Robert Louis Stevenson

(1850-1894 / Edinburgh / Scotland)

The Swing


How do you like to go up in a swing,
Up in the air so blue?
Oh, I do think it the pleasantest thing
Ever a child can do!

Up in the air and over the wall,
Till I can see so wide,
River and trees and cattle and all
Over the countryside--

Till I look down on the garden green,
Down on the roof so brown--
Up in the air I go flying again,
Up in the air and down!

Submitted: Friday, January 03, 2003

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# 129 poem on top 500 Poems


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  • Gold Star - 10,094 Points * Sunprincess * (7/15/2014 12:35:00 PM)

    .............a sweet poem of the joys of childhood....if only we could return to those days for a visit... (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 127 Points Kirti Sharma (7/15/2014 12:14:00 AM)

    so sweet this poem is.. i could remember how i used to enjoy on swings...
    wonderful.. still smiling..... :) :) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 18 Points Ian Fraser (7/15/2010 9:55:00 PM)

    Stevenson was one of the first writers to write specifically for children and this lovely simple little poem is capable of being read by a 6 year old. To create literature for children is perhaps the greatest gift a writer can have and should never be underestimated. Although he wrote quite a lot I never feel, for all that, Stevenson ever really fulfilled his destiny as a writer, mainly as a result of his premature death. I still want to read the ending of 'Weir of Hermiston'...! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (7/15/2010 10:18:00 AM)

    VISIT TO AN ART GALLERY

    It always amazes me
    how oil paint can simulate
    shapes and colors

    I recall a brown roof
    painted so brown
    that it held the barn
    tightly in a green field

    the sky overhead
    bathed the hills
    behind in gold
    and azure (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (7/15/2010 9:52:00 AM)

    The contortions some of us go through to justify an explication never ceases to amaze me! Have you never stood before a landscape hanging on the wall in a frame so brown that you are quite taken by the skill of both the painter who applied the paint to canvas and the frame-maker who selected and put together the oak staves that lend perspective to the view? Step back and squint your eyes and look at the shapes of the blue river running diagonally left to right, bordered by masses of green trees in full bloom and the shapes of tiny browsing cattle in the distant fields - do you see what I see? Is it not similar to the viewpoint of a child happily swinging high and higher? No matter how high he goes, no matter the height in measurable feet - the distance from ground to apex of the swing seems downright divine! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (7/15/2010 7:00:00 AM)

    How is the child looking down on the roofs? The swing must be going extraordinarily high to allow him or her to do that! As for 'so brown' - what does it mean? I do not think a child thinks 'so brown'. This is RLS the adult trying to mirror the reaction of a child to swinging. He is replicating the child's reaction by using 'so' etc, whereas a child does not think in these terms. When a child swings the excitement of swinging is all - it does not think of comparative colours! When I swung as a child I cannot remember ever saying to myself 'look at that roof so brown! '. Simply writing 'so brown' does not do the job, it is a lazy way of empathising with a child's reaction. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie - 461 Points Ramesh T A (7/15/2010 2:31:00 AM)

    Bird's eye view of places is really beautiful and wonderful to see truth as they really are! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Joey Valenzuela (7/15/2010 1:29:00 AM)

    so brown is something extreme.....
    this means going up in a swing was the extremest thing the narrator had done......

    there are other words in the poem that express extremes:

    air so blue
    the pleasantest thing
    see so wide,
    cattle and all (all=everything)
    roof so brown****
    flying (isn't flying extreme?) (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Dylan Oppedahl (7/15/2009 7:49:00 PM)

    I always loved to swing. I still do. Its the closest thing to flying and i love to play airplanes on the swings too. Sorry i'm a little kid at heart. But this is an amazing poem (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Michael Pruchnicki (7/15/2009 1:12:00 PM)

    Brown or so brown - what in the world are these guys talking about? Is either one of them such an accomplished poet that they can respond to 'The Swing' with such chutzpah? The poem is exactly what it seems - something a grandparent might well recite to a child whose swing is being pushed 'up in the air and down! ' (Report) Reply

  • Veteran Poet - 3,288 Points Is It Poetry (7/15/2009 10:12:00 AM)

    None of these poems
    were written by children..
    The very fact that this..
    one roof.. is brown..
    Lets each child concentrate on the journey by..
    as they swing out..over the stream..
    and to see each roof..
    not all of..
    which were brown...iip (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Kevin Straw (7/15/2009 5:39:00 AM)

    It's nit-picking I know, but the 'so' in 'so brown' sounds to me like make-weight to keep the scansion. I do not think the exceptional quality of the roof's colour is in the child's mind. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Tajma Hall (1/4/2009 8:57:00 PM)

    My first grade choice to recite at school, I ruled that day at recess. One of my favorites of all time. (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Jo McNeil (4/25/2007 1:24:00 PM)

    For me, the power of this poem is in its cadence. The sounds swing you up and down with the visuals. It is also such a timeless poem; one with which children can still relate. (Report) Reply

Read all 23 comments »

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