
I should like to rise and go
xi. SINGING 33
Of speckled eggs the birdie sings
xn. LOOKING FORWARD 33
When I am grown to man's estate
xin. A GOOD PLAY 33
We built a ship upon the stairs
xiv. WHERE GO THE BOATS ? 34
Dark brown is the river
xv. AUNTIE'S SKIRTS 35
Whenever Auntie moves around
I 4 CONTENTS
xvi. THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE 35
When I was sick and lay a-bed
xvii. THE LAND OF NOD 36
From breakfast on all through the day
xvin. MY SHADOWS 36
I have a little shadow that goes in and out
xix. SYSTEM 37
Every night my prayers I say
xx. A GOOD BOY 38
I woke before the morning, I was happy
all the day
xxi. ESCAPE AT BEDTIME 39
The lights from the parlour and kitchen
xxn. MARCHING SONG 39
Bring the comb and play upon it
xxni. THE Cow 40
The friendly cow, all red and white
xxiv. HAPPY THOUGHT 41
The world is so full of a number of things
xxv. THE WIND 41
I saw you toss the kites on high
xxvi. KEEPSAKE MILL 42
Over the borders, a sin without pardon
xxvii. GOOD AND BAD CHILDREN 43
Children, you are very little
xxvin. FOREIGN CHILDREN 43
Little Indian, Sioux or Crow
xxix. THE SUN'S TRAVELS 44
The sun is not a-bed when I
xxx. THE LAMPLIGHTER 45
My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left
xxxi. MY BED is A BOAT 46
My bed is like a little boat
xxxii. THE MOON 46
The moon has a face like the clock in the
xxxin. THE SWING 47
How do you like to go up in a swing
xxxiv. TIME TO RISE 47
A birdie with a yellow bill
xxxv. LOOKING-GLASS RIVER
Smooth it slides upon its travel
xxxvi. FAIRY BREAD
Come up here, O dusty feet
xxxvii. FROM A RAILWAY CARRIAGE
Faster than fairies, faster than witches
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed
xxxix. THE HAYLOFT
Through all the pleasant meadow-side
XL. FAREWELL TO THE FARM
The coach is at the door at last
XLI. NORTH-WEST PASSAGE
1. Good Night
When the bright lamp is carried in
2. Shadow March
All round the house is the jet-black
3. In Port
Last, to the chamber where I lie
THE CHILD ALONE
I. THE UNSEEN PLAYMATE 57
When children are playing alone on the
n. MY SHIP AND I 58
O, it's I that am the captain of a tidy little
in. MY KINGDOM 58
Down by a shining water well
iv. PICTURE-BOOKS IN WINTER 59
Summer fading, winter comes
v MY TREASURES 60
These nuts, that I keep in the back of the
vi. BLOCK CITY 61
What are you able to build with your
vii. THE LAND OF STORY-BOOKS 62
At evening when the lamp is lit
vin. ARMIES IN THE FIRE 63
The lamps now glitter down the street
ix. THE LITTLE LAND 64
When at home alone I sit
i. NIGHT AND DAY 69
When the golden day is done
ii. NEST EGGS 70
Birds all the sunny day
HI. THE FLOWERS 72
All the names I know from nurse
iv. SUMMER SUN 72
Great is the sun, and wide he goes
v. THE DUMB SOLDIER 73
When the grass was closely mown
vi. AUTUMN FIRES 75
In the other gardens
vii. THE GARDENER 75
The gardener does not love to talk
vni. HISTORICAL ASSOCIATIONS 76
Dear Uncle Jim, this garden ground
i. To WILLIE AND HENRIETTA 81
If two may read aright
ii. To MY MOTHER 81
You, too, my mother, read my rhymes
in. To AUNTIE 82
Chief oj our aunts not only I
iv. To MINNIE 82
The red room with the giant bed
v. To MY NAME-CHILD 84
Some day soon this rhyming volume
vi. To ANY READER 85
Whether upon the garden seat
Book I IN ENGLISH
i. ENVOY 95
Go, little book, and wish to all
ii. A SONG OF THE ROAD 95
The gauger walked with willing foot
in. THE CANOE SPEAKS 96
On the great streams the ships may go
It is the season now to go
v. THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL 99
A naked house, a naked moor
VI. A VISIT FROM THE SEA IOO
Far from the loud sea beaches
vii. To A GARDENER 101
Friend, in my mountain-side demesne
vin. To MINNIE 102
A picture-frame for you to fill
ix. To K. DE M. 102
A lover of the moorland bare
x. To N. V. DE G. S. 103
The unfathomable sea, and time, and tears
XI. To WILL H. Low 104
Youth now flees on feathered foot
xii. To MRS. WILL H. Low 105
Even hi the bluest noonday of July
xin. To H. F. BROWN 106
I sit and wait a pair of oars
xiv. To ANDREW LANG 107
Dear Andrew, with the brindled hair
xv. ET Tu IN ARCADIA VIXISTI 108
In ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt
xvi. To W. E. HENLEY in
The Year runs through her phases ; rain and
xvn. HENRY JAMES 112
Who comes to-night ? We ope the doors
xvin. THE MIRROR SPEAKS 112
Where the bells peal far at sea
xix. KATHARINE 113
We see you as we see a face
xx. To F. J. S. 114
I read, dear friend, in your dear face
xxi. REQUIEM 114
Under the wide and starry sky
xxn. THE CELESTIAL SURGEON 115
If I have faltered more or less
xxin. OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS 115
Out of the sun, out of the blast
Not yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert
It is not yours, O mother, to complain
xxvi. THE SICK CHILD 121
mother, lay your hand on my brow
xxvii. IN MEMORIAM, F. A. S. 122
Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O
xxvin. To MY FATHER 123
Peace and her huge invasion to these
xxix. IN THE STATES 124
With half a heart I wander here
xxx. A PORTRAIT 124
1 am a kind of farthing dip
Sing clearlier, Muse, or evermore be still
xxxii. A CAMP 126
The bed was made, the room was fit
xxxni. THE COUNTRY OF THE CAMISARDS 126
We travelled in the print of olden wars
xxxiv. SKERRYVORE 126
For love of lovely words, and for the sake
xxxv. SKERRYVORE : THE PARALLEL 127
Here all is sunny, and when the truant gull
My house, I say. But hark to the sunny
My body which my dungeon is
Say not of me that weakly I declined
BOOK II IN SCOTS
i. THE MAKER TO POSTERITY .137
Far 'yont amang the years to be
ii. ILLE TERRARUM 138
Frae nirly, nippin', Eas'lan' breeze
When aince Aprile has fairly come
iv. A MILE AN' A BITTOCK 142
A mile an' a bittock, a mile or twa
v. A LOWDEN SABBATH MORN 143
The clinkum -clank o' Sabbath bells
vi. THE SPAEWIFE 148
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar- wife
vn. THE BLAST 1875 149
It's rainin'. Weet's the gairden sod
vin. THE COUNTERBLAST 1886 153
It's strange that God should fash to frame
ix. THE COUNTERBLAST IRONICAL 153
My bonny man, the war Id it's true.
x. THEIR LAUREATE TO AN ACADEMY CLASS 154
Dear Thamson class, whaure'er I gang
xi. EMBRO HIE KIRK 156
The Lord Himsel' in former days
xn. THE SCOTSMAN'S RETURN FROM ABROAD 159
In mony a foreign pairt I've been
Late in the nicht in bed I lay
xiv. MY CONSCIENCE 165
Of a' the ills that flesh can fear
xv. To DOCTOR JOHN BROWN 166
By Lyne and Tyne, by Thames and
It's an owercome sooth for age an' youth
SONGS OF TRAVEL AND OTHER VERSES
i. THE VAGABOND 173
Give to me the life I love
ii. YOUTH AND LOVE i 174
Once only by the garden gate
in. YOUTH AND LOVE 11 175
To the heart of youth the world is a high-
iv. THE UNFORGOTTEN i 175
In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand
v. THE UNFORGOTTEN n 176
She rested by the Broken Brook
The infinite shining heavens
Plain as the glistering planets shine
To you, let snow and roses
Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful
I know not how it is with you
I will make you brooches and toys for your
xn. WE HAVE LOVED OF YORE 180
Berried brake and reedy island
xni. DITTY 181
The cock shall crow
xiv. MATER TRIUMPHANS 182
Son of my woman's body, you go, to the
drum and fife
Bright is the ring of words
In the highlands, in the country places
Home no more home to me, whither must I
xvni. To DR. HAKE 185
In the beloved hour that ushers day
xix. To 186
I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills
The morning drum-call on my eager ear
I have trod the upward and the downward
He hears with gladdened heart the thunder
xxin. THE LOST OCCASION 188
Farewell, fair day and fading light
xxiv. IF THIS WERE FAITH 188
God, if this were enough
xxv. MY WIFE 190
Trusty, dusky, vivid, true
xxvi. WINTER 190
In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane
The stormy evening closes now in vain
xxviii. To AN ISLAND PRINCESS 192
Since long ago, a child at home
xxix. To KALAKAUA 193
The Silver Ship, my King that was her
xxx. To PRINCESS KAIULANI 194
Forth from her land to mine she goes
xxxi. To MOTHER MARYANNE 194
To see the infinite pity of this place
xxxn. IN MEMORIAM, E. H. 195
I knew a silver head was bright beyond
xxxin. To MY WIFE 196
Long must elapse ere you behold again
xxxiv. To THE MUSE 197
Resign the rhapsody, the dream
xxv. To MY OLD FAMILIARS 198
Do you remember can we e'er forget
The tropics vanish, and meseems that I
xxxvu. To S. C. 200
I heard the pulse of the besieging sea
xxxvin. THE HOUSE OF TEMBINOKA 202
Let us, who part like brothers, part like bards
xxxix. THE WOODMAN 206
In all the grove, nor stream nor bird
XL. TROPIC RAIN 210
As the single pang of the blow, when the
metal is mingled well
XLI. AN END OF TRAVEL 211
Let now your soul in this substantial world
We uncommiserate pass into the night
XLIII. THE LAST SIGHT 212
Once more I saw him. In the lofty room
Sing me a song of the lad that is gone
XLV. To S. R. CROCKETT 214
Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and
the rain are flying
XLVI. EVENSONG 214
The embers of the day are red
THE SONG OF RAH^RO : A LEGEND OF TAHITI
DEDICATION TO OKI A ORI 219
i. THE SLAYING OF TAMATEA 223
It fell in the days of old, as the men of
ii. THE VENGING OF TAMATEA 233
Thus was Rahero's treason ; thus no further
in. RAHERO 246
Rahero was there in the hall asleep : beside
him his wife
THE FEAST OF FAMINE: MARQUESAN
i. THE PRIEST'S VIGIL 259
In all the land of the tribe was neither fish nor
ii. THE LOVERS 253
Hark ! away in the woods for the ears of
love are sharp
HI. THE FEAST 268
Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the naked
iv. THE RAID 275
It chanced that as Rua sat in the valley of
TICONDEROGA : A LEGEND OF THE WEST
This is the tale of the man
i. THE SAYING OF THE NAME 285
On the loch-sides of Appin 285
ii. THE SEEKING OF THE NAME 290
And now there was speech in the south
in. THE PLACE OF THE NAME 292
There fell a war in a woody place
HEATHER ALE : A GALLOWAY LEGEND
HEATHER ALE : A GALLOWAY LEGEND 297
From the bonny bells of heather
CHRISTMAS AT SEA
CHRISTMAS AT SEA
The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the
naked hand 33
To THE SONG OF RAHERO 307
To THE FEAST OF FAMINE 309
To TICONDEROGA 311
To HEATHER ALE 311
A CHILD'S GARDEN
BED IN SUMMER
IN winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light
In summer, quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.
I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.
And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day ?
IT is very nice to think
The world is full of meat and drink,
With little children saying grace
In every Christian kind of place.
28 A CHILD'S GARDEN
AT THE SEA-SIDE
WHEN I was down beside the sea,
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup,
In every hole the sea came up,
Till it could come no more.
YOUNG NIGHT THOUGHT
ALL night long, and every night,
When my mamma puts out the light,
I see the people marching by,
As plain as day, before my eye.
Armies and emperors and kings,
All carrying different kinds of things,
And marching in so grand a way,
You never saw the like by day.
So fine a show was never seen
At the great circus on the green ;
For every kind of beast and man
Is marching in that caravan.
At first they move a little slow,
But still the faster on they go,
And still beside them close I keep
Until we reach the town of Sleep.
OF VERSES 29
WHOLE DUTY OF CHILDREN
A CHILD should always say what's true,
And speak when he is spoken to,
And behave mannerly at table :
At least as far as he is able.
THE rain is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.
THREE of us afloat in the meadow by the swing,
Three of us aboard in the basket on the lea.
Winds are in the air, they are blowing in the spring,
And waves are on the meadows like the waves
there are at sea.
Where shall we adventure, to-day that we're afloat,
Wary of the weather and steering by a star ?
Shall it be to Africa, a-steering of the boat,
To Providence, or Babylon, or off to Malabar ?
30 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Hi ! but here's a squadron a-rowing on the sea
Cattle on the meadow a-charging with a roar !
Quick, and we'll escape them, they're as mad as
they can be,
The wicket is the harbour and the garden is the
UP into the cherry-tree
Who should climb but little me ?
I held the trunk with both my hands
And looked abroad on foreign lands.
I saw the next-door garden lie,
Adorned with flowers, before my eye,
And many pleasant places more
That I had never seen before.
I saw the dimpling river pass
And be the sky's blue looking-glass ;
The dusty roads go up and down
With people tramping in to town.
If I could find a higher tree,
Farther and farther I should see,
To where the grown-up river slips
Into the sea among the ships,
To where the roads on either hand
Lead onward into fairy land,
Where all the children dine at five,
And all the playthings come alive.
OF VERSES 31
WHENEVER the moon and stars are set,
Whenever the wind is high,
All night long in the dark and wet,
A man goes riding by.
Late in the night when the fires are out,
Why does he gallop and gallop about ?
Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
And ships are tossed at sea,
By, on the highway, low and loud,
By at the gallop goes he.
By at the gallop he goes, and then
By he comes back at the gallop again.
I SHOULD like to rise and go
Where the golden apples grow ;
Where below another sky
Parrot islands anchored lie,
And, watched by cockatoos and goats,
Lonely Crusoes building boats ;
Where in sunshine reaching out
Eastern cities, miles about,
Are with mosque and minaret
Among sandy gardens set,
And the rich goods from near and far
32 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Hang for sale in the bazaar ;
Where the Great Wall round China goes,
And on one side the desert blows,
And with bell and voice and drum,
Cities on the other hum ;
Where are forests, hot as fire,
Wide as England, tall as a spire,
Full of apes and cocoa-nuts
And the negro hunters' huts ;
Where the knotty crocodile
Lies and blinks in the Nile,
And the red flamingo flies
Hunting fish before his eyes ;
Where in jungles, near and far,
Man-devouring tigers are,
Lying close and giving ear
Lest the hunt be drawing near,
Or a comer-by be seen
Swinging in a palanquin ;
Where among the desert sands
Some deserted city stands,
All its children, sweep and prince,
Grown to manhood ages since,
Not a foot in street or house,
Not a stir of child or mouse,
And when kindly falls the night,
In all the town no spark of light.
There I'll come when I'm a man
With a camel caravan ;
Light a fire in the gloom
Of some dusty dining-room ;
See the pictures on the walls,
Heroes, fights, and festivals ;
And in a corner find the toys
Of the old Egyptian boys.
OF VERSES 33
OF speckled eggs the birdie sings
And nests among the trees ;
The sailor sings of ropes and things
In ships upon the seas.
The children sing in far Japan,
The children sing in Spain ;
The organ with the organ man
Is singing in the rain.
WHEN I am grown to man's estate
I shall be very proud and great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.
A GOOD PLAY
We built a ship upon the stairs
All made of the back-bedroom chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.
34 A CHILD'S GARDEN
We took a saw and several nails,
And water in the nursery pails ;
And Tom said, " Let us also take
An apple and a slice of cake ; "
Which was enough for Tom and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.
We sailed along for days,
And had the very best of plays ;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.
WHERE GO THE BOATS?
DARK brown is the river,
Golden is the sand.
It flows along for ever,
With trees on either hand.
Green leaves a-floating,
Castles of the foam,
Boats of mine a-boating
Where will all come home ?
On goes the river
And out past the mill,
Away down the valley,
Away down the hill.
Away down the river,
A hundred miles or more,
Other little children
Shall bring my boats ashore.
OF VERSES 35
WHENEVER Auntie moves around,
Her dresses make a curious sound ;
They trail behind her up the floor,
And trundle after through the door,
THE LAND OF COUNTERPANE
WHEN I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills ;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets ;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane,
36 A CHILD'S GARDEN
THE LAND OF NOD
FROM breakfast on all through the day
At home among my friends I stay ;
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.
All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.
The strangest things are there for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.
Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.
I HAVE a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into
OF VERSES 37
The funniest thing about him is the way he likes
Not at all like proper children, which is always
very slow ;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-
And he sometimes gets so little that there's none
of him at all.
He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of
He stays so close beside me, he's a coward you can
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow
sticks to me !
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every butter-
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep
EVERY night my prayers I say,
And get my dinner every day ;
And every day that I've been good,
I get an orange after food.
3 8 A CHILD'S GARDEN
The child that is not clean and neat,
With lots of toys and things to eat,
He is a naughty child, I'm sure
Or else his dear papa is poor.
A GOOD BOY
I WOKE before the morning, I was happy all the
I never said an ugly word, but smiled and stuck
And now at last the sun is going down behind the
And I am very happy, for I know that I've been
My bed is waiting cool and fresh, with linen smooth
And I must off to sleepsin-by, and not forget my
I know that, till to-morrow I shall see the sun
No ugly dream shall fright my mind, no ugly sight
But slumber hold me tightly till I waken in the
And hear the thrushes singing in the lilacs round
OF VERSES 39
ESCAPE AT BEDTIME
THE lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
Through the blinds and the windows and bars ;
And high overhead and all moving about,
There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne'er were such thousands of leaves on a
Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon
And that glittered and winked in the dark.
The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shone in the sky, and the pail by the wall
Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
And they soon had me packed into bed ;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
And the stars going round in my head.
BRING the comb and play upon it
Marching, here we come !
Willie cocks his Highland bonnet,
Johnnie beats the drum.
4 o A CHILD'S GARDEN
Mary Jane commands the party,
Peter leads the rear ;
Feet in time, alert and hearty,
Each a Grenadier !
All in the most martial manner
Marching double-quick ;
While the napkin like a banner
Waves upon the stick !
Here's enough of fame and pillage,
Great commander Jane !
Now that we've been round the village,
Let's go home again.
THE friendly cow, all red and white,
I love with all my heart :
She gives me cream with all her might,
To eat with apple-tart.
She wanders lowing here and there,
And yet she cannot stray,
All in the pleasant open air,
The pleasant light of day ;
And blown by all the winds that pass,
And wet with all the showers,
She walks among the meadow grass
And eats the meadow flowers.
OF VERSES 41
THE world is so full of a number of things,
I'm sure we should all be as happy as kings.
I SAW you toss the kites on high
And blow the birds about the sky ;
And all around I heard you pass,
Like ladies' skirts across the grass
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song !
I saw the different things you did,
But always you yourself you hid.
I felt you push, I heard you call,
I could not see yourself at all
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song !
O you that are so strong and cold,
O blower, are you young or old ?
Are you a beast of field and tree,
Or just a stronger child than me ?
O wind, a-blowing all day long,
O wind, that sings so loud a song !
42 A CHILD'S GARDEN
OVER the borders, a sin without pardon,
Breaking the branches and crawling below,
Out through the breach in the wall of the garden
Down by the banks of the river, we go.
Here is the mill with the humming of thunder,
Here is the weir with the wonder of foam,
Here is the sluice with the race running under
Marvellous places, though handy to home !
Sounds of the village grow stiller and stiller,
Stiller the note of the birds on the hill ;
Dusty and dim are the eyes of the miller,
Deaf are his ears with the moil of the mill.
Years may go by, and the wheel in the river
Wheel as it wheels for us, children, to-day,
Wheel and keep roaring and foaming for ever,
Long after all of the boys are away.
Home from the Indies, and home from the ocean,
Heroes and soldiers we all shall come home ;
Still we shall find the old mill-wheel in motion,
Turning and churning that river to foam.
You with the bean that I gave when we quarrelled
I with your marble of Saturday last,
Honoured and old and all gaily apparelled,
Here we shall meet and remember the past
OF VERSES 43
GOOD AND BAD CHILDREN
CHILDREN, you are very little,
And your bones are very brittle ;
If you would grow great and stately,
You must try to walk sedately.
You must still be bright and quiet,
And content with simple diet ;
And remain, through all bewild'ring,
Innocent and honest children.
Happy hearts and happy faces,
Happy play in grassy places
That was how, in ancient ages,
Children grew to kings and sages.
But the unkind and the unruly,
And the sort who eat unduly,
They must never hope for glory
Theirs is quite a different story !
Cruel children, crying babies,
All grow up as geese and gabies,
Hated, as their age increases,
By their nephews and their nieces.
LITTLE Indian, Sioux or Crow,
Little frosty Eskimo,
Little Turk or Japanee,
O ! don't you wish that you were me ?
44 A CHILD'S GARDEN
You have seen the scarlet trees
And the lions over seas ;
You have eaten ostrich eggs,
And turned the turtles off their legs.
Such a life is very fine,
But it's not so nice as mine :
You must often, as you trod,
Have wearied not to be abroad.
You have curious things to eat,
I am fed on proper meat ;
You must dwell beyond the foam,
But I am safe and live at home.
Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,
Little frosty Eskimo,
Little Turk or Japanee,
O 1 don't you wish that you were me ?
THE SUN'S TRAVELS
THE sun is not a-bed when I
At night upon my pillow lie ;
Still round the earth his way he takes,
And morning after morning makes.
While here at home, in shining day,
We round the sunny garden play,
Each little Indian sleepy-head
Is being kissed and put to bed.
OF VERSES 45
And when at eve I rise from tea,
Day dawns beyond the Atlantic Sea,
And aU the children in the West
Are getting up and being dressed.
MY tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going
For every night at tea-time and before you take
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting
up the street.
Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be ;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what
I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the
lamps with you !
For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many
And O ! before you hurry by with ladder and with
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night !
46 A CHILD'S GARDEN
MY BED IS A BOAT
MY bed is like a little boat ;
Nurse helps me in when I embark ;
She girds me in my sailor's coat
And starts me in the dark.
At night, I go on board and say
Good-night to all my friends on shore
I shut my eyes and sail away
And see and hear no more.
And sometimes things to bed I take,
As prudent sailors have to do ;
Perhaps a slice of wedding-cake,
Perhaps a toy or two.
