To H. F. Brown (Stevenson)
I sit and wait a pair of oars
On cis-Elysian river-shores.
Where the immortal dead have sate,
'T is 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; *
Whereon, despite my frowning fate,
It did my soul so recreate
That all my fancies fled away
On a Venetian holiday.
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 muttonham --
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.
* Life on the Lagoons, by H. F. Brown, originally burned in the fire at Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench & Co.'s.
This work published before January 1, 1923 is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.