Third grade, Mrs. Kuhlman’s English class; she was introducing us to poetry. I guess I had been ill recently and since I was reading about a poet who was once a sickly boy I felt some kind of kindred spirit with him. “Block City” was the poem I read and it stirred inside me a deep, deep stirring for the sea. Third grade was a very long time ago. Since then I’ve spent a career in the U.S. Navy, learned to sail small boats as a Boy Scout, taken my family sailing where ever we lived, sailed “From Tampa to the Cape” and wrote the book, been a sailing instructor, and continue to sail ‘Lifeline’ on Alum Creek Lake north of Columbus Ohio. Here’s “Block City”.<!
By Robert Louis Stevenson
What are you able to build with you blocks?
Castles and palaces, temples and docks.
Rain may keep raining, and others go roam,
But I can be happy and building at home.
Let the sofa be mountains, the carpet be sea,
There I’ll establish a city for me:
A kirk and a mill and a palace beside,
And a harbor as well where my vessels may ride.
Great is the palace with pillar and wall,
A sort of a tower on the top of it all,
And steps coming down in an orderly way
To where my toy vessels lie safe in the bay.
This one is sailing and that one is moored:
Hark to the song of the sailors on board!
And see on the steps of my palace, the kings
Coming and going with presents and things.
Now I have done with it, down let it go!
Allin a moment the town is laid lo.
Block upon block lying scattered and free,
What is there left of my town by the sea?
Yet as I saw it, I see it again,
The kirk and the palace, the ships and the men,
And as long as I live and where’er I may be,
I’ll always remember my town by the sea.
Calder, A. Ed; Robert Louis Stevenson, Selected Poems; Penguin Books, Ltd, London 1998. Print