Robert Louis Stevenson, famous author of Kidnapped and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, was living in America in 1888 when his chronic ill health led he and his entire family to voyage around the south seas. This book describes how he came to settle in Western Samoa, build a home there, Vailima, and finally die there in 1894 at the age of 44. Years after reading it I struggled alone up the rough hewn path which devoted Samoans had built to the top of a steep hill to lay him to rest. I was alone with a wonderful view down over the coastal town of Apia, reading the inscription on his grave:
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 long'd to be;
Home is the sailor, home from the sea,
And the hunter home from the hill.
Vailima Letters of Robert Louis Stevenson ed. Methuen
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