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Four Robert Louis Stevenson Songs

Word count: 448

Song Cycle by Ronald Stevenson (b. 1928)

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?. In the highlands, in the country places


In the [highlands, in]1 the country places,	
Where the old plain men have rosy faces,	
    And the young fair maidens
        Quiet eyes;
Where essential silence cheers and blesses,
And for ever in the hill-recesses
    Her more lovely music
        Broods and dies —

O to mount again where erst I haunted;
Where the old red hills are bird-enchanted,
    And the low green meadows
        Bright with sward;
And when even dies, the million-tinted,
And the night has come, and planets glinted,
    Lo, the valley hollow
        Lamp-bestarr'd!

O to dream, O to awake and wander
There, and with delight to take and render,
    Through the trance of silence,
        Quiet breath!
Lo! for there, among the flowers and grasses,
Only the mightier movement sounds and passes;
    Only winds and rivers,
        Life and death.


View original text (without footnotes)
First published in the Pall Mall Gazette, December 1894

Confirmed with Quiller-Couch, Arthur Thomas, Sir. The Oxford Book of English Verse. Oxford: Clarendon, 1919, [c1901]; Bartleby.com, 1999. www.bartleby.com/101/847.html.

1 Steele: "highlands and"

?. The lamplighter


My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;
It's time to take the window to see Leerie going by;
For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,
With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom would be a driver and Maria go to sea,
And my papa's a banker and as rich as he can be;
But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I'm to do,
O Leerie, I'll go round at night and light the lamps with you!

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,
And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;
And O! before you hurry by with ladder and with light,
O Leerie, see a little child and nod to him tonight.


?. Requiem


Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie;
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

Here may the winds about me blow,
Here the sea may come and go
Here lies peace  forevermo'
And the heart for aye shall be still.

This be the verse you grave for me:
"Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill."


Note: Steele changes "longed" to "long'd" in the last stanza.

?. Shadow march


All around the house is the jet-black night;
  It stares through the window-pane;
It crawls in the corners, hiding from the light,
  And it moves with the moving flame.

Now my little heart goes a beating like a drum,
  With the breath of the Bogies in my hair;
And all around the candle the crooked shadows come,
  And go marching along up the stair.

The shadow of the balusters, the shadow of the lamp,
  The shadow of the child that goes to bed --
All the wicked shadows coming tramp, tramp, tramp,
  With the black night overhead.


First published in Magazine of Art, March 1884
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