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Next Issue Peter Scupham at 85: a celebration Contributions by Anne Stevenson, Robert Wells, Peter Davidson, Lawrence Sail

This poem is taken from PN Review 103, Volume 21 Number 5, May - June 1995.

The Early Love Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson Gavin Ewart

The letters he wrote to Frances Sitwell were pretty soppy.
His Calvinist father was very bigoted and stroppy,
but all because of Religion. Lou's high-minded affaire
was something about which Dad didn't seem to care.
And of course he was consumptive. He was in his early twenties
and bright as they come and much more than compos mentis.
He had a hard time. His Mum wanted to send him to Bible Classes.
Dad thought, with his atheism, he might corrupt the other lads and lasses.

Frances was an alcoholic English vicar's neglected wife.
She was 32. She had a miserable life.

RLS had for her a sort of sentimental mother-fixation
but it was all genteel and proper - no fornication, no masturbation.
Kisses, I think. But they did support one another in a sea of trouble.
It was genuine love on his side, a kind of iridescent bubble
that shone like a star. To him her interest certainly mattered.

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