Poetry Spotlight: “The House Beautiful” by Robert Louis Stevenson

I don’t know how to review poetry, but I do like to read it. Since April is Poetry month I’m going to spotlight some poems, poets, and collections that I like. Some of them I have read recently and others I own.

Going old school with this first poem. Since it was published in 1887, I’m going to go ahead and quote it in its entirety:

A naked house, a naked moor,
A shivering pool before the door,
A garden bare of flowers and fruit
And poplars at the garden foot;
Such is the place that I live in,
Bleak without and bare within.

 

Yet shall your ragged moor receive
The incomparable pomp of eve,
And the cold glories of the dawn
Behind your shivering trees be drawn;
And when the wind from place to place
Doth the unmoored cloud-galleons chase,
Your garden gloom and gleam again,
With leaping sun, with glancing rain.
Here shall the wizard moon ascend
The heavens, in the crimson end
Of day’s declining splendour; here
The army of the stars appear.
The neighbour hollows dry or wet,
Spring shall with tender flowers beset;
And oft the morning muser see
Larks rising from the broomy lea,
And every fairy wheel and thread
Of cobweb dew-bediamonded.
When daisies go, shall winter time
Silver the simple grass with rime;
Autumnal frosts enchant the pool
And make the cart-ruts beautiful;
And when snow-bright the moor expands,
How shall your children clap their hands!
To make this earth, our hermitage,
A cheerful and a changeful page,
God’s bright and intricate device
Of days and seasons doth suffice.

There are two parts that I like.

First

Such is the place that I live in,
Bleak without and bare within.

Sparse, dark, beautiful, sad, and, dare I say it, noir as fuck.

Second

God’s bright and intricate device

I love this line, the imagery and the mystery that it evokes. Yes, the next line clarifies by providing context and specificity but this line on its own shoots right into your brain. I get hung up on this line because I want to think about it, unpack it, turn it around, examine it. Which is one of the joys of reading poetry for me, having a line like this stop you dead in your tracks.

Here’s my copy of the anthology that the poem appears in. I’ve had this volume for many year. Two stray thoughts. First, I wish I had the other volumes. Second, I love small hardbacks. They are one of my favorites types of books.

 

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