mayo 2019
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Robert Louis Stevenson

RLS1850 – 1894

¤  The Beach of Falesá

The story is told in the first person by John Wiltshire, a British copra trader on the fictional South Sea island of Falesá. Upon arriving on the island, he meets a rival trader named Case, who (in an apparently friendly gesture) arranges for him to be «married» to a local girl named Uma in a ceremony designed to impress the natives but to be completely non-binding in the view of Europeans.
Wiltshire soon discovers that Uma has a taboo attached to her which causes all the other natives to refuse to do business with him, to Case’s profit. He also hears rumors of Case having been involved in the suspicious deaths of his previous competitors. Although realising that he has been tricked, Wiltshire has genuinely fallen in love with Uma, and has their marriage legalised by a passing missionary.
Wiltshire gradually learns that Case’s influence over the villagers stems from their belief that he has demonic powers, as a result of his simple conjuring tricks as well as strange noises and visions they have experienced at a «temple» he has built in the forest. Upon investigating, Wiltshire finds that these experiences are also tricks produced by imported technologies such as luminous paint and Aeolian harps. Wiltshire sets out that night to destroy the temple with gunpowder. Case confronts him and the two men fight, resulting in Case’s death.
The story concludes with Wiltshire several years later living on another island, still happily married to Uma, worrying about what will happen to his mixed-race children.
•  Click ↑  to read

Written by Stevenson after he moved to the South Seas island of Samoa, just a few years before he died there.

   •  Chapter I:  A SOUTH SEA BRIDAL  ⇓

I saw that island first when it was neither night nor morning. The moon was to the west, setting, but still broad and bright. To the east, and right amidships of the dawn, which was all pink, the daystar sparkled like a diamond. The land breeze blew in our faces, and smelt strong of wild lime and vanilla: other things besides, but these were the most plain; and the chill of it set me sneezing. I should say I had been for years on a low island near the line, living for the most part solitary among natives. Here was a fresh experience: even the tongue would be quite strange to me; and the look of these woods and mountains, and the rare smell of them, renewed my blood.

The captain blew out the binnacle lamp.

«There!» said he, «there goes a bit of smoke, Mr. Wiltshire, behind the break of the reef. That’s Falesá, where your station is, the last village to the east; nobody lives to windward I don’t know why. Take my glass, and you can make the houses out.»

I took the glass; and the shores leaped nearer, and I saw the tangle of the woods and the breach of the surf, and the brown roofs and the black insides of houses peeped among the trees.

«Do you catch a bit of white there to the east’ard?» the captain continued. «That’s your house. Coral built, stands high, verandah you could walk on three abreast; best station in the South Pacific. When old Adams saw it, he took and shook me by the hand. ‘I’ve dropped into a soft thing here,’ says he.’So you have,’ says I, ‘and time too!’ Poor Johnny! I never saw him again but the once, and then he had changed his tunecouldn’t get on with the natives, or the whites, or something; and the next time we came round there he was dead and buried. I took and put up a bit of a stick to him: «John Adams, obit eighteen and sixty−eight. Go thou and do likewise.’ I missed that man. I never could see much harm in Johnny.»

¤  Classic Poetry Series ←  
•→«Songs of Travel»:
«I will make you brooches»+»we uncommiserate pass into the night»+»evensong«
♦ «The Vagabond» ↓  [by Robin Hendrix & Michel Prezman_2008]

Give to me the life I love – Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above and the byway nigh me.
Bed in the bush with stars to see – Bread I dip in the river –
There’s the life for a man like me – There’s the life for ever.

Let the blow fall soon or late, Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around and the road before me.
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love, nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above and the road below me.

Or let autumn fall on me where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,  biting the blue finger.
White as meal the frosty field – warm the fireside haven –
Not to autumn will I yield,  not to winter even!

Let the blow fall soon or late . . .

♦  ‘From a Railway Carriage’

FASTER than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle,
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone for ever!

