Lee 29 Oct 04 073


Robert Louis Stevenson’s enduring fame rests, above all, on Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, both of which have been adapted for film and TV many times. My own favourite is Kidnapped, also multiply adapted and but a little less celebrated.  Stevenson had the rare talent of being able to write rip-roaring adventure stories to grip younger readers, but also the ability to write darker adult tales of psychological torment, like Jekyll and the bitter (though still gripping) revenge saga The Master of Ballantrae.

Critical, academic opinions of Stevenson’s work have fluctuated and varied over time. This is to be expected – no one writing such vivid, exciting and popular stories is likely to win universal approval from the literary gatekeepers. But for me he is a genuinely great writer. Other authors penned exciting adventures in the 19th century but none of them created such vivid, morally complex characters as Long John Silver and Alan Breck Stewart, let alone the tormented soul that was both Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

There is an excellent short summation of his life and work on the Poetry Foundation website:

Stevenson also wrote poetry aimed at children, producing a collection – A Child’s Garden of Verses (1885) while recuperating after a brain haemorrhage in the South of France. The poem is about a river, the reflection and beyond it to another world that the child wishes he or she could visit – To me it conjures memories of searching rock pools at Hushinish on childhood holidays and finding a magical world  of sea anenomes , hermit crabs and exotic sea slugs and, more recently, encountering the crystal waters of the River Itchen.


Looking-glass River

Smooth it glides upon its travel,
Here a wimple, there a gleam–
O the clean gravel!
O the smooth stream!

Sailing blossoms, silver fishes,
Pave pools as clear as air–
How a child wishes
To live down there!

We can see our colored faces
Floating on the shaken pool
Down in cool places,
Dim and very cool;

Till a wind or water wrinkle,
Dipping marten, plumping trout,
Spreads in a twinkle
And blots all out.

See the rings pursue each other;
All below grows black as night,
Just as if mother
Had blown out the light!

Patience, children, just a minute–
See the spreading circles die;
The stream and all in it
Will clear by-and-by.


Reflection is this week’s creative theme, suggested by Ivor, and it is a good one as it encompasses so many things – from the literal reflection of a mirror or still pool to psychological reflection – thoughts about life and… well, almost anything. Reflective thought suggests calmness just as reflection on water prompts thoughts of still water. Reflection doesn’t have to be quiet or calm – you could see an explosion in a mirror – still, I think the word does prompt an atmosphere of serenity and stillness rather than action and furious activity.

But what do you think?

I can’t wait to see your writing on this theme




3 thoughts on “Reflection


    As I reflect on my life
    All seventy five years of it
    It has involved a lot of change
    Some natural growth as I became older
    Some cultural changes

    I started from being a very Polish refugee
    Living in camps with parents who had gone through horrors
    And harsh treatment
    We were going to go back when Poland got its independence back
    Brought up to be fiercely patriotic
    We had to go to Polish school on Saturdays
    Polish Catholic church on Sundays
    Learn the language literature and customs
    The songs and dances

    Eventually we got British passports and
    Were able to visit our family in Poland
    And they visited us but
    We never went back to live there
    We became educated in Britain
    Got careers here

    I got married to an Englishman
    And had a daughter here
    We moved several times
    Ending up near Nottingham
    Where we stayed for over thirty years
    I remember our happy family life

    Eventually the two of us moving up to Scotland
    To the Outer Hebrides the Western Isles
    Beautiful landscapes
    Gaelic language

    We enjoyed a pleasant retirement
    Spending our time walking
    Enjoying exploring keeping bees
    But then illness took my husband away
    Family and local people carried his coffin
    And suddenly a huge change

    Life on my own
    I needed to go out as much as possible
    Had to fill my time with activities
    Met new people
    Started making new friends
    Going to groups
    Writing drawing painting

    I am not yet sure what I will become
    I am evolving and hope with other people’s help
    My life gets meaning and becomes useful once again.



    By Mairi Cable.

    Reflection of my life bring back memories of my mum and dad. My mum died in 2012 and my father in 1988. I was a daddy’s girl and when it comes to growing up he was a great influence on me. He encouraged me to go for a career before marriage. His occupation of choice for me was to become a teacher as was mine. Although I did not finally succeed on the road to teaching it was enjoyable. My mother I’m sure would have liked me to have a successful marriage and children but she supported me in my aim to have a career. Although disappointed on the career and marriage fronts, they did not stop loving and helping me.

    When I had Sarah I was left on my own they came down to Edinburgh with the car to bring me home. I stayed with them for six months until I got my house. While staying with them my Dad took Sarah out in the car every morning to test it for the day. They also took her to the swing park at the top of Stewart Drive. When we came to my home they took her in the car up to Stewart Drive from 10.30 a.m. until 12.30 p.m. and gave her her lunch at which time was a proper meal in the middle of the day. After my father died it was a snack meal we had at lunch until she went to school and then at weekends.


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