po·e·sy n. pl. po·e·sies 1. Poetical works; poetry. 2. The art or practice of composing poems. 3. The inspiration involved in composing poetry. [Middle English poesie, from Old French, from Latin posis, from Greek poisis, from poiein, to create; see kwei-2 in Indo-European roots.]

My Photo
Location: Canada

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Nov. 13 - Robert Louis Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson
November 13, 1850 Edinburgh, Scotland -- December 3, 1894, Samoa

Better known for his tales of mystery such as The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886), and adventure such as Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), The Master of Ballantrae (1889), etc. he also wrote short stories and was a prolific travel writer and poet.

When he died suddenly of a stroke at the age of 44, the natives of Samoa carried his body to the peak of Mount Vaea, where they buried him. His poem Requiem is inscribed on his gravestone as an epitaph:


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.
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.

~I love that beautiful poem!

Some years ago when my children were small I bought Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses and discovered I was familiar with, but hadn't known who authored, many of these delightful, whimsical works.

Here are some of them:

From A Child's Garden of Verses (1885)

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.

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night
And dress by yellow candle-light.
In summer quite the other way,
I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see
The birds still hopping on the tree,
Or hear the grown-up people's feet
Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,
When all the sky is clear and blue,
And I should like so much to play,
To have to go to bed by day?

My Shadow

I have a little shadow that goes in and out with me,
And what can be the use of him is more than I can see.
He is very, very like me from the heels up to the head;
And I see him jump before me, when I jump into my bed.

The funniest thing about him is the way he likes to grow--
Not at all like proper children, which is always very slow;
For he sometimes shoots up taller like an india-rubber ball,
And he sometimes goes so little that there's none of him at all.

He hasn't got a notion of how children ought to play,
And can only make a fool of me in every sort of way.
He stays so close behind me, he's a coward you can see;
I'd think shame to stick to nursie as that shadow sticks to me!

One morning, very early, before the sun was up,
I rose and found the shining dew on every buttercup;
But my lazy little shadow, like an arrant sleepy-head,
Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.

The Swing

How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!


The rain is falling all around,
It falls on field and tree,
It rains on the umbrellas here,
And on the ships at sea.


Sunday, November 11, 2007

Remembrance Day Poets

Keith Douglas
(Jan 4, 1920 - June 9, 1944) The most famous English poet of WWII, he was killed in Normandy.

To Restore a Dead Child

by Keith Douglas
Sometimes while I sleep
I hear the single cry and the tire screek
that never end.
My blond and foolish brown-eyed brother
lugging his fretful love
shambles after me
as the cunning Mack truck
lurching out of nowhere
cuts him down.

He's a long dead almost-three.
I'm a long lived five
just turned sixty-one
still running in a dead heat
with the rolling cab that swooped him up
heading for the vanished hospital.

It's then on waking
I feel the snot of infant faces
leak into my mouth.


Vergissmeinnicht (Forget-me-not)
Elegy for an 88 Gunner

by Keith Douglas
Three weeks gone and the combatants gone
returning over the nightmare ground
we found the place again, and found
the soldier sprawling in the sun.

The frowning barrel of his gun
overshadowing. As we came on
that day, he hit my tank with one
like the entry of a demon.

Look. Here in the gunpit spoil
the dishonoured picture of his girl
who has put: Steffi. Vergissmeinnicht
in a copybook gothic script.

We see him almost with content,
abased, and seeming to have paid
and mocked at by his own equipment
that's hard and good when he's decayed.

But she would weep to see today
how on his skin the swart flies move;
the dust upon the paper eye
and the burst stomach like a cave.

For here the lover and killer are mingled
who had one body and one heart.
And death who had the soldier singled
has done the lover mortal hurt.


Sidney Arthur Kilworth Keyes (May 27, 1922 - 19 April 1943) joined the army in 1942 and fought in Tunis as a lieutenant in the West Kent Regiment. He was killed in action one month before his 21st birthday.

War Poet

by Sidney Keyes

I am the man who looked for peace and found

My own eyes barbed,
I am the man who groped for words and found
An arrow in my hand.
I am the builder whose firm walls surround
A slipping land.
When I grow sick or mad
Mock me not nor chain me:
When I reach for the wind
Cast me not down:
Though my face is a burnt book
And a wasted town.

- 1942