Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, TO CHARLES BAXTER, by ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

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Classic and Contemporary Poetry

TO CHARLES BAXTER, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Blame me not that this epistle
Last Line: Than they ever lived in truth.
Alternate Author Name(s): Stevenson, Robert Lewis Balfour

Blame me not that this epistle
Is the first you have from me.
Idleness has held me fettered,
But at last the times are bettered
And once more I wet my whistle
Here in France, beside the sea.

All the green and idle weather
I have had in sun and shower
Such an easy warm subsistence,
Such an indolent existence
I should find it hard to sever
Day from day and hour from hour.

Many a tract-provided ranter
May upbraid me, dark and sour,
Many a bland Utilitarian
Or excited Millenarian,
-- 'Pereunt et imputantur
You must speak to every hour.'

But the very term's deceptive,
You, at least, my friend, will see,
That in sunny grassy meadows
Trailed across by moving shadows
To be actively receptive
Is as much as man can be.

He that all the winter grapples
Difficulties, thrust and ward --
Needs to cheer him thro' his duty
Memories of sun and beauty,
Orchards with the russet apples
Lying scattered on the sward.

Many such I keep in prison,
Keep them here at heart unseen,
Till my muse again rehearses
Long years hence, and in my verses
You shall meet them re-arisen
Ever comely, ever green.

You know how they never perish,
How, in time of later art,
Memories consecrate and sweeten
These defaced and tempest-beaten
Flowers of former years we cherish,
Half a life, against our heart.

Most, those love-fruits withered greenly,
Those frail, sickly amourettes,
How they brighten with the distance
Take new strength and new existence
Till we see them sitting queenly
Crowned and courted by regrets!

All that loveliest and best is,
Aureole-fashion round their heads,
They that looked in life but plainly,
How they stir our spirits vainly
When they come to us Alcestis-
Like, returning from the dead!

Not the old love but another,
Bright she comes at Memory's call
Our forgotten vows reviving
To a newer, livelier living,
As the dead child to the mother
Seems the fairest child of all.

Thus our Goethe, sacred master,
Travelling backward thro' his youth,
Surely wandered wrong in trying
To renew the old, undying
Loves that cling in memory faster
Than they ever lived in truth.

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