XVII To the Tune of Wandering Willie
Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?
Hunger my driver, I go where I must.
Cold blows the winter wind over hill and heather;
Thick drives the rain, and my roof is in the dust.
Loved of wise men was the shade of my roof-tree.
The true word of welcome was spoken in the door –
Dear days of old, with the faces in the firelight,
Kind folks of old, you come again no more.
Home was home then, my dear, full of kindly faces,
Home was home then, my dear, happy for the child.
Fire and the windows bright glittered on the moorland,
Song, tuneful song, built a palace in the wild.
Now, when day dawns on the brow of the moorland,
Lone stands the house, and the chimney-stone is cold.
Lone let it stand, now the friends are all departed,
The kind hearts, the true hearts, that loved the place of
Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and
Red shall the heather bloom over hill and valley,
Soft flow the stream through the even-flowing hours;
Fair the day shine as it shone on my childhood –
Fair shine the day on the house with open door;
Birds come and cry there and twitter in the chimney –
But I go for ever and come again no more.
Robert Louise Stevenson 1850-1894
A lovely, deeply felt poem by the Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson, author of Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Probably his more well-know set of poems is A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885); but I especially like his Songs of Travel from which this poem is a selection. Ralph Vaughn Williams, the British composer set it to song; and it is a masterpiece in itself.
Robert Louis Stevenson was a rolling stone. http://www.biography.com/people/robert-louis-stevenson-9494571#synopsis
So his Songs of Travel reflect his restless wanderings. Born in Scotland, he is buried in Samoa. Really a rolling stone.
what an interesting life— always amazing to hear of all the traveling people did in prior centuries without autos and airplanes…… the poem is poignant and a true outpouring of a man born to wander….
RLS is one of my favorite poets. I still have A Child’s Garden of Verses from when I was young and still read it with pleasure. Thank you for posting this!
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Hi Jenny! Nice of you to stop by; I used to sing that song, maybe I’ll do an arrangement for guitar and take another shot at it! Very musical poetry RLS writes.