♦  «Marching Song» ↓

Bring the comb and play upon it!
Marching, here we come!
Willie cocks his highland bonnet,
Johnnie beats the drum.

Mary Jane commands the party,
Peter leads the rear;
Feet in time, alert and hearty,
Each a Grenadier!

All in the most martial manner
Marching double-quick;
While the napkin, like a banner,
Waves upon the stick!

Here’s enough of fame and pillage,
Great commander Jane!
Now that we’ve been round the village,
Let’s go home again.

∞  Two poems set to music by Ralph Vaughan-Williams …

Φ  ‘Bright is the Ring of Words’  ↓  [baritone = Bryn Terfel]

Bright is the ring of words when the right man rings them,
Fair the fall of songs when the singer sings them.
Still they are carolled and said — On wings they are carried
After the singer is dead and the maker buried.
Low as the singer lies in the field of heather,
Songs of his fashion bring the swains together.
And when the west is red with the sunset embers,
The lover lingers and sings and the maid remembers.

Φ  ‘Home no more home to me, whither must I wander?’  ↓  [bass = John Tomlinson]

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 old.
Spring shall come, come again, calling up the moorfowl,
Spring shall bring the sun and rain, bring the bees and flowers;
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.
♦  «My Shadow»  ↓  [from Child’s Garden of Verses]

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow–
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there’s none of him at all.

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

♦→ «Heather Ale»  ↓  [A Galloway Legend]

From the bonny bells of heather, they brewed a drink long-syne,
Was sweeter far than honey, was stronger far than wine.
They brewed it and they drank it, and lay in a blessed swound
For days and days together in their dwellings underground.

There rose a king in Scotland, a fell man to his foes,
He smote the Picts in battle, He hunted them like roes.
Over miles of the red mountain, He hunted as they fled,
And strewed the dwarfish bodies of the dying and the dead.

Summer came in the country, red was the heather bell;
But the manner of the brewing was none alive to tell.
In graves that were like children’s on many a mountain head,
The Brewsters of the Heather lay numbered with the dead.

The king in the red moorland rode on a summer’s day;
The bees hummed, and the curlews cried beside the way.
The king rode, and was angry, black was his brow and pale,
To rule in a land of heather and lack the Heather Ale.

It fortuned that his vassals, riding free on the heath,
Came on a stone that was fallen and vermin hid beneath.
Rudely plucked from their hiding, never a word they spoke:
A son and his aged father — Last of the dwarfish folk.

The king sat high on his charger, He looked on the little men;
And the dwarfish and swarthy couple looked at the king again.
Down by the shore he had them; and there on the giddy brink—
“I will give you life, ye vermin, for the secret of the drink.”

There stood the son and father and they looked high and low;
The heather was red around them, The sea rumbled below.
And up and spoke the father, Shrill was his voice to hear:
“I have a word in private, a word for the royal ear.

“Life is dear to the aged, and honour a little thing;
I would gladly sell the secret,” Quoth the Pict to the King.
His voice was small as a sparrow’s, and shrill and wonderful clear:
“I would gladly sell my secret, only my son I fear.

“For life is a little matter, and death is nought to the young;
And I dare not sell my honour under the eye of my son.
Take him, O king, and bind him, and cast him far in the deep;
And it’s I will tell the secret that I have sworn to keep.”

They took the son and bound him, neck and heels in a thong,
And a lad took him and swung him, and flung him far and strong,
And the sea swallowed his body, like that of a child of ten;—
And there on the cliff stood the father, last of the dwarfish men.

“True was the word I told you: only my son I feared;
For I doubt the sapling courage that goes without the beard.
Now in vain is the torture, Fire shall never avail:
Here dies in my bosom the secret of Heather Ale.”

skyeB   ↓  ‘The Skye Boat Song‘ ←[The Corries]

This song commemorates the escape of Bonnie Prince Charlie from these shores when Flora MacDonald took him, disguised as a serving maid, from Uist to Skye in a small boat. Flora is buried at Kilmuir on the north coast of Skye. Prince Charlie near Rome where he was born.

Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing,
Onward, the sailors cry.
Carry the lad that’s born to be king
over the sea to Skye.
Loud the wind howls, Loud the waves roar
Thunderclaps rend the air
Baffled our foes stand by the shore
Follow they will not dare
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing . . .
Many’s the lad fought on that day
Well the claymore did wield
When the night came, silently lain
Dead on Colloden field
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing . . .
Though the waves heave soft will ye sleep
Ocean’s a royal bed
Rocked in the deep, Flora will keep
Watch by your weary head
Speed bonnie boat like a bird on the wing . . . 

Alternative words by Robert Louis Stevenson . . .

♦ «Pirate Story» ↓

•→«Rain»⇐  /   •→ «The Little Land» ⇔ [read poem]


Of speckled eggs the birdie sings and nests among the trees;
The sailor sings of ropes and things in ships upon the seas.

The children sing in far Japan – The children sing in Spain;
The organ with the organ man is singing in the rain.

♦ «Picture Books in winter» ↓ [Tom Clelland + Christine Kydd + Wendy Weatherby]

Summer fading, winter comes – Frosty mornings, tingling thumbs,
Window robins, winter rooks and the picture story-books.

Water now is turned to stone – Nurse and I can walk upon;
Still we find the flowing brooks in the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by – Wait upon the children’s eye,
Sheep and shepherds, trees and crooks, in the picture story-books.

We may see how all things are seas and cities, near and far,
And the flying fairies’ looks, in the picture story-books.

All the pretty things put by . . .

How am I to sing your praise – Happy chimney-corner days,
Sitting safe in nursery nooks, reading picture story-books?

♦ «How far is it to Babylon» ↓  [T. Clelland, W. Weatherby, Pete Clark, Mair Sethi & Norman Chalmers]

The river, on from mill to mill flows past our childhood’s garden still;
But ah! we children never more shall watch it from the water-door!

Below the yew – it still is there – out phantom voices haunt the air
As we were still at play, and I can hear them call and say:

«How far is it to Babylon?»
Ah, far enough, my dear,
Far, far enough from here – Yet you have farther gone!

«Can I get there by candlelight?» – So goes the old refrain.
I do not know, perchance you might – But only children hear it right.

The eternal dawn, beyond a doubt, shall break on hill and plain,
And put all stars and candles out, ere we be young again.

«How far is it to Babylon . . .»

Smiling and kind, you grace a shelf, too high for me to reach myself.
Reach down a hand, my dear, and take these rhymes for old acquaintance’ sake!

«How far is it to Babylon?»
Ah, far enough, my dear,
Far, far enough from here – Yet you have farther gone!

•→«Block City»[Robin Laing -vocals & guitar]

Θ→ ‘I Will Make You Brooches’  ⇓ [«This Shall Be For Music»]

«The Roadside Fire» _ Ralph Vaughan-Williams ; baritone – Jerod Eggleston;  piano – Gilad Arnon

I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.

I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.

And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.

¤  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ↓

♦  The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde  ↓  [abridged]

This story of split personality, has Dr. Jekyll a kind and charitable man who believes that everyone has two sides, one good and one evil. Using a potion, his personalities are split, creating havoc.

· · ·  Read & listen :

Someone is spending my money for me,
The money I earn I never see,
In all things I do he interferes,
All I know is trouble as soon as he appears.
Mister Hyde . . .  Mister Hyde … Hyde…

When I drink my potion my character changes,
My whole mind and body rearranges,
This strange transformation takes place in me,
Instead of myself everybody can see…
Mister Hyde . . .  Mister Hyde … Hyde…

Whenever you’re with me make sure it’s still me,
I’ve got to the stage I can’t tell which I’ll be,
The loveable fellow who’ll buy you a drink,
Then when he’s drunk his he’ll change in a wink into…
Hyde, Mister Hyde, Mister Hyde … Hyde…

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