Sunday, February 2, 2014

Poetry Sunday: Two poems

Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the most popular writers of his time, the Victorian Age, and he is still often quoted today. 

Stevenson was a rather sickly person and, apparently, the thought of death was much on his mind. Several years before his death, he wrote this famous poem, part of which was eventually used as his epitaph.


Requiem

by Robert Louis Stevenson

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.

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.

Curiously, when the poem is quoted today, the person who is quoting it will often remember it as "Home is the sailor, home from THE sea." But in fact, in the original poem, Stevenson did not use the definite article to describe the place from which the sailor had returned.

Later, the English poet, A.E. Housman wrote a poem in tribute to Stevenson and his Requiem. It, too, is often quoted, and people sometimes mistakenly think that the lines which he reuses here originated with him.



Home Is the Sailor


by A. E. Housman


Home is the sailor, home from sea:

Her far-borne canvas furled

The ship pours shining on the quay

The plunder of the world.


Home is the hunter from the hill:

Fast in the boundless snare

All flesh lies taken at his will

And every fowl of air.


'Tis evening on the moorland free,

The starlit wave is still:

Home is the sailor from the sea,

The hunter from the hill.








  

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