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Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The Land of Counterpane

Robert Louis Stevenson, the creator of such characters as Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde and Long John Silver, wrote one of the most charming collections of poetry for children, A Child’s Garden of Verse. The book is dedicated to his nurse or nanny, Alice “Cunny” Cunningham:

For the long nights you lay awake
And watched for my unworthy sake:
For your most comfortable hand
That led me through the uneven land:
For all the story-books you read,
For all the pains you comforted,
For all you pitied, all you bore,
In sad and happy days of yore: —

(The Land of Counterpane by Jessie
Willcox Smith, 1863-1935, American

Today’s poem recalls the time Stevenson spent in bed as a sickly child.


When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.

And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;

And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.

I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.

~ Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894), Scottish poet, novelist, and travel writer

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