The anthology I’m now reading for Sunday Poetry is this lovely collection of Scottish Love Poetry by Antonia Fraser, published in 1975. This is another of the battered paperbacks I bought at the Lake Daylesford Book Barn in the 1980s when I used to stay with friends who had a lovely old house right on the Lake & two doors up from the Book Barn. Whenever I was missing, they knew where I’d be – next to the potbelly stove in the Book Barn.
Subtitled A Personal Anthology, in the Introduction, Fraser explains that her criteria was simply to choose the love poetry she enjoyed & had returned to over the years. The book is divided into 21 sections, each describing a different stage or condition of love, so I’ve decided to follow those sections & choose a poem from each of them over the next 21 weeks. The first section, Celebrations of Love, opens with the most famous Scottish love poem of all, Robert Burns’s A red, red rose. This is one of my favourites too & Bryn Terfel sings a gorgeous version of it on his CD of British love songs. But, I decided on a lesser known poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, a gentle celebration of contented, happy love.
I will make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.
And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.