Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO TUSITALA IN VAILIMA, by EDMUND WILLIAM GOSSE

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO TUSITALA IN VAILIMA, by                 Poet's Biography
First Line: Cleartest voice in britain's chorus, tusitala!
Last Line: Than the rifted cloud-land closes.
Subject(s): Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850-1894)


CLEAREST voice in Britain's chorus,
Years ago, years four-and-twenty,
Gray the cloudland drifted o'er us,
When these ears first heard you talking,
When these eyes first saw you smiling.
Years of famine, years of plenty,
Years of beckoning and beguiling,
Years of yielding, shifting, baulking, --
When the good ship Clansman bore us
Round the spits of Tobermory,
Glens of Voulin like a vision,
Crags of Knoidart, huge and hoary, --
We had laughed in light derision,
Had they told us, told the daring
What the years' pale hands were bearing, --
Years in stately, dim division.


Now the skies are pure above you,
Feather'd trees bow down to love you;
Perfum'd winds from shining waters
Stir the sanguine-leav'd hibiscus
That your kingdom's dusk-ey'd daughters
Weave about their shining tresses;
Dew-fed guavas drop their viscous
Honey at the sun's caresses
Where eternal summer blesses
Your ethereal musky highlands, --
Ah! but does your heart remember,
Westward in our Scotch September,
Blue against the pale sun's ember, --
That low rim of faint long islands,
Barren granite-snouted nesses,
Plunging in the dull'd Atlantic,
Where beyond Tiree one guesses
At the full tide, loud and frantic?


By strange pathways God hath brought you,
In strange webs of fortune caught you,
Led you by strange moods and measures
To this paradise of pleasures!
And the bodyguard that sought you
To conduct you home to glory, --
Dark the oriflammes they carried,
In the mist their cohort tarried, --
They were Languor, Pain, and Sorrow,
Scarcely we endured their story
Trailing on from morn to morrow,
Such the devious road they led you,
Such the error, such the vastness,
Such the cloud that overspread you,
Under exile bow'd and banish'd,
Lost, like Moses in the fastness,
Till we almost deem'd you vanish'd.


Vanish'd? ay, that's still the trouble,
Though your tropic isle rejoices,
'Tis to us an isle of Voices
Hollow like the elfin double
Cry of disembodied echoes,
Or an owlet's wicked laughter,
Or the cold and horned gecko's
Croaking from a ruined rafter, --
Voices these of things existing,
Yet incessantly resisting
Eyes and hands that follow after;
You are circled, as by magic,
In a surf-built palmy bubble,
Fate hath chosen, but the choice is
Half delectable, half tragic,
For we hear you speak, like Moses,
And we greet you back, enchanted,
But reply's no sooner granted,
Than the rifted cloud-land closes.

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