Trail Up the Mountain to Stevenson’s Tomb

Trail up the Mountain to Stevenson's Tomb.
In ancient Edinburg, "city of mist and rain and blown gray spaces," Robert Louis Stevenson first saw the light on November 13, 1850. Little more than forty-four years later this sunny-hearted Scot passed away in the far-off tropical isle of Samoa, beloved and mourned by all the English-speaking world for the rich legacy of romances and poems which he left as the fruits of his short life. To his vivid imagination the quaint fancies of childhood, the passions and deeds of bristling buccaneers, truculent soldiers, and high-born dames were equally welcome as themes for a pen which could draw any character or any situation with unfailing accuracy, understanding, and sympathy. It was the spell cast upon his mind by dreams of the palm-fringed islands of the South Seas, inhabited by dark-skinned Polynesians and haunted of old by pirate craft, which led Stevenson, after wide travels in other lands, to leave his native Scottish heaths behind and in 1890, to take up his abode in Samoa. The four busy years which he spent here proved his last ones, for on December 4, 1894, he died quite suddenly in his home at Vailima, near Apia. Sorrow-stricken natives, to whom he had endeared himself immeasurably, bore his body to its last resting place on the lofty peak of Vaea, which here rises before us, its steep slope marked by the winding pathway leading up to his tomb. Here, where the clouds trail cool draperies about his grave and the burnished surface of the Pacific is outstretched far below, lies all that is mortal of the singer who himself wrote:

Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.

This be the verse you grave for me:
Here he lies where he longed to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

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