(Poem #290) 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?
A touch of nostalgia today - this poem charmed and enchanted me when I was a child, with its hints of faraway lands and strange conditions. A funny thing, though, was that while I could quote the first two verses from memory, the very existence of the third came as a surprise to me. Nor was it a pleasant surprise - while verses one and two have a delightful air of bemusement, the last verse is, to put it quite frankly, whiny. It's especially sad since the second verse would have been a fine (if somewhat abrupt) ending, and left the whole a good (if not great) children's poem. On the other hand, it is still a pretty nice poem, if a very 'children's' one - the images manage to be quite evocative without being descriptive, and the rhythms are satisfyingly strong and regular (something that matters a lot when you're a child - take a glance through any ten popular nursery rhymes). I think Stevenson's fault at the end was an attempt to identify with his audience; one that, quite sadly, misfired. m. Notes: From 'A Child's Garden of Verses', the first poem in the book, in fact. For a far better poem from the same source, see 'From a Railway Carriage' poem #84 And for the complete 'A Child's Garden of Verses', a set of XLI poems ranging from the amazingly painful to the truly delightful, see [broken link] http://geocities.com/~spanoudi/poems/rls02.html#1