Robert Louis Stevenson > A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods > XVI. To W. E. Henley
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Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894).  A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods.  1913.
  
XVI. To W. E. Henley

THE YEAR runs through her phases; rain and sun, 
Springtime and summer pass; winter succeeds; 
But one pale season rules the house of death. 
Cold falls the imprisoned daylight; fell disease 
By each lean pallet squats, and pain and sleep         5
Toss gaping on the pillows. 
  
                But O thou! 
Uprise and take thy pipe. Bid music flow, 
Strains by good thoughts attended, like the spring 
The swallows follow over land and sea.  10
Pain sleeps at once; at once, with open eyes, 
Dozing despair awakes. The shepherd sees 
His flock come bleating home; the seaman hears 
  
Once more the cordage rattle. Airs of home! 
Youth, love and roses blossom; the gaunt ward  15
Dislimns and disappears, and, opening out, 
Shows brooks and forests, and the blue beyond 
Of mountains. 
  
                Small the pipe; but O! do thou, 
Peak-faced and suffering piper, blow therein  20
The dirge of heroes dead; and to these sick, 
These dying, sound the triumph over death. 
Behold! each greatly breathes; each tastes a joy 
Unknown before, in dying; for each knows 
A hero dies with him—though unfulfilled  25
Yet conquering truly—and not dies in vain. 
  
So is pain cheered, death comforted; the house 
Of sorrows smiles to listen. Once again— 
O thou, Orpheus and Heracles, the bard 
And the deliverer, touch the stops again!  30

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