Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Tuesday Poem: Escape at Bedtime, by Robert Louis Stevenson

Escape at Bedtime

The lights from the parlour and kitchen shone out
Through the blinds and the windows and bars:
And high overhead and all moving about,
There were thousands of millions of stars.
There ne'er were such thousands of leaves on a tree,
Nor of people in church or the Park,
As the crowds of the stars that looked down upon me,
And that glittered and winked in the dark.

The Dog, and the Plough, and the Hunter, and all,
And the star of the sailor, and Mars,
These shone in the sky, and the pail by the wall
Would be half full of water and stars.
They saw me at last, and they chased me with cries,
And they soon had me packed into bed;
But the glory kept shining and bright in my eyes,
And the stars going round in my head.

- Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 - 1894)

Every year the Scottish Poetry Library produces a set of poetry postcards for National Poetry Day (which occurs during October in the UK). I received a set in the post a few days ago, courtesy of my friend Mary of fatblackcatjournal (Thanks Mary!). Most are modern poems, however one of this year's selection was the above poem by Robert Louis Stevenson, which I was unfamiliar with.

Robert Louis Stevenson was a Scottish poet, novelist and travel writer. His father was a leading lighthouse engineer, and he initially studied engineering, but showed no enthusiasm for his studies. He wrote novels such as Treasure Island, The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped. His most well-known book of poetry is A Child's Garden of Verses, some of whose poems reflect the long periods of illness he endured as a child.
He settled in Samoa where he died in 1894, probably of a cerebral haemorrhage.

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