All That Was Me is Gone

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Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Give me again all that was there,
Give me the sun that shone!
Give me the eyes, give me the soul,
Give me the lad that’s gone!
Sing me a song of a lad that is gone,
Say, could that lad be I?
Merry of soul he sailed on a day
Over the sea to Skye.
Billow and breeze, islands and seas,
Mountains of rain and sun,
All that was good, all that was fair,
All that was me is gone.
~Robert Louis Stevenson from “Sing Me a Song of a Lad That is Gone”
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photo of San Juan Islands by Joel deWaard

 

Do we recognize ourselves as we journey through life, at first lighthearted and merry, but with each stumble, disappointment and wound, become more embittered and wary?

All that was me is gone?

To where to we flee in this sorry world?

I want to cover my eyes and ears, to be shielded from the headlines, from the threats and the worries.

This is not our home.  Give me the soul; give me the Son that shone!

 

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photo of San Juan Islands by Joel DeWaard
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Happy Hills of Hay

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Through all the pleasant meadow-side
The grass grew shoulder-high,
Till the shining scythes went far and wide
And cut it down to dry.

Those green and sweetly smelling crops
They led the waggons home;
And they piled them here in mountain tops
For mountaineers to roam.

Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail,
Mount Eagle and Mount High;–
The mice that in these mountains dwell,
No happier are than I!

Oh, what a joy to clamber there,
Oh, what a place for play,
With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air,
The happy hills of hay!
~Robert Louis Stevenson “Hay Loft Poem”

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The Old Hay-mow’s the place to play
Fer boys, when it’s a rainy day!
I good-‘eal ruther be up there
Than down in town, er anywhere!When I play in our stable-loft,
The good old hay’s so dry an’ soft,
An’ feels so fine, an’ smells so sweet,
I ‘most ferget to go an’ eat.An’ one time wunst I _did_ ferget
To go ‘tel dinner was all et,–
An’ they had short-cake–an’–Bud he
Hogged up the piece Ma saved fer me!

Nen I won’t let him play no more
In our hay-mow where I keep store
An’ got hen-eggs to sell,–an’ shoo
The cackle-un old hen out, too!

An’ nen, when Aunty she was here
A-visitun from Rensselaer,
An’ bringed my little cousin,–_he_
Can come up there an’ play with me.

But, after while–when Bud he bets
‘At I can’t turn no summersetts,–
I let him come up, ef he can
Ac’ ha’f-way like a gentleman!
~James Whitcomb Riley “The Old Hay-Mow Poem”

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The Pleasantest Thing

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How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside—

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown—
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
~Robert Louis Stevenson “The Swing”

 

This pipe swing set, made by my father 60 years ago after my birth, has moved four times. It now sits on the knoll above our barnyard, and the feeling of soaring into the air is enhanced by the slope dropping off beneath our feet.  These swings have seen many swingers over the years, and my time in these seats were full of contemplation and conversation.

The most pleasantest thing ever…

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The Sweetest Things

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Breath in your nostrils,
light in your eyes,
flowers at your feet,
duties at your hand,
the path of right just before you.

Then do not grasp at the stars,
but do life’s plain, common work as it comes,
certain that daily duties and daily bread
are the sweetest things in life.

~Robert Louis Stevenson

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