Sunday, July 8, 2012

The Swing of Poetry: Musings on Stevenson

All Nine welcomes Rebeka Choat to share her musings on Robert Louis Stevenson. Becka is a reader, a writer, a lover of the printed word, dedicated to bringing people books to nourish mind, soul, and spirit.  Her website is

Image by Rebeka Choat

The Swing of Poetry: Musings on Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing" 

by Rebeka Choat 

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!

~ Robert Louis Stevenson

Early some mornings before it gets too hot, Baby Girl the Second and I walk to the small park near our house.  She heads straight for the swings.  I push, she pumps, we find our rhythm, and this rhyme always comes into my head.    

It’s such a summer poem:  light and carefree, flying effortlessly into the blue, a simple child-like invitation to be wholeheartedly in the moment.  But this moment, me standing here pushing my little girl on a swing, melts into other moments and it’s my seven-year-old self soaring, hair streaming, Daddy pushing me, Mama saying the words somewhere in the background.  That still-small Becka was chubby and slow and clumsy on the ground, already always the last to be picked for any team sport, but oh! on a swing I could fly!

I’ve only ever been thin during one brief, almost-anorexic period of my life.  I’m still invariably slower than whomever I’m walking with, and I’ve rarely been accused of being graceful.  But oh! words give me wings!  Poetry lifts me up in the air and over the wall/Till I can see so wide – see woods on a snowy evening, and Addison’s Walk, and Innisfree, and Camelot, and Hatley St. George.  And it shows me familiar things from a new perspective – Till I look down on the garden green, down on the roof so brown – a pitchfork, a certain slant of light on winter afternoons, an old tree growing in the place that is my own place.  It reminds me to take time to enjoy simple, pleasant things; and when I come back – up in the air and down – I’m relaxed and reinvigorated, ready to look at the world with fresh eyes.

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