Saturday, May 30, 2015
A Child's Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson, illustrated by Tasha Tudor
Over the years, I have heard a number of authors mention the poetry of Robert Louis Stevenson, and none were more impressive than the mention and admiration of the renowned poet, W.S. Merwin. In an interview a few years ago with Bill Moyers, he recounted how his mother read to him every night. He especially loved A Child’s Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson. I have been coveting a copy of this collection for some time, but somehow, other things always got in the way. While wandering through the offerings of Amazon, I came across a copy illustrated by none other than the marvelous children’s book illustrator, Tasha Tudor. The book arrived today, and I dropped everything to read it aloud, as Merwin suggested. Some of these poems sounded vaguely familiar, although I cannot recall my mother reading me any poetry. She liked stories, and so did I.
This simple and endearing collection is a wonderful way to introduce children to the magic and beauty of poetry. Here is an example of one I vaguely remember from my childhood, “Bed in Summer”:
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 hoping 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? (10).
Another brief poem I especially liked was “Looking Forward”:
When I am grown to man’s estate
I shall be proud and very great,
And tell the other girls and boys
Not to meddle with my toys.” (18).