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To H. F. Brown

(Written during a dangerous sickness.)

I sit and wait a pair of oars
On cis-Elysian river-shores.
Where the immortal dead have sate,
`Tis mine to sit and meditate;
To re-ascend life's rivulet,
Without remorse, without regret;
And sing my ALMA GENETRIX
Among the willows of the Styx.

And lo, as my serener soul
Did these unhappy shores patrol,
And wait with an attentive ear
The coming of the gondolier,
Your fire-surviving roll I took,
Your spirited and happy book; (1)
Whereon, despite my frowning fate,
It did my soul so recreate
That all my fancies fled away
On a Venetian holiday.

Now, thanks to your triumphant care,
Your pages clear as April air,
The sails, the bells, the birds, I know,
And the far-off Friulan snow;
The land and sea, the sun and shade,
And the blue even lamp-inlaid.
For this, for these, for all, O friend,
For your whole book from end to end -
For Paron Piero's muttonham -
I your defaulting debtor am.

Perchance, reviving, yet may I
To your sea-paven city hie,
And in FELZE, some day yet
Light at your pipe my cigarette.

(1) LIFE ON THE LAGOONS, by H. F. Brown, originally
burned in the fire at
Messrs. Kegan Paul, Trench. and Co.'s.

Robert Louis Stevenson