BismillahirRahmanirRahim

The novelist Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-94), “is often noted for the powers of invention [not “creativity” so often used today] and depth of psychological insight found in his work . . . A Child’s Garden of Verses was written at various stages between 1881 and 1884, in between work on Treasure Island and bouts of incapacitating illness.” Penguin Classics.

One of his poems is titled Foreign Children.

foreign-children

Little Indian, Sioux or Crow,

Little frosty Eskimo,

Little Turk or Japanee,

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 Japanee,

O ! don’t you wish that you were me ?

Not really. I used to love Treasure Island. But I am skeptical of these kinds of writings.

Yet, in another poem titled Travel, he writes:

I should like to rise and go

Where the golden apples grow ;—

Where below another sky

Parrot islands anchored lie,

And, watched by cockatoos and goats,

Lonely Crusoes building boats ;—

Where in sunshine reaching out

Eastern cities, miles about,

Are with mosque and minaret

Among sandy gardens set,

And the rich goods from near and far

Hang for sale in the bazaar ;—

Some research into his life reveals the following.

Robert Louis Stevenson and the Colonial Imagination
By Ann C. Colley
Published by Ashgate Publishing, Ltd., 2004.
“In particular, she investigates Stevenson’s complex relationship to the missionary culture that surrounded him during the last six years of his life (1888-1894), revealing hitherto unscouted routes by which to understand Stevenson’s experiences while he was cruising among the South Sea islands, and later while he was a resident colonial in Samoa . . . Stevenson’s recollections of his childhood are engaged not only to suggest an unacknowledged source (the juvenile missionary magazines) for A Child’s Garden of Verses, but also to illuminate the generous reach of his imagination that exceeds the formulae of the missionary culture and the boundaries of the colonial construct.”


What about Missionaries?

Robert Louis Stevenson: The Critical Heritage
By Paul Maixner
Published by Routledge, 1996
foreign-children1

Finally,

Children’s Literature and National Identity
By Margaret Meek, Margaret Meek Spencer
Published by Trentham Books, 2001
foreign-children-3


That’s how British children were taught;  growing older in WWI they fought.

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