Selected Poems


Far more than in his famous novels, it was in verse that Robert Louis Stevenson felt able to give direct expression to his deepest feelings about friendship, love, and nostalgia. Fascinated by a wide variety of verse techniques, Stevenson produced superb work in styles ranging from folk ballads to witty conversational offerings for his friends. Pieces using the stanza form and dialect of Robert Burns rank among the most attractive poetry in the Scots tradition. Also featured here are many uncollected poems, ...
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Far more than in his famous novels, it was in verse that Robert Louis Stevenson felt able to give direct expression to his deepest feelings about friendship, love, and nostalgia. Fascinated by a wide variety of verse techniques, Stevenson produced superb work in styles ranging from folk ballads to witty conversational offerings for his friends. Pieces using the stanza form and dialect of Robert Burns rank among the most attractive poetry in the Scots tradition. Also featured here are many uncollected poems, substantial extracts from the published collections, and the complete A Child's Garden of Verses, an extraordinarily evocative picture of childhood loneliness, visions, and fears.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140435481
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 2/28/1999
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,433,994
  • Product dimensions: 5.19 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Robert Louis  Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was born in Edinburgh. In the brief span of forty-four years, dogged by poor health, he made an enormous contribution to English literature with his novels, poetry, and essays. The son of upper-middle-class parents, he was the victim of lung trouble from birth, and spent a sheltered childhood surrounded by constant care. The balance of his life was taken up with his unremitting devotion to work, and a search for a cure to his illness that took him all over the world. His travel essays were publihsed widely, and his short fiction was gathered in many volumes. His first full-length work of fiction, Treasure Island, was published in 1883 and brought him great fame, which only increased with the publication of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886). He followed with the Scottish romances Kidnapped (1886) and The Master of Ballantrae (1889). In 1888 he set out with his family for the South Seas, traveling to the leper colony at Molokai, and finally settling in Samoa, where he died.


Robert Louis Stevenson was born in 1850 in Edinburgh. His father was an engineer, the head of a family firm that had constructed most of Scotland's lighthouses, and the family had a comfortable income. Stevenson was an only child and was often ill; as a result, he was much coddled by both his parents and his long-time nurse. The family took frequent trips to southern Europe to escape the cruel Edinburgh winters, trips that, along with his many illnesses, caused Stevenson to miss much of his formal schooling. He entered Edinburgh University in 1867, intending to become an engineer and enter the family business, but he was a desultory, disengaged student and never took a degree. In 1871, Stevenson switched his study to law, a profession which would leave time for his already-budding literary ambitions, and he managed to pass the bar in 1875.

Illness put an end to his legal career before it had even started, and Stevenson spent the next few years traveling in Europe and writing travel essays and literary criticism. In 1876, Stevenson fell in love with Fanny Vandergrift Osbourne, a married American woman more than ten years his senior, and returned with her to London, where he published his first fiction, "The Suicide Club." In 1879, Stevenson set sail for America, apparently in response to a telegram from Fanny, who had returned to California in an attempt to reconcile with her husband. Fanny obtained a divorce and the couple married in 1880, eventually returning to Europe, where they lived for the next several years. Stevenson was by this time beset by terrifying lung hemorrhages that would appear without warning and required months of convalescence in a healthy climate. Despite his periodic illnesses and his peripatetic life, Stevenson completed some of his most enduring works during this period: Treasure Island (1883), A Child's Garden of Verses (1885), Kidnapped (1886), and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886).

After his father's death and a trip to Edinburgh which he knew would be his last, Stevenson set sail once more for America in 1887 with his wife, mother, and stepson. In 1888, after spending a frigid winter in the Adirondack Mountains, Stevenson chartered a yacht and set sail from California bound for the South Pacific. The Stevensons spent time in Tahiti, Hawaii, Micronesia, and Australia, before settling in Samoa, where Stevenson bought a plantation called Vailima. Though he kept up a vigorous publishing schedule, Stevenson never returned to Europe. He died of a sudden brain hemorrhage on December 3, 1894.

Author biography from the Barnes & Noble Classics edition of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Good To Know

It has been said that Stevenson may well be the inventor of the sleeping bag -- he described a large fleece-lined sack he brought along to sleep in on a journey through France in his book Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.

Long John Silver, the one-legged pirate cook in Stevenson's classic Treasure Island, is said to be based on the author's friend William Ernest Henley, whom he met when Henley was in Edinburgh for surgery to save his one good leg from tuberculosis.

