Robert Louis Stevenson > A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods > XV. Et Tu In Arcadia Vixisti
Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894).  A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods.  1913.
XV. Et Tu In Arcadia Vixisti (TO R. A. M. S.)

IN ancient tales, O friend, thy spirit dwelt; 
There, from of old, thy childhood passed; and there 
High expectation, high delights and deeds, 
Thy fluttering heart with hope and terror moved. 
And thou hast heard of yore the Blatant Beast,         5
And Roland’s horn, and that war-scattering shout 
Of all-unarmed Achilles, ægis-crowned. 
And perilous lands thou sawest, sounding shores 
And seas and forests drear, island and dale 
And mountain dark. For thou with Tristram rod’st  10
Or Bedevere, in farthest Lyonesse. 
Thou hadst a booth in Samarcand, whereat 
Side-looking Magians trafficked; thence, by night, 
An Afreet snatched thee, and with wings upbore 
Beyond the Aral mount; or, hoping gain,  15
Thou, with a jar of money, didst embark, 
For Balsorah, by sea. But chiefly thou 
In that clear air took’st life; in Arcady 
The haunted, land of song; and by the wells 
Where most the gods frequent. There Chiron old,  20
In the Pelethronian antre, taught thee lore: 
The plants, he taught, and by the shining stars 
In forests dim to steer. There hast thou seen 
Immortal Pan dance secret in a glade, 
And, dancing, roll his eyes; these, where they fell,  25
Shed glee, and through the congregated oaks 
A flying horror winged; while all the earth 
To the god’s pregnant footing thrilled within. 
Or whiles, beside the sobbing stream, he breathed, 
In his clutched pipe, unformed and wizard strains,  30
Divine yet brutal; which the forest heard, 
And thou, with awe; and far upon the plain 
The unthinking ploughman started and gave ear. 
Now things there are that, upon him who sees, 
A strong vocation lay; and strains there are  35
That whoso hears shall hear for evermore. 
For evermore thou hear’st immortal Pan 
And those melodious godheads, ever young 
And ever quiring, on the mountains old. 
What was this earth, child of the gods, to thee?  40
Forth from thy dreamland thou, a dreamer, cam’st, 
And in thine ears the olden music rang, 
And in thy mind the doings of the dead, 
And those heroic ages long forgot. 
To a so fallen earth, alas! too late.  45
Alas! in evil days, thy steps return, 
To list at noon for nightingales, to grow 
A dweller on the beach till Argo come 
That came long since, a lingerer by the pool 
Where that desirèd angel bathes no more.  50
As when the Indian to Dakota comes, 
Or farthest Idaho, and where he dwelt, 
He with his clan, a humming city finds; 
Thereon awhile, amazed, he stares, and then 
To right and leftward, like a questing dog,  55
Seeks first the ancestral altars, then the hearth 
Long cold with rains, and where old terror lodged, 
And where the dead. So thee undying Hope, 
With all her pack, hunts screaming through the years: 
Here, there, thou fleeëst; but nor here nor there  60
The pleasant gods abide, the glory dwells. 
That, that was not Apollo, not the god. 
This was not Venus, though she Venus seemed 
A moment. And though fair yon river move, 
She, all the way, from disenchanted fount  65
To seas unhallowed runs; the gods forsook 
Long since her trembling rushes; from her plains 
Disconsolate, long since adventure fled; 
And now although the inviting river flows, 
And every poplared cape, and every bend  70
Or willowy islet, win upon thy soul 
And to thy hopeful shallop whisper speed; 
Yet hope not thou at all; hope is no more; 
And O, long since the golden groves are dead, 
The faery cities vanished from the land!  75



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