I’m feeling sick-o today. This poem from A Child’s Garden of Verses came to mind. It was one of my favorite books as a child, and I have a little miniature version of it on my shelf so thought I would share:
The Land of Counterpane, by Robert Louis StevensonWhen 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.
I remember the dreamy illustration in the big book I had of these as a child, it was one of my favorites. But when I continued looking through my little mini volume I found another poem that is rather disturbing:
Foreign Children, by Robert Louis StevensonLittle Indian, Sioux or Crow, Little frosty Eskimo, Little Turk or Japanese, O! don’t you wish that you were me?
You have seen the scarlet trees And the lions over seas, You have eaten ostrich eggs, And turned the turtles off their legs.
Such a life is very fine, But it’s not so nice as mine: You must often, as you trod, Have wearied not to be abroad.
You have curious things to eat, I am fed on proper meat; You must dwell beyond the foam, But I am safe and live at home.
Little Indian, Sioux or Crow, Little frosty Eskimo, Little Turk or Japanese, O! don’t you wish that you were me?
Well then! That could certainly have made me feel like a very entitled little girl, couldn’t it. It does evoke a sort of childlike innocence…or shall I say ignorance. But I vaguely remember thinking this poem very odd and sort of silly, maybe because we moved to Sydney when I was 5 and I was around lots of “foreign children” at a very diverse elementary school, then I returned to the states two years later with a thick Aussie accent and had to insist to my classmates that I was born in Vermont and was indeed American! However having moved to the Pacific Northwest, none of the first graders in Mrs. Hubbard’s class knew where Vermont was, they just thought it was part of Australia. After a year or so my accent faded away and no one even remembered that I was once the weird kid who called cookies “biscuits” and sweaters “sloppy joe’s.”