Home  »  A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895  »  To N. V. De G. S.

Edmund Clarence Stedman, ed. (1833–1908). A Victorian Anthology, 1837–1895. 1895.

Robert Louis Stevenson 1850–94

To N. V. De G. S.


THE UNFATHOMABLE sea, and time, and tears,

The deeds of heroes and the crimes of kings

Dispart us; and the river of events

Has, for an age of years, to east and west

More widely borne our cradles. Thou to me

Art foreign, as when seamen at the dawn

Descry a land far off and know not which.

So I approach uncertain; so I cruise

Round thy mysterious islet, and behold

Surf and great mountains and loud river-bars,

And from the shore hear inland voices call.

Strange is the seaman’s heart; he hopes, he fears;

Draws closer and sweeps wider from that coast;

Last, his rent sail refits, and to the deep

His shattered prow uncomforted puts back.

Yet as he goes he ponders at the helm

Of that bright island; where he feared to touch,

His spirit readventures; and for years,

Where by his wife he slumbers safe at home,

Thoughts of that land revisit him; he sees

The eternal mountains beckon, and awakes

Yearning for that far home that might have been.