Dawn Reader

Dawn Reader
from Open Door Coffee Co.; Hudson, OH; Oct. 26, 2016

Thursday, August 10, 2017

Treasure from an Island

Last week, at the Stratford Theatre Festival, Joyce and I saw a production of Treasure Island, a staged version of the 1883 novel by Robert Louis Stevenson. As I wrote last week, the first half was weak (I thought), but the second was much better--funny, playful, moving.

And I also mentioned in that post that the playwright and the cast had fun by inserting some other literary references into the story. At one point, a pirate picked up a skull and recited Hamlet's speech about Yorick (the audience went nuts); at another point, one pirate told another he could not talk because he wasn't holding the conch (remember Lord of the Flies?).

But here's another one I did not mention in that post--mostly because I wanted to write about it now--after I'd done my homework.

At one point, some pirates were walking along (looking for the treasure--what else do pirates do?), when one of them launched into a poem; the others pirates kind of smirked and snickered at first, then realized they liked it. I muttered to Joyce: "That's got to be one of Stevenson's--from A Child's Garden of Verses."

Back in the room, with Internet access, I checked ... and ... yes ... "The Moon" was indeed one of Stevenson's.

Here it is ...

The moon has a face like the clock in the hall;
She shines on thieves on the garden wall,
On streets and fields and harbour quays,
And birdies asleep in the forks of the trees.

The squalling cat and the squeaking mouse,
The howling dog by the door of the house,
The bat that lies in bed at noon,
All love to be out by the light of the moon.

But all of the things that belong to the day
Cuddle to sleep to be out of her way;
And flowers and children close their eyes
Till up in the morning the sun shall arise.

Well, at that moment, I knew I had to memorize it as soon as we got home. One of the first poems I remember as a wee boy was Stevenson's "My Shadow," a poem my grandmother recited to me while she held me in her rocking chair (that chair now lives in a place of honor in our living room); I recited that same poem for my older grandson when I first held him in the moments after his birth (I'm sure he remembers it well!). And I've since learned a couple of others: "Windy Nights" and "Where Go the Boats?" (Link to all of A Child's Garden of Verses.)

It took me a couple of days to learn it (Stevenson accommodates the memorizer by using regular rhythm and rhyme!). But ... yesterday ... I recited it for Joyce (she had to prompt me a couple of times), but now I've got it pretty well. Okay, very well.

And as the title of this post suggests, for me, the poem (and so many others I've learned), is the true treasure from the island. I am now carrying around with me some 210 pieces of gold. May my poor brain and iffy health allow me to keep finding more in the gardens of poetry... and keep storing them away for future use. Perhaps a great-grandchild?

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