a life well lived

Monday, June 9, 2014

R. L. S. 06/13/00

Sitting in Barnes & Noble yesterday, looking out at the downpour drenching the parking lot, brought to mind, "The rain is raining all around, it falls on field and tree, it falls on the umbrellas here, and on the ships at sea."

There is something special about Robert Lewis Stevenson’s poems.  I dearly loved A Child’s Garden of Verses when I was little and they were read to me and I dearly loved it as a parent reading it to my own little ones and I dearly love it today.   

Sweet memories of getting lost in the words and in Jessie Wilcox Smith’s beautiful illustrations.  I wish I knew where that book has rambled off to.  The volume close at hand these days is one illustrated by Tasha Tudor.  It is exquisite but there is something in Jessie Wilcox Smith’s illustrations that will always call to my heart.


I cannot pass up the chance to share some of my favorite RLS poems with my special circle of loved ones.  If I included all of my dearly beloveds, Elsa would be at the key board for several hours.  These are especially dear to my heart.  So many memories and so much loved wrapped up in each one.

Foreign Lands 

Up into the cherry tree ~ Who should climb but little me? 
I held the trunk with both my hands ~ And looked abroad on foreign lands

I saw the next door garden lie, ~ Adorned with flowers, before my eye,
 And many pleasant places more ~ That I had never seen before.

I saw the dimpling river pass ~ And be the sky’s blue looking glass; 
The dusty roads go up and down ~ With people tramping into town.

If I could find a higher tree, ~ Farther and farther I should see;  
to where the grown-up river slips ~ Into the sea among the ships.

To where the roads on either hand ~ Lead onward into fairy land, 
Where all the children dine at five, ~ And all the playthings come alive.

To Alison Cunningham, From Her Boy

(his dedication in "A Child’s Garden of Verses")

For the long nights you lay awake and watched for my unworthy sake;

For you most comfortable hand that led me through the uneven land;

For all the story-books you read;  for all the pains you comforted;

For all you pitied, all you bore, in sad and happy days of yore: -

My second Mother, my first Wife, the angel of my infant life -

From the sick child, now well and old, take, nurse, the little book you hold. 

And grant it, Heaven, that all who read may find as near a nurse at need,

And every child who lists my rhyme, in the bright, fireside, nursery clime,

May hear it in as kind a voice, as made my childhood days rejoice!

Bed In Summer 

In winter I get up at night and dress by golden candle-light.

In summer, quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see the birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people’s feet still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you, when all the sky is clear & blue,

And I should like so much to play, to have to go to bed by day?

At the Sea-side

When I was down beside the sea

A wooden spade they gave to me

To dig the sandy shore.


My holes were empty like a cup,

In every hole the sea came up,

Till it could come no more.

Windy Nights

Whenever the moon and stars are set

Whenever the wind is high,

All night long in the dark and wet,

A man goes riding by.

Late in the night when the fires are out,

Why does he gallop and gallop about?

Whenever the trees are crying aloud,

And the ships are tossed at sea,

By, on the highway, low and loud,

By at the gallop goes he.

By at the gallop he goes, and then,

By he comes back at the gallop again.

~ and my favorite of all ~

The Lamplighter

My tea is nearly ready and the sun has left the sky;

It’s time to take the window to see Leerie going by;

For every night at teatime and before you take your seat,

With lantern and with ladder he comes posting up the street.

Now Tom may be a driver and Maria go to sea,

And my papa is a banker and as rich as he can be;

But I, when I am stronger and can choose what I’m to do,

Oh Leerie, I’ll go round at night and light the lamps with you.

For we are very lucky, with a lamp before the door,

And Leerie stops to light it as he lights so many more;

An Oh! Before you hurry by with ladder and with light,

Oh Leerie, see a little child and nod to him to-night!


I leave with you the short & sweet  
Time To Rise

A birdie with a yellow bill,

Hopped upon the window-sill,

Cocked his shining eye and said:

"Ain't you shamed, you sleepy head!"


Nite-nite & God bless.  This sleepy head is ready to head up the wooden hill!

Love to one & all (and a special hug to Nora) ~ Ma Lockhart

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