Thursday, July 12, 2012

Reviewing To Any Reader by Robert Louis Stevenson

To Any Reader
by Robert Louis Stevenson

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 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 his 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.

I wrote this review on September 24, 1987 for a University of Winnipeg children's literature course. The professor--whose name, unfortunately, has been lost to history--gave me an A- and commented, 'Interesting, as always'. Her other comments I will include at the end of this post.

I have resisted the desire to re-write--and will quote the entire review as it appeared when submitted, long ago.

(me in the 80's)

Stevenson's talent as a poet seems to be his ability to write from a child's point of view. This talent may stem from a chance lost, this chance being his ability to enjoy a healthy childhood.

Stevenson captures this sad longing in the poem To Any Reader.

The line, 'a child of air' seems to me to be expressing the idea of further strengthened by these lines, 'For, long ago, the truth to say,/ He has grown up and gone away.'

Stevenson has, in fact, found in his poems a safe place for his memories to remain. Writing may, in fact, act as a type of therapy to release him of the sad longing for a chance lost.

Most children, if read this poem, would, of course, not be impressed by Stevenson's sad longing. The poem holds for children the possibility of making a new friend, the new friend being the 'child of air' or, in fact, poetry.

The professor's additional comments...
Nice observation. The adult nostalgia for childhood can be seen over and over again in children's literature. It might, in fact, be an interesting topic for a critical article. If you're interested, I could start you on some books.

My reply (too many years later--I fear)
Yes, I am interested. Please direct me to them.
Also, I have to wonder, what's up with all the 'in fact's?
I tried to force one of my characters to react in a way that made sense--to me. My writing lay flat on the page.
"Look." She was a little angry--I could tell. "I may live through your pen but I'm not you."
I listened and now that scene sings.
Wish me luck as our relationship continues to develop.
(Thankfully, she is a secondary character. : ) ) 
Word count:  16, 879 words

From my email inbox...

Dear Leanne,

Here are a couple of my poems from my “Nostos and Algos” book, Ekstasis Editions, 2012, in a Swedish literary magazine along with the editor’s comments...enjoy!
Dear Manolis,
It can and must be repeated: What a joy to be treated with these wonderful, extraordinarily strong, colourful impressions from the Mediterranean world! I’m tremendously impressed by both your way of painting the environment that has moulded countless generations of poets and philosophers but not the least the important work you do with your publishing house.

Your poems have been posted at right now! And as I have stated before: Please feel free to contact us at any time if you would like to alter or append anything you see on the post.

My very warmest wishes and THANKS for your WONDERFUL contribution and I wish you all luck with your future work and maybe a word (poem) from you now and then!
Thanks a lot,
(Canadian poet)
Next post:  Vancouver Island Romance Writers Fall Workshop preview


Laurie buchanan said...

"I listened and now that scene sings."


Author Leanne Dyck said...

: ) I agree, Laurie.
Learning to let go and allow creation to occur is a hard lesson to learn. I takes courage and faith. However, I've discovered that when I take the leap good thing do happen. Unfortunately, it's not a lesson easily learned. I find that I have to experience this cause and effect over and over again.
Happy writing all.