This is one of the most delightful of all children's poems. I have read it to two generations of children and they have always enjoyed it. It is the perfect example of a simple conceit elegantly maintained. Stevenson was one of the finest writers for children - some would say the finest - and is just as entertaining today as 120 years ago. I wish I could remember who it was who said that writing for children needed to be the same as for adults only better!
‘Summer Sun’ by Robert Louis Stevenson, is is a beautiful poem of five stanzas of four lines each, written in rhyming quatrains of simple paired rhyming couplets. Stevenson writing with a master’s touch, creates a rhyme scheme which is not predictable. The poem is enclosed within a brief description of the universal nature of the sun. The poem begins ‘Great is the sun, and wide he goes /Through empty heaven with repose; ’ which accurately describes the sun within the solar system, and concludes ‘The gardener of the World, he goes’; to illustrate that the sun’s journey makes him, the sun personified, the world’s gardener, on a global journey.
‘Summer Sun’ focuses predominantly upon the exploits of the sun indoors first within a house, as we follow the sun’s adventures stealing through blinds into the parlour, poking through a keyhole to gladden an attic; then off to smile into a hay-loft. The garden is next investigated, then sheds, the secret places of ‘the ivy's inmost nook’, before we are swept off on new adventures ‘Above the hills, along the blue’ horizon. The sun’s purpose as stated of happily spreading joy throughout the world, is continued with the wonderful line ‘To please the child, to paint the rose’.
In contrast Stevenson’s poem ‘The Summer Sun Shone Round Me’ in setting remains pastoral, while ‘The Sun’s Travels’ again contain a mixture of indoor and outdoor settings.
THE SUN is not a-bed, when I
At night upon my pillow lie;
Still round the earth his way he takes,
And morning after morning makes.
Personification and scientific knowledge intermix, the sun is about in daylight while the narrator is a-bed at night upon his pillow. The sun continues perpetually ‘morning after morning’ in constant travel, but again Stevenson’s purpose is not a discourse in science, but clearly to write unique poetic sketches to entertain readers.
Nice cosy Victorian verse which assumes the World ends at the shores of temperate Britain. A parallel poem should be written (a la Blake's Songs) in which the sun's destructive powers are described.