All night across the dark we steer :
But when the day returns at last,
Safe in my room, beside the pier,
I find my vessel fast.
THE moon has a face like the clock in the hall ;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.
OF VERSES 47
The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.
But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way ;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall rise.
How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue ?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do !
Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
Rivers and trees and cattle and all 4
Over the countryside
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down !
TIME TO RISE
A BIRDIE with a yellow bill
Hopped upon the window sill,
Cocked his shining eye and said :
" Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head ! "
48 A CHILD'S GARDEN
SMOOTH it slides upon its travel,
Here a wimple, there a gleam
O the clean gravel !
O the smooth stream !
Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
Paven pools as clear as air
How a child wishes
To live down there !
We can see our coloured faces
Floating on the shaken pool
Down in cool places,
Dim and very cool ;
Till a wind or water wrinkle,
Dipping marten, plumping trout.
Spreads in a twinkle
And blots all out.
See the rings pursue each other ;
All below grows black as night,
Just as if mother
Had blown out the light !
Patience, children, just a minute
See the spreading circles die ;
The stream and all in it
Will clear by-and-by.
OF VERSES 49
COME up here, O dusty feet !
Here is fairy bread to eat.
Here in my retiring room,
Children, you may dine
On the golden smell of broom
And the shade of pine ;
And when you have eaten well,
Fairy stories hear and tell.
FROM A RAILWAY CARRIAGE
FASTER than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches ;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle :
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain ;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers
All by himself and gathering
Here is a tramp who stands
And there is the green for
Here is a cart run away in the
Lumping along with man and
And here is a mill, and there is a
Each a glimpse and gone for ever !
50 A CHILD'S GARDEN
LATE lies the wintry sun a-bed,
A frosty, fiery sleepy-head ;
Blinks but an hour or two ; and then,
A blood-red orange, sets again.
Before the stars have left the skies,
At morning in the dark I rise ;
And shivering in my nakedness,
By the cold candle, bathe and dress.
Close by the jolly fire I sit
To warm my frozen bones a bit ;
Or with a reindeer-sled, explore
The colder countries round the door.
When, to go out, my nurse doth wrap
Me in my comforter and cap,
The cold wind burns my face, and blows
Its frosty pepper up my nose.
Black are my steps on silver sod ;
Thick blows my frosty breath abroad ;
And tree and house, and hill and lake,
Are frosted like a wedding-cake.
OF VERSES 51
THROUGH all the pleasant meadow-side
The grass grew shoulder-high,
Till the shining scythes went far and wide
And cut it down to dry.
These green and sweetly smelling crops
They led in waggons home ;
And they piled them here in mountain tops
For mountaineers to roam.
Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail,
Mount Eagle and Mount High ;
The mice that in these mountains dwell
No happier are than I !
O what a joy to clamber there,
O what a place for play,
With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
The happy hills of hay.
FAREWELL TO THE FARM
THE coach is at the door at last ;
The eager children, mounting fast
And kissing hands, in chorus sing :
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything !
52 A CHILD'S GARDEN
To house and garden, field and lawn,
The meadow-gates we swang upon,
To pump and stable, tree and swing,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything !
And fare you well for evermore,
O ladder at the hayloft door,
O hayloft where the cobwebs cling,
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything !
Crack goes the whip, and off we go ;
The trees and houses smaller grow ;
Last, round the woody turn we swing
Good-bye, good-bye, to everything 1
I. GOOD NIGHT
WHEN the bright lamp is carried in,
The sunless hours again begin ;
O'er all without, in field and lane,
The haunted night returns again.
Now we behold the embers flee
About the firelit hearth ; and see
Our faces painted as we pass,
Like pictures, on the window-glass.
OF VERSES 53
Must we to bed indeed ? Well then,
Let us arise and go like men,
And face with an undaunted tread
The long black passage up to bed.
Farewell, O brother, sister, sire !
O pleasant party round the fire !
The songs you sing, the tales you tell,
Till far to-morrow, fare ye well !
2. SHADOW MARCH
All round the house is the jet-black night ;
It stares through the window-pane ;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
And it moves with the moving flame.
Now my little heart goes a-beating like a drum,
With the breath of the Bogie in my hair ;
And all round the candle the crooked shadows come
And go marching along up the stair.
The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the
The shadow of the child that goes to bed-
All the wicked shadows coming, tramp, tramp,
With the black night overhead.
3. IN PORT
Last, to the chamber where I lie
My fearful footsteps patter nigh,
And come from out the cold and gloom
Into my warm and cheerful room.
54 A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
There, safe arrived, we turn about
To keep the coming shadows out,
And close the happy door at last
On all the perils that we passed.
Then, when mamma goes by to bed,
She shall come in with tip-toe tread,
And see me lying warm and fast
And in the Land of Nod at last.
THE CHILD ALONE
THE UNSEEN PLAYMATE
WHEN children are playing alone on the green,
In comes the playmate that never was seen.
When children are happy and lonely and good,
The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.
Nobody heard him and nobody saw,
His is a picture you never could draw,
But he's sure to be present, abroad or at home,
When children are happy and playing alone.
He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,
He sings when you tinkle the musical glass ;
Whene'er you are happy and cannot tell why,
The Friend of the Children is sure to be by !
He loves to be little, he hates to be big,
Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig ;
Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin
That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win.
Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed,
Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your
For wherever they're lying, in cupboard or shelf,
Tis he will take care of your playthings himself !
58 A CHILD'S GARDEN
MY SHIP AND I
O IT'S I that am the captain of a tidy little ship,
Of a ship that goes a-sailing on the pond ;
And my ship it keeps a-turning all around and all
But when I'm a little older, I shall find the secret out
How to send my vessel sailing on beyond.
For I mean to grow as little as the dolly at the helm,
And the dolly I intend to come alive ;
And with him beside to help me, it's a-sailing I
It's a-sailing on the water, when the jolly breezes
And the vessel goes a divie-divie-dive.
O it's then you'll see me sailing through the rushes
and the reeds,
And you'll hear the water singing at the prow ;
For beside the dolly sailor, I'm to voyage and explore,
To land upon the island where no dolly was before,
And to fire the penny cannon in the bow
DOWN by a shining water well
I found a very little dell,
No higher than my head.
The heather and the gorse about
In summer bloom were coming out.
Some yellow and some red.
THE CHILD ALONE 59
I called the little pool a sea ;
The little hills were big to me ;
For I am very small.
I made a boat, I made a town,
I searched the caverns up and down,
And named them one and all.
And all about was mine, I said,
The little sparrows overhead,
The little minnows too.
This was the world and I was king ;
For me the bees came by to sing,
For me the swallows flew.
I played there were no deeper seas,
Nor any wider plains than these,
Nor other kings than me.
At last I heard my mother call
Out from the house at even-fall,
To call me home to tea.
And I must rise and leave my dell,
And leave my dimpled water well,
And leave my heather blooms.
Alas ! and as my home I neared,
How very big my nurse appeared,
How great and cool the rooms !
PICTURE-BOOKS IN WINTER
SUMMER fading, winter comes
Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks,
And the picture story-books.
60 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Water now is turned to stone
Nurse and I can walk upon ;
Still we find the flowing brooks
In the picture story-books.
All the pretty things put by,
Wait upon the children's eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks
In the picture story-books.
We may see how all things are,
Seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies' looks,
In the picture story-books.
How am I to sing your praise,
Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks,
Reading picture story-books ?
THESE nuts, that I keep in the back of the nest
Where all my lead soldiers are lying at rest,
Were gathered in autumn by nursie and me
In a wood with a well by the side of the sea.
This whistle we made (and how clearly it sounds !)
By the side of a field at the end of the grounds.
Of a branch of a plane, with a knife of my own,
It was nursie who made it, and nursie alone !
THE CHILD ALONE 61
The stone, with the white and the yellow and grey,
We discovered I cannot tell how far away ;
And I carried it back although weary and cold,
For, though father denies it, I'm sure it is gold.
But of all my treasures the last is the king,
For there's very few children possess such a thing ;
And that is a chisel, both handle and blade,
Which a man who was really a carpenter made.
WHAT are you able to build with your blocks ?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.
Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I'll establish a city for me :
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbour as well where my vessels may ride.
Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.
This one is sailing and that one is moored :
Hark to the song of the sailors on board !
And see on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things !
63 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Now I have done with it, down let it go 1
All in a moment the town is laid low.
Block upon block lying scattered and free
What is there left of my town by the sea i
Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men
And as long as I live, and where'er I may be,
I'll always remember my town by the sea.
THE LAND OF STORY-BOOKS
AT evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit ;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.
Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.
There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter's camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.
These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes ;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.
THE CHILD ALONE 63
I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.
So, when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.
ARMIES IN THE FIRE
THE lamps now glitter down the street ;
Faintly sound the falling feet ;
And the blue even slowly falls
About the garden trees and walls.
Now in the falling of the gloom
The red fire paints the empty room :
And warmly on the roof it looks,
And flickers on the backs of books.
Armies march by tower and spire
Of cities blazing, in the fire ;
Till as I gaze with staring eyes,
The armies fade, the lustre dies.
Then once again the glow returns ;
Again the phantom city burns ;
And down the red-hot valley, lo !
The phantom armies marching go !
64 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Blinking embers, tell me true
Where are those armies marching to,
And what the burning city is
That crumbles in your furnaces 1
THE LITTLE LAND
WHEN at home alone I sit
And am very tired of it,
I have just to shut my eyes
To go sailing through the skies
To go sailing far away
To the pleasant Land of Play ;
To the fairy land afar
Where the Little People are ;
Where the clover-tops are trees,
And the rain-pools are the seas,
And the leaves like little ships
Sail about on tiny trips ;
And above the daisy tree
Through the grasses,
High overhead the Bumble Bee
Hums and passes.
In that forest to and fro
I can wander, I can go ;
See the spider and the fly,
And the ants go marching by
Carrying parcels with their feet
Down the green and grassy street.
I can in the sorrel sit
Where the ladybird alit.
THE CHILD ALONE 65
I can climb the jointed grass ;
And on high
See the greater swallows pass
In the sky,
And the round sun rolling by
Heeding no- such things as I.
Through that forest I can pass
Till, as in a looking-glass,
Humming fly and daisy tree
And my tiny self I see,
Painted very clear and neat
On the rain-pool at my feet.
Should a leaflet come to land
Drifting near to where I stand,
Straight I'll board that tiny boat
Round the rain-pool sea to float.
Little thoughtful creatures sit
On the grassy coasts of it ;
Little things with lovely eyes
See me sailing with surprise.
Some are clad in armour green
(These have sure to battle been !)
Some are pied with ev'ry hue,
Black and crimson, gold and blue ;
Some have wings and swift are gone ;
But they all look kindly on.
When my eyes I once again
Open, and see all things plain :
High bare walls, great bare floor ;
Great big knobs on drawer and door ;
Great big people perched on chairs,
Stitching tucks and mending tears,
66 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Each a hill that I could climb,
And talking nonsense all the time
O dear me,
That I could be
A sailor on the rain-pool sea,
A climber in the clover tree,
And just come back, a sleepy-head,
Late at night to go to bed.
NIGHT AND DAY
WHEN the golden day is done,
Through the closing portal,
Child and garden, flower and sun,
Vanish all things mortal.
As the blinding shadows fall,
As the rays diminish,
Under evening's cloak, they all
Roll away and vanish.
Garden darkened, daisy shut,
Child in bed, they slumber
Glow-worm in the highway rut,
Mice among the lumber.
In the darkness houses shine,
Parents move with candles ;
Till on all the night divine
Turns the bedroom handles.
Till at last the day begins
In the east a-breaking,
In the hedges and the whins
Sleeping birds a-waking.
In the darkness shapes of things,
Houses, trees, and hedges,
Clearer grow ; and sparrows' wings
Beat on the window ledges.
70 A CHILD'S GARDEN
These shall wake the yawning maid ;
She the door shall open
Finding dew on garden glade
And the morning broken.
There my garden grows again
Green and rosy painted,
As at eve behind the pane
From my eyes it fainted.
Just as it was shut away,
Toy-like, in the even,
Here I see it glow with day,
Under glowing heaven.
Every path and every plot,
Every bush of roses,
Every blue forget-me-not
Where the dew reposes.
" Up ! " they cry, " the day is come
On the smiling valleys :
We have beat the morning drum ;
Playmate, join your allies 1 "
BIRDS all the sunny day
Flutter and quarrel,
Here in the arbour-like
Tent of the laurel.
GARDEN DAYS 71
Here in the fork
The brown nest is seated ;
Four little blue eggs
The mother keeps heated.
While we stand watching her,
Staring like gabies,
Safe in each egg are the
Bird's little babies.
Soon the frail eggs they shall
Chip, and upspringing
Make all the April woods
Merry with singing.
Younger than we are,
O children, and frailer,
Soon in blue air they'll be
Singer and sailor.
We, so much older,
Taller and stronger,
We shall look down on the
Birdies no longer.
They shall go flying
With musical speeches
High overhead in the
Tops of the beeches.
In spite of our wisdom
And sensible talking,
We on our feet must go
Plodding and walking.
72 A CHILD'S GARDEN
ALL the names I know from nurse :
Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse
Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock,
And the Lady Hollyhock.
Fairy places, fairy things,
Fairy woods where the wild bee wings.
Tiny trees for tiny dames
These must all be fairy names !
Tiny woods below whose boughs
Shady fairies weave a house ;
Tiny tree-tops, rose or thyme,
Where the braver fairies climb !
Fair are grown-up people's trees,
But the fairest woods are these ;
Where if I were not so tall,
I should live for good and all.
GREAT is the sun, and wide he goes
Through empty heaven without repose ;
And in the blue and glowing days
More thick than rain he showers his rays.
GARDEN DAYS 73
Though closer still the blinds we pull
To keep the shady parlour cool,
Yet he will find a chink or two
To slip his golden fingers through.
The dusty attic, spider-clad,
He, through the keyhole, maketh glad ;
And through the broken edge of tiles,
Into the laddered hayloft smiles.
Meantime his golden face around
He bares to all the garden ground,
And sheds a warm and glittering look
Among the ivy's inmost nook.
Above the hills, along the blue,
Round the bright air with footing true,
To please the child, to paint the rose,
The gardener of the World, he goes.
THE DUMB SOLDIER
WHEN the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found
And hid a soldier underground.
Spring and daisies came apace ;
Grasses hide my hiding-place ;
Grasses run like a green sea
O'er the lawn up to my knee.
74 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.
When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.
I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier ;
But, for all that's gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.
He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring ;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.
He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers ;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.
In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O'er him as he lay alone.
Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.
GARDEN DAYS 75
IN the other gardens
And all up the vale,
From the autumn bonfires
See the smoke trail !
Pleasant summer over,
And all the summer flowers,
The red fire blazes,
The grey smoke towers.
Sing a song of seasons !
Something bright in all !
Flowers in the summer,
Fires in the fall !
THE gardener does not love to talk,
He makes me keep the gravel walk ;
And when he puts his tools away,
He locks the door and takes the key.
Away behind the currant row
Where no one else but cook may go,
Far in the plots, I see him dig,
Old and serious, brown and big.
76 A CHILD'S GARDEN
He digs the flowers, green, red, and blue,
Nor wishes to be spoken to.
He digs the flowers and cuts the hay,
And never seems to want to play.
Silly gardener ! summer goes,
And winter comes with pinching toes,
When in the garden bare and brown
You must lay your barrow down.
Well now, and while the summer stays,
To profit by these garden days,
O how much wiser you would be
To play at Indian wars with me 1
DEAR Uncle Jim, this garden ground,
That now you smoke your pipe around,
Has seen immortal actions done
And valiant battles lost and won.
Here we had best on tip-toe tread,
While I for safety march ahead,
For this is that enchanted ground
Where all who loiter slumber sound.
Here is the sea, here is the sand,
Here is the simple Shepherd's Land,
Here are the fairy hollyhocks,
And there are Ali Baba's rocks.
GARDEN DAYS 77
But yonder, see ! apart and high,
Frozen Siberia lies ; where I,
With Robert Bruce and William Tell,
Was bound by an enchanter's spell.
There, then, a while in chains we lay,
In wintry dungeons, far from day ;
But ris'n at length, with might and main,
Our iron fetters burst in twain.
Then all the horns were blown in town ;
And, to the ramparts clanging down,
All the giants leaped to horse
And charged behind us through the gorse.
On we rode, the others and I,
Over the mountains blue, and by
The Silver River, the sounding sea,
And the robber woods of Tartary.
A thousand miles we galloped fast,
And down the witches' lane we passed,
And rode amain, with brandished sword,
Up to the middle, through the ford.
Last we drew rein a weary three
Upon the lawn, in time for tea,
And from our steeds alighted down
Before the gates of Babylon.
TO WILLIE AND HENRIETTA
IF two may read aright
These rhymes of old delight
And house and garden play,
You two, my cousins, and you only, may.
You in a garden green
With me were king and queen,
Were hunter, soldier, tar,
And all the thousand things that children are.
Now in the elders' seat
We rest with quiet feet,
And from the window-bay
We watch the children, our successors, play.
" Time was," the golden head
Irrevocably said ;
But time which none can bind,
While flowing fast away, leaves love behind.
TO MY MOTHER
You too, my mother, read my rhymes
For love of unforgotten times,
And you may chance to hear once more
The little feet along the floor.
82 A CHILD'S GARDEN
Chief of our aunts not only I,
But all your dozen of nurslings ciy
What did the other children do ?
And what were childhood, wanting you
THE red room with the giant bed
Where none but elders laid their head ;
The little room where you and I
Did for a while together lie,
And, simple suitor, I your hand
In decent marriage did demand ;
The great day-nursery, best of all,
What pictures pasted on the wall
And leaves upon the blind
A pleasant room wherein to wake
And hear the leafy garden shake
And rustle in the wind
And pleasant there to lie in bed
And see the pictures overhead
The wars about Sebastopol,
The grinning guns along the wall,
The daring escalade,
The plunging ships, the bleating sheep,
The happy children ankle-deep,
And laughing as they wade :
All these are vanished clean away,
And the old manse is changed to-day ;
It wears an altered face
And shields a stranger race.
The river, on from mill to mill,
Flows past our childhood's garden still ;
But ah ! we children never more
Shall watch it from the water-door !
Below the yew it still is there
Our phantom voices haunt the air
As we were still at play,
And I can hear them call and say :
" How far is it to Babylon ? "
Ah, far enough, my dear,
Far, far enough from here
Yet you have farther gone !
" Can I get there by candlelight ? "
So goes the old refrain.
I do not know perchance you might
But only, children, hear it right,
Ah, never to return again !
The eternal dawn, beyond a doubt,
Shall break on hill and plain,
And put all stars and candles out
Ere we be young again.
To you in distant India, these
I send across the seas,
Nor count it far across.
For which of us forgets
The Indian cabinets,
The bones of antelope, the wings of albatross,
The pied and painted birds and beans,
The junks and bangles, beads and screens,
84 A CHILD'S GARDEN
The gods and sacred bells,
And the loud-humming, twisted shells ?
The level of the parlour floor
Was honest, homely, Scottish shore ;
But when we climbed upon a chair,
Behold the gorgeous East was there !
Be this a fable ; and behold
Me in the parlour as of old,
And Minnie just above me set
In the quaint Indian cabinet !
Smiling and kind, you grace a shelf
Too high for me to reach myself.
Reach down a hand, my dear, and take
These rhymes for old acquaintance' sake
TO MY NAME-CHILD
SOME day soon this rhyming volume, if you learn
with proper speed,
Little Louis Sanchez, will be given you to read.
Then shall you discover, that your name was
By the English printers, long before, in London
In the great and busy city where the East and
West are met,
All the little letters did the English printer set ;
While you thought of nothing, and were still too
young to play,
Foreign people thought of you in places far away.
Ay, and while you slept, a baby, over all the
Other little children took the volume in their
Other children questioned, in their homes across
the seas :
Who was little Louis, won't you tell us, mother,
Now that you have spelt your lesson, lay it down
and go and play,
Seeking shells and seaweed on the sands of
Watching all the mighty whalebones, lying buried
by the breeze,
Tiny sandy-pipers, and the huge Pacific seas.
And remember in your playing, as the sea-fog
rolls to you,
Long ere you could read it, how I told you what
to do ;
And that while you thought of no one, nearly
half the world away
Some one thought of Louis on the beach of Monterey!
TO ANY READER
WHETHER upon the garden seat
You lounge with your uplifted feet
Under the May's whole Heaven of blue ;
Or whether on the sofa you,
86 A CHILD'S GARDEN
No grown up person being by,
Do some soft corner occupy :
Take you this volume in your hands
And enter into other lands,
For lo ! (as children feign) suppose
You, hunting in the garden rows,
Or in the lumbered attic, or
The cellar a nail-studded door
And dark, descending stairway found
That led to kingdoms underground :
There standing, you should hear with ease
Strange birds a-singing, or the trees
Swing in big robber woods, or bells
On many fairy citadels :
There passing through (a step or so
Neither mamma nor nurse need know !)
From your nice nurseries you would pass
Like Alice through the Looking-Glass
Or Gerda following Little Ray,
To wondrous countries far away.
Well, and just this volume can
Transport each little maid or man,
Presto, from where they live away
Where other children used to play.
As from the house your mother sees
You playing round the garden trees,
So you may see, if you but look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is still on his play-business bent.
He does not hear, he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away ;
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.
Of all my verse, like not a single Iine 9
But like my title, for it is not mine.
That title jrom a better man I stole :
Ah, how much better, had I stoPn the whole !
There are men and, classes of men that stand above
the common herd : the soldier, the sailor, and the
shepherd not unfrequently ; the artist rarely ;
rarelier still, the clergyman ; the physician almost as
a rule. He is the flower (such as it is) of our civilisa-
tion ; and when that stage of man is done with, and
only remembered to be marvelled at in history, he
will be thought to have shared as little as any in the
defects of the period, and most notably exhibited
the virtues of the race. Generosity he has, such as
is possible to those who practise an art, never to those
who drive a trade ; discretion, tested by a hundred
secrets ; tact, tried in a thousand, embarrassments ;
and, what are more important, Heraclean cheerful-
ness and courage. So it is that he brings air and
cheer into the sick-room, and often enough, though not
so often as he wishes, brings healing.
Gratitude is but a lame sentiment ; thanks, when
they are expressed, are often more embarrassing than
welcome ; and yet I must set forth mine to a few
out of many doctors who have brought me comfort and
help : to Dr. Willey of San Francisco, whose kind-
ness to a stranger it must be as grateful to him,
as it is touching to me, to remember ; to Dr. Karl
Ruedi of Davos, the good genius of the English in
his frosty mountains ; to Dr. Herbert of Paris, whom
I knew only for a week, and to Dr. Caissot of Mont-
pettier, whom I knew only for ten days, and who have
yet written their names deeply in my memory ; to
Dr. Brandt of Roy at ; to Dr. Wakefield of Nice ;
Dr. Chepmell, whose visits make it a pleasure to be
ill ; to Dr. Horace Dobell, so wise in counsel ; to
Sir Andrew Clark, so unwearied in kindness ; and to
that wise youth, my uncle, Dr. Balfour.
