Some will feel that Stevenson's claims to the honor of poetic status are slight, that he is a minor poet at best and, in general, only an extremely competent versifier. It is certainly true that his writings, metrical and unmetred, have a low frequency of those passages causing the mind to perceive infinite meaning, the endless reverberations, the "visions" to which Ivor Gurney referred to as characteristic of a poem's "inexplicable significance" (see his letter to Marion Scott, 29th of September 1916). But Gurney, in the same breath, spoke also of the "vistas" of poetry. – "Visions and vistas" was in fact the sequence of his phrase, introducing a distinction that he presumably thought important. We all know about the Visions, the winged touchstones of poetry, but the vistas also serve, standing and waiting. I have myself been hitherto careless of that difference, but now think that it should be taken more seriously. Yes, one must concede, that the readerly experience of a poetic "vista" is closer to coherent and provisionally terminated prosaic reasoning than the experiences that we might term "visions", for vistas are still born of the sublunary landscape, and do not hover above the earth as supernatural annunciations of transcendence. Nevertheless, the focal point is left vague, and the vista peters out into mist and distance, and beyond that more distance still. Enchantment, of a kind, is lent on a very long lease, to the view. Vistas are not visions, but they are nonetheless varieties of mysterious meaning.
Of such effects, Stevenson has a respectable supply, "The Woodman" in Songs of Travel, a meditation on the implications of Darwinism, and consequently a favourite of W. D. Hamilton, being a good example.
The fact, as it seems to me, that they all ring hollow, in the last comparison, should not blind us to the difference.