In Which I Talk To A Dead Poet About Life

Robert Lewis Stevenson

{In which I write a letter to Robert Louis Stevenson regarding his poem entitled “Happy Thought” from A Child’s Garden of Verses}

Dear Bob:

You don’t mind if I call you Bob do you? Good. These words of yours are framed and hanging on the wall of our mountain home. So I have the good fortune of viewing them often. And have I told you how very much I appreciate the beauty of your poetry and especially this verse.

But would you please tell me a little of what you mean. Because I have not seen a happy King. Though they may exist or they may have existed. I am sure some have been happy. But some are just mean. And really there is so much responsibility that comes with being King.

So I doubt. And I am not normally a doubting person who wears a dour face. Rather I see the world as full of promise and hope, mercy and grace. But a happy king or queen I have not seen, though the modern day ones seem truly content. And this is not meant to be political discontent. Or even about politics, no not at all. But rather about Joy and its source and how we are wired by God. To love, others and moments that cover us in delight. To give and to serve, to offer and bow low and Christ-like.

Bob, maybe  you wrote at a time when  Royals were filled with grins from their things. Or maybe I am too literal reading your verse. Surely  you  don’t believe they were truly happy, as a result of their things.

But really that is not the point. The point is can man be truly happy as a result of his things? Well maybe if things are all gifts from above. I think you meant things that came straight from God.

Because more and more I find that the world is filled with wonderful things that aren’t really things,not at all. Like miracles and healing. And beauty at nightfall.

The second a firefly lights up his small light. And you happen to be there to see it all aglow. Or when the hummingbird lights on a bush. And the Earth is still while he sips with his tiney tiny bill. Or God wonders and marvels like the stars in the sky. That gather  up like a dipper so big or so small.

There  are “things” such as forgiveness and mending of ways, hope and fresh starts after seasons of long wait. New born babies and reconciled husbands and wives. Marriage and family, tenderness, meekness and soothing a soul. Helping the weary and drying a tear. The end of war.

There are things like laughter so deep that you ache when you stop, long enough to catch your breath, breath deep and  get started, all over again.

There are smells like the Blue Ridge  in July, with wildflowers, cut grass and fresh soil from the earth, swirling and landing up under your nose,  like fresh baked treats rising up to the sky and toes tickled by a cold dog nose.

There are families gathered around by the fire, at night, in the summer telling stories while curled up in a ball, savoring the gift of their days, that end too often with no warning none at all. That pull the curtain on our life like the end of a play.

But I know your heart and with poets that matters a lot,  to me anyway. I want people to see  my heart when they read what I say.

I think you meant wonder and discovery ,not things. Though things in themselves are not saved just for Kings.

And Kings can not be happy surrounded by things. Because God made us. all peoples, to love others not things. And things are not  terrible, no not at all.

For there is the spring at the turn, the bend in the road, at the bottom of the hill. Where I love to stop every night and every  year, taking sips and standing there quiet and still.

And the moon when it is full, is technically a thing.

And then there is Peace and Patience, Charity and Faith.

God grabs our hearts with a world full of “things”. But careful we most be and delicately we must trod.

Because things can rob us of time with each other and God, He  knows that the things can get in the way.

Robert, I knew what you meant and were trying to say. And I think Robert sounds more respectful than Bob. And I choose respect and  dignity. They are two  very valuable things.

Sometimes it is fun just to write words that play
with poets that have gone before
whose words I adore
and have a laugh on a whim and giggle each day
and since you’ve been gone things have gotten quite serious
I should say
Your words are a gift
Every line word and phrase
And I wonder what you would think of
“Things” these day.

Signed,

An Admiring Poet Fond Of  Your Work

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Joining Laura at Laura Boggess dot com

Just Give Me All The Children’s Books

There is this line of Pooh that shows up time and time again.
You painted lines on your stairs
And left them there when that house sold.
Poetry on the stairs and ragged Pooh propped there too.
Folded worn out bear.
A tribute on the stairs.
But you took Pooh with you, as you always did.

You gave her Pooh in Latin, the only
Octogenarian in the home with Latin Pooh bedside.
If I doubted before I knew for certain then
That this branded deep a generation, two or three
Around the prose of Milne.
You read it bedside night by night.
As children we were  lost in a friendship of a bear and boy.

We grew up in the hundred acre woods
And laughed at rotund bear and all his portly ponderings.
Each character mirrors men or women in our world.
You don’t look far before you see the Eeyore’s in your life.
And know those wearing their insecurities as Piglet did,
Poor pig and all his anxiety. Its not so funny after all.

You could write a book of all the metaphors of Pooh and you.
Him and you as child, adult
You and he and a language learned from Milne.
What would you do without your Pooh and maybe even visa versa.
Its as if he knows you too, the friendship runs so deep.

He must have felt your eyes, your hands, your heart
And all the love you dripped on pages in the dark.
And under cover, pages worn down and worn out from love of word.
What if there were no children’s books, after all they speak to all.
What if the books written for the young are really for the grown.

If I could choose I might pick a  pile of the treasures
Of my youth
To hide away and steal away, to bury in the corners of my heart,
While buried under quilt. To read of Charlotte, Wilbur and that
Giving tree, so generous and bare.
And even Dick and Jane, so plain so simple
So austere, life was simpler then.
Life was spelled out so plainly on a page.
There was Dick and there was Jane and that
Is really about all there ever was in 1960
Something, the books of my youth.

But Pooh was front and center in the home
As if he were crowned king.
And were it not for him I may not understand
The deep depression of a soul like Eeyore who
Sees the world, glass half empty every time
Always, never full.
And sweet momma Kanga, her precious mother’s
Heart, so nurturing and loving, so gentle in her ways.
Lost in the woods with Owl and the rest
Learning of life through a boy and his toys.
Of people in a world to come.

Just give me all the children’s books,
And let me read in peace.
Aren’t we all God’s children, after all.
We long to run and play and dream of animals that talk.
And get lost in the woods.
To read of talking spiders whose best friend is a pig.
To bend down low like Alice and talk to cats and hatters.
Why would we ever want to grow old and boring
When bears and honey and owls and donkeys make such wonderful
Companions, for the child in us, the playmates of our youth.

Its cold outside and I am curled up
I feel your warm breath on my neck,
Your smiles, your cadence, reading Pooh aloud.
And of all the places he has been within your life,
Woven through your days
He’ll also earn a place in church one day, far away,
As we say words, holy.
A proper ending to this line that runs throughout your life.
We know you well, we’ll pick the parts of portly Pooh
To read amid the sacred.

And Pooh will live another generation
Along with all the rest.
The children’s books that you loved
Will be loved for days and days to come.
You planted deep a love for Pooh
We honor you with the words of Milne
Every time they are read.
How did he know the smallest things take up
So much room, inside a heart, open wide for love,
A love for bear and books and more
And dear Mother, for you too.

Sometimes the smallest things take up the most room in your hear.

A.A. Milne