I forget as many as I remember ; and I ask both
to pardon me, these for silence, those for inadequate
speech. But one name I have kept on purpose to the
last, because it is a household word with me, and
because if I had not received favours from so many
hands and in so many quarters of the world, it should
have stood upon this page alone : that of my friend
Thomas Bodley Scott of Bournemouth. Will he
accept this, although shared among so many, for
dedication to himself ? and when next my ill-fortune
(which has thus its pleasant side] brings him hurrying
to me when he would fain sit down to meat or lie down
to rest, will he care to remember that he takes this
trouble for one who is not fool enough to be ungrateful ?
R. L. S.
Go, little book, and wish to all
Flowers in the garden, meat in the hall
A bin of wine, a spice of wit,
A house with lawns enclosing it,
A living river by the door,
A nightingale in the sycamore !
A SONG OF THE ROAD
THE ganger walked with willing foot,
And aye the ganger played the flute ;
And what should Master Gauger play
But Over the hills and far away ?
Whene'er I buckle on my pack
And foot it gaily in the track,
A pleasant gauger, long since dead,
I hear you fluting on ahead.
You go with me the self-same way
The self -same air for me you play ;
For I do think and so do you
It is the tune to travel to.
For who would gravely set his face
To go to this or t'other place ?
There's nothing under Heav'n so blue
That's fairly worth the travelling to.
On every hand the roads begin,
And people walk with zeal therein :
But wheresoe'er the highways tend,
Be sure there's nothing at the end.
Then follow you, wherever hie
The travelling mountains of the sky,
Or let the streams in civil mode
Direct your choice upon a road ;
For one and all, or high or low,
Will lead you where you wish to go ;
And one and all go night and day
Over the hills and far away !
FOREST OF MONTARGIS, 1878.
THE CANOE SPEAKS
ON the great streams the ships may go
About men's business to and fro,
But I, the egg-shell pinnace, sleep
On crystal waters ankle-deep :
I, whose diminutive design,
Of sweeter cedar, pithier pine,
Is fashioned on so frail a mould,
A hand may launch, a hand withhold :
I, rather, with the leaping trout
IN ENGLISH 97
Wind, among lilies, in and out ;
I, the unnamed, inviolate,
Green, rustic rivers navigate ;
My dipping paddle scarcely shakes
The berry in the bramble-brakes ;
StiU forth on my green way I wend
Beside the cottage garden-end ;
And by the nested angler fare,
And take the lovers unaware.
By willow wood and water-wheel
Speedily fleets my touching keel ;
By all retired and shady spots
Where prosper dim forget-me-nots ;
By meadows where at afternoon
The growing maidens troop in June
To loose their girdles on the grass.
Ah ! speedier than before the glass
The backward toilet goes ; and swift
As swallows quiver, robe and shift
And the rough country stockings lie
Around each young divinity.
When, following the recondite brook,
Sudden upon this scene I look,
And light with unfamiliar face
On chaste Diana's bathing-place,
Loud ring the hills about and all
The shallows are abandoned.
IT is the season now to go
About the country high and low,
Among the lilacs hand in hand,
And two by two in fairyland.
The brooding boy, the sighing maid,
Wholly fain and half afraid,
Now meet along the hazel' d brook
To pass and linger, pause and look.
A year ago, and blithely paired,
Their rough-and-tumble play they shared ;
They kissed and quarrelled, laughed and cried,
A year ago at Eastertide.
With bursting heart, with fiery face,
She strove against him in the race ;
He unabashed her garter saw,
That now would touch her skirts with awe.
Now by the stile ablaze she stops,
And his demurer eyes he drops ;
Now they exchanged averted sighs
Or stand and marry silent eyes.
And he to her a hero is
And sweeter she than primroses ;
Their common silence dearer far
Than nightingale or mavis are.
Now when they sever wedded hands,
Joy trembles in their bosom-strands,
And lovely laughter leaps and falls
Upon their lips in madrigals.
Here are no fish to dive for ;
Here is the corn and the lea."
IN ENGLISH 99
THE HOUSE BEAUTIFUL
A naked house, a naked moor,
A shivering pool before the door,
A garden bare of flowers and fruit,
And poplars at the garden foot :
Such is the place that I live in,
Bleak without and bare within.
Yet shall your ragged moor receive
The incomparable pomp of eve,
And the cold glories of the dawn
Behind your shivering trees be drawn ;
And when the wind from place to place
Doth the unmoored cloud-galleons chase,
Your garden gloom and gleam again,
With leaping sun, with glancing rain.
Here shall the wizard moon ascend
The heavens, in the crimson end
Of day's declining splendour ; here
The army of the stars appear.
The neighbour hollows, dry or wet,
Spring shall with tender flowers beset ;
And oft the morning muser see
Larks rising from the broomy lea,
And every fairy wheel and thread
Of cobweb dew-bediamonded.
When daisies go, shall winter-time
Silver the simple grass with rime ;
Autumnal frosts enchant the pool
And make the cart-ruts beautiful ;
And when snow-bright the moor expands,
How shall your children clap their hands !
To make this earth, our hermitage,
A cheerful and a changeful page,
God's bright and intricate device
Of days and seasons doth suffice.
A VISIT FROM THE SEA
FAR from the loud sea beaches
Where he goes fishing and crying,
Here in the inland garden
Why is the sea-gull flying ?
Here are no fish to dive for ;
Here is the corn and lea ;
Here are the green trees rustling.
Hie away home to sea I
Fresh is the river water
And quiet among the rushes ;
This is no home for the sea-gull,
But for the rooks and thrushes.
Pity the bird that has wandered 1
Pity the sailor ashore !
Hurry him home to the ocean,
Let him come here no more I
High on the sea-cliff ledges
The white gulls are trooping and crying,
Here among the rooks and roses,
Why is the sea-gull flying ?
IN ENGLISH 101
TO A GARDENER
FRIEND, in my mountain-side demesne,
My plain-beholding, rosy, green
And linnet-haunted garden-ground,
Let still the esculents abound.
Let first the onion flourish there.
Rose among roots, the maiden-fair,
Wine-scented and poetic soul
Of the capacious salad-bowl.
Let thyme the mountaineer (to dress
The tinier birds) and wading cress,
The lover of the shallow brook,
From all my plots and borders look.
Nor crisp and ruddy radish, nor
Pease-cods for the child's pinafore
Be lacking ; nor of salad clan
The last and least that ever ran
About great Nature's garden-beds.
Nor thence be missed the speary heads
Of artichoke ; nor thence the bean
That gathered innocent and green
Outsavours the belauded pea.
These tend, I prithee ; and for me,
Thy most long-suffering master, bring
In April, when the linnets sing
And the days lengthen more and more,
At sundown to the garden door.
And I, being provided thus,
Shall, with superb asparagus,
A book, a taper, and a cup
Of country wine, divinely sup.
LA SOLITUDE, HYERES.
(WITH A HAND-GLASS)
A PICTURE-FRAME for you to fill,
A paltry setting for your face,
A thing that has no worth until
You lend it something of your grace,
I send (unhappy I that sing
Laid by a while upon the shelf)
Because I would not send a thing
Less charming than you are yourself.
And happier than I, alas !
(Dumb thing, I envy its delight)
T will wish you well, the looking-glass,
And look you in the face to-night.
TO K. DE M.
A LOVER of the moorland bare
And honest country winds you were ;
The silver-skimming rain you took ;
And loved the floodings of the brook,
Dew, frost and mountains, fire and seas,
Winds that in darkness fifed a tune,
And the high-riding, virgin moon.
IN ENGLISH 103
And as the berry, pale and sharp,
Springs on some ditch's counterscarp
In our ungenial, native north
You put your frosted wildings forth,
And on the heath, afar from man,
A strong and bitter virgin ran.
The berry ripened keeps the rude
And racy flavour of the wood.
And you that loved the empty plain
All redolent of wind and rain,
Around you stih 1 the curlew sings
The freshness of the weather clings
The maiden jewels of the rain
Sit in your dabbled locks again.
TO N. V. DE G. S.
THE unfathomable sea, and time, and tears,
The deeds of heroes and the crimes of kings,
1 Dispart us ; and the river of events
Has, for an age of years, to east and west
More widely borne our cradles. Thou to me
Art foreign, as when seamen at the dawn
Descry a land far off and know not which.
So I approach uncertain ; so I cruise
Round thy mysterious islet, and behold
Surf and great mountains and loud river-bars,
And from the shore hear inland voices call.
Strange is the seamen's heart ; he hopes, he fears ;
Draws closer and sweeps wider from that coast ;
Last, his rent sail refits, and to the deep
His shattered prow uncomforted puts back.
Yet as he goes he ponders at the helm
Of that bright island ; where he feared to touch,
His spirit re-adventures ; and for years,
Where by his wife he slumbers safe at home,
Thoughts of that land revisit him ; he sees
The eternal mountains beckon, and awakes
Yearning for that far home that might have been.
TO WILL H. LOW
YOUTH now flees on feathered foot.
Faint and fainter sounds the flute,
Rarer songs of gods ; and still
Somewhere on the sunny hill,
Or along the winding stream,
Through the willows flits a dream ;
Flits, but shows a smiling face,
Flees, but with so quaint a grace,
None can choose to stay at home,
All must follow, all must roam.
This is unborn beauty : she
Now in air floats high and free,
Takes the sun and breaks the blue ;
Late with stooping pinion flew
Raking hedgerow trees, and wet
Her wing in silver streams, and set
Shining foot on temple roof :
IN ENGLISH 105
Now again she flies aloof,
Coasting mountain clouds and kiss't
By the evening's amethyst.
In wet wood and miry lane,
Still we pant and pound in vain ;
Still with leaden foot we chase
Waning pinion, fainting face ;
Still with grey hair we stumble on,
Till, behold, the vision gone !
Where hath fleeting beauty led ?
To the doorway of the dead.
Life is over, life was gay :
We have come the primrose way.
TO MRS. WILL H. LOW
EVEN in the bluest noonday of July
There could not run the smallest breath of wind
But all the quarter sounded like a wood ;
And in the chequered silence, and above
The hum of city cabs that sought the Bois,
Suburban ashes shivered into song.
A patter and a chatter and a chirp
And a long dying hiss it was as though
Starched old brocaded dames through all the house
Had trailed a strident skirt, or the whole sky
Even in a wink had over-brimmed in rain.
Hark, in these shady parlours, how it talks
Of the near autumn, how the smitten ash
Trembles and augurs floods ! O not too long
In these inconstant latitudes delay,
O not too late from the unbeloved north
Trim your escape ! For soon shall this low roof
Resound indeed with rain, soon shall your eyes
Search the foul garden, search the darkened rooms,
Nor find one jewel but the blazing log.
12 RUE VERNIER, PARIS.
TO H. F. BROWN
(WRITTEN DURING A DANGEROUS SICKNESS)
I SIT and wait a pair of oars
On cis-Elysian river-shores.
Where the immortal dead have sate,
'Tis mine to sit and meditate ;
To re-ascend life's rivulet,
Without remorse, without regret ;
And sing my Alma Genetrix
Among the willows of the Styx.
And lo, as my serener soul
Did these unhappy shores patrol,
And wait with an attentive ear
The coming of the gondolier,
Your fire-surviving roll I took,
Your spirited and happy book ; 1
Whereon, despite my frowning fate,
It did my soul so recreate
That all my fancies fled away
On a Venetian holiday.
1 Life on the Lagoons, by H. F. Brown, originally burned in the fire at
Messrs. Kegan, Paul, Trench and Co.'s.
IN ENGLISH 107
Now, thanks to your triumphant care,
Your pages clear as April air,
The sails, the bells, the birds, I know,
And the far-off Friulan snow ;
The land and sea, the sun and shade,
And the blue even lamp-inlaid.
For this, for these, for all, O friend,
For your whole book from end to end
For Paron Piero's mutton-ham
I your defaulting debtor am.
Perchance, reviving, yet may I
To your sea-paven city hie,
And in a felze, some day yet
Light at your pipe my cigarette.
TO ANDREW LANG
DEAR Andrew, with the brindled hair,
Who glory to have thrown in air,
High over arm, the trembling reed,
By Ale and Kail, by Till and Tweed :
An equal craft of hand you show
The pen to guide, the fly to throw :
I count you happy-starred ; for God,
When He with inkpot and with rod
Endowed you, bade your fortune lead
For ever by the crooks of Tweed,
For ever by the woods of song
And lands that to the Muse belong ;
Or if in peopled streets, or in
The abhorred pedantic sanhedrin,
It should be yours to wander, still
Airs of the morn, airs of the hill,
The plovery Forest and the seas
That break about the Hebrides,
Should follow over field and plain
And find you at the window-pane ;
And you again see hill and peel,
And the bright springs gush at your heel,
So went the fiat forth, and so
Garrulous like a brook you go,
With sound of happy mirth and sheen
Of daylight whether by the green
You fare 'that moment, or the grey ;
Whether you dwell in March or May ;
Or whether treat of reels and rods
Or of the old unhappy gods ;
Still like a brook your page has shone,
And your ink sings of Helicon.
ET TU IN ARCADIA VIXISTI
(TO R. A. M. s. 1 )
IN ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt ;
There, from of old, thy childhood passed ; and there
High expectation, high delights and deeds,
Thy fluttering heart with hope and terror moved.
And thou hast heard of yore the Blatant Beast,
And Roland's horn, and that war-scattering shout
Of all-unarmed Achilles, aegis-crowned.
1 Stevenson's cousin, Robert A. M. Stevenson.
IN ENGLISH 109
And perilous lands thou sawest, sounding shores
And seas and forests drear, island and dale
And mountain dark. For thou with Tristram rod'st
Or Bedevere, in farthest Lyonesse.
Thou hadst a booth in Samarcand, whereat
Side-looking Magians trafficked ; thence, by night,
An Afreet snatched thee, and with wings upbore
Beyond the Aral mount ; or, hoping gain,
Thou, with a jar of money, didst embark
For Balsorah by sea. But chiefly thou
In that clear air took'st life ; in Arcady
The haunted, land of song ; and by the wells
Where most the gods frequent. There Chiron old,
In the Pelethronian antre, taught thee lore ;
The planets he taught, and by the shining stars
In forests dim to steer. There hast thou seen
Immortal Pan dance secret in a glade,
And, dancing, roll his eyes ; these, where they fell,
Shed glee, and through the congregated oaks
A flying horror winged ; while all the earth
To the god's pregnant footing thrilled within.
Or whiles, beside the sobbing stream, he breathed
In his clutched pipe unformed and wizard strains,
Divine yet brutal ; which the forest heard,
And thou, with awe ; and far upon the plain
The unthinking ploughman started and gave ear.
Now things there are that, upon him who sees,
A strong vocation lay ; and strains there are
That whoso hears shall hear for evermore.
For evermore thou hear'st immortal Pan
And those melodious godheads, ever young
And ever quiring, on the mountains old.
What was this earth, child of the gods, to thee ?
Forth from thy dreamland thou, a dreamer, cam'st,
And in thine ears the olden music rang,
And in thy mind the doings of the dead,
And those heroic ages long forgot.
To a so fallen earth, alas ! too late,
Alas ! in evil days, thy steps return,
To list at noon for nightingales, to grow
A dweller on the beach till Argo come
That came long since, a lingerer by the pool
Where that desired angel bathes no more.
As when the Indian to Dakota comes,
Or farthest Idaho, and where he dwelt,
He with his clan, a humming city finds ;
Thereon a while, amazed, he stares, and then
To right and leftward, like a questing dog,
Seeks first the ancestral altars, then the hearth
Long cold with rains, and where old terror lodged,
And where the dead. So thee undying Hope,
With all her pack, hunts screaming through the
Here, there, thou fleeest ; but nor here nor there
The pleasant gods abide, the glory dwells.
That, that was not Apollo, not the god.
This was not Venus, though she Venus seemed
A moment. And though fair yon river move,
She, all the way, from disenchanted fount
To seas unhallowed runs ; the gods forsook
Long since her trembling rushes ; from her plains
Disconsolate, long since adventure fled ;
And now although the inviting river flows,
And every poplared cape, and every bend
Or willowy islet, win upon thy soul
And to thy hopeful shallop whisper speed ;
Yet hope not thou at all ; hope is no more ;
And O, long since the golden groves are dead,
The faery cities vanished from the land I
IN ENGLISH in
TO W. E. HENLEY
THE year runs through her phases ; rain and sun,
Spring-time and summer pass ; winter succeeds ;
But one pale season rules the house of death.
Cold falls the imprisoned daylight ; fell disease
By each lean pallet squats, and pain and sleep
Toss gaping on the pillows.
But O thou !
Uprise and take thy pipe. Bid music flow,
Strains by good thoughts attended, like the spring
The swallows follow over land and sea.
Pain sleeps at once ; at once, with open eyes.
Dozing despair awakes. The shepherd sees
His flock come bleating home ; the seaman hears
Once more the cordage rattle. Airs of home !
Youth, love, and roses blossom ; the gaunt ward
Dislimns and disappears, and, opening out,
Shows brooks and forests, and the blue beyond
Small the pipe : but O ! do thou,
Peak-faced and suffering piper, blow therein
The dirge of heroes dead ; and to these sick,
These dying, sound the triumph over death.
Behold ! each greatly breathes ; each tastes a joy
Unknown before, in dying ; for each knows
A hero dies with him though unfulfilled,
Yet conquering truly and not dies in vain.
So is pain cheered, death comforted ; the house
Of sorrow smiles to listen. Once again
O thou, Orpheus and Heracles, the bard
And the deliverer, touch the stops again 1
WHO comes to-night ? We ope the doors in vain.
Who comes ? My bursting walls, can you contain
The presences that now together throng
Your narrow entry, as with flowers and song,
As with the air of life, the breath of talk ?
Lo, how these fair immaculate women walk
Behind their jocund maker ; and we see
Slighted De Mauves, and that far different she,
Gressie, the trivial sphynx ; and to our feast
Daisy and Barb and Chancellor (she not least I)
With all their silken, all their airy kin,
Do like unbidden angels enter in.
But he, attended by these shining names,
Comes (best of all) himself our welcome James.
THE MIRROR SPEAKS
WHERE the bells peal far at sea
Cunning fingers fashioned me.
There on palace walls I hung
While that Consuelo sung ;
But I heard, though I listened well,
Never a note, never a trill,
Never a beat of the chiming bell.
There I hung and looked, and there
In my grey face, faces fair
Shone from under shining hair.
IN ENGLISH 113
Well I saw the poising head,
But the lips moved and nothing said ;
And when lights were in the hall,
Silent moved the dancers all.
So a while I glowed, and then
Fell on dusty days and men ;
Long I slumbered packed in straw,
Long I none but dealers saw ;
Till before my silent eye
One that sees came passing by.
Now with an outlandish grace,
To the sparkling fire I face
In the blue room at Skerryvore ;
Where I wait until the door
Open, and the Prince of Men,
Henry James, shall come again.
WE see you as we see a face
That trembles in a forest place
Upon the mirror of a pool
For ever quiet, clear and cool ;
And in the wayward glass, appears
To hover between smiles and tears,
Elfin and human, airy and true,
And backed by the reflected blue.
ii 4 UNDERWOODS
TO F. J. S.
I READ, dear friend, in your dear face
Your life's tale told with perfect grace ;
The river of your life I trace
Up the sun-chequered, devious bed
To the far-distant fountain-head.
Not one quick beat of your warm heart,
Nor thought that came to you apart,
Pleasure nor pity, love nor pain
Nor sorrow, has gone by in vain ;
But as some lone, wood-wandering child
Brings home with him at evening mild
The thorns and flowers of all the wild,
From your whole life, O fair and true
Your flowers and thorns you bring with you !
UNDER the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me
Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
HYRES, May 1884.
IN ENGLISH 115
THE CELESTIAL SURGEON
IF I have faltered more or less
In my great task of happiness ;
If I have moved among my race
And shown no glorious morning face ;
If beams from happy human eyes
Have moved me not ; if morning skies,
Books, and my food, and summer rain
Knocked on my sullen heart in vain :
Lord, Thy most pointed pleasure take
And stab my spirit broad awake ;
Or, Lord, if too obdurate I,
Choose Thou, before that spirit die,
A piercing pain, a killing sin,
And to my dead heart run them in !
OUR LADY OF THE SNOWS
OUT of the sun, out of the blast,
Out of the world, alone I passed
Across the moor and through the wood
To where the monastery stood.
There neither lute nor breathing fife,
Nor rumour of the world of life,
Nor confidences low and dear,
Shall strike the meditative ear.
Aloof, unhelpful, and unkind,
The prisoners of the iron mind,
Where nothing speaks except the bell,
The unfraternal brothers dwell.
Poor passionate men, still clothed afresh
With agonising folds of flesh ;
Whom the clear eyes solicit still
To some bold output of the will,
While fairy Fancy far before
And musing Memory-Hold-the-door
Now to heroic death invite
And now uncurtain fresh delight :
O, little boots it thus to dwell
On the remote unneighboured hill !
O to be up and doing, O
Unfearing and unshamed to go
In all the uproar and the press
About my human business !
My undissuaded heart I hear
WTiisper courage in my ear.
With voiceless calls, the ancient earth
Summons me to a daily birth.
Thou, O my love, ye, O my friends
The gist of life, the end of ends
To laugh, to love, to live, to die,
Ye call me by the ear and eye 1
Forth from the casemate, on the plain
Where honour has the world to gain,
Pour forth and bravely do your part,
O knights of the unshielded heart
Forth and for ever forward ! out
From prudent turret and redoubt.
IN ENGLISH 117
And in the mellay charge amain,
To fall but yet to rise again !
Captive ? ah, still, to honour bright,
A captive soldier of the right !
Or free and fighting, good with ill ?
Unconquering but unconquered still !
And ye, O brethren, what if God,
When from Heav'n's top He spies abroad
And sees on this tormented stage
The noble war of mankind rage :
What if His vivifying eye,
O monks, should pass your corner by ?
For still the Lord is Lord of might ;
In deeds, in deeds, He takes delight ;
The plough, the spear, the laden barks,
The field, the founded city, marks ;
He marks the smiler of the streets,
The singer upon garden seats ;
He sees the climber in the rocks ;
To Him, the shepherd folds his flocks.
For those He loves that underprop
With daily virtues Heaven's top,
And bear the falling sky with ease,
Those He approves that ply the trade,
That rock the child, that wed the maid,
That with weak virtues, weaker hands,
Sow gladness on the peopled lands,
And still with laughter, song and shout,
Spin the great wheel of earth about.
