I know not how it is with you –
I love the first and last,
The whole field of the present view,
The whole flow of the past.
One tittle of the things that are,
Nor you should change nor I –
One pebble in our path – one star
In all our heaven of sky.
Our lives, and every day and hour,
One symphony appear:
One road, one garden – every flower
And every bramble dear.
About this poem
Introduced by a variety of writers, artists and other guests, the Scottish Poetry Library’s classic poem selections are a reminder of wonderful poems to rediscover.
Lizzie MacGregor on ‘Songs of Travel X’:
This short poem by Robert Louis Stevenson is very dear to my heart. It is hard not to respond positively to its message, so light-handedly does Stevenson deliver it.
At first glance airy and charming, but read it over, and again, and you see that the whole sweep of fate and chance is illuminated through the simple pieces of nature we love in our small lives – surely the best way we can conceive of the infinite.
We must take the whole package, in order to find in our lives that ‘symphony’: accept misfortunes – the stones in our path; and live with imperfections – the brambles in the garden (though as a gardener I find this bit difficult!). It seems to us a very modern concept – holistic, harmonious – and how green the admonition that we should change nothing ‘of the things that are’. It’s a good philosophy for life. Read this at my funeral.
Lizzie MacGregor is Assistant Librarian at the Scottish Poetry Library