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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Sunday, October 21, 2012


On our way home from the bridge club last night we stopped off in the central city to look at the light intallations. These are part of Luxcity which is the opening event in the Festival of Transitional Architecture. It was great to see the city come to life. The lights and crowds made it easy to overlook the fact that these installations were all set up on the sites of demolished buildings - many suspended from the cranes which are still working to pull down all the damaged buildings.

This one is looking straight up the centre of the structure in the first photo (the colours cycled through several variations). You can just make out the beam of the crane holding it up. Since I had my camera on a tripod on time exposure, this one was rather tricky to set up as the camera was flat and pointing straight up, making it difficult to compose the image on the view screen.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Tuesday Poem: The Sea Question, by Elizabeth Smither

The Sea Question

The sea asks 'How is your life now?'
It does so obliquely, changing colour.
It is never the same on any two visits.

It is never the same in any particular
Only in generalities: tide and such matters
Wave height and suction, pebbles that rattle.

It doesn't presume to wear a white coat
But it questions you like a psychologist
As you walk beside it on its long couch.

Elizabeth Smither was a guest reader last week at the Canterbury Poets' Collective spring reading series, and I took the opportunity to ask her permission to post this poem, which sprung to mind as I sorted through photos taken a couple of weeks ago on the beach at Mt Maunganui. It was originally published in The Tudor Style (Auckland University Press, 1993) and later appeared in The Nature of Things: Poems from the New Zealand Landscape published by Craig Potton Publishing in 2005.

Elizabeth Smither is a poet, novelist and short story writer. She has published many collections of poems and was selected as the inaugural Te Mata Estate Poet Laureate. In 2008 she was awarded the Prime Minister's Award for Literary Achievement in Poetry.

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Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Back from a Break

I had a week's holiday, then spent the next week catching up. I hope to line up some permissions for Tuesday Poems in time for next week. In the meantime, some photographic evidence of our trip. I have been taking ferry trips between the North and South Islands of New Zealand for longer than I can remember.