Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Child's Garden of Verses

A Child's Garden of Verses
Robert Louis Stevenson ~ Brian Wildsmith Oxford University Press, 1966

Mr. Wildsmith is one of those illustrators who I wish had made wallpaper so I could just wrap my whole house in his colors and imagination. Seriously, if this book was butter, right now I would be smearing it all over toast. As can be evidenced by my difficulty in whittling it down to one or two pictures to scan. I really wanted to just videotape the whole book, but then, if I sat around doing that sort of thing all day, when would I have time to read to my boy? So, I cut it down to a handful and called it a day.

A Child's Garden of Verses unto itself is one of my favorite books for children. The writing so luminous and real. Childlike and magical yet rooted in the longing and yearning of adulthood. I know I enjoy the words far more as an adult than my son does as a child. This sort of wisdom only arrives in retrospect. How could we all possibly know when it was happening just how wonderful and fleeting those moments of childhood were? And Wildsmith's paintings here fit so naturally and literally explode off the pages and into the poems themselves. Well, I'll just let the pictures and words do the talking.

The Land of Story-Books

At evening when the lamp is lit,
Around the fire my parents sit;
They sit at home and talk and sing,
And do not play at anything.

Now, with my little gun, I crawl
All in the dark along the wall,
And follow round the forest track
Away behind the sofa back.

There, in the night, where none can spy,
All in my hunter's camp I lie,
And play at books that I have read
Till it is time to go to bed.

These are the hills, these are the woods,
These are my starry solitudes;
And there the river by whose brink
The roaring lions come to drink.

I see the others far away
As if in firelit camp they lay,
And I, like to an Indian scout,
Around their party prowled about.

So when my nurse comes in for me,
Home I return across the sea,
And go to bed with backward looks
At my dear land of Story-books.

Also by:
A Child's Garden of Verses
Brian Wildsmith's Birds
Professor Noah's Spaceship
A Child's Garden of Verses - Ruhman edition
Maurice Maeterlinck's Blue Bird


Kickcan & Conkers said...

Oh,these illustrations are beautiful, thank you for sharing!

wmmahaney said...

I totally agree! The art is absolutely beautiful. Thanks for posting.

nath said...

i love love love Brian Wildsmith - i hadn't seen this book and now, true to form, i want it!

Vivi said...

So beautiful!! Can't say that enough - beautiful, beautiful, beautiful...

Antmusic said...

I haven't seen this version before. Very artistic almost cubist, impressionist, and surreal...but still realistic enough to appeal to most. NICE!

Burgin Streetman said...

i know, right? just edible!

daysease said...

What a truly fabulous book!!! what fun to sit and just soak it up!

Nan said...

I identify with your sentiment.

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