More Songs from Vagabondia

by Bliss Carman and Richard Hovey


 

AT THE ROAD-HOUSE: IN MEMORY OF ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON


YOU hearken, fellows? Turned aside
Into the road-house of the past!
The prince of vagabonds is gone
To house among his peers at last.

The stainless gallant gentleman,
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So glad of life, he gave no trace,
No hint he even once beheld
The spectre peering in his face;

But gay and modest held the road,
Nor feared the Shadow of the Dust;
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And saw the whole world rich with joy,
As every valiant farer must.

I think that old and vasty inn
Will have a welcome guest to-night,
When Chaucer, breaking off some tale
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That fills his hearers with delight,

Shall lift up his demure brown eyes
To bid the stranger in; and all
Will turn to greet the one on whom
The crystal lot was last to fall.
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Keats of the more than mortal tongue
Will take grave Milton by the sleeve
To meet their kin, whose woven words
Had elvish music in the weave.

Dear Lamb and excellent Montaigne,
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Sterne and the credible Defoe,
Borrow, DeQuincey, the great Dean,
The sturdy leisurist Thoreau;

The furtive soul whose dark romance,
By ghostly door and haunted stair,
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Explored the dusty human heart
And the forgotten garrets there;

The moralist it could not spoil,
To hold an empire in his hands;
Sir Walter, and the brood who sprang
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From Homer through a hundred lands,

Singers of songs on all men’s lips,
Tellers of tales in all men’s ears,
Movers of hearts that still must beat
To sorrows feigned and fabled tears;
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Horace and Omar, doubting still
What mystery lurks beyond the seen,
Yet blithe and reassured before
That fine unvexed Virgilian mien;

These will companion him to-night,
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Beyond this iron wintry gloom,
When Shakespeare and Cervantes bid
The great joy-masters give him room.

No alien there in speech or mood,
He will pass in, one traveller more;
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And portly Ben will smile to see
The velvet jacket at the door.