The New Edinburgh Edition of the Collected Works of Robert Louis Stevenson

Manuscript puzzle/2: Notes for ‘The Four Seasons’

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Here is part 2 of our cleaned-up version of notes from the previous post.

Notes for ‘The Four Seasons’ (late 1878).

[Yale, GEN MSS 664 box 38 folder 830 (RLS/F, Notebook F/Inland Voyage Notebook), spread 6, numbered p. 3v]

[This unfinished outline could have been intended as a kind of rhapsodic celebration of a-moral natural forces, like ‘Pan’s Pipes’ written in the same year and like passages of An Inland Voyage, the journal of which shares the same notebook.]

The Four Seasons.

Prologue. The world: what is that image[1] in the purple sunset; fire, snow, tempests,
habitability, ploughs going.[2]

Spring: motto from Morte d’Arthur[3]
The New year . wrong reckoning . Waking in the morning . so with births .
Birth of all things . Births . Youth . Memory . Memory in
youth and manhood . Youth of the World . Lilacs . smells .
birds . Invasion of the town by the country . Love . as
regards the body and the soul . Growth ; the leaves, the burnets[4]
and the dokens[5] all beginning to sprout in the fields.

Summer . Culmination . Gardens . Forests . Heat in itself . Eternal
Summer ; longevity . The love of water, rivers, springs and
seas . Mountain top . Delicacy of the season, coolness .
Full leafage . Insects . Summer of women . Exercise
Watering Places . (Hot South, sensuality, living touch of things,
little raiment.


[1] Word not clear; other suggested readings: ‘ange[l]’, ‘sings’, ‘song’ or ‘dirge’.

[2] The mixture of the violent and peaceful aspects of nature in this list is reminiscent of the late poem ‘Tropic Rain’: ‘And methought that beauty and terror are only one, not two; / And the world has room for love, and death, and thunder, and dew’.

[3] Perhaps:  ‘And thus it passed on from Candlemass until after Easter, that the month of May was come, when every lusty heart beginneth to blossom, and to bring forth fruit; for like as herbs and trees bring forth fruit and flourish in May, in like wise every lusty heart that is in any manner a lover, springeth and flourisheth in lusty deeds. For it giveth unto all lovers courage, that lusty month of May …’ (Bk 18, ch 25).

[4]  Burnet roses, a kind of wild rose often found on heaths.

[5] Word not clear; could be Scots ‘docken’ or ‘dokken’, i.e. the dock plant.


Written by rdury

15/09/2012 at 4:07 pm

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