Thursday, July 31, 2008

A Child's Garden of Verses

by Robert Louis Stevenson with an introduction by William Rose Benét and illustrations by Roger Duvoisin/ published 1944 by The Heritage Press

The book opens with a wonderful introduction (by one of Marjorie Flack's men) on the life of RLS, beginning with the tale of how he was a frail child from birth. The nurse who took care of him throughout his childhood is the person he chose to dedicate this book to in its first edition ~ published in 1885 under a different title. The intro goes on to read that later in life RLS was described as a "hot-blooded, romantic young man, attractive to the opposite sex" with a mother complex. Gotta love that in a guy. The dedication to the nurse in full follows...

To Alison Cunningham
From Her Boy

For the long nights you lay awake
And watched for my unworthy sake:
For your 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 dear a nurse at need,
and every child who lists my rhyme,
In bright, fireside, nursery clime,
May hear it in as kind a voice
As made my childish days rejoice.

You were probably reared under a rock if you didn't have at least one version of this book in your youth, as there have to be dozens if not hundreds. The poems within its pages are so touching and dear, that as a grownup, they stir up tons of emotion for me. Check out the final poem... just awesome really.

To Any Reader
As from the house your mother sees
You playing around the garden trees,
So you may see, if you will look
Through the windows of this book,
Another child, far, far away,
And in another garden, play.
But do not think you can at all,
By knocking on the window, call
That child to hear you. He intent
Is all on his play-business bent.
He does not hear; he will not look,
Nor yet be lured out of this book.
For, long ago, the truth to say,
He has grown up and gone away,
And it is but a child of air
That lingers in the garden there.

I have to think that for anyone who writes a children's book (or any book for that matter)... this is the poetry of heart they must all be hoping to achieve.

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses - Ruhman edition
A Child's Garden of Verses - Wildsmith edition
The Rain Puddle
Veronica and the Birthday Present
Petuna, Beware!
White Snow Bright Snow
Petunia's Christmas
The Old Bullfrog


anne mancine said...

I am delighted to find your blog! I love children's books, and have managed to keep almost all the books I grew up with. Just last month, I was thrilled to find an old series at a local flea market.

It's the thrill of the hunt that keeps one going, eh?

Burgin Streetman said...

right back at you.... i would have killed to be this guy's lover by the way. i am so lame and corny that children's book authors turn me on. i have so many literary crushes, it is sad.

thanks for checking me out.

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