Poems for Younger Persons

Poems by R.L.Stevenson who also wrote "Treasure Island" and "Kidnapped".

As a child he was prone to illness and was forced to stay in bed - many of his writings reflect this state.

From a Railway Carriage

Faster than fairies, faster than witches,

Bridges and houses, hedges and ditches;

And charging along like troops in a battle

All through the meadows the horses and cattle:

All of the sights of the hill and the plain

Fly as thick as driving rain;

And ever again, in the wink of an eye,

Painted stations whistle by.

Here is a child who clambers and scrambles,

All by himself and gathering brambles;

Here is a tramp who stands and gazes;

And here is the green for stringing the daisies!

Here is a cart runaway in the road

Lumping along with man and load;

And here is a mill, and there is a river:

Each a glimpse and gone forever!

Notes: From a Railway Carriage should be read with the speed and rhythm of a train!

hedge = bushes round a field

ditch = a canal or channel at the side of a country road where the water drains off

charge = attack on the run

meadow = a grassy field, pasture

cattle = cows, etc.

plain = flat piece of land

driving rain = rain blown by the wind

clamber / scramble = climb over a rough or rocky surface

bramble = blackberry bush

tramp = unemployed person who wanders round the countryside living off odd jobs

gaze = look admiringly or dreamily

lumping = like bumping

glimpse = see something for just a moment

The Wind from "A Child's Garden of Verse"

I saw you toss the kites on high

And blow the birds about the sky;

And all around I heard you pass,

Like ladies' skirts across the grass--

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song!

I saw the different things you did,

But always you yourself you hid.

I felt you push, I heard you call,

I could not see yourself at all--

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song!

O you that are so strong and cold,

O blower, are you young or old?

Are you a beast of field and tree,

Or just a stronger child than me?

O wind, a-blowing all day long,

O wind, that sings so loud a song

ALL night long and every night,

When my mama puts out the light,

I see the people marching by,

As plain as day, before my eye.

Armies and emperors and kings,

All carrying different kinds of things,

And marching in so grand a way,

You never saw the like by day.

So fine a show was never seen

At the great circus on the green;

For every kind of beast and man

Is marching in that caravan.

At first they move a little slow,

But still the faster on they go,

And still beside them close I keep

Until we reach the town of Sleep.

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.

counterpane = a colourful blanket on a bed. Nowadays bedspread is more common

a-bed = poetic for, of course, in bed

leaden = made of lead, a heavy grey metal

drills = probably military belts, etc.

fleet = a fleet of ships

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