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Short poem

Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894)

Windy Nights

              1Whenever the moon and stars are set,
              2    Whenever the wind is high,
              3All night long in the dark and wet,
              4    A man goes riding by.
              5Late in the night when the fires are out,
              6Why does he gallop and gallop about?

              7Whenever the trees are crying aloud,
              8    And ships are tossed at sea,
              9By, on the highway, low and loud,
            10    By at the gallop goes he.
            11By at the gallop he goes, and then
            12By he comes back at the gallop again.


1] "I had an extreme terror of Hell, implanted in me, I suppose, by my good nurse, which used to haunt me terribly on stormy nights, when the wind had broken loose and was going about the town like a bedlamite. I remember that the noises on such occasions always grouped themselves for me into the sound of a horseman, or rather a succession of horsemen, riding furiously past the bottom of the street and away up the hill into town; I think even now that I hear the terrible howl of his passage, and the clinking that I used to attribute to his bit and stirrups. On such nights I would lie awake and pray and cry, until I prayed and cried myself asleep" (Graham Balfour, Life of Robert Louis Stevenson [London: Methuen, 1901]: 32; cited by Janet Adam Smith in her edition of the Collected Poems [1971], p. 367).

Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: Robert Louis Stevenson, Ballads and Other Poems of Robert Louis Stevenson: A Child's Garden of Verses; Underwoods; Ballads (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1900). end/S749/A155/190- Fisher Rare Book Library
First publication date: 1885
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2003
Recent editing: 1:2003/7/11

Rhyme: ababcc

Other poems by Robert Louis Stevenson