Wednesday, November 14, 2012

To Any Reader

~ A House Made for Poetry ~
Yesterday was the birthday of author Robert Louis Stevenson, born in Scotland in 1850.  I meant to post this on his actual day, but I am finding myself in that weird loop of thinking-one-day-is-another, which is caused by having a Monday holiday off. 

So, belated Birthday Greetings to Mr. Stevenson, who wrote Kidnapped, Treasure Island, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.  Coincidentally, on his birthday I purchased tickets for the Broadway musical Jekyll and Hyde, which will be playing at the Pantages Theater in Hollywood this coming February and March. 

I found it very interesting that RLS did not learn to read until the age of seven or eight, yet he was dictating stories to his mother and nurse even before this time.  He composed stories prolifically during his childhood, and throughout his life.  He composed music as well, creating more than 100 musical pieces and arrangements.  And, if this isn't enough of a legacy, there are some who claim that he was the inventor of the sleeping bag!  All of this before his untimely death at the age of forty-four.

In his honor, I bring you a poem entitled, "To Any Reader," from his Child's Garden of Verses:

As from the house your mother sees
You playing round 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.


  1. Did your research lead you to the fact that he had lived in California? There's a house where he stayed in Monterey (I have a shot somewhere), and he and his new bride were in the mining camps and he wrote stories about them. Comprehensive reference here: I seem to recall having once hiked up a trail near Napa to see--something. Can't remember what! A cabin where he and his wife had lived? Ah, creeping senility.

    1. I did see that! The sleeping-bag link was from his childhood home in Scotland. I should have mentioned that. Interesting man, to say the least. He died in Samoa. Had a stroke, while helping his wife to make mayonnaise! Will check out your link.

  2. Oh wow, I haven't read that poem since, well, childhood! Such a great tribute to RLS - I had no idea about his dictating early stories or the sleeping bag. Wonderful lesson on a legendary writer, thank you!

    1. Thanks, Lulu. His Childrens' poetry is so much better as a grownup! It was fun to re-learn about him as I worked on this.

  3. How fascinating. Enjoyed reading about the great man on your post and the link. Wonderful house you selected...perfect, in fact.

    1. Thank you, LOL. What an interesting life he led. I love this house - absolutely jumped out at me, when I was looking through my photos!

  4. Love the link to the Stevenson house! Who knew your Sierra Madre blog would make me itch to travel?

    1. Certainly not I! :) I love that house too. Seems like we could spend a huge chunk of our lives, just trying to see all the places he saw...

  5. A friend of mine and his family lived in this house years ago. It was painted white w/ yellow trim back then. The sprawling layout was unique, it almost gave you the sense that there were hidden passages. There was a closet in the house that had weird, eerie surrealist paintings on the walls from the previous owner. This is an amazing house.

    1. Wow - That's interesting! Thanks for the info. I wonder if there really were secret passages? No reason there couldn't be, really...


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