But ye ? O ye who linger still
Here in your fortress on the hill,
With placid face, with tranquil breath,
The unsought volunteers of death,
Our cheerful General on high
With careless looks may pass you by.
NOT yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert,
Where thou with grass, and rivers, and the breeze,
And the bright face of day, thy dalliance hadst ;
Where to thine ear first sang the enraptured birds ;
Where love and thou that lasting bargain made.
The ship rides trimmed, and from the eternal shore
Thou hearest airy voices ; but not yet
Depart, my soul, not yet a while depart.
Freedom is far, rest far. Thou art with life
Too closely woven, nerve with nerve entwined ;
Service still craving service, love for love,
Love for dear love, still suppliant with tears.
Alas, not yet thy human task is done !
A bond at birth is forged ; a debt doth lie
Immortal on mortality. It grows
By vast rebound it grows, unceasing growth ;
Gift upon gift, alms upon alms, upreared,
From man, from God, from nature, till the soul
At that so huge indulgence stands amazed.
Leave not, my soul, the unfoughten field, nor leave
Thy debts dishonoured, nor thy place desert
Without due service rendered. For thy life,
Up, spirit, and defend that fort of clay,
Thy body, now beleaguered ; whether soon
Or late she fall ; whether to-day thy friends
IN ENGLISH 119
Bewail thee dead, or, after years, a man
Grown old in honour and the friend of peace.
Contend, my soul, for moments and for hours ;
Each is with service pregnant ; each reclaimed
Is as a kingdom conquered, where to reign.
As when a captain rallies to the fight
His scattered legions, and beats ruin back,
He, on the field, encamps, well pleased in mind.
Yet surely him shall fortune overtake,
Him smite in turn, headlong his ensigns drive ;
And that dear land, now safe, to-morrow fall.
But he, unthinking, in the present good
Solely delights, and all the camps rejoice.
IT is not yours, O mother, to complain,
Not, mother, yours to weep,
Though nevermore your son again
Shall to your bosom creep,
Though nevermore again you watch your baby
Though in the greener paths of earth,
Mother and child, no more
We wander ; and no more the birth
Of me whom once you bore
Seems still the brave reward that once it seemed
of yore ;
Though as all passes, day and night,
The seasons and the years,
From you, O mother, this delight,
This also disappears
Some profit yet survives of all your pangs and
The child, the seed, the grain of corn,
The acorn on the hill,
Each for some separate end is born
In season fit, and still
Each must in strength arise to work the almighty
So from the hearth the children flee,
By that almighty hand
Austerely led ; so one by sea
Goes forth, and one by land ;
Nor aught of all man's sons escapes from that
So from the sally each obeys
The unseen almighty nod ;
So till the ending all then: ways
Blindfolded loth have trod :
Nor knew their task at all, but were the tools
And as the fervent smith of yore
Beat out the glowing blade,
Nor wielded in the front of war
The weapons that he made,
But in the tower at home still plied his ringing
IN ENGLISH 121
So like a sword the son shall roam
On nobler missions sent ;
And as the smith remained at home
In peaceful turret pent,
So sits the while at home the mother well content.
THE SICK CHILD
Child. O MOTHER, lay your hand on my brow !
mother, mother, where am I now ?
Why is the room so gaunt and great ?
Why am I lying awake so late ?
Mother. Fear not at all : the night is still.
Nothing is here that means you ill
Nothing but lamps the whole town through
And never a child awake but you.
Child. Mother, mother, speak low in my ear,
Some of the things are so great and near,
Some are so small and far away,
1 have a fear that I cannot say.
What have I done, and what do I fear,
And why are you crying, mother dear ?
Mother. Out in the city, sounds begin ;
Thank the kind God, the carts come in !
An hour or two more, and God is so kind,
The day shall be blue in the window-blind,
Then shall my child go sweetly asleep,
And dream of the birds and the hills of
IN MEMORIAM F. A. S.
YET, O stricken heart, remember, O remember,
How of human days he lived the better part.
April came to bloom and never dim December
Breathed its killing chills upon the head or
Doomed to know not Winter, only Spring, a
Trod the flowery April blithely for a while,
Took his fill of music, joy of thought and seeing,
Came and stayed and went, nor ever ceased
Came and stayed and went, and now when all is
You alone have crossed the melancholy stream,
Yours the pang, but his, O his, the undiminished
Undecaying gladness, undeparted dream.
All that life contains of torture, toil, and treason,
Shame, dishonour, death, to him were but a
Here, a boy, he dwelt through all the singing
And ere the day of sorrow departed as he came.
IN ENGLISH 123
TO MY FATHER
PEACE and her huge invasion to these shores
Puts daily home ; innumerable sails
Dawn on the far horizon and draw near ;
Innumerable loves, uncounted hopes
To our wild coasts, not darkling now, approach :
Not now obscure, since thou and thine are there,
And bright on the lone isle, the foundered reef,
The long, resounding foreland, Pharos stands.
These are thy works, O father, these thy crown ;
Whether on high the air be pure, they shine
Along the yellowing sunset, and all night
Among the unnumbered stars of God they shine ;
Or whether fogs arise and far and wide
The low sea-level drown each finds a tongue
And all night long the tolling bell resounds :
So shine, so toll, till night be overpast,
Till the stars vanish, till the sun return,
And in the haven rides the fleet secure.
In the first hour, the seaman in his skiff
Moves through the unmoving bay, to where the
Its earliest smoke into the air upbreathes,
And the rough hazels climb along the beach.
To the tugg'd oar the distant echo speaks.
The ship hes resting, where by reef and roost
Thou and thy lights have led her like a child.
This hast thou done, and I can I be base ?
I must arise, O father, and to port
Some lost, complaining seaman pilot home.
IN THE STATES
WITH half a heart I wander here,
As from an age gone by
A brother yet though young in years,
An elder brother, I.
You speak another tongue than mine,
Though both were English bora.
I towards the night of time decline,
You mount into the mom.
Youth shall grow great and strong and free,
But age must still decay :
To-morrow for the States, for me,
England and Yesterday.
I AM a kind of farthing dip,
Unfriendly to the nose and eyes ;
A blue-behinded ape, I skip
Upon the trees of Paradise.
IN ENGLISH 125
At mankind's feast, I take my place
In solemn, sanctimonious state,
And have the air of saying grace
While I defile the dinner-plate.
I am " the smiler with the knife/'
The battener upon garbage, I
Dear Heaven, with such a rancid life,
Were it not better far to die ?
Yet still, about the human pale,
I love to scamper, love to race,
To swing by my irreverent tail
All over the most holy place ;
And when at length, some golden day,
The unfailing sportsman, aiming at,
Shall bag, me all the world shall say :
Thank God, and there's an end of that !
SING clearlier, Muse, or evermore be still,
Sing truer or no longer sing !
No more the voice of melancholy Jaques
To wake a weeping echo in the hiU ;
But as the boy, the pirate of the spring,
From the green elm a living linnet takes,
One natural verse recapture then be still.
A CAMP 1
The bed was made, the room was fit,
By punctual eve the stars were lit ;
The air was still, the water ran,
No need was there for maid or man,
When we put up, my ass and I,
At God's green caravanserai.
THE COUNTRY OF THE CAMISARDS 2
WE travelled in the print of olden wars,
Yet all the land was green,
And love we found, and peace,
Where fire and war had been.
They pass and smile, the children of the sword-
No more the sword they wield ;
And O, how deep the corn
Along the battle-field !
FOR love of lovely words, and for the sake
Of those, my kinsmen and my countrymen,
Who early and late in the windy ocean toiled
To plant a star for seamen, where was then
The surfy haunt of seals and cormorants :
I, on the lintel of this cot, inscribe
The name of a strong tower.
1 From Travels with a Donkey. * Ibid.
IN ENGLISH 127
HERE all is sunny, and when the truant gull
Skims the green level of the lawn, his wing
Dispetals roses ; here the house is framed
Of kneaded brick and the plumed mountain pine,
Such clay as artists fashion and such wood
As the tree-climbing urchin breaks. But there
Eternal granite hewn from the living isle,
And dowelled with brute iron, rears a tower
That, from its wet foundation to its crown
Of glittering glass, stands, in the sweep of winds,
Immovable, immortal, eminent.
My house, I say. But hark to the sunny doves
That make my roof the arena of their loves,
That gyre about the gable all day long
And fill the chimneys with their murmurous song ;
Our house, they say ; and mine, the cat declares,
And spreads his golden fleece upon the chairs ;
And mine the dog, and rises stiff with wrath
If any alien foot profane the path.
So, too, the buck that trimmed my terraces,
Our whilome gardener, called the garden his ;
Who now, deposed, surveys my plain abode
And his late kingdom, only from the road.
MY body which my dungeon is,
And yet my parks and palaces :
Which is so great that there I go
All the day long to and fro,
And when the night begins to fall
Throw down my bed and sleep, while all
The building hums with wakefulness
Even as a child of savages
When evening takes her on her way,
(She having roamed a summer's day
Along the mountain-sides and scalp),
Sleeps in an antre of that alp :
Which is so broad and high that there,
As in the topless fields of air,
My fancy soars like to a kite
And faints in the blue infinite :
Which is so strong, my strongest throes
And the rough world's besieging blows
Not break it, and so weak withal,
Death ebbs and flows in its loose wall
As the green sea in fishers' nets,
And tops its topmost parapets :
Which is so wholly mine that I
Can wield its whole artillery,
And mine so little, that my soul
Dwells in perpetual control,
And I but think and speak and do
As my dead fathers move me to :
If this born body of my bones
The beggared soul so barely owns,
What money passed from hand to hand,
What creeping custom of the land,
IN ENGLISH 129
What deed of author or assign,
Can make a house a thing of mine ?
SAY not of me that weakly I declined
The labours of my sires, and fled the sea,
The towers we founded and the lamps we lit,
To play at home with paper like a child.
But rather say : In the afternoon of time
A strenuous family dusted from its hands
The sand of granite, and. beholding far
Along the sounding coast Us pyramids
And tall memorials catch the dying sun,
Smiled well content; -and to this childish task
Around the fire addressed its evening hours.
P. Pdge 139
" The gairdner crooks his weary back
A' day in the pitaty-track."
THE human conscience has fled of late the trouble-
domain of conduct for what I should have supposed
to be the less congenial field of art : there she may
now be said to rage, and with special severity in
all that touches dialect ; so that in every novel
the letters of the alphabet are tortured, and the
reader wearied, to commemorate shades of mispro-
nunciation. Now spelling is an art of great
difficulty in my eyes, and I am inclined to lean
upon the printer, even in common practice, rather
than to venture abroad upon new quests. And
the Scots tongue has an orthography of its own,
lacking neither " authority nor author." Yet the
temptation is great to lend a little guidance to the
bewildered Englishman. Some simple phonetic
artifice might defend your verses from barbarous
mishandling, and yet not injure any vested interest.
So it seems at first ; but there are rocks ahead.
Thus, if I wish the diphthong ou to have its proper
value, I may write oor instead of our ; many have
done so and lived, and the pillars of the universe
remained unshaken. But if I did so, and came
presently to doun, which is the classical Scots
spelling of the English down, I should begin to feel
uneasy ; and if I went on a little farther, and came
to a classical Scots word, like stour or dour or dour,
I should know precisely where I was that is to
say, that I was out of sight of land on those high
seas of spelling reform in which so many strong
swimmers have toiled vainly. To some the
situation is exhilarating ; as for me, I give one
bubbling cry and sink. The compromise at which
I have arrived is indefensible, and I have no
thought of trying to defend it. As I have stuck
for the most part to the proper spelling, I append a
table of some common vowel sounds which no one
need consult ; and just to prove that I belong
to my age and have in me the stuff of a reformer,
I have used modification marks throughout. Thus
I can tell myself, not without pride, that I have
added a fresh stumbling-block for English readers,
and to a page of print in my native tongue have
lent a new uncouthness. Sed non nobis.
I note again, that among our new dialecticians,
the local habitat of every dialect is given to the
square mile. I could not emulate this nicety if
I desired ; for I simply wrote my Scots as well
as I was able, not caring if it hailed from Lauder-
dale or Angus, from the Mearns or Galloway ;
if I had ever heard a good word, I used it without
shame ; and when Scots was lacking, or the rhyme
jibbed, I was glad (like my betters) to fall back on
English. For all that, I own to a friendly feeling
for the tongue of Fergusson and of Sir Walter,
both Edinburgh men ; and I confess that Burns
has always sounded in my ear like something partly
foreign. And indeed I am from the Lothians
myself ; it is there I heard the language spoken
about my childhood ; and it is in the drawling
Lothian voice that I repeat it to myself. Let the
precisions call my speech that of the Lothians.
And if it be not pure, alas ! what matters it ? The
day draws near when this iUustrious and malleable
tongue shall be quite forgotten ; and Burns's
Ayrshire, and Dr. MacDonald's Aberdeen-awa',
and Scott's brave, metropolitan utterance will be
all equally the ghosts of speech. Till then I would
love to have my hour as a native Maker, and be
read by my own country-folk in our own dying
language : an ambition surely rather of the heart
than of the head, so restricted as it is in prospect
of endurance, so parochial in bounds of space.
TABLE OF COMMON SCOTTISH VOWEL
ae \ = open A as in rare.
au I =AW as in law.
ea =open E as hi mere, but this with exceptions, as
heather = heather, wean =wain, lear =lair.
ei j- =open E as in mere.
oa =open O as in more.
ou = doubled O as in poor.
ow =OW as hi bower.
u = doubled O as in poor.
ui or ii before R = (say roughly) open A as in rare.
ui or ii before any other consonant = (say roughly)
close I as in grin.
y=open I as in kite.
i= pretty nearly what you please, much as in
English. Heaven guide the reader through
that labyrinth ! But in Scots it dodges
usually from the short I as in grin, to the
open E as hi mere. Find and blind, I may
remark, are pronounced to rhyme with the
preterite of grin.
THE MAKER TO POSTERITY
FAR 'yont amang the years to be,
When a' we think, an' a' we see,
An' a* we hive, 's been dung ajee knocked aside
By time's rouch shouther, shoulder
An f what was richt and wrang for me
Lies mangled throu'ther, aii together
It's possible it's hardly mair
That some ane, ripin' after lear groping after
Some auld professor or young heir,
If still there's either-
May find an' read me, an' be sair
Perplexed, puir brither !
" What tongue does your auld bookie
speak ? "
He'll spier ; an' I, his mou' to steik : gj^
" No beiri fit to write in Greek,
I wrote in Lallan,
Dear to my heart as the peat-reek t smoke
Auld as Tantallon.
" Few spak it then, an' noo there's nane.
My puir auld sangs lie a' their lane,
Their sense that aince was braw an' plain,
Tint a'thegither, lost
Like runes upon a standin' stane
Amang the heather.
hill to climb
lease of mankind
" But think not you the brae to speel ;
'You, tae, maun chow the bitter peel ;
For a' your lear, for a' your skeel,
Ye're nane sae lucky ;
An' things are mebbe waur than weel
For you, my buckie.
" The hale concern (baith hens an' eggs,
Baith books an' writers, stars an' clegs]
Noo stackers upon lowsent legs,
An' wears awa' ;
The tack o' mankind, near the dregs,
Rins unco law.
"Your book, that in some braw new tongue
Ye wrote or prentit, preached or sung,
Will still be just a bairn, an' young
In fame an' years,
Whan the hale planet's guts are dung
About your ears ;
"An' you, sair gruppin' to a spar
Or whammled wi' some bleezin' star,
Cryin' to ken whaur deil ye are,
Hame, France, or Flanders
Whang sindry like a railway car
An' flie in danders."
FRAE nirly, nippin/ Eas'lan' breeze,
Frae Norlan' snaw, an' haar o' seas,
Weel happit in your gairden trees,
A bonny bit,
Atween the muckle Pentland's knees,
Secure ye sit.
IN SCOTS 139
Beeches an' aiks entwine their theek, oaks, thatch
An' firs, a stench, auld-farrant clique.
A' simmer day, your chimleys reek,
Couthy an' bien ;
An here an there your windies keek
Amang the green.
A pickle plats an* paths an' posies,
A wheen auld gillyflowers an' roses : few
A ring o' wa's the hale encloses
Frae sheep or men ;
An' there the auld housie beeks an' dozes, basks
A' by her lane. by herself
The gairdner crooks his weary back
A' day in the pitaty-track,
Or mebbe stops a while to crack
Wi' Jane the cook,
Or at some buss, worm-eaten-black, bush
To gie a look.
Frae the high hills the curlew ca's ;
The sheep gang baaing by the wa's ;
Or whiles a clan o' roosty craws
Cangle thegither ;
The wild bees seek the gairden raws,
Weariet wi' heather.
Or in the gloamin' douce an' grey
The sweet-throat mavis tunes her lay ;
The herd comes linkin' doun the brae ; tripping
An' by degrees
The muckle siller miine maks way
Amang the trees.
Here aft hae I, wi' sober heart,
For meditation sat apairt,
various, ticklish When oiTa loves or kittle art
Perplexed my mind ;
every Here socht a balm for ilia smart
Here aft, weel neukit by my lane,
Wi' Horace, or perhaps Montaigne,
The mornin' hours hae come an* gane
Abiine m'y heid
I wadna gi'en a chucky-stane
For a' I'd read.
But noo the auld city, street by street,
An' winter fu' o' snaw an' sleet,
vagrant A while shut in my gangrel feet
roving An' goavin' mettle ;
swept hearth Noo is the soopit ingle sweet,
An' liltin' kettle.
An' noo the winter winds complain ;
Cauld lies the glaur in ilka lane ;
On draigled hizzie, tautit wean
An' drucken lads,
In the mirk nicht, the winter rain
Dribbles an' blads.
Whan bugles frae the Castle rock,
An' beaten drums wi' dowie shock,
Wauken, at cauld-rife sax o'clock,
My chitterin' frame,
I mind me on the kintry cock,
The kintry hame.
I mind me on yon bonny bield ;
An' Fancy traivels far afield
To gaither a* that gairdens yield
O' sun an' Simmer :
To hearten up a dowie chield,
Fancy's the limmer !
WHEN aince Aprile has fairly come,
An' birds may bigg in winter's him, build
An' pleisure's spreid for a' and some
O' whatna state,
Love, wi' her auld recruitin' drum,
Than taks the gate.
The heart plays dunt wi' main an' micht ;
The lasses' een are a' sae bricht,
Their dresses are sae braw an' ticht,
The bonny birdies !
Puir winter virtue at the sicht
Gangs heels ower hurdies. teeis over head
An' aye as love frae land to land
Tirls the drum wi' eident hand, diligent
A' men collect at her command,
Toun-bred or land' art,
An' follow in a denty band
Her gaucy standart. stately
An' I, wha sang o' rain an' snaw,
An' weary winter weel awa*
Noo busk me in a jacket braw,
An' tak my place
F the ram-stam, harum-scarum raw,
Wi' smilin' face.
A MILE AN' A BITTOCK
A MILE an' a bittock, a mile or twa,
hm Abiine the burn, ayont the law,
Davie an' Donal' an' Cherlie an' a',
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
Ane went hame wi' the ither, an' then
The ither went hame wi' the ither twa men,
An' baith wad return him the service again,
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
The clocks were chappin' in house an* ha',
Eleeven, twal, an' ane an' twa ;
An' the guidman's face was turnt to the wa',
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
from ov A wind got up frae affa the sea,
It blew the stars as dear's could be,
It blew in the een o' a' o' the three,
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
Noo, Davie was first to get sleep in his head,
part " The best o' f lien's maun twine," he said ;
" I'm weariet, an' here I'm awa' to my
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
Twa o' them walkin' an' crackin' their lane,
The mornin' licht cam grey an' plain,
chirruped An' the birds they yammert on stick an'
An' the miine was shinin' clearly !
IN SCOTS 143
O years ayont, O years awa',
My lads, ye'll mind whate'er befa'
My lads, ye'll mind on the bield o' the law, shelter, wn
When the miine was shinin' clearly !
A LOWDEN SABBATH MORN i^thian
THE clinkum-clank o' Sabbath bells
Noo to the hoastin' rookery swells, cawing
Noo faintin' laigh in shady dells, low
Sounds far an' near,
An' through the simmer kintry tells
Its tale o' cheer.
An' noo, to that melodious play,
A' deidly awn the quiet sway
A' ken their solemn holiday,
Bestial an' human,
The singin' lintie on the brae, linnet
The restin' plou'man.
He, mair than a' the lave o' men, rest
His week completit joys to ken ;
Half-dressed, he daunders out an' in, saunters
Perplext wi' leisure ;
An' his raxt limbs he'll rax again stretched
Wi painfu' pleesure.
The steerin' mither strang ant
Noo shoos the bairnies but a bit ;
Noo cries them ben, 1 their Sinday shiirt
To scart upon them,
i " But " the outer room, " ben " the inner room of a two-roomed
a little behind
hooks on to
Or sweeties in their pooch to pit,
Wi' blessin's on them.
The lasses, clean frae tap to taes,
Are busked in crunklin' underclaes ;
The gartened hose, the weel-filled stays,
The nakit shift,
A* bleached on bonny greens for days,
An' white's the drift.
An' noo to face the kirkward mile :
The guidman's hat o' dacent style,
The blackit shoon, we noo maun fyle
As white's the miller :
A waefii' peety tae, to spile
The warth o' siller.
Our Marg'et, aye sae keen to crack,
Douce-stappin' in the stoury track,
Her emeralt goun a' kiltit back
Frae snawy coats,
White-ankled, leads the kirkward pack
Wi' Dauvit Groats.
A thocht ahint, in runkled breeks,
A' spiled wi' lyin* by for weeks,
The guidman follows closs, an' cleiks
The sonsie missis ;
His sarious face at aince bespeaks
The day that this is.
And aye an' while we nearer draw
To whaur the kirkton lies alaw,
Mair neebours, comin' saft an' slaw
Frae here an' there,
The thicker thrang the gate an' caw
The stour in air.
But hark ! the bells frae nearer clang
To rowst the slaw their sides they bang
An' see ! black coats a'ready thrang
The green kirkyard ;
And at the yett, the chestnuts spang
That brocht the laird.
It's here our Merren lang has lain,
A wee bewast the table-stane ;
An* yon's the grave o' Sandy Blane ;
An' further ower,
The mither's bathers, dacent men 1
Lie a' the fower.
The solemn elders at the plate
Stand drinkin' deep the pride o' state :
The practised hands as gash an' great solemn
As Lords o' Session ;
The later named, a wee thing blate diffident
In their expression.
The prentit stanes that mark the deid,
Wi' lengthened lip, the sarious read ;
Syne wag a moraleesin' heid,
An' then an' there
Their hirp'iln' practice an' their creed limping
Try hard to square.
