– Robert Louis Stevenson Poems –
The best-known works of Robert Louis Stevenson are the horror novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for adults and the children’s classic Treasure Island (1882). (1886). Both books have intriguing beginnings.
Robert Louis Stevenson Poems
Through the following sections, you’ll find short snippets about the life of Robert Louis Stevenson.
Stevenson’s inspiration for the first story came from a map of a made-up island, while the basis for the second came from a nightmare. These stories all share Stevenson’s central theme—that good and evil cannot be distinguished—as well as remarkable beginnings.
The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.
But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.
Long John Silver from Treasure Island is both a brave friend and a cunning cutthroat, while Dr. Jekyll, who is a combination of virtue and evil, is ultimately overthrown by Hyde because of his own moral lapses.
I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.
The funniest things about him is the way he likes to grow–
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an India rubber ball,
And he sometimes gets so little that there’s none of him at all.
He hasn’t got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close beside me, he’s a coward you can see;
I’d think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!
One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
Bed in Summer
Stevenson established benchmarks for nuanced characterization with Silver, Jekyll, and other characters, which were afterwards taken up by other authors.
One of Stevenson’s greatest literary achievements was the way he depicted ambiguous, cryptic characters.
In Winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow 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 and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?
Stevenson was the lone child of Thomas Stevenson and Margaret Balfour and was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. He was born with weakened lungs since his mother had them.
Before he turned two, a young lady by the name of Alison Cunningham moved in to take care of him. Over thirty years later, Stevenson dedicated A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) to her.
Through poems like “The Land of Counterpane,” he reveals the secluded, bedridden condition of his youth.
Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown–
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!
From a Railway Carriage
Though not all of his boyhood was spent there. He spent the summer at Colinton Manse, a rural home where he played outside with his many relatives.
According to most reports, Stevenson earned a reward from one of his Balfour uncles for a Moses history while competing against his cousins at six. The Book of Joseph was his second writing.
The Pentland Rising (1866), Stevenson’s debut book, likewise had a religious tone and described a failed uprising by Covenanters in 1666. Stevenson penned the narrative when he was 16 years old, and his father paid to have the booklet published.
These pieces show how young his parents’ fervent religious beliefs profoundly inspired Stevenson.
But his opinions saw a major change during his time in college.
Faster than fairies, faster than witches,
Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;
And charging along like troops in a battle
All through the meadows the horses and cattle:
All of the sights of the hill and the plain
Fly as thick as driving rain;
And ever again, in the wink of an eye,
Painted stations whistle by.
Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,
All by himself and gathering brambles;
Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;
And here is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart runaway in the road
Lumping along with man and load;
And here is a mill, and there is a river:
Each a glimpse and gone forever!
The Land of Nod
Since he was seven years old, he had been going to school, but because of his bad health and the fact that his father didn’t believe in the need of a formal education, his attendance was sporadic.
The father of Stevenson, however, afterwards expressed his extreme displeasure with his son’s performance at the University of Edinburgh.
From breakfast on through all the day
At home among my friends I stay,
But every night I go abroad
Afar into the land of Nod.
All by myself I have to go,
With none to tell me what to do–
All alone beside the streams
And up the mountain-sides of dreams.
The strangest things are these for me,
Both things to eat and things to see,
And many frightening sights abroad
Till morning in the land of Nod.
Try as I like to find the way,
I never can get back by day,
Nor can remember plain and clear
The curious music that I hear.
Stevenson enrolled in college at 16, intending to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a lighthouse engineer. He became well-known for his outlandish clothes and conduct rather than putting much effort into his education.
They referred Stevenson to as “Velvet Jacket” because he was wearing a wide-brimmed hat and a boy’s velveteen coat. Stevenson visited brothels, used hashish, and explored the seedy underbelly of Edinburgh with his cousin Bob.
At age 22, he declared himself an agnostic, crowning his father’s disappointment in him. The academic world reexamined and eventually gave his work significant consideration in the 1950s and 1960s.
Outside of the academy, Treasure Island and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde have been read extensively for more than a century and appear to have a long future of popularity.
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