Robert Louis Stevenson > A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods > III. The Canoe Speaks
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Stevenson, Robert Louis (1850–1894).  A Child’s Garden of Verses and Underwoods.  1913.
  
III. The Canoe Speaks

ON the great streams the ships may go 
About men’s business to and fro. 
But I, the egg-shell pinnace, sleep 
On crystal waters ankle-deep: 
I, whose diminutive design,         5
Of sweeter cedar, pithier pine, 
Is fashioned on so frail a mould, 
A hand may launch, a hand withhold: 
I, rather, with the leaping trout 
Wind, among lilies, in and out;  10
I, the unnamed, inviolate, 
Green, rustic rivers, navigate; 
My dipping paddle scarcely shakes 
The berry in the bramble-brakes; 
Still forth on my green way I wend  15
Beside the cottage garden-end; 
And by the nested angler fare, 
And take the lovers unaware. 
By willow wood and water-wheel 
Speedily fleets my touching keel:  20
By all retired and shady spots 
Where prosper dim forget-me-nots; 
By meadows where at afternoon 
The growing maidens troop in June 
To loose their girdles on the grass.  25
Ah! speedier than before the glass 
The backward toilet goes; and swift 
As swallows quiver, robe and shift 
And the rough country stockings lie 
Around each young divinity.  30
When, following the recondite brook, 
Sudden upon this scene I look, 
And light with unfamiliar face 
On chaste Diana’s bathing-place, 
Loud ring the hills about and all  35
The shallows are abandoned…. 

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