Monday, 15 April 2013

Poetry for the very young. 'The Swing' by Robert Louis Stevenson

Young children love to learn. 

As a young child I went to speech class with my older brother where we would recite poetry and prose for a dear old lady. She was very quaint. I particularly enjoyed going to her home. She lived in 'The Shire' on a corner with her rambling garden and pathway with lots of lovely things to look at - notably the chickens and her mulberry tree. A fish pond with water lilies also, where you had to brush them aside to see the fish. A prize winning garden at one time.

On the outside of her little home was a particular shade of duck egg blue. The inside had the smell of warm porridge just made and interiors decorated in the 1950's style. A wire frame short stool had a fluffy bright pink cushion on top which caught my eye every time. Instead we sat on a wooden church pew and waited our turn to 'stand up tall' and recite our chosen poem and prose that we had been practising through the week. After corrections were made and areas for improvement outlined we would go outside to 'learn' our piece. Following this, we would move to the next room to select a new poem for the week. 

The room next door was her cosy kitchen with an old fuel stove and a checked blue plastic tablecloth covering the wooden table. The poems were kept in an old brown suitcase sitting on the table. The poems had all been typed out using an old style typewriter on thin paper. I could tell how popular poems were by how many pin marks there were in the paper. After careful consideration I'd choose and then take my poem for approval and pinning into my exercise book to take home for copying by hand. 

The lesson would end with breathing exercises. I throughly enjoyed this time of my childhood. 

My three year old son adores poetry. Short, long, silly and serious. He loves the rhythm and rhyme. One of his first words was his version of "butterfly". 

A poem learnt from my childhood, I now recite to him at the park. "The Swing" by Robert Louis Stevenson. 

To my delight on a recent visit to the library I found a board bookversion of this poem. A beautifully illustrated book to take you up and over the wall! Enjoy with your very young or as a gorgeous gift to a newborn! 


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!

Robert Louis Stevenson 

* a board book is a type of book printed on thick paperboard for little hands to manipulate easily 

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