Stevenson died in 1894 at Vailima,, his home on the South Pacific island of Upolu, Samoa. He was helping his wife make mayonnaise for dinner when he suffered a fatal stroke.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson
    1. Date of Birth:
      November 13, 1850
    2. Place of Birth:
      Edinburgh, Scotland
    1. Date of Death:
      December 3, 1894
    2. Place of Death:
      Vailima, Samoa

Table of Contents

Selected Poems Preface
Table of Dates
Further Reading


The Light-Keeper
"The roadside lined with ragweed, the sharp hills"
"The whole day thro', in contempt and pity"
"I sit up here at midnight"
Epistle to Charles Baxter
To Charles Baxter
To Sydney
"O dull, cold northern sky"
Ne Sit Ancillae Tibi Amor Pudori
To Ottilie
"A little before me, and hark!"
St. Martin's Summer
"My brain swims empty and light"
The Cruel Mistress
Stormy Nights
Song at Dawn
"I am a hunchback, yellow faced -"
"Last night we had a thunderstorm in style"
To Charles Baxter [in Lallan]
To the Same (On the death of their common friend, Mr. John Adam...)
"I saw red evening through the rain"
"I who all the winter through"
John Cavalier
Alcaics to H. F. Brown
Lines for H. F. Brown
To Mrs. MacMorland
"Since years ago for evermore"

Rhymes to W. E. Henley
"Dear Henley, with a pig's snout on"
"My letters fail, I learn with grief, to please"
"We dwell in these melodious days"

Tales of Arabia
"Flower god, god of the spring, beautiful, bountiful"
"Now bare to the beholder's eye"

Translations from Martial
Epitaphium Erotii
De M. Antonio
De Liggura


Moral Emblems I
I. "See how the children in the print"
II. "Reader, your soul upraise to see"
III. A Peak in Darien
IV. "See in the print, how moved by whim"
V. "Mark, printed on the opposing page"

Moral Emblems II
I. "With storms a-weather, rocks a-lee"
II. "The careful angler chose his nook"
III. "The Abbot for a walk went out"
IV. "The frozen peaks he once explored"
V. "Industrious pirate! see him sweep"


Robin and Ben: or, the Pirate and the Apothecary


To Alison Cunningham
Bed in Summer
A Thought
At the Seaside
Young Night Thought
Whole Duty of Children
Pirate Story
Foreign Lands
Windy Nights
Looking Forward
A Good Play
Where Go the Boats?
Auntie's Skirts
The Land of Counterpane
The Land of Nod
My Shadow
A Good Boy
Escape at Bedtime
Marchng Song
The Cow
Happy Thought
The Wind
Keepsake Mill
Good and Bad Children
Foreign Children
The Sun's Travels
The Lamplighter
My Bed is a Boat
The Moon
The Swing
Time to Rise
Looking-Glass River
From a Railway Carriage
Winter Time
The Hayloft
Farewell to the Farm
North-West Passage

The Child Alone
The Unseen Playmate
My Ship and I
My Kingdom
Picture Books in Winter
My Treasures
Block City
The Land of Story-Books
Armies in the Fire
The Little Land

Garden Days
Night and Day
Nest Eggs
The Flowers
Summer Sun
The Dumb Soldier
Autumn Fires
The Gardener
Historical Associations

To Willie and Henrietta
To My Mother
To Auntie
To Minnie
To My Name-Child
To Any Reader


Book One
I. Envoy
III. The Canoe Speaks
V. The House Beautiful
VI. To a Gardener
IX. To K. de M.
X. To N. V. de G. S.
XII. To Mrs. Will H. Low
XIII. To H. F. Brown
XV. Et Tu in Arcadia Vixisti
XVI. To W. E. Henley
XVIII. The Mirror Speaks
XXI. Requiem
XXVI. The Sick Child
XXX. A Portrait
XXXV. Skerryvore: The Parallel
XXXVIII. "My body which my dungeon is"

Book Two - In Scots
I. The Maker to Posterity
II. Ille Terrarum
III. "When aince Aprile has fairly come"
IV. A Mile an' a Bittock
V. A Lowden Sabbath Morn
VI. The Spaewife
VII. The Blast - 1875
VIII. The Counterblast - 1886
IX. The Counterblast Ironical
X. Their Laureate to an Academy Class Dinner Club
XI. Embro Hie Kirk
XII. The Scotsman's Return from Abroad
XIII. "Late in the nicht in bed I lay"
XIV. My Conscience!
XV. To Doctor John Brown
XVI. "It's an owercome sooth for age an' youth"


The Song of Rahero
Heather Ale
Christmas at Sea


The Song of the Sword of Alan
The Bour-Tree Den
To Katharine de Mattos
The Fine Pacific Islands
To Henry James
The Family
"As with heaped bees at hiving time"
"Fixed is the doom; and to the last of years"
To My Wife


I. The Vagabond
II. Youth and Love
IV. "In dreams, unhappy, I behold you stand"
V. "She rested by the Broken Brook"
VI. "The infinite shining heavens"
VIII. "To you, let snow and roses"
IX. "Let Beauty awake in the morn from beautiful dreams"
XI. "I will make you brooches and toys for your delight"
XII. We Have Loved of Yore
XIV. Mater Triumphans
XV. "Bright is the ring of words"
XVI. "In the highlands, in the country places"
XVII. To the Tune of Wandering Willie
XVIII. Winter
XXI. To Sidney Colvin
XXII. "The morning drum-call on my eager ear"
XXIII. "I have trod the upward and the downward slope"
XXVI. If This Were Faith
XXVIII. To the Muse
XXXV. To My Old Familiars
XXXVI. "The tropics vanish, and meseems that I"
XXXIX. The Woodman
XL. Tropic Rain
XLIII. The Last Sight
XLIV. "Sing me a song of a lad that is gone"
XLV. To S. R. Crockett
XLVI. Evensong

Appendix: Note on Scots Language, from Underwoods
Index of Titles
Index of First Lines

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