Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Tuesday Poem: The Land of Counterpane, by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Land of Counterpane

When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay,
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.


I've had a nasty cold for the last few days, and spent some time curled up in bed and on a chair under blankets with a pile of books. So, I'm posting this poem in a fit of nostalgia.

Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses was the second poetry book I ever owned. (The first was The Golden Treasury of Poetry edited by Louis Untermeyer). I can still view it in my mind, though where it went to I'm not quite sure. I had many favourites in the book and may post more on another occasion.

Stevenson came from a well known Scottish family of lighthouse engineers, but though he studied engineering for a short time, his heart wasn't in it, and he turned to literature. He was an only child, and frequently ill with a weak chest. This poem no doubt recalls his own childhood growing up in Edinburgh.

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Gerry Snape said...

Both books were my treasures and when others requested a toy I went for the R.L.S. Thankyou for these memories!

Kathleen Jones said...

It was one of my first books too! Some of the poems have stayed with me all my life, and particularly RLS - I learned The Highwayman by heart.

Helen Lowe said...

One hundred years or so apart but still so many echoes to my own childhood days-a-bed. Nice to know that authenticity truly can be intergenerational.

Wendy Wahman said...

I was searching for this poem and found your blog – and delightful bio. Such a lovely person you must be, Catherine.