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Short poem

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)


              1Though he, that ever kind and true,
              2Kept stoutly step by step with you,
              3Your whole long, gusty lifetime through,
              4    Be gone a while before,
              5Be now a moment gone before,
              6Yet, doubt not, soon the seasons shall restore
              7    Your friend to you.

              8He has but turned the corner -- still
              9He pushes on with right good will,
            10Through mire and marsh, by heugh and hill,
            11    That self-same arduous way --
            12That self-same upland, hopeful way,
            13That you and he through many a doubtful day
            14    Attempted still.

            15He is not dead, this friend -- not dead,
            16But in the path we mortals tread
            17Got some few, trifling steps ahead
            18    And nearer to the end;
            19So that you too, once past the bend,
            20Shall meet again, as face to face, this friend
            21    You fancy dead.

            22Push gaily on, strong heart! The while
            23You travel forward mile by mile,
            24He loiters with a backward smile
            25    Till you can overtake,
            26And strains his eyes to search his wake,
            27Or whistling, as he sees you through the brake,
            28    Waits on a stile.


10] heugh: cliff.

28] stile: steps across a fence that allow people to pass, but not animals.

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Robert Louis Stevenson, Collected Poems, 2nd edn., ed. Janet Adam Smith (London: Rupert Hart-Davis, 1971): 71-72. PR 5489 .A3 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1899
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/10/4

Composition date: 27 June 1872
Composition date note: Smith, p. 458.
Rhyme: aaabbba

Other poems by Robert Louis Stevenson