A child hides his toy soldier in a hollow underground all through the long summer and beyond, and when he recovers him, he lays him on the shelf, imagining all the magical mysteries he might have seen in the “forests of the grass.” A poem by Robert Louis Stevenson. (Duration – 7 minutes) A bonus episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.
Do you like to play with toy soldiers? Or maybe you have another favorite toy you like to play with. Have you ever hidden a toy in a special place for some reason?
Hello Everyone –I’m Kathleen Pelley- Welcome to another special bonus episode of Journey with Story.
Oh, before I begin, I want to say a huge thank you to some loyal listeners in Australia – Thank you Madeleine and Florence Mahoney for your fabulous email telling me how much you love this podcast. I heard you had a birthday on April 20th….so a very very happy belated birthday to you both!
So I explained last week, I record all my JWS episodes many, many weeks in advance, but with all that is going on now in the world and so many of you all stuck at home, my wonderful audio editor and I decided this might be a good time to make a couple of special bonus episodes for all our listeners – after all good stories – great stories can feed our hearts and make us feel a little braver or bolder, kinder or calmer.
Today’s tale is a story poem by a very famous Scottish writer, called Robert Louis Stevenson. It is about a child who hides his toy soldier in a hole in the ground. Now it is important to know he calls his soldier dumb – but he is not using that word the way many people do nowadays to mean silly or stupid. Instead he simply means that the soldier cannot speak – as that is the original meaning of the word dumb…unable to speak.
Few other words you may not know
Grenadier – just a type of soldier made from lead – heavy metal
Scythe is stoned – scythe is a tool to cut grass – stoned is way of sharpening its blade
Disclose – to tell a secret.
Let’s take a journey with
The Dumb Soldier….
oh, when I have finished maybe you can tell me WHY this child hides his soldier….
When the grass was closely mown,
Walking on the lawn alone,
In the turf a hole I found
And hid a soldier underground.
Spring and daisies came apace;
Grasses hid my hiding-place;
Grasses run like a green sea
O’er the lawn up to my knee.
Under grass alone he lies,
Looking up with leaden eyes,
Scarlet coat and pointed gun,
To the stars and to the sun.
When the grass is ripe like grain,
When the scythe is stoned again,
When the lawn is shaven clear,
Then my hole shall reappear.
I shall find him, never fear,
I shall find my grenadier;
But, for all that’s gone and come,
I shall find my soldier dumb.
He has lived, a little thing,
In the grassy woods of spring;
Done, if he could tell me true,
Just as I should like to do.
He has seen the starry hours
And the springing of the flowers;
And the fairy things that pass
In the forests of the grass.
In the silence he has heard
Talking bee and ladybird,
And the butterfly has flown
O’er him as he lay alone.
Not a word will he disclose,
Not a word of all he knows.
I must lay him on the shelf,
And make up the tale myself.
So – what do you think – why did the boy hide his soldier?
Yes, I think….it was because he wanted his soldier to see all kinds of magical fairy things in the forests of the grass – the kinds of things he longs to see if only he were tiny like the soldier
I love stories and poems that make me wonder –
I wonder is there a place in the world you would like to visit, but can’t because you are too big like the boy in this poem? What would you see if you were able to go visit a mole’s tunnel or a bird’s nest? Could you draw a picture of such a place?
I wonder why does the boy choose a soldier to hide in the grass instead of another toy?
I wonder why the boy imagines his soldier can see, but yet cannot speak?
And…wondering – at the end of the poem the boy says he is going to make up the soldier’s tale – I bet you could do that too…make up a story or a poem about what that toy soldier did see all through that summer?
Don’t forget – I love to hear from all my listeners from all over the world! With your mummy, daddy or grown up friends help you can send me a picture you’ve drawn, request a birthday shout out or a special story! Please send messages on Instagram or Facebook @journeywithstory. And my young friends, Madeleine and Florence’s mummy told me that so much do they love some of the stories on this podcast, that they even memorized them! What a terrific idea – if you find a story or a poem you love, you can memorize it and so you keep it in your heart FOREVER.
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Cheerio then, join me next time for JWS.