Tuesday, March 22, 2011

God Gave to Me a Child in Part

For fathers and their loved ones.

An earlier draft of this poem (which exists in manuscript at Yale's Edwin J. Beinecke Collection of Robert Louis Stevenson Papers) contained 42 lines, seven of which were crossed out. The final version, published after Stevenson's death, contains 16 lines.

Robert Louis Stevenson, God Gave to Me a Child in Part:

God gave to me a child in part,
Yet wholly gave the father's heart:
Child of my soul, O whither now,
Unborn, unmothered, goest thou?

You came, you went, and no man wist;
Hapless, my child, no breast you kist;
On no dear knees, a privileged babbler, clomb,
Nor knew the kindly feel of home.

My voice may reach you, O my dear-
A father's voice perhaps the child may hear;
And, pitying, you may turn your view
On that poor father whom you never knew.

Alas! alone he sits, who then,
Immortal among mortal men,
Sat hand in hand with love, and all day through
With your dear mother wondered over you.

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