Here the guidman sail bide awee
To dwall amang the deid ; to see
Auld faces clear in fancy's e'e :
Belike to hear
Auld voices fa'in' saft an' slee
On fancy's ear.
Thus, on the day o' solemn things,
The bell that in the steeple swings
To fauld a scaittered faim'ly rings
Its walcome screed ;
An' just a wee thing nearer brings
The quick an' deid.
But noo the bell is ringhY in ;
To tak their places, folk begin ;
The minister himsel' wih 1 shiine
Be up the gate,
talk Filled fu' wi' clavers about sin
An man's estate.
The tunes are up French, to be shure,
The faithfu' French, an' twa-three mair;
The auld prezentor, hoastin' sair,
Wales out the portions,
An* yirks the time into the air
Wi' queer contortions.
Follows the prayer, the readin' next,
An' than the fisslin' for the text
The twa-three last to find it, vext
But kind o' proud ;
An' than the peppermints are raxed,
stick a pin
For noo's the time whan pows are seen.
Nid-noddin' like a mandareen ;
When tenty mithers stap a preen
In sleepin' weans ;
An' nearly half the parochine
Forget their pains.
IN SCOTS 147
There's just a waukrif twa or three : wakeful
Thrawn commentautors sweer to 'gree, stubborn
Weans glowrin' at the bumblin' bee
Or lads that tak a keek a-glee sidelong pee p
At sonsie lasses. comely
Himsel', meanwhile, frae whaur he cocks
An' bobs belaw the soundin'-box,
The treesures of his words unlocks
An' deals some unco* dingin' knocks
Wi' sappy unction, hoo he burkes
The hopes o' men that trust in works.
Expounds the fau'ts o' ither kirks,
An' shaws the best o' them
No' muckle better than mere Turks,
When a's confessed o' them.
Bethankit ! what a bonny creed !
What mair would ony Christian need ?
The braw words rummle ower his heid,
Nor steer the sleeper ;
And in their restin' graves, the deid
Sleep aye the deeper.
NOTE. It may be guessed by some that I had a certain
parish in my eye, and this makes it proper I should add a word
of disclamation. In my time there have been two ministers
in that parish. Of the first I have a special reason to speak
well, even had there been any to think ill. The second I have
often met in private and long (in the due phrase) " sat under"
in his church, and neither here nor there have I heard an
unkind or ugly word upon his lips. The preacher of the text
had thus no original in that particular parish ; but when I
was a boy, he might have been observed in many others ; he
was then (like the schoolmaster) abroad ; and by recent advices
it would seem he has not yet entirely disappeared. [R. L. S.]
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife
Why chops are guid to brander and nane
sae guid to fry.
An* siller, that's sae braw to keep, is
brawer still to gi'e.
It's gey an' easy speirin', says the
beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife
Hoo a' things come to be whaur we find
them when we try.
The lasses in their claes an' the fishes in
It's gey an' easy speirin' , says the
beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife
Why lads are a' to sell an' lasses a* to
An' naebody for dacency but barely twa
It's gey an' easy speirin , says the
beggar-wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife
Gin death's as shiire to men as killin' is
IN SCOTS 149
Why God has filled the yearth sae fu' o'
tasty things to pree. taste
It's giy an' easy speirin', says the
beggar- wife to me.
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife
The reason o' the cause an' the wherefore
o' the why,
Wi' mony anither riddle brings the tear
into my e'e.
Its gey' an' easy speirin' , says the
beggar-wife to me.
THE BLAST 1875
IT'S rainin'. Weet's the gairden sod,
Weet the lang roads whaur gangrels plod vagrants
A maist unceevil thing o' God
In mid July
If ye'U just curse the sneckdraw, dod ! tricky feiiow
An' sae wull I !
He's a braw place in Heev'n, ye ken,
An' lea's us puir, forjaskit men jaded, pinched
Clamjamfried in the but and ben
He ca's the earth
A wee bit inconvenient den
No muckle worth ;
An' whiles, at orra times, keeks out,
Sees what puir mankind are about ;
An' if He can, I've little doubt,
Upsets their plans ;
He hates a' mankind, brainch and root,
An* a' that's man's.
An* whiles, whan they tak' heart again,
An' life o' the sun looks braw an' plain,
>, soaking Doun comes a jaw o' droukin' rain
Upon their honours
flood God sends a spate out-ower the plain.
Or mebbe thun'ers.
Lord safe us, life's an unco thing !
Simmer an' Winter, Yule an' Spring,
The damned, dour-heartit seasons bring
A feck o' trouble.
I wadna try't to be a king
No, nor for double.
But since we're in it, willy-nilly,
We maun be watchfu', wise an' skilly,
An' no mind ony ither billy,
Lassie nor God.
But drink that's my best counsel till 'e :
Sae tak' the nod.
MY bonny man, the warld, it's true,
Was made for neither me nor you ;
It's just a place to warstle through,
As Job confessed o't ;
And aye the best that we'll can do
Is mak' the best o't.
IN SCOTS 151
There's rowth o' wrang, I'm free to say : plenty
The simmer brunt, the winter blae,
The face of earth a' fyled wi' clay dirtied
An* dour wi' chuckies, pebbles
An' life a rough an' land'art play
For country buckies.
An' food's anither name for clart ; dirt
An' beasts an' brambles bite an' scart ;
An' what would WE be like, my heart !
If bared o' claethin' ?
Aweel, I canna mend your cart :
It's that or naethin'.
A feck o' folk frae first to last lot
Have through this queer experience
Twa-three, I ken, just damn and blast
The hale transaction ;
But twa-three ithers, east an' wast,
Whaur braid the briery muirs expand,
A waefii' an' a weary land,
The bumble-bees, a gowden band,
Are blithely hingin' ;
An' there the canty wanderer fand cheerful
The laverock singin'. lark
Trout in the burn grow great as herr'n' ;
The simple sheep can find their fair'n' ;
The wind blaws clean about the cairn
Wi caller air ; fresh
The muircock an' the barefit bairn
Are happy there.
shelters Sic-likc the howes o' life to some
trouble Green loans whaur they ne'er fash their
But mark the muckle winds that come,
sweeping SoOpUl' an* COOl,
Or hear the powrin' burnie drum
chaffinch's In the shilfa's pool.
The evil wi' the guid they tak' ;
They ca' a grey thing grey, no black ;
steep bin To a steigh brae a stubborn back
Addressin' daily ;
unsheltered An' up the rude, unbieldy track
O' life, gang gaily.
What you would like's a palace ha',
neat Or Sinday parlour dink an* braw
Wi' a' things ordered in a raw
By denty leddies.
Weel, then ye canna hae't : that's a*
That to be said is.
An* since at life ye've ta'en the grue,
An' winna blithely hirsle through,
Ye've fund the very thing to do
That's to drink speerit ;
An' shiine we'll hear the last o' you
An' blithe to hear it !
shoes, buy The shoon ye coft, the life ye lead,
Ithers will heir when aince ye 're deid ;
They'll heir your tasteless bite o' breid,
An' find it sappy ;
They'll to your dulefii' house succeed,
An' there be happy.
IN SCOTS 153
As whan a glum an* fractious wean chad
Has sat an' sullened by his lane
Till, wi' a rowstin' skelp, he's ta'en siap
An* shoo'd to bed chased
The ither bairns a' fa* to play'n,
AS gleg's a gled. lively, hawk
THE COUNTERBLAST IRONICAL
IT'S strange that God should fash to
The yearth and lift sae hie, heaven
An ; clean forget to explain the same
To a gentleman like me.
Thae gutsy, donnered ither folk, greedy, stupid
Their weird they weel may dree ;
But why present a pig in a poke
To a gentleman like me ?
Thae ither folk their parritch eat
An' sup their sugared tea ;
But the mind is no' to be wyled wi' meat
Wi' a gentleman like me.
Thae ither folk, they court their joes
At gloamin' on the lea ;
But they're made of a commoner clay, I
Than a gentleman like me.
Thae ither folk, for richt or wrang,
They suffer, bleed, or dee ;
But a' thir things are an emp'y sang
To a gentleman like me.
It's a different thing that I demand,
Tho' humble as can be
A statement fair in my Maker's hand
To a gentleman like me :
A clear account writ fair an' broad,
An' a plain apologie ;
Or the deevil a ceevil word to God
From a gentleman like me.
THEIR LAUREATE TO AN ACADEMY
CLASS DINNER CLUB
DEAR Thamson class, whaure'er I gang
It aye comes ower me wi' a spang :
" Lordsake ! thae Thamson lads (deil
Or else Lord mend them) !
unlucky An' that wanchancy annual sang
I ne'er can send them ! "
Straucht, at the name, a trusty tyke,
snarls My conscience girrs ahint the dyke ;
fuss Straucht on my hinderlands I fyke
To find a rhyme t' ye ;
Pleased although mebbe no' pleased-
To gie my time t' ye.
IN SCOTS 155
" Weel," an* says you, wi' heavin' breist,
" Sae far, sae guid, but what's the neist ?
Yearly we gaither to the feast,
A' hopefu" men
Yearly we skelloch ' Hang the beast ay out
Nae sang again \ ' "
My lads, an' what am I to say ?
Ye shiirely ken the Muse's way :
Yestreen, as gleg's a tyke the day, lively, dog
Thrawn like a cuddy ;
Her conduc', that to her's a play,
Deith to a body.
Aft whan I sat an' made my mane, moan
Aft whan I laboured burd-alane, an only chad
Fishin' for rhymes an' findin' nane,
Or nane were fit for ye
Ye judged me cauld's a chucky-stane pebble
No car'n' a bit for ye !
But saw ye ne'er some pingein' bairn whining
As weak as a pitaty-par'n' potato-skin
Less iised wi' guidin' horse-shoe aim
Than sterrin' crowdie pottage
Packed aff his lane, by moss an' cairn, by himself
To ca' the howdie. midwife
Wae's me, for the puir callant than ! iad
He wambles like a poke o' bran, wobbles
An' the lowse rein, as hard's he can,
Pu's, tremlin' handit ;
Till, blaff ! upon his hinderlan'
Behauld him landit.
Sic-like I awn the weary fac'
Whan on my muse the gate I tak',
An' see her gleed e'e raxin' back
To keek ahint her ;
To me, the brig o' Heev'n gangs black
As blackest winter.
" Lordsake ! we're aff," thinks I, "
On what abhorred an' whinny scaur,
Or whammled in what sea o' glaur,
Will she desert me ?
An' will she just disgrace ? or waur
Will she no' hurt me ? "
Kittle the quaere ! But at least
The day I've backed the fashious beast,
While she, wi' mony a spang an' reist,
Flang heels ower bonnet ;
An' a' triumphant for your feast,
Hae ! there's your sonnet 1
EMBRO HIE KIRK
THE Lord Himsel' in former days
Waled out the proper tunes for praise
An' named the proper kind o' claes
For folk to preach in :
Preceese and in the chief o' ways
IN SCOTS 157
He ordered a' things late and air' ; early
He ordered folk to stand at prayer
(Although I canna just mind where
He gave the warnin'),
An' pit pomatum on their hair
On Sabbath mornin'.
The hale o' life by His commands
Was ordered to a body's hands ;
But see ! this corpus juris stands
By a' forgotten ;
An' God's religion in a' lands
Is deid an' rotten.
While thus the lave o' mankind's lost, rest
O' Scotland still God maks His boast
Puir Scotland, on whase barren coast
A score or twa
Auld wives wi' mutches an' a hoast caps, cough
Still keep His law.
In Scotland, a wheen canty, plain, few
Douce, kintry-leevin' folk retain
The Truth or did so aince alane
Of a' men leevin' ;
An' noo just twa o' them remain
Just Begg an' Niven. 1
For noo, unfaithfu' to the Lord,
Auld Scotland joins the rebel horde ;
Her human hymn-books on the board
She noo displays :
An' Embro Hie Kirk's been restored
In popish ways.
1 Two Scotsmen celebrated for their pronounced Presbyterian orthodoxy.
punctum temporis for action
To a' o' the reformin' faction.
If yet, by ony act or paction,
Thocht, word, or sermon,
This dark an damnable transaction
Micht yet determine !
For see as Doctor Begg explains
a few children Hoo easy 't's dime ! a pickle weans,
Wha in the Hie Street gaither stanes
By his instruction,
painted The uncovenantit, pentit panes
Ding to destruction.
Up, Niven, or ower late an* dash
low, mud Laigh in the glaur that carnal hash ;
crash Let spires and pews wi' gran stramash
Thegither fa' ;
organ The rumlin' kist o' whustles smash
In pieces sma\
heavy Noo choose ye out a walie hammer ;
About the knottit buttress clam'er ;
totter, tumble Alang the steep roof stoyt an' stammer,
unlucky A gate mischancy ;
chamber On the aul' spire, the bells' hie cha'mer,
Dance your bit dancie.
Ding, devel, dunt, destroy, an' ruin,
Wi' carnal stanes the square bestrewin',
Till your loud chaps frae Kyle to Fruin,
Frae Hell to Heeven,
Tell the guid wark that baith are doin'
Baith Begg an' Niven.
IN SCOTS 159
THE SCOTSMAN'S RETURN FROM
(IN A LETTER FROM MR. THOMSON TO MR.
IN mony a foreign pairt I've been,
An' mony an unco ferlie seen, Sings Strange
Since, Mr. Johnstone, you and I
Last walkit upon Cocklerye.
Wi' gleg, observant een, I pass't
By sea an' land, through East an' Wast,
And still in ilka age an' station every
Saw naething but abomination.
In thir uncovenantit lands
The gangrel Scot uplifts his hands wandering
At lack of a' sectarian ftish'n, pith
An' cauld religious destitution.
He rins, puir man, frae place to place,
Tries a' their graceless means o' grace,
Preacher on preacher, kirk on kirk
This yin a stot an' thon a stirk 1
A bletherin' clan, no warth a preen, pin
As bad as Smith of Aiberdeen ! 2
At last, across the weary faem,
Frae far, outlandish pairts I came.
On ilka side o' me I fand
Fresh tokens o' my native land.
Wi' whatna joy I hailed tham a'
The hill-taps standin' raw by raw ;
1 " Stot " and " stirk," lit. cattle, used to express stupidity.
2 The late Professor Robertson Smith of Cambridge, formerly of Aberdeen,
a leader of the school of advanced Biblical criticism.
The public house, the Hielan' birks,
And a' the bonny U.P. kirks !
But maistly thee, the bluid o' Scots,
Frae Maidenkirk to John o' Grots,
The king o' drinks, as I conceive it,
Talisker, Isla, or Glenlivet !
For after years wi' a pockmantie
Frae Zanzibar to Alicante,
In mony a fash and sair affliction
I gie't as my sincere conviction
Of a' their foreign tricks an' pliskies,
I maist abominate their whiskies.
Nae doot, themsel's, they ken it weel,
An' wi' a hash o' leemon peel,
And ice an' siccan filth, they ettle
The stawsome kind o' goo to settle ;
Sic wersh apothecary's broos wi'
As Scotsmen scorn to fyle their moo's wi'.
An', man, I was a blithe hame-comer
rinsed, tumbler Whan first I syndit out my rummer
Ye should hae seen me then, wi' care
The less important pairts prepare ;
Syne, weel contentit wi' it a',
piump Pour in the speerits wi' a jaw !
I didna drink, I didna speak,
snuffed, smoke I only snowkit up the reek.
I was sae pleased therein to paidle,
I sat an' plowtered wi' my ladle.
An' blithe was I, the morrow's morn,
To daunder through the stookit corn,
And after a' my strange mishanters,
Sit doun amang my ain dissenters.
IN SCOTS 161
An', man, it was a joy to me
The pu'pit an' the pews to see,
The pennies dirlin' in the plate,
The elders lookin' on in state ;
An' 'mang the first, as it befell,
Wha should I see, sir, but yoursel' !
I was, and I will no' deny it,
At the first gliff a hantle tryit glance
To see yoursel' in sic a station
It seemed a doubtfu' dispensation.
The feelin' was a mere digression ;
For shiine I understood the session,
An' mindin' Aiken an' M'Neil,
I wondered they had dune sae weeL
I saw I had mysel' to blame ;
For had I but remained at hame,
Aiblins though no ava' deservin' 't perhaps
They micht hae named your humble servant.
The kirk was filled, the door was steiked dosed
Up to the pu'pit ance I keeked ; peeped
I was mair pleased than I can tell
It was the minister himsel' !
Proud, proud was I to see his face.
After sae long awa' frae grace.
Pleased as I was, I'm no denyin'
Some maitters were not edifyin' ;
For first I fand an' here was news !
Mere hymn-books cockin' in the pews
A humanised abomination,
Unfit for ony congregation.
Syne, while I still was on the tenter,
I scunnered at the new prezentor ;
I thocht him gesterin' an' cauld
A sair declension frae the auld.
Syne, as though a' the faith was wreckit,
The prayer was not what I'd exspeckit.
Himsel', as it appeared to me,
Was no' the man he iised to be.
But just as I was growin' vext
chose He waled a maist judeecious text,
An', launchin' into his prelections,
Swoopt, wi' a skirl, on a' defections.
what a gale was on my speerit
To hear the p'ints o' doctrine clearit,
And a' the horrors o' damnation
Set furth wi' faithfu' ministration !
shuffling Nae shauchlin' testimony here
We were a' damned, an' that was clear.
1 owned, wi' gratitude an' wonder,
He was a pleesure to sit under.
LATE in the nicht in bed I lay,
The winds were at their weary play,
shrieking An' turlin' wa's an' skirlin' wae
Through Heev'n they battered ;
On-ding 'o hail, on-blaff o' spray,
The tempest blattered.
The masoned house it dinled through ;
capsized It dung the ship, it cowped the coo' ;
The rankit aiks it overthrew,
Had braved a' weathers ;
sea-kites The strang sea-gleds it took an' blew
Awa' like feathers.
" WT whatna joy I hailed them a'
The hill-taps standin' raw by raw."
IN SCOTS 163
The thrawes o' fear on a* were shed, throes
An' the hair rose, an' slumber fled,
An' the lichts were lit an' prayers were
Through a' the kintry ;
An' the cauld terror clum in bed
Wi' a' an' sindry.
To hear in the pit-mirk on hie
The brangled collieshangie flie.
The warl', they thocht, wi' land an' sea
Itsel' wad cowpit ;
An' for auld aim, the smashed debris
By God be rowpit
Meanwhile frae far Aldeboran,
To folks wi' talescopes in han',
O' ships that cowpit, winds that ran,
Nae sign was seen,
But the wee warl', in sunshine span
As bricht's a preen. pin
I, tae, by God's especial grace,
Dwall denty in a bieldy place, sheltered
Wi' hosened feet, wi' shaven face,
Wi' dacent mainners :
A grand example to the race slovenly
O' tautit sinners 1
The wind may blaw, the heathen rage,
The deil may start on the rampage ;
The sick in bed, the thief in cage
What's a' to me ?
Cosh in my house, a sober sage,
I sit an' see.
springs, brow An' whiles the bluid spangs to my bree,
To lie sae saft, to live sae free,
While better men maun do an* die
strange In UnCO plaCCS.
" Whaur's God ? " I cry, an' " Whae is me
To hae sic graces ? "
I mind the fecht the sailors keep,
without But fire or can'le, rest or sleep,
In darkness an' the muckle deep ;
An' mind beside
The herd that on the hills o' sheep
Has wandered wide.
coughing I mind me on the hoastin' weans
The penny joes on causey-stanes
The auld folk wi' the crazy banes ;
Baith auld an' puir,
endure That aye maun thole the winds an' rains,
An' labour sair.
An' whiles I'm kind o' pleased a blink,
An' kind o' fleyed forby, to think,
For a' my rowth o' meat and drink
An' waste o' crumb,
put up with I'll mebbe have to thole wi' skink
In Kingdom Come.
For God whan jowes the Judgment-bell,
Wi' His ain Hand, His Leevin' Sel',
Sail ryve the guid (as Prophets tell)
j ; I Frae them that had it ;
frothing ' And in the reamin' pat o' Hell,
scaidedX The rich be scaddit.
I'll stand my
IN SCOTS 165
O Lord, if this indeed be sae,
Let daw that sair an' happy day !
Again* the warl', grawn auld an' grey,
Up wi' your aixe !
And let the puir enjoy their play
I'll thole my paiks.
OF a' the ills that flesh can fear,
The loss o' Men's, the lack o' gear,
A yowlin' tyke, a glandered mear, dog, mare
A lassie's nonsense
There's just ae thing I canna bear,
An' that's my conscience.
Whan day (an' a' excuse) has gane,
An' wark is dime, and duty's plain,
An' to my chalmer a' my lane
T J . J chamber
I creep apairt,
My conscience 1 hoo the yammerin' pain gnawing
Stends to my heart !
A' day wi' various ends in view
The hairsts o' time I had to pu', harvests
An' made a hash wad staw a soo, disgust a pig
Let be a man !
My conscience ! whan my han's were fu' f
Whaur were ye than ?
An' there were a' the lures o' life,
There pleesure skirlin' on the fife,
There anger, wi' the hotchin' knife lopping
Ground shairp in Hell
My conscience ! you that's like a wife 1
Whaur was yoursel' ?
I ken it fine : just waitin' here,
To gar the evil waur appear,
besmirch To clart the guid, confuse the clear,
Misca' the great,
My conscience ! an* to raise a steer
When a's ower late.
Sic-like, some tyke grawn auld and blind,
Whan thieves brok' through the gear to
goods to seize p'ind
stupefied Has lain his dozened length an' grinned
At the disaster ;
next morning, An' the morn's mornin', wud's the wind,
wind 33 Yokes on his master.
TO DOCTOR JOHN BROWN
Whan the dear doctor, dear to a',
Was still amang us here belaw,
I set my pipes his praise to blaw
Wi' a' my speerit ;
But noo, dear Doctor ! he's awa'
An' ne'er can hear it.
BY Lyne and Tyne, by Thames and Tees,
By a' the various river Dee's,
In Mars and Manors 'yon't the seas
Or here at hame,
Whaure'er there's kindly folk to please,
They ken your name.
IN SCOTS 167
They ken your name, they ken your tyke,
They ken the honey from your byke ; hive
But mebbe after a' your fyke, trouble
(The truth to tell)
It's just your honest Rab they like,
An* no' yoursel'.
As at the gowff, some canny play'r
Should tee a common ba' wi' care
Should flourish and deleever fair
His souple shintie hockey-stick
An' the ba' rise into the air,
A leevin' lintie : linnet
Sae in the game we writers play,
There comes to some a bonny day,
When a dear ferlie shall repay wonder
Their years o' strife,
An' like your Rab, their things o' clay,
Spreid wings o' life.
