This book is perfect for those 'waiting moments' the orthodontist, doctor, and for bedsides, where its shear diminutive size will not dissuade one from reading for only a minute or two. There in Stevenson's words and language lie the ferment of creative pictures. Encouraging children to close their eyes while hearing the short poems and heartening them to use their vivid imaginations, to picture, to tell, what they saw is one way to thoroughly enjoy the adventures, moods, and images Stevenson conjurs up. This is why his poetry remains so classic.

Though primarily a novelist, Robert Louis Stevenson has left one immortal book of poetry which is equally at home in the nursery and library: A Child's Garden of Verses is second only to Mother Goose's own collection in its lyrical simplicity and universal appeal.

Born on November 13, 1850, at Edinburgh, Stevenson died after a long and dogged fight with illness in his beloved Samoan Islands in 1894. Stevenson is remembered as a Scottish essayist, poet, and author of fiction and travel books. He is best known for his novels Treasure Island (1881), Kidnapped (1886), Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and The Master of Ballantrae (1889). As a poet Stevenson tends to be best remembered as the author of A Child's Garden of Verses (1885); which contains several memorable poems like "The Land of Counterpane", "The Land of Nod" and 62 others that touchingly voice the many moods and currents of a child's imagining, poems which communicate the fears as well as the pleasures of childhood.

Its first publication was out out by London/New York: Longmans, Green/Scribner's in 1885. Six poems had been previously printed in The Magazine of Art, (Mar-Sep 1884).

Stevenson collaborated with his son to write the sea faring adventures of Kidnapped and Treasure Island. There is the unforgettable The Land of Counterpane and in A Good Play it's easy to imagine one's bedroom curtains billowing like sails!! For My Ship and I the bedpost becomes an anchor! A child can lie there in bed and just floated away with the fun of having someone to share their imagination. The pictures are adorable with little kids who were so old fashioned and they make one laugh because the boys wear silly clothes that fit the time period.

Stevenson did not flourish as far as his health was concerned, but his literary output was prodigious. Writing was one of the few activities he could do when he was confined to bed suffering from severe respiratory illness(he had tuberculosis) --"Bluidy Jack" he nicknamed the recurrent bleeding. However, despite illness, he wrote some of his most enduring fiction. His childhood at Heriot Row inspired the poetry.

Broke, sickly, and suffering from extreme writer's block, Stevenson comforted himself with memories of the glorious summers he spent at his grandfather's country estate in Scotland as a child. First reminiscing and then literally re-living his childhood, Stevenson was quickly inspired to scrap the battered manuscript he was working and created a series of children's poems that reflected the happiest times of his life. These would later become "A Child's Garden of Verses." Please enjoy.

Reading level: Ages 4 to adult.

A Child's Garden of Verses (1885)
Robert Louis Stevenson

To Alison Cunningham

Bed in Summer
A Thought
At the Sea-side
Young Night-Thought
Whole Duty of Children
Pirate Story
Foreign Lands
Windy Nights
Looking Forward
A Good Play
Where Go the Boats?
Auntie's Skirts
The Land of Counterpane
The Land of Nod
My Shadow
A Good Boy
Escape at Bedtime
Marching Song
The Cow
The Happy Thought
The Wind
Keepsake Mill
Good and Bad Children
Foreign Children
The Sun Travels
The Lamplighter
My Bed is a Boat
The Moon
The Swing
Time to Rise
Looking-glass River
Fairy Bread
From a Railway Carriage
The Hayloft
Farewell to the Farm
North-west Passage

The Child Alone

The Unseen Playmate
My Ship and I
My Kingdom
Picture-books in Winter
My Treasures
Block City
The Land of Story-books
Armies in the Fire
The Little Land

Garden Days

Night and Day
Nest Eggs
The Flowers
Summer Sun
The Dumb Soldier
Autumn Fires
The Gardener
Historical Associations


To Willie and Henrietta
To My Mother
To Auntie
To Minnie
To My Name-Child
To Any Reader

Public domain text taken from The Poets’ Corner:

CST Approved

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