Sunday, November 13, 2011

Happy Birthday, Robert Louis Stevenson

It's the birthday of the wonderful Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson (November 13, 1850-December 3, 1894). He is one of the poets I have loved the longest.

Stevenson came from a long line of lighthouse engineers but decided that life was not for him. He became a novelist and poet instead, and the world is a richer place for that decision.

A few years ago I wrote this poem that enters, via imagination, his vocational choice. I thought I'd post it today in honor of his birthday. He's certainly kept lights burning for so many!

Keep the light burning, Louis –
let it shine 'cross the sea.
Let it guide travelers tossed,
said my family to me.

They imagined me keeping
traditions long kept,
they imagined me living
on rocks wild, wind-swept.

Sea runs in my veins
and I love the wind’s song
but to that kind of life
I don’t quite belong.

I need paper and pens,
poems and stories to be
a strong man who shines
a bright light on the sea.

See my words? They are beacons
and paths and a port,
they are helps in great storms
and lights of a sort.

Though faith and deep joy
aren’t easy to measure,
They’re my way of keeping
traditions long treasured.

~EMP (2008)

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