Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was an author and poet, and some of his well-known works include Kidnapped and Treasure Island. He also wrote A Child’s Garden of Verses, published in 1885, and dedicated it to his nurse.
This small compendium of poems are a lovely insight into the world of a child, and many of them have been formed from Stevenson’s own impressions of childhood. They do not use difficult or complicated words, but succinctly and poetically capture the nature of a child’s experiences.
I have recently bought a copy of these verses and was scrolling through them when I found a poem that reminded me of my own children.
The Unseen PlaymateWhen children are playing alone on the green, In comes the playmate that never was seen. When children are happy and lonely and good, The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood. Nobody heard him and nobody saw, His is a picture you never could draw, But he’s sure to be present, abroad or at home, When children are happy and playing alone. He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass, He sings when you tinkle the musical glass; Whene’er you are happy and cannot tell why, The Friend of the Children is sure to be by! He loves to be little, he hates to be big, ‘Tis he that inhabits the caves that you dig; ‘Tis he when you play with your soldiers of tin That sides with the Frenchmen and never can win. ‘Tis he, when at night you go off to your bed, Bids you go to your sleep and not trouble your head; For wherever they’re lying, in cupboards or shelf, ‘Tis he will take care of your play-things himself!
I particularly like the reference to the obviously Bad Frenchmen! Very English of him!
It is always refreshing to see life through the eyes of a child.
Hopefully I might post more of these gems soon!
Up into the Cherry Tree – another poem by Robert Louis Stevenson
What If?: The Road Not Taken – a poem by Robert Frost
Sources and Relevant Links
Robert Louis Stevenson – website dedicated to all things RLS
A Child’s Garden of Verses – read online