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'...!
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!
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.
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! '
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
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.