Ye scarce deserved it, I'm afraid
You that had never learned the trade,
But just some idle mornin' strayed
Into the schiile,
An' picked the fiddle up an' played
Like Neil 1 himsel'.
Your e'e was gleg, your fingers dink ; quick, neat
Ye didna fash yoursel' to think,
But wove, as fast as puss can link, trip
Your denty wab :
Ye stapped your pen into the ink,
An' there was Rab !
Neil Gow, the great Highland fiddler.
since then Shisyne, whaure'er your fortune lay
duii, cheerful By dowie den, by canty brae,
Simmer an' winter, nicht an' day,
Rab was aye wi' ye ;
An' a' the folk on a' the way
Were blithe to see ye.
O sir, the gods are kind indeed,
An' hauld ye for an honoured heid,
That for a wee bit clarkit screed
Sae weel reward ye,
An' lend puir Rabbie bein' deid
His ghaist to guard ye.
For though, whaure'er yoursel' may be,
look a little We've just to tUITl an' glisk a WC6,
An' Rab at heel we're shiire to see
Wi' gladsome caper :
ghost The bogle of a bogle, he
A ghaist o' paper !
And as the auld-farrant hero sees
In Hell a bogle Hercules,
Pit there the lesser deid to please,
While he himsel'
Dwalls wi' the muckle gods at ease
Far raised frae hell :
Sae the true Rabbie far has gane
On kindlier business o' his ain
Wi' aulder frien's ; an' his breist-bane
An' stumpie tailie,
toasts He bristles at a new hearth-stane
By James and Ailie.
IN SCOTS 169
IT'S an owercome sooth for age an* youth true refrain
And it brooks wi' nae denial,
That the dearest friends are the auldest
And the young are just on trial.
There's a rival bauld wi' young an' auld
And it's him that has bereft me ;
For the surest friends are the auldest
And the maist o' mine's hae left me.
There are kind hearts still, for friends to
And fools to take and break them ;
But the nearest friends are the auldest
And the grave's the place to seek them.
SONGS OF TRAVEL AND OTHER
(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 !
174 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
ONCE only by the garden gate
Our lips we 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.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 175
YOUTH AND LOVE
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
Cah 1 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
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,
Cold beats the light of time upon your face
And shows your tears.
176 SONGS OF TRAVEL
He came, he 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.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 177
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 glistening 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.
178 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
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 1
SONGS OF TRAVEL 179
Let Beauty awake in the eve from the slumber
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 1
I KNOW not how it is with you
/ 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.
180 SONGS OF TRAVEL
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your
Where white flows the river and bright blows the
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body
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
WE HAVE LOVED OF YORE
(TO AN AIR OF DIABELLl)
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.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 181
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 1
We have lived of yore.
O, we have loved of yore.
(TO AN AIR FROM BACH)
THE cock shall crow
In the morning grey,
The bugles blow
At the break of day :
The cock shall sing and the merry bugles ring,
And all the little brown birds sing upon the spray.
The thorn shall blow
In the month of May,
And my love shall go
In her holiday array :
But I shall he in the kirkyard nigh
While all the little brown birds sing upon the spray.
182 SONGS OF TRAVEL
SON of my woman's body, you go, to the drum and
To taste the colour of love and the other side of
From out of the dainty the rude, the strong from
out of the frail,
Eternally through the ages from the female comes
The ten fingers and toes, and the shell-like nail
The eyes blind as gems and the tongue attempting
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
Soldier, lover, explorer, I see you nuzzle the breast.
You that grope in my bosom shall load the ladies
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.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 183
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,
i84 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
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
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
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the
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
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the
place of old.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 185
Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moor-
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
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
But I go for ever and come again no more.
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.
186 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
SONGS OF TRAVEL 187
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.
i88 SONGS OF TRAVEL
THE LOST OCCASION
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 1
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,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 189
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
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 :
SONGS OF TRAVEL
With the half of a broken hope for a pillow
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.
IN rigorous hours, when down the iron lane
The redbreast looks in vain
For hips and haws,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 191
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
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 nre-ypainted walls,
Now hears the wind abroad,
Now harks the calling squalls.
" Blow, blow/' I cry, " in vain you rouse the
My rescued sailor shares the fire with me ! "
192 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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 ! do you hear the passing flute ?
SONGS OF TRAVEL 193
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,
Fair and helpful, wise and good,
The Fairy Princess Moe stood.
TANTIRA, TAHITI, Nov. 5, 1888.
(WITH THE GIFT 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.
194 SONGS OF TRAVEL
TO PRINCESS KAIULANI
[Written in April to Kaiulani in the April of her age ; and
at Waikiki, within easy walk of Kaiulani 's banyan 1 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 re-
member 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 MARY ANNE
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.
" Forth from her land to mine she gees,
The island maid, the island rose."
SONGS OF TRAVEL 195
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
Life, that honours the brave, crowned her himself
with the crown.
The beauties of youth are frail, but this was a jewel
Life, that delights in the brave, gave it himself
for a gage.
Fair was the crown to behold, and beauty its
9 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
196 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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 . . .
SONGS OF TRAVEL 197
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 hou
The evensong of birds,
One corner of blue heaven ap
In our clear weU 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.
ig8 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
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, To ! 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
SONGS OF TRAVEL 199
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. L?st, 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
Thrills pierced with their strong lamps. The
One after one, here in this grated cell,
Where the rain erases and the rust consumes,
Fell upon lasting silence. Continents
200 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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.
APEMAM A .
TO S. C. 1
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
> Sidney Colvin,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 201
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 reveillS 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 cele-
brate 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,
202 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 203
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
204 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 205
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 ;
206 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
SONGS OF TRAVEL 207
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 part, 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,
208 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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,
SONGS OF TRAVEL 209
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,
210 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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
Rings and lives and resounds in all the bounds of
the beU :
So the thunder above spoke with a single tongue,
So in the heart of the mountain the sound of it
rumbled and clung.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 211
Sudden the thunder was drowned quenched was
the levin light
And the angel-spirit of rain laughed out loud in
Loud as the maddened river raves in the cloven
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
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
And out of the cloud that smites, beneficent rivers
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
212 SONGS OF TRAVEL
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.
THE LAST SIGHT
ONCE more I saw him. In the lofty room,
Where oft with lights and company his tongue
Was trump to honest laughter, sate attired
A something in his likeness. " Look ! " said one,
Unkindly kind, " look up, it is your boy 1 "
And the dread changeling gazed on me in vain.
SONGS OF TRAVEL 213
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.
214 SONGS OF TRAVEL
TO S. R. CROCKETT
(IN REPLY TO A DEDICATION)
BLOWS the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain
Blows the wind on the moors to-day and now,
Where about the graves of the martyrs the whaups
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 van-
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
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 :
SONGS OF TRAVEL 215
The great sky darkens overhead,
And the great woods are shrill.
So far have I been led,
Lord, by Thy will :
So far have I been followed, Lord, and wondered
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
First collected edition was published
by Chatto & Windus, London, 1890.
' Ticonderoga ' was originally published
in Scribner's Magazine, December.
To ORI A ORI
Ori, my brother in the island mode,
In every tongue and meaning much my friend
This story of your country and your clan,
In your loved house, your too much honoured
I made in English. Take it, being done ;
And let me sign it with the name you gave.
THE SONG OF RAHERO
A LEGEND OF TAHITI
THE SLAYING OF TAMATEA
IT fell in the days of old, as the men of Taiarapu
A youth went forth to the fishing, and fortune
favoured him well.
Tamatea his name : guillible, simple, and kind,
Comely of countenance, nimble of body, empty of
His mother ruled him and loved him beyond the
wont of a wife.
Serving the lad for eyes and living herself in his life.
Alone from the sea and the fishing came Tamatea
Urging his boat to the beach, and the mother
awaited him there,
" Long may you live ! " said she. ' Your fishing
has sped to a wish.
And now let us choose for the king the fairest of
all your fish.
For fear inhabits the palace and grudging grows
in the land,
Marked is the sluggardly foot and marked the
The hours and the miles are counted, the tributes
numbered and weighed,
And woe to him that comes short, and woe to him
that delayed ! "
So spoke on the beach the mother, and counselled
the wiser thing.
For Rahero stirred in the country and secretly
mined the king.
Nor were the signals wanting of how the leaven
In the cords of obedience loosed and the tributes
And when last to the temple of Oro the boat with
the victim sped,
And the priest uncovered the basket and looked
on the face of the dead,
Trembling fell upon all at sight of an ominous
For there was the aito 1 dead, and he of the house
of the king.
So spake on the beach the mother, matter worthy
And wattled a basket well, and chose a fish from
the boat ;
And Tamate'a the pliable shouldered the basket
And travelled, and sang as he travelled, a lad that
was well content.
Still the way of his going was round by the roaring
Where the ring of the reef is broke and the trades
run riot the most.
On his left, with smoke as of battle, the billows
battered the land ;
Unscalable, turreted mountains rose on the inner
And cape, and village, and river, and vale, and
THE SONG OF RAH&RO 225
Each had a name in the land for men to remember
and love ;
And never the name of a place, but lo ! a song in
its praise :
Ancient and unforgotten, songs of the earlier days,
That the elders taught to the young, and at night,
in the full of the moon,
Garlanded boys and maidens sang together in tune.
Tamatea the placable went with a lingering foot ;
He sang as loud as a bird, he whistled hoarse as a
He broiled in the sun, he breathed in the grateful
shadow of trees,
In the icy stream of the rivers he waded over the
And still in his empty mind crowded, a thousand-
The deeds of the strong and the songs of the cunning
heroes of old.
And now was he come to a place Taiarapu honoured
Where a silent valley of the woods debouched on
the noisy coast,
Spewing a level river. There was a haunt of Pai. 2
There, in his potent youth, when his parents drove
him to die,
Honoura lived like a beast, lacking the lamp and
Washed by the rains of the trade and clotting his
hair in the mire ;
And there, so mighty his hands, he bent the tree
to his foot
So keen the spur of his hunger, he plucked it naked
There, as she pondered the clouds for the shadow
of coming ills,
Ahupu, the woman of song, walked on high on the
Of these was Rahe*ro sprung, a man of a godly race ;
And inherited cunning of spirit and beauty of body
Of yore in his youth, as an aito, Rahero wandered
Delighting maids with his tongue, smiting men
with his hand.
Famous he was in his youth ; but before the midst
of his life
Paused, and fashioned a song of farewell to glory
House of mine (it went), house upon the sea,
Belov'd of all my fathers, more belov'd by me !
Vale of the strong Honoura, deep ravine of Pai,
Again in your woody summits I hear the trade-wind
House of mine, in your walls, strong sounds the sea,
Of all sounds on earth, dearest sound to me.
I have heard the applause of men, I have heard it
arise and die :
Sweeter now in my house I hear the trade-wind cry.
These were the words of his singing, other the
thought of his heart ;
For secret desire of glory vexed him, dwelling apart.
Lazy and crafty he was, and loved to lie in the sun,
And loved the cackle of talk and the true word
uttered in fun ;
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 227
Lazy he was, his roof was ragged, his table was
And the fish swam safe in his sea, and he gathered
the near and the green.
He sat in his house and laughed, but he loathed the
king of the land,
And he uttered the grudging word under the cover-
Treason spread from his door ; and he looked for
a day to come,
A day of the crowding people, a day of the summon-
When the vote should be taken, the king be driven
forth in disgrace,
And Rahero, the laughing and lazy, sit and rule in
Here Tamatea came, and beheld the house on the
And Rahero was there by the way and covered
an oven to cook. 3
Naked he was to the loins, but the tattoo covered
And the sun and the shadow of palms dappled his
Swiftly he lifted his head at the fall of the coming
And the water sprang in his mouth with a sudden
desire of meat ;
For he marked the basket carried, covered from
flies and the sun ; 4
And Rahero buried his fire, but the meat in his
house was done.
Forth he stepped ; and took and delayed the boy,
by the hand ;
And vaunted the joys of meat and the ancient
ways of the land :
"Our sires of old in Taiarapu, they that created
Ate ever with eager hand, nor regarded season or
Ate in the boat at the oar, on the way afoot ; and
Arose in the midst of dreams to rummage the house
for a bite.
It is good for the youth in his turn to follow the
way of the sire ;
And behold how fitting the time ! for here do I
cover my fire/'
" I see the fire for the cooking, but never the
meat to cook/'
Said Tamatea. ' Tut 1 " said Rahero. " Here in
And there in the tumbling sea, the fishes are thick
Hungry like healthy men, and like pigs for savour
and size :
Crayfish crowding the river, sea-fish thronging the
" Well it may be," says the other, " and yet be
nothing to me.
Fain would I eat, but alas 1 I have needful matter
Since I carry my tribute of fish to the jealous king
of the land."
Now at the word a light sprang in Rahro's eyes.
" I will gain me a dinner," thought he, " and lend
the king a surprise."
And he took the lad by the arm, as they stood by
the sid,e of the track,
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 229
And smiled, and rallied, and flattered, and pushed
him forward and back.
It was " You that sing like a bird, I never have
heard you sing,"
And " The lads when I was a lad were none so
feared of a king.
And of what account is an hour, when the heart is
empty of guile ?
But come, and sit in the house and laugh with the
women a while ;
And I will but drop my hook, 5 and behold ! the
So Tamatea the pliable hung up his fish in the shade
On a tree by the side of the way ; and Rahero
carried him in,
Smiling as smiles the fowler when flutters the bird
to the gin,
And chose him a shining hook, and viewed it with
And breathed and burnished it well on the brawn
of his naked thigh,
And set a mat for the gull, and bade him be merry
Like a man concerned for his guest, and the fishing,
and nothing beside.
Now when Rahero was forth, he paused and
hearkened, and heard
The gull jest in the house and the women laugh
at his word ;
And stealthily crossed to the side of the way, to
the shady place
Where the basket hung on a mango ; and craft
transfigured his face.
Deftly he opened the basket, and took of the fat
of the fish,
The cut of kings and chieftains, enough for a goodly
This he wrapped in a leaf, set on the fire to
And buried ; and next the marred remains of
the tribute he took,
And doubled and packed them well, and covered
the basket close.
" There is a buffet, my king," quoth he, " and
a nauseous dose ! "
And hung the basket again in the shade, in a cloud
of flies ;
"And there is a sauce to your dinner, king of
the crafty eyes ! "
Soon as the oven was open, the fish smelt excellent
In the shade, by the house of Rahero, down they
sat to their food,
And cleared the leaves 6 in silence, or uttered a jest
And raising the cocoa-nut bowls, buried their faces
But chiefly in silence they ate ; and soon as the
meal was done,
Rahero feigned to remember and measured the
hour by the sun,
And "Tamatea," quoth he, "it is time to be
jogging, my lad."
So Tamatea arose, doing ever the thing he was
And carelessly shouldered the basket, and kindrj
saluted his host ;
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 231
And again the way of his going was round by the
Long he went ; and at length was aware of a
And the stems and shadows of palms, and roofs of
There sate, in the door of his palace, the king on a
And aitos stood armed around, and the yottowas 7
sat at his feet.
But fear was a worm in his heart : fear darted
his eyes ;
And he probed men's faces for treasons and
pondered their speech for lies.
To him came Tamatea, the basket slung in his
And paid him the due obeisance standing as vassals
In silence hearkened the king, and closed the eyes
in his face,
Harbouring odious thoughts and the baseless fears
of the base ;
In silence accepted the gift and sent the giver
So Tdmatea departed, turning his back on the day.
And lo ! as the king sat brooding, a rumour rose
in the crowd ;
The yottowas nudged and whispered, the commons
murmured aloud ;
Tittering fell upon all at sight of the impudent
At the sight of a gift unroyal flung in the face of SL
And the face of the king turned white and red with
anger and shame
In their midst ; and the heart in his body was
water and then was flame ;
Till of a sudden, turning, he gripped an aito hard,
A youth that stood with his omare, 8 one of the daily
And spat in his ear a command, and pointed and
uttered a name,
And hid in the shade of the house his impotent
anger and shame.
Now Tamatea the fool was far on the homeward
The rising night in his face, behind him the dying
Rahero saw him go by, and the heart of Rahero
Devising shame to the king and nowise harm to
the lad ;
And all that dwelt by the way saw and saluted
For he had the face of a friend and the news of
the town to tell ;
And pleased with the notice of folk, and pleased
that his journey was done,
Tamatea drew homeward, turning his back to the
And now was the hour of the bath in Taiarapu ;
far and near
The lovely laughter of bathers rose and delighted
Night massed in the valleys ; the sun on the
Struck, end-long ; and above the clouds embatl
And glowed and gloomed on the heights ; and
heads ,of the palms were gems,
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 233
And far to the rising eve extended the shade of
their stems ;
And the shadow of Tamate"a hovered already at
And sudden the sound of one coming and running
light as the foam
Struck on his ear ; and he turned, and lo ! a man
on his track,
Girded and armed with an omare, following hard
at his back.
At a bound the man was upon him ; and, or ever
a word was said,
The loaded end of the omare fell and laid him dead.
THE VENGING OF TA*MATEA
Thus was Rahero's treason ; thus and no further it
The king sat safe in his place and a kindly fool
But the mother of Tamatea arose with death in
All night long, and the next, Taiarapu rang with
As when a babe in the wood turns with a chill of
And perceives nor home, nor friends, for the trees
have closed her about,
The mountain rings and her breast is torn with the
voice of despair :
So the lion-like woman idly wearied the air
For a while, and pierced men's hearing in vain,
and wounded their hearts.
But as when the weather changes at sea, in
And sudden the hurricane wrack unrolls up the
front of the sky,
At once the ship lies idle, the sails hang silent on
The breath of the wind that blew is blown out
like the flame of a lamp,
And the silent armies of death draw near with
inaudible tramp :
So sudden, the voice of her weeping ceased ; in
silence she rose
And passed from the house of her sorrow, a woman
clothed with repose,
Carrying death in her breast and sharpening death
with her hand.
Hither she went and thither in all the coasts of the
They tell that she feared not to slumber alone,
in the dead of night,
In accursed places ; beheld, unblenched, the
ribbon of light 9
Spin from temple to temple ; guided the perilous
Abhorred not the paths of the mountain and trod
the verge of the cliff ;
From end to end of the island, thought not the
But forth from king to king carried the tale of her
To king after king, as they sat in the palace-door,
Claiming kinship, declaiming verses, naming her
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 235
And the names of all of her fathers ; and still,
with a heart on the rack,
Jested to capture a hearing and laughed when they
jested back :
So would deceive them awhile, and change and
return in a breath,
And on all the men of Vaiau imprecate instant
And tempt her kings for Vaiau was a rich and
And flatter for who would attempt it but warriors
mighty of hand ?
And change in a breath again and rise in a strain
Invoking the beaten drums, beholding the fall of the
Calling the fowls of the air to come and feast on the
And they held the chin in silence, and heard her,
and shook the head ;
For they knew the men of Taiarapu famous in
battle and feast,
Marvellous eaters and smiters : the men of Vaiau
To the land of the Namunu-ura, 10 to Paea, at
length she came,
To men who were foes to the Tevas and hated their
race and name.
There was she well received, and spoke with Hiopa
the king. 11
And Hiopa listened, and weighed, and wisely
considered the thing.
" Here in the back of the isle we dwell in a sheltered
Quoth he to the woman, " in quiet, a weak and
But far in the teeth of the wind lofty Taiarapu lies ;
Strong blows the wind of the trade on its seaward
face, and cries
Aloud in the top of arduous mountains, and utters
In green continuous forests. Strong is the wind,
And fruitful and hardy the race, famous in battle
Marvellous eaters and smiters : the men of Vaiau
Now hearken to me, my daughter, and hear a
word of the wise :
How a strength goes linked with a weakness, two
by two, like the eyes.
They can wield the omare well and cast the javelin
Yet are they greedy and weak as the swine and
the children are.
Plant we, then, here at Paea, a garden of excellent
Plant we bananas and kava and taro, the king of
Let the pigs in Paea be tapu 12 and no man fish for
a year ;
And of all the meat in Tahiti gather we threefold
So shall the fame of our plenty fill the island,
At last, on the tongue of rumour, go where we
wish it to go.
Then shall the pigs of Taiarapu raise their snouts
in the ,air ;
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO
But we sit quiet and wait, as the fowler sits by the
And tranquilly fold our hands, till the pigs come
nosing the food :
But meanwhile build us a house of Trotea, the
Bind it with incombustible thongs, set a roof to the
Too strong for the hands of a man to dissever or
fire to consume ;
And there, when the pigs come trotting, there shall
the feast be spread,
There shall the eye of the morn enlighten the
So be it done ; for I have a heart that pities your
And Nateva and Namunu-ura are fire and water
All was done as he said, and the gardens prospered ;
The fame of their plenty went out, and word of it
came to Vaiau.
For the men of Namunu-ura sailed, to the windward
Lay in the offing by south where the towns of the
And cast overboard of their plenty ; and lo ! at the
The surf on all of the beaches tumbled treasures
In the salt of the sea, a harvest tossed with the
refluent foam ;
And the children gleaned it in playing, and ate
and carried it home ;
And the elders stared and debated, and wondered
and passed the jest,
But whenever a guest came by eagerly questioned
the guest ;
And little by little, from one to another, the word
went round :
" In all the borders of Paea the victual rots on the
And swine are plenty as rats. And now, when
they fare to the sea,
The men of the Namunu-ura glean from under the
And load the canoe to the gunwale with all that
is toothsome to eat ;
And all day long on the sea the jaws are crushing
The steersman eats at the helm, the rowers munch
at the oar,
And at length, when their bellies are full, overboard
with the store ! "
Now was the word made true, and soon as the bait
All the pigs of Taiarapu raised their snouts in the
Songs were recited, and kinship was counted, and
tales were told
How war had severed of late but peace had
cemented of old
The clans of the island. " To war/' said they,
" now set we an end,
And hie to the Namunu-ura even as a friend to a
So judged, and a day was named ; and soon as
the morning broke,
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 239
Canoes were thrust in the sea and the houses
emptied of folk
Strong blew the wind of the south, the wind that
gathers the clan ;
Along all the line of the reef the clamorous surges
And the clouds were piled on the top of the island
A mountain throned on a mountain. The fleet of
canoes swept by
In the midst, on the green lagoon, with a crew
released from care,
Sailing an even water, breathing a summer air,
Cheered by a cloudless sun ; and ever to left and
Bursting surge on the reef, drenching storms on the
So the folk of Vaiau sailed and were glad all day,
Coasting the palm-tree cape and crossing the
By all the towns of the Tevas ; and still as they
Boat would answer to boat with jest and laughter
And the people of all the towns trooped to the sides
of the sea
And gazed from under the hand or sprang aloft
on the tree,
Hailing and cheering. Time failed them for more
to do ;
The holiday village careened to the wind, and was
gone from view
Swift as a passing bird ; and ever as onward it bore,
Like the cry of the passing bird, bequeathed its
song to the shore
Desirable laughter of maids and the cry of delight
of the child.
