Robert Louis Stevenson > A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods > XXIV. “Not yet, my soul”
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Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894).  A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods.  1913.
  
XXIV. “Not yet, my soul”

NOT yet, my soul, these friendly fields desert, 
Where thou with grass, and rivers, and the breeze 
And the bright face of day, thy dalliance hadst; 
Where to thine ear first sang the enraptured birds; 
Where love and thou that lasting bargain made.         5
The ship rides trimmed, and from the eternal shore 
Thou hearest airy voices; but not yet 
Depart, my soul, not yet awhile depart. 
  
Freedom is far, rest far. Thou art with life 
Too closely woven, nerve with nerve intwined;  10
Service still craving service, love for love, 
Love for dear love, still suppliant with tears. 
Alas, not yet thy human task is done! 
A bond at birth is forged; a debt doth lie 
Immortal on mortality. It grows—  15
By vast rebound it grows, unceasing growth; 
Gift upon gift, alms upon alms, upreared, 
From man, from God, from nature, till the soul 
At that so huge indulgence stands amazed. 
  
Leave not, my soul, the unfoughten field, nor leave  20
Thy debts dishonoured, nor thy place desert 
Without due service rendered. For thy life, 
Up, spirit, and defend that fort of clay, 
Thy body, now beleaguered; whether soon 
Or late she fall; whether to-day thy friends  25
Bewail thee dead, or, after years, a man 
Grown old in honour and the friend of peace. 
Contend, my soul, for moments and for hours; 
Each is with service pregnant; each reclaimed 
Is as a kingdom conquered, where to reign.  30
As when a captain rallies to the fight 
His scattered legions, and beats ruin back, 
He, on the field, encamps, well pleased in mind. 
Yet surely him shall fortune overtake, 
Him smite in turn, headlong his ensigns drive;  35
And that dear land, now safe, to-morrow fall. 
But he, unthinking, in the present good 
Solely delights, and all the camps rejoice. 

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