This unknown boy is using a nice bed tray to properly elevate his book for optimal reading posture. I have often wondered about the purpose of the photo. It is a matte print that reminds me of a professional photograph. Perhaps it was for an advertisement or magazine. From the time I found the photo to the moment I saw the prompt for this week’s Sepia Saturday, I kept thinking it reminded me of something, but I wasn’t sure just what. Finally it dawned on me that it reminds me of the Robert Louis Stevenson poem “The Land of Counterpane.”
When I was sick and lay a-bed,
I had two pillows at my head,
And all my toys beside me lay
To keep me happy all the day.
And sometimes for an hour or so
I watched my leaden soldiers go,
With different uniforms and drills,
Among the bed-clothes, through the hills;
And sometimes sent my ships in fleets
All up and down among the sheets;
Or brought my trees and houses out,
And planted cities all about.
I was the giant great and still
That sits upon the pillow-hill,
And sees before him, dale and plain,
The pleasant land of counterpane.
I always liked the imagery in the poem. Even as a child of the 1970s, I knew that a counterpane is a bed spread, that small boys used to play with toy soldiers, and that imagination could rescue you from boredom. I sometimes thought I would like a set of toy soldiers and trees and houses, but alas, that did not come to be.
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13 thoughts on “Land of Counterpane”
When I was 9, I had a bad case of bronchitis & by Dr.’s orders, had to spend my days – for several weeks – sitting quietly doing quiet things which I was more than willing to do because anything strenuous caused me to cough uncontrollably. I wasn’t confined to bed, but sat in a chair up to a card table in the living room & there upon, dressed my dolls in myriad outfits, and drew or colored pictures. I remember longing to play with cars or blocks & Tinker Toys or with people from the “People Box”, but I couldn’t because my brother & sister played with those things & I couldn’t touch anything they touched. Sometimes I had to do homework when my teacher came visiting, bringing me lessons to complete so I wouldn’t fall behind in school, and I didn’t mind because at least it was something different to do!
Marvellous post. I also remember the poem from a 70s childhood and most particularly the illustration that went with it. Lovely memories, thanks.
Bingo. Snap. There’s a couple of us who remember this favourite poem :)
How funny, as Alex says, a favourite with me too. That’s a nice picture of the boy who is concentrating very hard on his book.
Interesting that you are the second person to mention RLS.
It’s a beautiful poem. I suspect that there wouldn’t be many people in this group who didn’t know it. I suppose today’s version would be all about lying in bed playing electronic games !
Absolutely spot on perfect for this week’s theme! One of my favorite poems too. I like the idea the photo was evidence of diligence under duress to be shown to his teacher.
A lovely post, great poem and what a cool table for reading or whatever!
I also wonder what the purpose of the photo was. It certainly looks posed and well lit, and the blanket is unnaturally smooth.
I am one of the few to have never heard that poem before. It is lovely.
Yes I agree, it does look like a professional photo.
I remember the poem. Now where can I get a table like that?
Little cars amongst the bedding was my salvation. Even on days when I could not sit up I could lie there pushing my little cars through the bedding canyons.
The 3rd one to be speaking of that poem…
And oddly enough, I seem to remember it as well.
Was it ever translated in French,
or did I read it in its original version?
I had so many books back then [much like now…]
and was often sick, so, I had plenty of time to play in bed and read.
That is a perfect picture!!!