Marching Song

Robert Louis Stevenson, A Child’s Garden of Verses, 1944 edition

Another gift that seems to come to me “out of time” and perhaps as part of my heredity, or a legacy. The red cloth cover is delicious. And, on the front, is me, a young girl with her folded paper hat and her wooden sword held high, leading the march. Brother Jimmy is just behind her, banging the drum. You have to use your imagination to see that the little boy at the end of the line is her baby sister Becky, playing a small flute.

The illustrations in this book make my heart sing. No wonder I have dreamt of joyfully swinging so high, of cows, of crocodile, and of Grand Adventure of every sort.

The book came to me in a dream (A Child’s Garden of Verses) and I went to Powell’s in Portland and was able to purchase the “right” edition. I think it was Summer 2010. And I seemed to remember it from my youth. Then we came home, and I had the same edition, in my closet, with all the old books I had inherited from my Granny. Maybe I read it at Granny and Grandpa’s house when I was a little girl. And I saw the date it was published and began to wonder if it wasn’t my mom’s book originally. At first she didn’t seem to remember it. Then, she thought maybe she did. Or at least that’s how I recall it. Memory is so facile (and, this happens to me a lot lately – a word will come to me and I won’t really know what it means but I’ll look it up and, sure enough, it will be “just right” – like facile).

Marching Song (the cover illustration relates to it)

Bring the comb and play upon it! Marching, here we come! Willie cocks his highland bonnet, Johnnie beats the drum.

Mary Jane commands the party, Peter leads the rear; Feet in time, alert and hearty, Each a Grenadier!

All in the most martial manner, Marching double-quick, While the napkin, like a hammer, Waves upon the stick!

Here’s enough of fame and pillage, Great commander Jane! Now that we’ve been round the village, Let’s go home again.