Books Magazine

Poetry in June: R.L.Stevenson

By Chris Mills @landing_tales

Yesterday I promised you one more poem about trains and here it is, right on time, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s (1850-1894) A Child’s Garden of Verses. This collection was originally published in 1885 under the title Penny Whistles. We have a nice Dover Publications edition (1992) with black and white illustrations but I have scanned the poem from an illustrated anthology, as the verse’s page has such an attractive border design.

The illustrations in A Children’s Book of Verse (Brimax Books 1978) are by Eric Kincaid and the poems selected by Marjorie Rogers.  This is a wonderful collection of poems, ‘Travel to the end of the rainbow, soar with eagles, fly to the moon, shiver with Old Jack Frost, delight in the animal kingdom, tremble in the underworld, dance with the fairies at the bottom of the garden or watch the seasons change’…you can also go on a train journey….

Brimax Books, 1987

Brimax Books, 1987

I like so many poems in A Child’s Garden of Verses that I opted for From a Railway Carriage since it had the dual effect of tying in with the previous train poems as well as meaning that I didn’t have to make a difficult choice. The collection encompasses many themes of childhood, such as playing games, going to bed, exploring and imaginary places. Poems such as My Bed is a Boat, The Land of Counterpane and My Shadow are timeless in their evocation of childish concerns.

And here’s a little extra one (simply because it amuses me):

Dover Publications

Dover Publications

Auntie’s Skirts

Whenever Auntie moves around,
Her dresses make a curious sound;
They trail behind her up the floor,
And trundle after through the door.

(number xv in the Dover edition)

The verse conjures up a wonderful image; I hope that auntie never got her skirts caught up in the door…

I’ll leave you with a link to the Robert Louis Stevenson Website which is a comprehensive source of information on RLS and his work.

Look out for more verse tomorrow!


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