Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850-1894 / Edinburgh / Scotland)

I Now, O Friend, Whom Noiselessly The Snows - Poem by Robert Louis Stevenson

I NOW, O friend, whom noiselessly the snows
Settle around, and whose small chamber grows
Dusk as the sloping window takes its load:

* * * * *

The kindly hill, as to complete our hap,
Has ta'en us in the shelter of her lap;
Well sheltered in our slender grove of trees
And ring of walls, we sit between her knees;
A disused quarry, paved with rose plots, hung
With clematis, the barren womb whence sprung
The crow-stepped house itself, that now far seen
Stands, like a bather, to the neck in green.
A disused quarry, furnished with a seat
Sacred to pipes and meditation meet
For such a sunny and retired nook.
There in the clear, warm mornings many a book
Has vied with the fair prospect of the hills
That, vale on vale, rough brae on brae, upfills
Halfway to the zenith all the vacant sky
To keep my loose attention. . . .
Horace has sat with me whole mornings through:
And Montaigne gossiped, fairly false and true;
And chattering Pepys, and a few beside
That suit the easy vein, the quiet tide,
The calm and certain stay of garden-life,
Far sunk from all the thunderous roar of strife.
There is about the small secluded place
A garnish of old times; a certain grace
Of pensive memories lays about the braes:
The old chestnuts gossip tales of bygone days.
Here, where some wandering preacher, blest Lazil,
Perhaps, or Peden, on the middle hill
Had made his secret church, in rain or snow,
He cheers the chosen residue from woe.
All night the doors stood open, come who might,
The hounded kebbock mat the mud all night.
Nor are there wanting later tales; of how
Prince Charlie's Highlanders . . .

* * * * *

I have had talents, too. In life's first hour
God crowned with benefits my childish head.
Flower after flower, I plucked them; flower by flower
Cast them behind me, ruined, withered, dead.
Full many a shining godhead disappeared.
From the bright rank that once adorned her brow
The old child's Olympus

* * * * *

Gone are the fair old dreams, and one by one,
As, one by one, the means to reach them went,
As, one by one, the stars in riot and disgrace,
I squandered what . . .

There shut the door, alas! on many a hope
Too many;
My face is set to the autumnal slope,
Where the loud winds shall . . .

There shut the door, alas! on many a hope,
And yet some hopes remain that shall decide
My rest of years and down the autumnal slope.

* * * * *

Gone are the quiet twilight dreams that I
Loved, as all men have loved them; gone!
I have great dreams, and still they stir my soul on high -
Dreams of the knight's stout heart and tempered will.
Not in Elysian lands they take their way;
Not as of yore across the gay champaign,
Towards some dream city, towered . . .
and my . . .
The path winds forth before me, sweet and plain,
Not now; but though beneath a stone-grey sky
November's russet woodlands toss and wail,
Still the white road goes thro' them, still may I,
Strong in new purpose, God, may still prevail.

* * * * *

I and my like, improvident sailors!

* * * * *

At whose light fall awaking, all my heart
Grew populous with gracious, favoured thought,
And all night long thereafter, hour by hour,
The pageant of dead love before my eyes
Went proudly, and old hopes with downcast head
Followed like Kings, subdued in Rome's imperial hour,
Followed the car; and I . . .


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Read poems about / on: flower, car, hope, friend, sky, city, snow, night, house, rose, child, rain, god, green, dream, light, memory, spring, star, tree



Poem Submitted: Tuesday, December 31, 2002



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