Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, EPISTLE TO ALBERT DEW-SMITH, by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON



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EPISTLE TO ALBERT DEW-SMITH, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Figure me to yourself, I pray
Last Line: Smoke with an unperturbed mind.
Alternate Author Name(s): Stevenson, Robert Lewis Balfour
Subject(s): Alps; Mountains; Rivers; Hills; Downs (great Britain)


FIGURE me to yourself, I pray --
A man of my peculiar cut --
Apart from dancing and deray,
Into an Alpine valley shut;

Shut in a kind of damned Hotel,
Discountenanced by God and man;
The food? -- Sir, you would do as well
To cram your belly full of bran.

The company? Alas, the day
That I should dwell with such a crew,
With devil anything to say,
Nor any one to say it to!

The place? Although they call it Platz,
I will be bold and state my view;
It's not a place at all -- and that's
The bottom verity, my Dew.

There are, as I will not deny,
Innumerable inns; a road;
Several Alps indifferent high;
The snow's inviolable abode;

Eleven English parsons, all
Entirely inoffensive; four
True human beings -- what I call
Human -- the deuce a cipher more;

A climate of surprising worth;
Innumerable dogs that bark;
Some air, some weather, and some earth;
A native race -- God save the mark! --

A race that works, yet cannot work,
Yodels, but cannot yodel right,
Such as, unhelp'd, with rusty dirk,
I vow that I could wholly smite.

A river that from morn to night
Down all the valley plays the fool;
Not once she pauses in her flight,
Nor knows the comfort of a pool;

But still keeps up, by straight or bend,
The self-same pace she hath begun --
Still hurry, hurry, to the end --
Good God, is that the way to run?

If I a river were, I hope
That I should better realise
The opportunities and scope
Of that romantic enterprise.

I should not ape the merely strange,
But aim besides at the divine;
And continuity and change
I still should labour to combine.

Here should I gallop down the race,
Here charge the sterling like a bull;
There, as a man might wipe his face,
Lie, pleased and panting, in a pool.

But what, my Dew, in idle mood,
What prate I, minding not my debt?
What do I talk of bad or good?
The best is still a cigarette.

Me whether evil fate assault,
Or smiling providences crown --
Whether on high the eternal vault
Be blue, or crash with thunder down --

I judge the best, whate'er befall,
Is still to sit on one's behind,
And, having duly moistened all,
Smoke with an unperturbed mind.





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