The Unseen Playmate

Today I happened to read a  children’s poem by the famous Scottish writer Robert Louis Stevenson. (1850-94). He lived in Edinburgh and you “can meet him” at the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh  where some of his belongings are shown.

His Treasure Island was performed at my oldest boy’s school back in 1986 by pupils from six years’ old to twelve and to this day that was the best performance of that musical edition of the exciting story about little Jim and Long John Silver and many more.


Back to the poem  “The Unseen Playmate”

When children are playing alone on the green,

In comes the playmate that never was seen,

When children are happy and lonely and good,

The Friend of the Children comes out of the wood.

Nobody heard him and nobody saw,

His is a picture you never could draw,

But he’s sure to be present, aboard or at home,

When children are happy and playing alone.

He lies in the laurels, he runs on the grass,

He sings when you tinkle the musical glass;

Whene’er you are happy ad cannot tell why,

The friend of the Children is sure to be by!

(Two more verses after this)

The book “A Child’s Garden of Verses” was first published in 1885.

Later today I scrolled down on my blogroll and found a post on the same theme. A blogger called Barb Knowles with her blog Sane Teachers wrote about her invisible friend.

Barb describes how they played in a secret spot in the garden and the invisible friend always went into her home when she needed her. The parents quarreled and her mother was drinking but the invisible friend didn’t care. 

I know the author of the poem was sick most of his childhood so also he knew what it was to be a lonely child.  I am always drawn to stories like this as I want to know how children cope with difficult life situations.  When he wrote this little book he was suffering immensely from tuberculosis.

Cicely Mary Barker's Pink Fairies

Cicely Mary Barker’s Pink Fairies



  1. What a wonderful, wondrous poem and I had not heard of it before you wrote me about it yesterday. It is exactly right and speaks to a child’s loneliness. Thank you so much for relating it to my blog and my invisible, imaginary friend Deenie. Perhaps she did come from the woods. However, I feel she was just from my imagination but did make me less lonely and much happier.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Somehow I think it was no coincidence that I read the poem at a random page in the book I bought in Edinburgh and a few hours later I read your post on the blog roll. And I love to connect with people and share the result in a post. I was alone a lot as a child and enjoyed the creativity that came from having to find something to do

      Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t that sweet. Just imagine that so many children have figured out a way to cope and I suppose a friend to talk to while playing as the language has to develop. Thank you for sharing this Stevie

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Dear Maria,
    As I was a little girl (maybe 8 years old ?), I invented an invisible friend, even if I had a brother (4 1/2 younger). I called her “Pascaline” (why ? I can’t explain…).
    I think that I was a lonely child.
    Now I am an adult, I have many friends, but appreciate more and more to be alone. 😀
    But I am happy to folow you as a blogger ! Do not hesitate to come and discover my blog if you want ! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have read of Stevenson and wasn’t familiar with this poem. I think the creativity of children gives them the freedom to have invisible friends. Last Saturday I spent an enjoyable hour being a Queen of an invisible kingdom while my grandson was my knight protecting from invisible invaders from space.

    Liked by 1 person

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