… and if I live till I am forty…

[Dots between square brackets indicate cuts made by Sidney Colvin. For full, correct and critical edition of this letter, see Mehew 4, 1246.]

To W.E. Henley [Colvin 1911, 2, pp. 143-144]

[Chalet la Solitude, Hyères, c. 8 April 1884]

Dear Henley,


You may be surprised to hear that I am now a great writer of verses; that is, however, so.


The verses alluded to are some of those afterwards collected in ‘Underwoods’, 1887 [https://ia600409.us.archive.org]




I have the mania now like my betters, and faith, if I live till I am forty, I shall have a book of […] rhymes like Pollock, Gosse, or whom you please.


Walter Herries Pollock (1850–1926), writer, poet, translater, editor of the Saturday Review from 1884 to 1894, was also considered one of the best amateur fencers in Great Britain [http://i.ebayimg.com]


W.H. Pollock, Songs and Rhymes: English and French, 1882 [https://ia802703.us.archive.org]


Edmund Gosse (1849-1928) [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


E. Gosse, On Viol and Flute, 1873 [https://ia800503.us.archive.org]


Poem by E. Gosse, from ‘On Viol and Flute’, 1873 [https://ia800503.us.archive.org]

Really, I have begun to learn some of the rudiments of that trade, and have written three or four pretty enough pieces of octosyllabic nonsense, semi-serious, semi-smiling.


RLS’s poem ‘To a Gardener’, written in Hyères, and published in ‘Underwoods’, 1887 [https://ia700409.us.archive.org]



A kind of prose Herrick, divested of the gift of verse, and you behold the Bard.


Title page of Robert Herrick’s ‘Hesperides’, 1648 [https://upload.wikimedia.org]


Hazlitt’s edition of Herrick’s ‘Esperides’, 1869 [https://ia802705.us.archive.org]


But I like it.



This entry was posted in Letters, Robert Louis Stevenson and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to … and if I live till I am forty…

  1. rdury says:

    I too shall ‘with superb asparagus, / A book, a taper, and a cup / Of country wine, divinely sup’

    Liked by 1 person

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