Verse > Anthologies > William Wilfred Campbell, ed. > The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse
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William Wilfred Campbell, comp.  The Oxford Book of Canadian Verse.  1913.
 
Sonnets on the Death of Stevenson
By Hector Charlesworth (1872–1945)
 
I
WHEN louder voices throbbed with scorn and hate,
Ah, dear, glad, soaring spirit of the sun,
The golden loom, from which thy thought was spun,
Sang on with cheer and gentleness elate,
Seeking to end our war and fierce debate        5
And make our lives in kindlier courses run,
By aid of that sweet wisdom thou had’st won
From Life the Sphinx, and the veiled juggler, Fate!
 
This be my hope—when from my halting hand,
My pen has dropped for aye, and in the deep        10
Of yon still sea of death, I sink to sleep,
If some new light should strike across mine eyes—
If I should wake—I worthy be to rise,
And greet thee, brother, in that other land!
 
II
The sea was ever in thy dreams; it stirred,
        15
And lisped and sobbed and thundered in thy heart;
Its ebb and flow inspired thy soul-spun art;
And as we linger o’er each living word,
Each thought that soars like some far-flying bird—
We know thy secret was the siren song,        20
The old, old lure that in the ages long
Thy fellow-seers and fellow-dreamers heard.
 
And where thou liest in thy mountain tomb,
The sea shall sing thy requiem for aye;
Shall murmur to thy spirit night and day        25
The mystery of the ebb and flow of things
That, like the fluttering of countless wings,
Quickened thy rare dream-children in the womb.
 
III
Oh, well-beloved, thou to whom all men
Were brothers whatsoe’er the tongue they spake,        30
When thy dark liegemen bore thee through the brake
And laid thee in the tomb beyond the ken
Of Old-World strife, thy spirit said ‘Amen!’
Samoa, jewel of the southern main,
After long torture, shrived thee of thy pain,        35
God could not make it to thee alien!
 
There, on the mountain, sleep thou to the end;
Thy requiem the murmur of the sea,
And song of sea-birds wandr’ing far and free!
If thoughtless hands would rive thee from thy tomb,        40
The living curse that Shakespeare, dying, penned,
Touch thy despoilers like the breath of doom!
 
 
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