And the gazer, left behind, stared at the wake and
By all the towns of the Tevas they went, and
The home of the chief, the place of muster in war :
The march of the lands of the clan, to the lands of
an alien folk.
And there, from the dusk of the shoreside palms,
a column of smoke
Mounted and wavered and died in the gold of the
" Paea ! " they cried. " It is Paea/' And so was
the voyage done.
In the early fall of the night, Hiopa came to the
And beheld and counted the comers, and lo, they
were forty score :
The pelting feet of the babes that ran already and
The clean-lipped smile of the boy, the slender
breasts of the maid,
And mighty limbs of women, stalwart mothers of
The sires stood forth unabashed ; but a little back
from his ken
Clustered the scarcely nubile, the lads and maids,
in a ring,
Fain of each other, afraid of themselves, aware
of the king
And aping behaviour, but clinging together with
hands and eyes,
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 241
With looks that were kind like kisses, and laughter
tender as sighs.
There, too, the grandsire stood, raising his silver
And the impotent hands of a suckling groped in his
The childhood of love, the pair well married, the
The tale of the generations repeated and ever
Hiopa beheld them together, all the ages of man,
And a moment shook in his purpose.
But these were the foes of his clan,
And he trod upon pity, and came, and civilly
greeted the king,
And gravely entreated Rahero ; and for all that
could fight or sing,
And claimed a name in the land, had fitting
phrases of praise ;
But with all who were well-descended he spoke of
the ancient days.
And " Tis true," said he, " that in Paea the victual
rots on the ground ;
But, friends, your number is many ; and pigs must
be hunted and found,
And the lads troop to the mountains to bring the
And around the bowls of the kava cluster the maids
of the town.
So, for to-night, sleep here ; but king, common,
To-morrow, in order due, shall sit with me in the
Sleepless the live-long night, Hiopa's followers
The pigs screamed and were slaughtered ; the
spars of the guest-house oiled,
The leaves spread on the floor. In many a moun-
The moon drew shadows of trees on the naked
bodies of men
Plucking and bearing fruits ; and in all the bounds
of the town
Red glowed the cocoa-nut fires, and were buried
and trodden down.
Thus did seven of the yottowas toil with their tale
of the clan,
But the eighth wrought with his lads, hid from the
sight of man.
In the deeps of the woods they laboured, piling
the fuel high
In fagots, the load of a man, fuel seasoned and dry,
Thirsty to seize upon fire and apt to blurt into
And now was the day of the feast. The forests,
as morning came,
Tossed in the wind, and the peaks quaked in the
blaze of the day
And the cocoa-nuts showered on the ground,
rebounding and rolling away :
A glorious morn for a feast, a famous wind for a fire.
To the hall of feasting Hiopa led them, mother and
And maid and babe in a tale, the whole of the
Smiling they came, garlanded green, not dreaming.
of wrong ;
THE SONG OF RAH^RO 243
And for every three, a pig, tenderly cooked in the
Waited ; and fei, the staff of life, heaped in a mound
For each where he sat ; for each, bananas roasted
Piled with a bountiful hand, as for horses hay and
Are stacked in a stable ; and fish, the food of
And plentiful vessels of sauce, and breadfruit gilt
in the fire ;
And kava was common as water. Feasts have
there been ere now,
And many, but never a feast like that of the folk
All day long they ate with the resolute greed of
And turned from the pigs to the fish, and again from
the fish to the fruits,
And emptied the vessels of sauce, and drank of the
kava deep ;
Till the young lay stupid as stones, and the
strongest nodded to sleep.
Sleep that was mighty as death and blind as a
Tethered them hand and foot ; and their souls were
drowned, and the light
Was cloaked from their eyes. Senseless together,
the old and the young,
The fighter deadly to smite and the prater cunning
The woman wedded and fruitful, inured to the
pangs of birth,
And the maid that knew not of kisses, blindly
sprawled on the earth.
From the hall Hiopa the king and his chiefs came
Already the sun hung low and enlightened the
peaks of the north ;
But the wind was stubborn to die and blew as it
blows at morn,
Showering the nuts in the dusk, and e'en as a banner
High on the peaks of the island, shattered the
And now at once, at a signal, a silent, emulous
Set hands to the work of death, hurrying to and fro,
Like ants, to furnish the fagots, building them
broad and low,
And piling them high and higher around the walls
of the hall.
Silence persisted within, for sleep lay heavy on all ;
But the mother of Tamate'a stood at Hiopa's side,
And shook for terror and joy like a girl that is a
Night fell on the toilers, and first Hiopa the wise
Made the round of the house, visiting all with his
And all was piled to the eaves, and fuel blockaded
the door ;
And within in the house beleaguered, slumbered
the forty score.
Then was an aito dispatched and came with fire in
And Hiopa took it." Within," said he, " is the
life of a land ;
And behold ! I breathe on the coal, I breathe on
the dales of the east,
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 245
And silence falls on forest and shore ; the voice
of the feast
Is quenched, and the smoke of cooking ; the roof-
tree decays and falls
On the empty lodge, and the winds subvert
Therewithal, to the fuel, he laid the glowing coal ;
And the redness ran in the mass and burrowed
within like a mole,
And copious smoke was conceived. But, as when
a dam is to burst,
The water lips it and crosses in silver trickles at
And then, of a sudden, whelms and bears it away
So now, in a moment, the flame sprang and towered
in the night,
And wrestled and roared in the wind, and high
over house and tree,
Stood, like a streaming torch, enlightening land
But the mother of Tamatea threw her arms abroad,
" Pyre of my son/' she shouted, " debited ven-
geance of God,
Late, late, I behold you, yet I behold you at last,
And glory, beholding ! For now are the days of
my agony past,
The lust that famished my soul now eats and drinks
And they that encompassed my son shrivel alive
in the fire.
Tenfold precious the vengeance that comes after
lingering years !
Ye quenched the voice of my singer ? hark,
your dying ears,
The song of the conflagration ! Ye left me a widow
Behold, the whole of your race consumes, sinew
And torturing flesh together : man, mother, and
Heaped in a common shambles ; and already,
borne by the trade,
The smoke of your dissolution darkens the stars
Thus she spoke, and her stature grew in the people's
Rahe"ro was there in the hall asleep ; beside him
Comely, a mirthful woman, one that delighted in
And a girl that was ripe for marriage, shy and sly
as a mouse ;
And a boy, a climber of trees : all the hopes of
Unwary, with open hands, he slept in the midst of
And dreamed that he heard a voice crying without,
Leaping blindly afoot like one from a dream that
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 247
A hellish glow and clouds were about him ; it
roared in his ears
Like the sound of the cataract fall that plunges
sudden and steep ;
And Rahero swayed as he stood, and his reason
was still asleep.
Now the flame struck hard on the house, wind-
wielded, a fracturing blow,
And the end of the roof was burst and fell on the
sleepers below ;
And the lofty hall, and the feast, and the prostrate
bodies of folk,
Shone red in his eyes a moment, and then were
swallowed of smoke.
In the mind of Rahero clearness came, and he
opened his throat ;
And as when a squall comes sudden, the straining
sail of a boat
Thunders aloud and bursts, so thundered the
voice of the man.
" The wind and the rain ! " he shouted, the
mustering word of the clan, 14
And " Up ! " and " to arms, men of Vaiau ! "
But silence replied,
Or only the voice of the gusts of the fire, and
Rahero stooped and groped. He handled his
But the fumes of the fire and the kava had quenched
the life of their mind,
And they lay like pillars prone ; and his hand
encountered the boy,
And there sprang in the gloom of his soul a sudden
lightning of joy
" Him can I save ! " he thought, " if I were speedy
And he loosened the cloth from his loins, and
swaddled the child in the stuff ;
And about the strength of his neck he knotted the
There where the roof had fallen, it roared like the
mouth of hell.
Thither Rahero went, stumbling on senseless folk,
And grappled a post of the house, and began to
climb in the smoke :
The last alive of Vaiau ; and the son borne by the
The post glowed in the grain with ulcers of eating
And the fire bit to the blood and mangled his
hands and thighs ;
And the fumes sang in his head like wine and stung
in his eyes ;
And still he climbed, and came to the top, the place
And thrust a hand through the flame, and clambered
alive on the roof.
But even as he did so, the wind, in a garment of
flames and pain,
Wrapped him from head to heel ; and the waist-
cloth parted in twain ;
And the living fruit of his loins dropped in the
About the blazing feast-house clustered the eyes
of the foe,
Watching, hand upon weapon, lest ever a SOT
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 249
Shading the brow from the glare, straining the
neck to see.
Only, to leeward, the flames in the wind swept far
And the forest sputtered on fire ; and there might
no man abide.
Thither Rahero crept, and dropped from the .
And crouching low to the ground, hi a treble
covert of leaves
And fire and volleying smoke, ran for the life of
Unseen ; and behind him under a furnace of
Cairned with a wonder of flame, and blotting the
night with smoke,
Blazed and were smelted together the bones of all
He fled unguided at first ; but hearing the breakers
Thitherward shaped his way, and came at length
to the shore.
Sound-limbed he was : dry-eyed ; but smarted in
every part ;
And the mighty cage of his ribs heaved on his
With sorrow and rage. And " Fools ! " he cried,
" fools of Vaiau,
Heads of swine gluttons Alas ! and where are
they now ?
Those that I played with, those that nursed me,
those that I nursed ?
God, and I outliving them ! I, the least and the
I, that thought myself crafty, snared by this he
In the tortures of hell and desolate, stripped of all
that was mine :
All ! my friends and my fathers the silver heads
.That trooped to the council, the children that ran
to the open door
Crying with innocent voices and clasping a father's
And mine, my wife my daughter my sturdy
climber of trees,
Ah, never to climb again ! "
Thus in the dusk of the night.
(For clouds rolled in the sky and the moon was
swallowed from sight,)
Pacing and gnawing his fists, Rahero raged by the
Vengeance : that must be his. But much was to
do before ;
And first a single life to be snatched from a deadly
A life, the root of revenge, surviving plant of the
And next the race to be raised anew, and the lands
of the clan
Repeopled. So Rahero designed, a prudent man
Even in wrath, and turned for the means of revenge
and escape :
A boat to be seized by stealth, a wife to be taken
Still was the dark lagoon ; beyond on the coral
THE SONG OF RAH&RO 251
He saw the breakers shine, he heard them bellow
Alone, on the top of the reef, a man with a flaming
Walked, gazing and pausing, a fish-spear poised
in his hand.
The foam boiled to his calf when the mightier
And the torch shed in the wind scattering tufts
Afar on the dark lagoon a canoe lay idly at wait :
A figure dimly guiding it : surely the fisherman's
Rahero saw and he smiled. He straightened his
mighty thews :
Naked, with never a weapon, and covered with
scorch and bruise,
He straightened his arms, he filled
body with breath,
And, strong as the wind in his manh(
fisher to death.
Silent he entered the water, and silently swam,
There where the fisher walked, holding on high the
Loud on the pier of the reef volleyed the breach
of the sea ;
And hard at the back of the man, Rahero crept
to his knee
On the coral, and suddenly sprang and seized him,
the elder hand
Clutching the joint of his throat, the other snatching
Ere it had time to fall, and holding it steady
Strong was the fisher, brave, and swift of mind
and of eye
Strongly he threw in the clutch ; but Rahero
resisted the strain,
And jerked, and the spine of life snapped with a
crack in twain,
And the man came slack in his hands and tumbled
a lump at his feet.
One moment : and there, on the reef, where the
breakers whitened and beat,
Rahero was standing alone, glowing and scorched
A victor unknown of any, raising the torch in the
But once he drank of his breath, and instantly set
him to fish
Like a man intent upon supper at home and a
For what should the woman have seen ? A man
with a torch and then
A moment's blur of the eyes and a man with a
And the torch had scarcely been shaken. " Ah,
surely/ 1 Rahero said,
" She will deem it a trick of the eyes, a fancy
born in the head ;
But time must be given the fool to nourish a fool's
So for a while, a sedulous fisher, he walked the reef,
Pausing at times and gazing, striking at times
with the spear :
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 253
Lastly, uttered the call ; and even as the boat
Like a man that was done with its use, tossed the
torch in the sea.
Lightly he leaped on the boat beside the woman ;
Lightly addressed him, and yielded the paddle
and place to sit ;
For now the torch was extinguished the night was
black as the pit.
Rahero set him to row, never a word he spoke,
And the boat sang in the water urged by his
" What ails you ? " the woman asked, " and
why did you drop the brand ?
We have only to kindle another as soon as we
come to land."
Never a word Rahe"ro replied, but urged the
And a chill fell on the woman. " Atta ! speak !
is it you ?
Speak ! Why are you silent ? Why do you bend
Wherefore steer to the seaward ? " thus she panted
Never a word from the oarsman, toiling there in
the dark ;
But right for a gate of the reef he silently headed
And wielding the single paddle with passionate
sweep on sweep,
Drove her, the little fitted, forth on the open deep.
And fear, there where she sat, froze the woman
to stone :
Not fear of the crazy boat and the weltering deep
But a keener fear of the night, the dark, and the
And the thing that drove the canoe with more
then a mortal's power
And more than a mortal's boldness. For much
she knew of the dead
That haunt and fish upon reefs, toiling, like men,
And traffic with human fishers, or slay them and
take their ware,
Till the hour when the star of the dead 15 goes
down, and the morning air
Blows, and the cocks are singing on shore. And
surely she knew
The speechless thing at her side belonged to the
All night from the south ; all night, Rahero
contended and kept
The prow to the cresting sea ; and, silent as though
The woman huddled and quaked. And now was
the peep of day.
High and long on their left the mountainous
island lay ;
And over the peaks of Taiarapu arrows of sunlight
On shore the birds were beginning to sing : the
Of the buried had long ago returned to the covered
And here on the sea, the woman, waxing suddenly
THE SONG OF RAHfiRO 255
Turned her swiftly about and looked in the face
of the man.
And sure he was none that she knew, none of her
country or clan :
A stranger, mother-naked, and marred with the
marks of fire,
But comely and great of stature, a man to obey
And Rahero regarded her also, fixed, with a frowning
Judging the woman's fitness to mother a warlike
Broad of shoulder, ample of girdle, long in the thigh,
Deep of bosom she was, and bravely supported his
" Woman," said he, " last night the men of your
Man, woman, and maid, smothered my race in
It was done like cowards ; and I, a mighty man of
Escaped, a single life ; and now to the empty lands
And smokeless hearths of my people, sail, with
Before your mother was born, the die of to-day
And you selected : your husband, vainly striving,
Broken between these hands : yourself to be
severed from all,
The places, the people, you love home, kindred,
And to dwell in a desert and bear the babes of a
THE FEAST OF FAMINE
THE PRIEST'S VIGIL
IN all the land of the tribe was neither fish nor fruit,
And the deepest pit of popoi stood empty to the
The clans upon the left and the clans upon the
Now oiled their carven maces and scoured their
daggers bright ;
They gat them to the thicket, to the deepest of the
And lay with sleepless eyes in the deadly ambus-
And oft in the starry even the song of mourning
What time the oven smoked in the country of
their foes ;
For oft to loving hearts, and waiting ears and sight,
The lads that went to forage returned not with the
Now first the children sickened, and then the
And the great arms of the warrior no more for war
Hushed was the deep drum, discarded was the
And those that met the priest now glanced at him
p. 259 !
r ere ruby-
The priest was a man of years, his eyes were
He neither feared the dark nor the terrors of the
He knew the songs of races, the names of ancient
And the beard upon his bosom would have bought
the chief's estate.
He dwelt in a high-built lodge, hard by the roaring
Raised on a noble terrace and with tikis 3 at the door.
Within it was full of riches, for he served his nation
And full of the sound of breakers, like the hollow
of a shell.
For weeks he let them perish, gave never a helping
But sat on his oiled platform to commune with the
But sat on his high terrace, with the tikis by his
And stared on the blue ocean, like a parrot, ruby-
Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the mountain
Out on the round of the sea the gems of the morning
Up from the round of the sea the streamers of the
But down in the depths of the valley the day was
In the blue of the woody twilight burned red the
And the women and men of the clan went forth to
bathe, in the dusk,
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 261
A word began to go round, a word, a whisper, a
Hope that leaped in the bosom, fear that knocked
on the heart :
" See, the priest is not risen look, for his door is
" He is going to name the victims ; he is going to
help us at last/'
Thrice rose the sun to noon ; and ever, like one
of the dead,
The priest lay still in his house with the roar of the
sea in his head ;
There was never a foot on the floor, there was never
a whisper of speech ;
Only the leering tikis stared on the blinding beach.
Again were the mountains fired, again the morning
And all the houses lay still, but the house of the
Close in their covering roofs lay and trembled the
But the aged, red-eyed priest ran forth like a
And the village panted to see him in the jewels of
In the silver beards of the old and the hair of
Frenzy shook in his limbs, frenzy shone in his eyes,
And still and again as he ran, the valley rang with
All day long in the land, by cliff and thicket and
He ran his lunatic rounds, and howled for the
flesh of men ;
All day long he ate not, nor ever drank of
And all day long in their houses the people listened
All day long in their houses they listened with bated
And never a soul went forth, for the sight of the
priest was death.
Three were the days of his running, as the gods
appointed of yore,
Two the nights of his sleeping alone in the place
of gore :
The drunken slumber of frenzy twice he drank to
On the sacred stones of the High-place under the
sacred trees ;
With a lamp at his ashen head he lay in the place
of the feast,
And the sacred leaves of the banyan rustled around
Last, when the stated even fell upon terrace and
And the shade of the lofty island lay leagues away
And all the valleys of verdure were heavy with
manna and musk,
The wreck of the red-eyed priest came gasping
home in the dusk.
He reeled across the village, he staggered along the
And between the leering tikis crept groping through
There went a stir through the lodges, the voice of
speech awoke ;
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 263
Once more from the builded platforms arose the
And those who were mighty in war, and those
renowned for an art
Sat in their stated seats and talked of the morrow
Hark ! away in the woods for the ears of love
Stealthily, quietly touched, the note of the one-
stringed harp. 4
In the lighted house of her father, why should
Taheia start ?
Taheia heavy of hair, Taheia tender of heart,
Taheia the well-descended, a bountiful dealer in
Nimble of foot like the deer, and kind of eye like
the dove ?
Sly and shy as a cat, with never a change of face,
Taheia slips to the door, like one that would breathe
a space ;
Saunters and pauses, and looks at the stars, and
lists to the seas ;
Then sudden and swift as a cat, she plunges under
Swift as a cat she runs, with her garment gathered
Leaping, nimble of foot, running, certain of eye ;
And ever to guide her way over the smooth and
Ever nearer and nearer the note of the one-stringed
Till at length, in a glade of the wood, with a naked
The sound of the harp thrown down, and she in
the arms of her love.
" Rua," " Taheia," they cry" my heart, my
soul, and my eyes,"
And clasp and sunder and kiss, with lovely laughter
" Rua ! " " Taheia, my love/'" Rua, star of
Clasp me, hold me, and love me, single spring of
And Rua folded her close, he folded her near and
The living knit to the living, and sang the lover's
Night, night it is, night upon the palms.
Night, night it is, the land wind has blown.
Starry, starry night, over deep and height ;
Love, love in the valley, love all alone.
" Taheia, heavy of hair, a foolish thing have we
To bind what gods have sundered unkindly into
Why should a lowly lover have touched Taheia's
Taheia the well-descended, and Rua child of the
" On high with the haka-ikis my father sits in
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 265
Ten times fifty kinsmen salute him in the gate ; .
Round all his martial body, and in bands across his
The marks of the tattooer proclaim his lofty place.
I too, in the hands of the cunning, in the sacred
cabin of palm, 5
Have shrunk like the mimosa, and bleated like the
Round half my tender body that none shall clasp
For a crest and a fair adornment go dainty lines
Love, love, beloved Rua, love levels all degrees,
And the well-tattooed Taheia clings panting to
" Taheia, song of the morning, how long is the
longest love ?
A cry, a clasp of the hands, a star that falls from
Ever at morn in the blue, and at night when all
Ever it skulks and trembles with the hunter, Death,
on its track.
Hear me, Taheia, death ! For to-morrow the
priest shall awake,
And the names be named of the victims to bleed for
the nation's sake ;
And first of the numbered many that shall be
slain ere noon,
Rua the child of the dirt, Rua the kinless loon.
For him shall the drum be beat, for him be raised
For him to the sacred High-place the chanting
For him the oven smoke as for a speechless beast,
And the sire of my Taheia come greedy to the
" Rua, be silent, spare me. Taheia closes her ears.
Pity my yearning heart, pity my girlish years !
Flee from the cruel hands, flee from the knife and
Lie hid in the deeps of the woods, Rua, sire of my
soul ! "
" Whither to flee, Taheia, whither in all of the land ?
The fires of the bloody kitchen are kindled on every
On every hand in the isle a hungry whetting of
Eyes in the trees above, arms in the brush beneath.
Patience to lie in wait, cunning to follow the
Abroad the foes I have fought, and at home the
friends of my youth."
" Love, love, beloved Rua, love has a clearer eye,
Hence from the arms of love you go not forth to
There, where the broken mountain drops sheer
into the glen,
There shall you find a hold from the boldest hunter
of men ;
There, in the deep recess, where the sun falls only
And only once in the night enters the light of the
Nor ever a sound but of birds, or the rain when it
falls with a shout ;
For death and the fear of death beleaguer the valley
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 267
Tapu it is, but the gods will surely pardon despair ;
Tapu, but what of that ? If Rua can only dare.
Tapu and tapu and tapu, I know they are every
one right ;
But the god of every tapu is not always quick to
Lie secret there, my Rua, in the arms of awful gods,
Sleep in the shade of the trees on the couch of the
Sleep and dream of Taheia, Taheia will wake for
And whenever the land-wind blows and the woods
are heavy with dew,
Alone through the horror of night, 6 with food for
the soul of her love.
Taheia the undissuaded will hurry true as the
" Taheia, the pit of the night crawls with
Spirits of ultimate air and the evil souls of things ;
The souls of the dead, the stranglers, that perch
in the trees of the wood,
Waiters for all things human, haters of evil and
" Rua, behold me, kiss me, look in my eyes and
Are these the eyes of a maid that would leave her
lover in need ?
Brave in the eye of day, my father ruled in the
The child of his loins, Taheia, will play the man in
So it was spoken, and so agreed, and Taheia arose
And smiled in the stars and was gone, swift as the
swallow goes ;
And Rua stood on the hill, and sighed, and followed
And there were the lodges below, each with its
door alight ;
From folk that sat on the terrace and drew out the
Sudden crowings of laughter, monotonous drone of
The quiet passage of souls over his head in the
trees ; 7
And from all around the haven the crumbling
thunder of seas.
