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Robert Louis Balfour† Stevenson
1850-1894

Born in Edinburgh, Stevenson went there to university; first studying engineering, he switched to law and became an "advocate" in 1875; however, it seems, Stevenson spent most of his time traveling, reading and writing. It has been said, that, in his writing, Stevenson imitated Montaigne and William Hazlitt. In 1888, Stevenson settled in Samoa and spent the last five years of his life there, on his estate, Valima. Stevenson is an example of how one can become a good writer; one way is to read books; it is said Stevenson read thousands of books. Like Leacock, Stevenson is best remembered for his stories, such as Treasure Island, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde, Kidnapped; but, like Leacock's, Stevenson's best writing (again, in my view) is to be found in his works on more serious topics, such as for example: Virginibus Puerisque (1881) (London: Heinemann, 1924), Familiar Studies of Men & Books (London: Heinemann, 1924), and Essays


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FROM A RAILWAY CARRIDGE
THE RAIN is raining all around
Romance
Light foot and tight foot
St. Martin's Summer
Requiem
At the Sea-side
Of speckled eggs the birdie sings


FROM A RAILWAY CARRIDGE

 
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 there is the green for stringing the daisies!
Here is a cart run away 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!


THE RAIN is raining all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.


Romance

I WILL make you brooches and toys for your delight
Of bird-song at morning and star-shine at night.
I will make a palace fit for you and me,
Of green days in forests and blue days at sea.
I will make my kitchen, and you shall keep your room,
Where white flows the river and bright blows the broom,
And you shall wash your linen and keep your body white
In rainfall at morning and dewfall at night.
And this shall be for music when no one else is near,
The fine song for singing, the rare song to hear!
That only I remember, that only you admire,
Of the broad road that stretches and the roadside fire.


Light foot and tight foot
And green grass spread,
Early in the morning Ц
But hope is on ahead.

Stout foot and proud foot
And grey dust spread,
Early in the evening Ц
And hope lies dead.

Long life and short life,
The last word said,
Early in the evening
There lies the bed.

Brief day and bright day
And sunset red,
Early in the evening
The stars are overhead


St. Martin's Summer

As swallows turning backward
When half-way o'er the sea,
At one word's trumpet summons
They came again to me -
The hopes I had forgotten
Came back again to me.

I know not which to credit,
O lady of my heart!
Your eyes that bade me linger,
Your words that bade us part -
I know not which to credit,
My reason or my heart.

But be my hopes rewarded,
Or be they but in vain,
I have dreamed a golden vision,
I have gathered in the grain -
I have dreamed a golden vision,
I have not lived in vain.


Requiem

Under the wide and starry sky,
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
 
This be the verse you grave for me:
'Here he lies where he longed to be;
Here is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.'

At the Sea-side

When I was down beside the sea
A wooden spade they gave to me
To dig the sandy shore.
My holes were empty like a cup.
In every hole the sea came up,
Till it could come no more.

Of speckled eggs the birdie sings
And nests among the trees;
The sailor sings of ropes and things
In ships upon the seas.
The children sing in far Japan,
The children sing in Spain;
The organ with the organ man
Is singing in the rain.

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© 2001 Elena and Yacov Feldman