Robert Louis Stevenson

Yesterday I promised you one more poem about trains and here it is, right on time, from Robert Louis Stevenson’s (1850-1894) A Child’s Garden of Verses. This collection was originally published in 1885 under the title Penny Whistles. We have a nice Dover Publications edition (1992) with black and white illustrations but I have scanned the poem from an illustrated anthology, as the verse’s page has such an attractive border design.

The illustrations in A Children’s Book of Verse (Brimax Books 1978) are by Eric Kincaid and the poems selected by Marjorie Rogers.  This is a wonderful collection of poems, ‘Travel to the end of the rainbow, soar with eagles, fly to the moon, shiver with Old Jack Frost, delight in the animal kingdom, tremble in the underworld, dance with the fairies at the bottom of the garden or watch the seasons change’…you can also go on a train journey….

Text of Stevenson's Poem from a railway carriage

A wonderful train journey…

I like so many poems in A Child’s Garden of Verses that I opted for From a Railway Carriage since it had the dual effect of tying in with the previous train poems as well as meaning that I didn’t have to make a difficult choice. The collection encompasses many themes of childhood, such as playing games, going to bed, exploring and imaginary places. Poems such as My Bed is a Boat, The Land of Counterpane and My Shadow are timeless in their evocation of childish concerns.

And here’s a little extra one (simply because it amuses me):

book cover of A Child's Garden of Verses


Auntie’s Skirts

Whenever Auntie moves around,
Her dresses make a curious sound;
They trail behind her up the floor,
And trundle after through the door.

(number xv in the Dover edition)

The verse conjures up a wonderful image; I hope that auntie never got her skirts caught up in the door…

I’ll leave you with a link to the Robert Louis Stevenson Website which is a comprehensive source of information on RLS and his work.

Look out for more #PoetryinJune verse tomorrow!


Goblin Market

This will be the last fairy or other-worldly related poem for a while at least (honest). ‘Goblin Market’ does however, not only tie in with the themes of enchantment on recent days, but also because Christina Rossetti (1830-1894) inherited the mantle of Britain’s most famous female poet from Elizabeth Barrett Browning when she published this poem in 1862. I’ll talk more about Rossetti in a future post, but in the meantime here is a piece from her best known work.

Dover Thrift Edition, 1994

Dover Thrift Edition, 1994

I have only included a small part of Rossetti’s  long poem and I decided to scan in the text from my daughter’s edition of Goblin Market as the type seems pretty clear. Let me know if it doesn’t seem to work with your browser. I mentioned the Dover editions previously and I am a big fan of this publisher’s reasonably priced classic re-prints.


Of course, all of those luscious sounding fruits are only there to tempt the unwary, in this case two sisters named Laura and Lizzie who hear the call of the goblins touting their wares. Their cries of ‘come buy, come buy’ have an effect on one of the sisters but I won’t tell you which one just in case you don’t know the tale. Do read it if you get the chance.

That’s all from my Poetry in June sequence for today, I’ll leave you to the remainder of your weekend – but watch out for goblins selling unusually juicy produce if you are visiting any farmer’s markets today… 

More Fairies: Shakespeare

My choice of Shakespeare today is in honour of the Trinity Dublin Shakespeare Festival which is being held this week from 3-8 June. I have been to a couple of events so far and hope do more by the end of the week. My original plan for today was to select a sonnet, but I decided to pursue the theme of summer instead. Here, therefore is a short magical snatch from the action in

A Midsummer Night’s Dream:

Act II (Scene I)  – A wood near Athens     

Puck and the fairy by a tree

Puck and the fairy



Enter from opposite sides, a fairy and Puck

PuckHow now, spirit, whither wander you?  

FairyOver hill, over dale
Thorough bush, thorough brier,
Over park, over pale,
Thorough flood, thorough fire,
I do wander everywhere,
 Swifter than the moony sphere;
And I serve the fairy queen,
To dew her orbs upon the green:
The cowslips tall her pensioners be;
In their gold coats spots you see,
Those be rubies, fairy favours,
In those freckles live their savours;
I must go seek some dew-drops here,
And hang a pearl in every cowslip’s ear.
Farewell, thou lob of spirits; I’ll be gone:
Our queen and all her elves come here anon.

I have had this illustrated edition for many years but sadly can’t remember where it came from, other than that I think it was probably from a book fair in the Birmingham area. That would put it around fifteen or more years ago, which is a scary thought.

The illustrations are all by Arthur Rackham (1867-1939) and the text was written by calligrapher Graily Hewitt (1864-1952). The work was originally done in 1929 at the invitation of the Spencer Collection (New York Public Library)  This particular edition was published in 1977 by Weidenfeld and Nicolson Ltd and reproduced from the 1929 manuscript. I love Arthur Rackham’s work and maybe one day I might get to see his original drawings and watercolours. There is an Arthur Rackham Society if you want to discover more information about his work.

I hadn’t heard of Graily Hewitt before I owned this book but I have discovered that the Victoria and Albert Museum have holdings of his work. He was a very important figure in the world of calligraphy and typography and wrote The Pen and Type Design (1928) and Lettering (1930). The latter was last re-printed by Dover Publications in 1993 though it looks as if it is out of print now. This reminds me that Dover are a brilliant publisher for classic reprints and that perhaps I should do a post on their work sometime.

Apologies if the images don’t look as good as they might. I had problems scanning due to the size of the book.

Almost a week of poetry and poets so far….let me know your favourites so far!

Titania's fairies

Front of jacket