Verse > Anthologies > > Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. > The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse
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Arthur Quiller-Couch, comp.  The Oxford Book of Victorian Verse.  1922.
 
Alcaics: To H. F. B.
By Robert Louis Stevenson (1850–1894)
 
BRAVE lads in olden musical centuries
Sang, night by night, adorable choruses,
  Sat late by alehouse doors in April
  Chaunting in joy as the moon was rising.
 
Moon-seen and merry, under the trellises,        5
Flush-faced they play’d with old polysyllables
  Spring scents inspired, old wine diluted:
  Love and Apollo were there to chorus.
 
Now these, the songs, remain to eternity,
Those, only those, the bountiful choristers        10
  Gone—those are gone, those unremember’d
  Sleep and are silent in earth for ever.
 
So man himself appears and evanishes,
So smiles and goes; as wanderers halting at
  Some green-embower’d house, play their music,        15
  Play and are gone on the windy highway.
 
Yet dwells the strain enshrined in the memory
Long after they departed eternally,
  Forth-faring tow’rd far mountain summits,
  Cities of men or the sounding Ocean.        20
 
Youth sang the song in years immemorial:
Brave chanticleer, he sang and was beautiful;
  Bird-haunted green tree-tops in springtime
  Heard, and were pleased by the voice of singing.
 
Youth goes and leaves behind him a prodigy—        25
Songs sent by thee afar from Venetian
  Sea-grey lagunes, sea-paven highways,
  Dear to me here in my Alpine exile.
 
 
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