A Child's Garden of Verses
by Robert Louis Stevenson
Reading Submitted by Evelyn
TO ANY READER As from the house your mother sees You playing round the garden trees, So you may see, if you will look Through the windows of this book, Another child, far, far away And in another garden, play. But do not think you can at all, By knocking on the window, call That child to hear you. He intent Is all on his play-business bent. He does not hear; he will not look, Nor yet be lured out of this book. For, long ago, the truth to say, He has grown up and gone away, And it is but a child of air That lingers in the garden there.
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, Rivers 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!
MY SHADOW I have 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 gets 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 beside 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 sleepyhead, Had stayed at home behind me and was fast asleep in bed.
WINDY NIGHTS Whenever the moon and stars are set, Whenever the wind is high, All night long in the dark and wet, A man goes riding by. Late in the night when the fires are out, Why does he gallop and gallop about? Whenever the trees are crying aloud, And ships are tossed at sea, By, on the highway, low and loud, By at the gallop goes he. By at the gallop he goes, and then By he comes back at the gallop again.
FOREIGN LANDS Up into the cherry tree Who should climb but little me! I held the trunk with both my hands And looked abroad on foreign lands. I saw the next-door garden lie, Adorned with flowers, before my eye, And many pleasant places more That I had never seen before. I saw the dimpling river pass And be the sky's blue looking glass; The dusty roads go up and down With people tramping into town. If I could find a higher tree Farther and further I should see, To where the grown-up river slips Into the sea among the ships, To where the roads on either hand Lead onward into fairy land, Where all the children dine at five And all the playthings come alive.
MY SHIP AND I O it's I that am the captain of a tidy little ship, Of a ship that goes a-sailing on the pond; And my ship it keeps a-turning all around and all about; But when I'm a little older, I shall find the secret out How to send my vessel sailing on beyond. For I mean to grow as little as the dolly at the helm, And the dolly I intend to come alive; And with him beside to help me, it's a-sailing I shall go, It's a-sailing on the water, when the jolly breezes blow And the vessel goes a divie-divie-dive. O it's then you'll see me sailing through the rushes and the reeds, And you'll hear the water singing at the prow; For beside the dolly sailor, I'm to voyage and explore, To land upon the island where no dolly was before, And to fire the penny cannon in the bow.
BED IN SUMMER In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candlelight. 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?
BLOCK CITY What are you able to build with your blocks? Castles and palaces, temples and docks. Rain may keep raining, and others go roam, But I can be happy and building at home. Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea, There I'll establish a city for me: A kirk and a mill and a palace beside, And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride. Great is the palace with pillar and wall, A sort of a tower on the top of it all, And steps coming down in an orderly way To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay. This one is sailing and that one is moored: Hark to the song of the sailors on board! And see, on the steps of my palace, the kings Coming and going with presents and things! Now I have done with it, down let it go! All in a moment the town is laid low. Block upon block lying scattered and free, What is there left of my town by the sea? Yet as I saw it, I see it again, The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men, And as long as I live and where'er I may be, I'll always remember my town by the sea.
RAIN The rain is raining all around, It falls on field and tree, It rains on the umbrellas here, And on the ships at sea.
THE FLOWERS All the names I know from nurse: Gardener's garters, Shepherd's purse, Bachelor's buttons, Lady's smock, And the Lady Hollyhock. Fairy places, fairy things, Fairy woods where the wild bee wings, Tiny trees for tiny dames---- These must all be fairy names! Tiny woods below whose boughs Shady fairies weave a house; Tiny treetops, rose or thyme, Where the braver fairies climb! Fair are grown-up people's trees, But the fairest woods are these; Where, if I were not so tall, I should live for good and all.
THE HAYLOFT Through all the pleasant meadow side The grass grew shoulder-high, Till the shining scythes went far and wide And cut it down to dry. Those green and sweetly smelling crops They led in wagons home' And they piled them here in mountain tops For mountaineers to roam. Here is Mount Clear, Mount Rusty-Nail, Mount Eagle and Mount High; The mice that in these mountains dwell, No happier are than I! Oh, what a joy to clamber there, Oh, what a place for play, With the sweet, the dim, the dusty air, The happy hills of hay!
FAREWELL TO THE FARM The coach is at the door at last; The eager children, mounting fast And kissing hands, in chorus sing: Good-bye, good-bye, to everything! To house and garden, field and lawn, The meadow gates we swang upon, To pump and stable, tree and swing, Good-bye, good-bye, to everything! And fare you well for evermore, O ladder at the hayloft door, O hayloft where the cobwebs cling, Good-bye, good-bye, to everything! Crack goes the whip, and off we go; The trees and houses smaller grow; Last, round the woody turn we swing: Good-bye, good-bye, to everything!
WHERE GO THE BOATS? Dark brown is the river, Golden is the sand. It flows along forever, With trees on either hand. Green leaves a-floating, Castles of the foam, Boats of mine a-boating---- Where will all come home? On goes the river And out past the mill, Away down the valley, Away down the hill. Away down the river, A hundred miles or more, Other little children Shall bring my boats ashore.