He wrote his own epitaph for his grave atop a mountain in Samoa, and it is one of the great epitaphs:
Under the wide and starry sky
Dig the grave and let me lie.
Glad did I live and gladly die,
And I laid me down with a will.
This be the verse you grave for me;
“Here he lies where he longed to be,
Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.”
I have become obsessed by the last days of Robert Louis Stevenson in the South Pacific, where he busily spent his last days in a frenzy of writing, local politics, and building. I had always liked the work of RLS, but I think in the South Seas he came into his own.
One of the best books I have read over the last twelve months are the Vailima Letters: Being Correspondence addressed by Robert Louis Stevenson to Sidney Colvin (1895) of the author, named after the estate he built in Samoa, just south of the capital at Apia.
About a year ago, a friend in Australia recommended two books about Stevenson’s final days in Samoa: Joseph Farrell’s Robert Louis Stevenson in Samoa and Michael Fitzgerald’s The Pacific Room. I immediately downloaded both books from Amazon Kindle. The Farrell I read last May, and I am now halfway through the Michael Fitzgerald. Both have been excellent reads. Now I will try to read more of RLS’s last novels that he wrote from Vailima.
As I grow older, I find myself drawn more and more to Stevenson. His style is so limpid, and yet his thoughts can be so profound.
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