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Archive for the ‘Robert Louis Stevenson’s “The Vagabond”’ Category

 

I have loved this author ever since I can remember.  As a child, I loved (and still do!) Robert Louis Stevenson’s A CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES.  Who wasn’t raised on TREASURE ISLAND, KIDNAPPED, AND THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE?  I certainly hope most of us were!

According to Wikipedia, Stevenson ranks in the 30 most extensively translated authors in the entire world—just below Charles Dickens.  Stevenson’s adventure stories and robust poetry are full of life.  One would never guess from reading this author that he was extremely “sickly” as a child and adult.  He was frequently bedridden with severe respiratory ailments (common in the industrial areas of England and Stevenson’s native Scotland). 

Stevenson’s last years were spent on a Samoan island, where he was loved by the natives for his sociable personality and gift of storytelling.  He died there, in 1894.  The inscription on his tomb bears Stevenson’s lines: 

“Home is the sailor, home from the sea,

And the hunter home from the hill.”

Of all of Stevenson’s works, I love his poem The Vagabond best.  The exuberance of this poem expresses the author’s outgoing, life-affirming spirit.  Paired with a Schubert melody by Vaughan Williams in the early 1900s, The Vagabond is a popular art solo selection at vocal recitals.  Many a time over the years, I attended regional and state music competitions where I enjoyed hearing The Vagabond sung by young high school men.  It’s a classic!  

 The Vagabond
 
Give to me the life I love,
Let the lave go by me,
Give the jolly heaven above
And the road below me.  
Bed in the bush with stars to see,
Bread I dip in the river —
There’s the life for a man like me,
There’s the life for ever.  
Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around
And the road before me.  
Wealth I seek not, hope nor love,
Nor a friend to know me;
All I seek, the heaven above
And the road below me.  
Or let autumn fall on me
Where afield I linger,
Silencing the bird on tree,
Biting the blue finger;  
White as meal the frosty field —
Warm the fireside haven —
Not to autumn will I yield,
Not to winter even!  
Let the blow fall soon or late,
Let what will be o’er me;
Give the face of earth around,
And the road before me.  
Wealth I ask not, hope, nor love,
Nor a friend to know me.
All I ask, the heaven above
And the road below me.  
 
Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850-1894 
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