Today’s guest poster is my sister Ceci. Ceci is the oldest of eleven and I am number nine, so she has a history with the family that I know nothing about. For instance, I never knew a beloved book of my childhood, a book that seemed like it was part of the furniture, belonging to everyone, was originally a sweet gift to her from my dad.
Thanks, Ceci! The playground is all yours—
by Robert Louis Stevenson
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,
Rivers 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!
This is not a profound poem but it reaches way back into my childhood. When I was six year old, I received “A Child’s Garden of Verses” by Robert Louis Stevenson for Christmas.
My father used to have us memorize poems and I think this was the very first poem I ever memorized and I have never forgotten it. I loved the feeling of swinging up so high in the air with the wind blowing through my hair and leaning backwards to face the blue sky.
I recited this poem to my children when we would go to the park, and now to my grandchildren. Whenever I say it, I’m brought back to that happy place of childhood. Sadly all the parks are closed now because of Covid-19, so no more pleasant swinging “up in the air and over the wall” for a while. I taped the poem on a pillar with yellow tape forbidding children from that glorious pastime. Hopefully this won’t last long and the swings will soon be filled with the sounds of laughter as children sail through the air on their swings.
11! Wow, and I thought 8 in my family was big…
Like Cece, I received a book of poems for children when I was about 6-years-old and between the words and the illustrations I became captivated by verse. It was a delight to hear these rhymes and phrases today. I am so grateful for whatever unknown benefactor supplied that book at such an impressionable time in my life, and to Cece for bringing the joy back this morning. P.S. My favorite of RSL was “Where Go the Boats,” another seemingly simple poem full of imagery, delight, and wonder. This whole series of contributions by Assistants to the Poem Elf has revealed how powerfully specific poems can hold such a potent place in our hearts and consciousness. Thank you!