" Farewell, my home," said Rua. " Farewell, O
quiet seat !
To-morrow in all your valleys the drum of death
Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the naked
And all the village was stirring, for now was the
priest to speak.
Forth on his terrace he came, and sat with the
chief in talk ;
His lips were blackened with fever, his cheeks wei
whiter than chalk ;
Fever clutched at his hands, fever nodded his head,
But, quiet and steady and cruel, his eyes shone
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 269
In the earliest rays of the sun the chief rose up
Braves were summoned, and drummers ; mes-
sengers came and went ;
Braves ran to their lodges, weapons were snatched
from the wall ;
The commons herded together, and fear was over
Festival dresses they wore, but the tongue was dry
in their mouth,
And the blinking eyes in their faces skirted from
north to south.
Now to the sacred enclosure gathered the greatest
And from under the shade of the banyan arose the
voice of the feast,
The frenzied roll of the drum, and a swift, mono-
Higher the sun swam up ; the trade-wind level and
Awoke in the tops of the palms and rattled the
And over the garlanded heads and shining robes of
Tossed the spiders of shadow, scattered the jewels
Forty the tale of the drums, and the forty throbbed
like one ;
A thousand hearts in the crowd, and the even
chorus of song,
Swift as the feet of a runner, trampled a thousand
And the old men leered at the ovens and licked
their lips for the food ;
And the women stared at the lads, and laughed
and looked to the wood.
As when the sweltering baker, at night, when the
city is dead,
Alone in the trough of labour treads and fashions
the bread ;
So in the heat, and the reek, and the touch of
woman and man,
The naked spirit of evil kneaded the hearts of the
Now cold was at many a heart, and shaking in
many a seat ;
For there were the empty baskets, but who was to
furnish the meat ?
For here was the nation assembled, and there were
the ovens anigh,
And out of a thousand singers nine were numbered
Till, of a sudden, a shock, a mace in the air, a yell,
And, struck in the edge of the crowd, the first of
the victims fell. 8
Terror and horrible glee divided the shrinking clan,
Terror of what was to follow, glee for a diet of man.
Frenzy hurried the chaunt, frenzy rattled the
The nobles, high on the terrace, greedily mouthed
their thumbs ;
And once and again and again, in the ignorant
Once and again and again descended the murderous
Now smoked the oven, and now, with the cutting
lip of a shell,
A butcher of ninety winters jointed the bodies well.
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 271
Unto the carven lodge, silent, in order due,
The grandees of the nation one after one with-
And a line of laden bearers brought to the terrace
On poles across their shoulders, the last reserve of
The victims bled for the nobles in the old appointed
The fruit was spread for the commons, for all should
And now was the kava brewed, and now the cocoa
Now was the hour of the dance for child and woman
and man ;
And mirth was in every heart, and a garland on
And all was well with the living and well with the
eight who were dead.
Only the chiefs and the priest talked and consulted
a while : "
" To-morrow/' they said, and "
nodded and seemed to smile
" Rua the child of dirt, the creaturi pi coi
Rua must die to-morrow, since Ruaus gone
Out of the groves of the valley,
Sheer from the trees of the valley the face of the
mountain sprang ;
Sheer and bare it rose, unscalable barricade,
Beaten and blown against by the generous draught
of the trade.
Dawn on its fluted brow painted rainbow light,
Close on its pinnacled crown trembled the stars
Here and there in a cleft clustered contorted trees,
Or the silver beard of a stream hung and swung
in the breeze,
High overhead, with a cry, the torrents leaped for
And silently sprinkled below in thin perennial
Dark in the staring noon, dark was Rua's ravine,
Damp and cold was the air, and the face of the
cliffs was green.
Here, in the rocky pit, accursed already of old,
On a stone in the midst of a river, Rua sat and was
" Valley of mid-day shadows, valley of silent falls,"
Rua sang, and his voice went hollow about the
" Valley of shadow and rock, a doleful prison to
What is the life you can give to a child of the sun
and the sea ? "
And Rua arose and came to the open mouth of the
Whence he beheld the woods, and the sea, and
houses of men.
Wide blew the riotous trade, and smelt in his
nostrils good ;
It bowed the boats on the bay, and tore and divided
the wood ;
It smote and sundered the groves as Moses smote
with the rod,
And the streamers of all the trees blew like banners
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 273
And ever and on, in a lull, the trade-wind brought
A far-off patter of drums and a far-off whisper of
Swift as the swallow's wings, the diligent hands
on the drum
Fluttered and hurried and throbbed. " Ah, woe
that I hear you come,"
Rua cried in his grief, " a sorrowful sound to me,
Mounting far and faint from the resonant shore
of the sea 1
Woe in the song ! for the grave breathes in the
And I hear in the tramp of the drums the beat of
the heart of death.
Home of my youth ! no more, through all the
length of the years,
No more to the place of the echoes of early laughter
No more shall Rua return ; no more as the evening
To crowded eyes of welcome, to the reaching hands
All day long from the High-place the drums and
the singing came,
And the even fell, and the sun went down, a wheel
of flame ;
And night came gleaning the shadows and hushing
the sounds of the wood ;
And silence slept on all, where Rua sorrowed and
But still from the shore of the bay the sound of the
And still the crowd in the High-place danced and
shouted and sang.
Now over all the isle terror was breathed abroad
Of shadowy hands from the trees and shadowy
snares in the sod ;
And before the nostrils of night, the shuddering
hunter of men
Hurried, with beard on shoulder, back to his lighted
" Taheia, here to my side ! " " Rua, my Rua,
you ! "
And cold from the clutch of terror, cold with the
damp of the dew,
Taheia, heavy of hair, leaped through the dark to
his arms ;
Taheia leaped to his clasp, and was folded in from
" Rua, beloved, here, see what your love has
Coming alas ! returning swift as the shuttle of
Returning, alas ! for to-night, with the beaten drum
and the voice,
In the shine of many torches must the sleepless clan
And Taheia the well-descended, the daughter of
chief and priest,
Taheia must sit in her place in the crowded bench
of the feast."
So it was spoken ; and she, girding her garment
Fled and was swallowed of woods, swift as the sight
of an eye.
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 275
Night over isle and sea rolled her curtain of stars,
Then a trouble awoke in the air, the east was
banded with bars ;
Dawn as yellow as sulphur leaped on the mountain
Dawn, in the deepest glen, fell a wonder of light ;
High and clear stood the palms in the eye of the
And lo ! from the sides of the sea the broken sound
of the feast !
As, when in days of summer, through open windows,
Swift as a breeze and loud as a trump goes by,
But when frosts in the field have pinched the
Blindly noses and buzzes and hums in the firelit
So the sound of the feast gallantly trampled at
So it staggered and drooped, and droned in the
It chanced that as Rua sat in the valley of silent
He heard a calling of doves from high on the cliffy
Fire had fashioned of yore, and time had broken,
the rocks ;
There were rooting crannies for trees and nesting-
places for flocks ;
And he saw on the top of the cliffs, looking up from
the pit of the shade,
A flicker of wings and sunshine, and trees that
swung in the trade.
" The trees swing in the trade," quoth Rua, doubt-
ful of words,
" And the sun stares from the sky, but what should
trouble the birds ? "
Up from the shade he gazed, where high the parapet
And he was aware of a ledge and of things that
" What manner of things are these ? Are they
spirits abroad by day ?
Or the foes of my clan that are come, bringing
death by a perilous way ? "
The valley was gouged like a vessel, and round like
the vessel's lip,
With a cape of the side of the hill thrust forth like
the bows of a ship.
On the top of the face of the cape a volley of sun
And the cape overhung like a chin a gulf of sunless
" Silence, heart ! What is that ? that, which
flickered and shone,
Into the sun for an instant, and in an instant gone ?
Was it a warrior's plume, a warrior's girdle of hair ?
Swung in the loop of a rope, is he making a bridge
of the air ? "
Once and again Rua saw, in the trenchant edge
of the sky,
The giddy conjuring done. And then, in the blink
of an eye,
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 277
A scream caught in with the breath, a whirling
packet of limbs,
A lump that dived in the gulf, more swift than a
dolphin swims ;
And there was a lump at his feet, and eyes were
alive in the lump
Sick was the soul of Rua, ambushed close in a
Sick of soul he drew near, making his courage
And he looked in the face of the thing, and the life
of the thing went out.
And he gazed on the tattooed limbs, and, behold,
he knew the man :
Hoka, a chief of the Vais, the truclulent foe of his
Hoka a moment since that stepped in the loop of the
Filled with the lust of war, and alive with courage
Again to the giddy cornice Rua lifted his eyes,
And again beheld men passing in the armpit of the
" Foes of my race ! " cried Rua, " the mouth of
Rua is true :
Never a shark in the deep is nobler of soul than
There was never a nobler foray, never a bolder
Never a dizzier path was trod by the children of
And Rua, your evil-dealer through all the days of
Counts it honour to hate you, honour to fall by
And Rua straightened his back. " O Vais, a
scheme for a scheme ! "
Cried Rua and turned and descended the turbulent
stair of the stream,
Leaping from rock to rock as the water-wagtail at
Flits through resonant valleys and skims by
boulder and foam.
And Rua burst from the glen and leaped on the
shore of the brook,
And straight for the roofs of the clan his vigorous
way he took.
Swift were the heels of his flight, and loud behind
as he went
Rattled the leaping stones on the line of his long
And ever he thought as he ran, and caught at his
" O the fool of a Rua, Rua that runs to his death !
But the right is the right," thought Rua, and ran
like the wind on the foam,
" The right is the right for ever, and home for ever
For what though the oven smoke ? And what
though I die ere morn ?
There was I nourished and tended, and there was
Noon was high on the High-place, the second noon
of the feast ;
And heat and shameful slumber weighed on people
and priest ;
And the heart drudged slow in bodies heavy with
monstrous meals ;
And the senseless limbs were scattered abroad like
spokes > of wheels ;
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 279
And crapulous women sat and stared at the stones
With a bestial droop of the lip and a swinish
rheum in the eye.
As about the dome of the bees in the time for the
drones to fall,
The dead and the maimed are scattered, and lie,
and stagger, and crawl ;
So on the grades of the terrace, in the ardent eye
of the day,
The half-awake and the sleepers clustered and
crawled and lay ;
And loud as the dome of the bees, in the time of a
A horror of many insects hung in the air and
Rua looked and wondered ; he said to himself in
his heart :
" Poor are the pleasures of life, and death is the
But lo ! on the higher benches a cluster of tranquil
Sat by themselves, nor raised their serious eyes,
nor spoke :
Women with robes unruffled and garlands duly
Gazing far from the feast with faces of people
And quiet amongst the quiet, and fairer than all
Taheia, the well-descended, Taheia, heavy of hair.
And the soul of Rua awoke, courage enlightened
And he uttered a summoning shout and called on
the clan to rise.
Over against him at once, in the spotted shade of
Owlish and blinking creatures scrambled to hands
and knees ;
On the grades of the sacred terrace, the driveller
woke to fear,
And the hand of the ham-drooped warrior
brandished a wavering spear.
And Rua folded his arms, and scorn discovered his
Above the war-crowd gibbered, and Rua stood
Thick, like leaves in the autumn, faint, like April
Missiles from tremulous hands quivered around
his feet ;
And Taheia leaped from her place ; and the priest,
Ran to the front of the terrace, and brandished his
arms, and cried :
" Hold, O fools, he brings tidings ! " and " Hold,
'tis the love of my heart ! "
Till lo ! in front of the terrace, Rua pierced with a
Taheia cherished his head, and the aged priest
And gazed with eyes of ruby at Rua's darkening
" Taheia, here is the end, I die a death for a man.
I have given the lif e of my soul to save an unsavable
See them, the drooping of hams ! behold me the
blinking crew :
THE FEAST OF FAMINE 281
Fifty spears they cast, and one of fifty true !
And you, O priest, the foreteller, foretell for yourself
if you can,
Foretell the hour of the day when the Vais shall
burst on your clan !
By the head of the tapu cleft, with death and fire
in their hand,
Thick and silent like ants, the warriors swarm
in the land."
And they tell that when next the sun had climbed
to the noonday skies,
It shone on the smoke of feasting in the country of
A LEGEND OF THE WEST HIGHLANDS
THIS is the tale of the man
Who heard a word in the night
In the land of the heathery hills,
In the days of the feud and the .fight.
By the sides of the rainy sea,
Where never a stranger came,
On the awful lips of the dead,
He heard the outlandish name.
It sang in his sleeping ears,
It hummed in his waking head :
The name Ticonderoga,
The utterance of the dead.
THE SAYING OF THE NAME
On the loch-sides of Appin,
When the mist blew from the sea,
A Stewart stood with a Cameron :
An angry man was he.
The blood beat in his ears,
The blood ran hot to his head,
The mist blew from the sea,
And there was the Cameron dead.
" O, what have I done to my friend,
O, what have I done to mysel',
That he should be cold and dead,
And I in the danger of all ?
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 gunlocks
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. 1
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 couldnae 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 teU me what it is ? ''
With many a man he counselled
Of high and low degree,
With the herdsmen 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, 2
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 Hfe,
When the clansmen shout for battle
And the war-swords clash in strife ?
I cannae joy at feast,
I cannae sleep in bed,
For the wonder of the word
Aiid the warning of the dead.
It sings in my sleeping ears,
It hums hi 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. 3
" Many a name have I heard," he thougnt,
" 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
The silent foot in the
In a land of a strange, youlrlumdish
That was hard to befund*' "
It fell about the gloamil
The general stood withN^is
He stood and he looked east^SffcTwest
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 waterside
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 waterside.
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.
0, 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
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 feh 1 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 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.
HEATHER ALE 299
" 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
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only
They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of
But 'twas only with the peep of light we saw how
ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a
And we gave her the maintops'!, and stood by to
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
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
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
longshore home ;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys
volleyed out ;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel
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
And the house above the coastguard's was the
house where I was born
O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces
My mother's silver spectacles, my father's silver
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon
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 ;
CHRISTMAS AT SEA 305
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed
They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began
" All hands to loose topgallant sails/' I heard the
" 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
As the winter's day was ending, in the entry of the
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below
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
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks
were growing old.
NOTES TO THE SONG OF RAHfiRO
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 i, page 224. " The alto," 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 advance-
ment 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 225, et. seq. " 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 227. " Covered an oven." The cooking fire is
made in a hole in the ground, and is then buried.
Note 4, page 227. " 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
Note 5, page 229. " Hook " of mother-of-pearl. Bright-
hook fishing, and that with the spear, appear to be the
favourite native methods.
Note 6, page 230. " Leaves," the plates of Tahiti.
Note 7, page 230. " 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 242.
Note 8, page 232. " Omare," pronounced as a dactyl. A
loaded quarter-staff, one of the two favourite weapons of the
Tahitian brave : the javelin, or casting spear, was the other.
Note 9, page 234. " 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
Note 10, page 235. " Namunu-ura." The complete name is
Namunu-ura te aropa. Why it should be pronounced Namunu,
dactyllically, 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 organisa-
tion must have been very weak. There is no particular
mention of Tamat6a's mother going to Papara, to the heacf
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
Note ii, page 235. " 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 236. " 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 243. " 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 diffi-
culties 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 247. " The mustering word of the clan."
Te va te va,
Teva te matai !
Teva the wind,
Teva the rain !
Note 15, page 254. Note 16, page 29. " 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 understate 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 ;
3 io NOTES
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 i, page 259. " Pit of popoi." Where the bread-fruit
was stored for preservation.
Note 2, page 260. " Ruby-red." The priest's eyes were
probably red from the abuse of kava. His beard (page 33)
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 260. " Tikis" The tiki is an ugly image hewn
out of wood or stone.
Note 4, page 263. " The one-stringed harp." Usually em-
ployed for serenades.
Note 5, page 265. " 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 267. " 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 268. " The quiet passage of souls." So, I am
told, the natives explain the sound of a little wind passing
Note 8, page 269. " 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 a 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 pre-
ferred 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 i, page 287. Mr. Nutt reminds me it was " by my
sword and Ben Cruachan " the Cameron swore.
Note 2, page 290. " A periwig' d lord of London." The first
Note 3, page 291. "Cathay." There must be some omission
in General Stewart's charming History of the Highland
Regiments, a book that might well be republished and con-
tinued ; or it scarce appears how our friend could have got to
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 Pizts, 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.
INDEX OF FIRST LINES
A BIRDIE with a yellow bill 47
A child should always say what's true 29
A lover of the moorland bare 102
A mile an' a bittock, a mile or twa 142
A naked house, a naked moor 99
A picture-frame for you to fill 102
All night long, and every night 28
All round the house is the jet-black night 53
All the names I know from nurse 72
As the single pang of the blow, when the metal is mingled
At evening when the lamp is lit 62
Berried brake and reedy island 180
Birds all the sunny day 70
Blows the wind to-day, and the sun and the rain are flying 214
Bright is the ring of words 152
Bring the comb and play upon it ! 39
By Lyne and Tyne, by Thames and Tees 166
Chief of our aunts not only I 82
Children, you are very little 43
Come up here, O dusty feet ! 49
Dark brown is the river 34
Dear Andrew, with the brindled hair 107
Dear Thamson class, whaure'er I gang 154
Dear Uncle Jim, this garden ground 7 6
Do you remember can we e'er forget ? 198
Down by a shining water well 5 8
314 INDEX OF FIRST LINES
Even in the bluest noonday of July 105
Every night my prayers I say 37
Far from the loud sea beaches 100
Far 'yont amang the years to be 137
Farewell, fair day and fading light ! 1 88
Faster than fairies, faster than witches 49
For love of lovely words, and for the sake 126
Forth from her land to mine she goes 194
Frae nirly, nippin', Eas'lan' breeze 138
Friend, in my mountain-side demesne 101
From breakfast on through all the day 36
From the bonny bells of heather 297
Give to me the life I love 173
Go, little book, and wish to all 95
God, if this were enough 188
Great is the sun, and wide he goes 72
He hears with gladdened heart the thunder 187
Here all is sunny, and when the truant gull 127
Home no more home to me, whither must I wander ? 184
How do you like to go up in a swing 47
am a kind of farthing dip 124
have a little shadow that goes in and out with me 36
have trod the upward and the downward slope 187
heard the pulse of the besieging sea 200
knew a silver head was bright beyond compare 195
I knew thee strong and quiet like the hills 186
I know not how it is with you 179
I read, dear friend, in your dear face 114
I saw you toss the kites on high 41
I should like to rise and go 31
I sit and wait a pair of oars 106
I will make you brooches and toys for your delight 179
I woke before the morning, I was happy all the day 38
If I have faltered more or less 115
INDEX OF FIRST LINES 315
If two may read aright 81
In all the grove, nor stream nor bird 206
In all the land of the tribe was neither fish nor fruit 259
In ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt 108
In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand 175
In mony a foreign pairt I've been 159
In rigorous hours, when down the iron lane 190
In the beloved hour that ushers day 185
In the highlands, in the country places 183
In the other gardens 75
In winter I get up at night 27
It fell in the days of old, as the men of Taidrapu tell 223
It is not yours, O mother, to complain 119
It is the season now to go 97
It is very nice to think 27
It's an owercome sooth for age and youth 169
It's rainin'. Weet's the gairden sod 149
It's strange that God should fash to frame 153
Last to the chamber where I lie 53
Late hi the nicht in bed I lay 162
Late lies the wintry sun a-bed 50
Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful dreams 178
Let now your soul in this substantial world 211
Let us, who part like brothers, part like bards 202
Little Indian, Sioux or Crow 43
Long must elapse ere you behold again 196
My bed is like a little boat 46
My body which my dungeon is 128
My bonny man, the warld, it's true 153
My house, I say. But hark to the sunny doves 127
My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky 45
Not yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert 118
O, I wad like to ken to the beggar-wife says I 148
O it's I that am the captain of a tidy little ship 58
3i6 INDEX OF FIRST LINES
O mother, lay your hand on my brow ! 121
Of a' the ills that flesh can fear 165
Of speckled eggs the birdie sings 33
On the great streams the ships may go 96
Once more I saw him. In the lofty room 212
Once only by the garden gate 174
Out of the sun, out of the blast 115
Over the borders, a sin without pardon 42
Peace and her huge invasion to these shores 123
Plain as the glistering planets shine 177
Resign the rhapsody, the dream 197
Say not of me that weakly I declined 129
She rested by the Broken Brook 176
Since long ago, a child at home 192
Sing clearlier, Muse, or evermore be still 125
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone 213
Smooth it slides upon its travel 48
Some day soon this rhyming volume, if you learn with
proper speed 84
Son of my woman's body, you go, to the drum and fife 182
Summer fading, winter comes 59
The bed was made, the room was fit 126
The clinkum-clank o' Sabbath bells 143
The coach is at the door at last 51
The cock shall crow 181
The embers of the day are red 214
The friendly cow, all red and white 40
The gardener does not love to talk 75
The gauger walked with willing foot 95
The infinite shining heavens 176
The lamps now glitter down the street 63
The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out 39
The Lord Himsel' in former days 156
The moon has a face like the elock in the hall 46
INDEX OF FIRST LINES 317
The morning drum-call on my eager ear 187
The rain is raining all around 29
The red room with the giant bed 82
The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand 303
The Silver Ship, my King that was her name 193
The stormy evening closes now in vain 191
The sun is not a-bed when I 44
The tropics vanish, and meseems that I 199
The unfathomable sea, and time, and tears 103
The world is so full of a number of things 41
The year runs through her phases ; rain and sun 1 1 1
These nuts, that I keep in the back of the nest 60
This is the tale of the man 285
Three of us afloat in the meadow by the swing 29
Through all the pleasant meadow-side 51
To see the infinite pity of this place 194
To the heart of youth the world is a high wayside 175
To you, let snow and roses 178
Trusty, dusky, vivid, true 19
Under the wide and starry sky 114
Up into the cherry-tree 3
We built a ship upon the stairs 33
We see you as we see a face 113
We travelled in the print of olden wars 126
We uncommiserate pass into the night 212
What are you able to build with your blocks ? 61
When aince Aprile has fairly come 141
When at home alone I sit 64
When children are playing alone on the green 57
When I am grown to man's estate 33
When I was down beside the sea 28
When I was sick and lay a-bed 35
When the bright lamp is carried in 52
When the golden day is done 69
When the grass was closely mown 73
Whenever Auntie moves around 35
3i8 INDEX OF FIRST LINES
Whenever the moon and stars are set 31
Where the bells peal far at sea 112
Whether upon the garden seat
Who comes to-night ? We ope the doors in vain 112
With half a heart I wander here 124
Yet, O stricken heart, remember, O remember 1^2
You too, my mother, read my rhymes oi
Youth now flees on feathered foot 104