Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

The Swing, A Singable Picture Book

Posted on: July 29, 2010

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swing RLS julie morstad
The Swing
Poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Traditional Tune
Illustrated by Julie Morstad
Originally Published in A Child’s Garden of Verses
ISBN 978-1897476482
Sing “The Swing” with Emily:

https://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/the-swing-rls-eleg-sbwe

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swing heather harris.jpg
The Swing
Poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Traditional Tune
Illustrated by Heather Lynn Harris
Originally Published in A Child’s Garden of Verses
Sing “The Swing” with Emily:

https://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/the-swing-rls-eleg-sbwe

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SWING RLS childcraft Friend ELEG type
The Swing

Poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Traditional Tune
Illustrated by Esther Friend, p. 132 of Childcraft, Volume 1, The Poems of Early Childhood (1954)
Originally Published in A Child’s Garden of Verses
To view or print this page, click here:
SWING RLS childcraft Friend ELEG type

Sing “The Swing” with Emily:

https://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/the-swing-rls-eleg-sbwe

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swing, the (from talking like the rain) - Copy
The Swing
Poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Traditional Tune
Illustrated by Jane Dyer
From Talking Like the Rain (a First Book of Poems)

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Book trailer for Julie Morstad’s illustration of “The Swing”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FUaJhfX1Lk8

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The barn swing illustration from “Charlotte’s Web,” by Garth Williams

I was reading “Charlotte’s Web” to my daughter this morning (7/29/2010 – she was eating a soy ice-cream-sunday with nuts she cracked open herself, as she is partial to freshly cracked pecans).  “Charlotte’s Web” is one of my very favorite books.   I love the book first because my grandmother read it to me when I was little.  I called my grandmother “Penny,” her name was Grace Evangelyn Morgan Everson.  She was a second grade teacher in Indianapolis, IN for more than 30 years.  Besides my sentimental attachment to the book, I have found so much wonder in it. Though the book seems simple at first, every time I read it, new ideas, images and sweet thoughts emerge.

I might have glossed over the passage about Zuckerman’s swing before,

Mr. Zuckerman had the best swing in the county.  It was a single long piece of heavy rope tied to the beam over the north doorway.  At the bottom end of the rope was a fat knot to sit on.  It was arranged so that you could swing without being pushed.  you climbed a ladder to the hayloft. Then, holding the rope, you stood at the edge and looked down, and were scared and dizzy.  Then you straddled the knot, so that it acted as a seat.  Then you got up all your nerve, took a deep breath, and jumped.  For a second you seemed to be falling to the barn floor far below, but then suddenly the rope would begin to catch you and you would sail through the barn door going a mile a minute, with the wind whistling in your eyes and ears and hair.  Then you would zoom upward into the sky, and look up at the clouds, and the rope would twist and you would twist and turn with the rope.  Then you would drop down, down, down, out of the sky and come sailing back into the barn almost into the hayloft, then sail out again (not quite so far this time), then in again (not quite so  high), then out again, then in again, then out, then in; and then you’d jump off and fall down and let somebody else try it.
(Excerpt from “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White)

Today I realized that this story goes sweetly with “The Swing” a poem by Robert Louis Stevenson’s “A Child’s Garden of Verses,” which can be sung to a charming waltz.

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The Swing
Poem Robert Louis Stevenson
From “A Child’s Garden of Verses
Traditional Music

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!

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You can find an excellent traditional waltz for singing this poem, sung “The Cedarmont Kids,” here:
http://www.amazon.com/The-Swing/dp/B0013AJ4JE/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1293737796&sr=8-2
(Track 16 of Disk 3)

The music is printed in,

Kids Classics Collection 2 (80 Classic songs for Kids)
Easy Piano-Vocal Arrangements in singable Keys
Music Arranged by Matt Huesmanna nd Chris Davis
Vocal Arrangements by Mike Gay
Published by Cedarmont Music LLC
“The Swing” is printed on p.110

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Click here for an archival summary of musical settings of Robert Louis Stevenson’s poetry:
http://www.robert-louis-stevenson.org/richard-dury-archive/music.htm

Of course I always loved a good ol’ swing set.  Years later, when I enjoyed my single young-womanhood in New York City, I loved to visit the playground situated at the north end of Central Park which featured an excellent swing set.  It was fun to push-off and swing away the anxiety and uncertainty of being a single girl making her own way in the big city.

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“The Swing” is one of my favorites in “A Child’s Garden of Verses,”

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A Child’s Garden of Verses
Poems by Robert Louis Stevenson
Musical Settings by Various Artists
Illustrated by Brian Wildsmith

Interestingly, each edition (and there are many illustrations) RLS’s collection includes a different set and order of the poems, but “The Swing” is included in every edition of “A Child’s Garden of Verses” that I’ve found so far:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/a-childs-garden-of-verses-singable-poems-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

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THE SWING is featured in many delightful collections of poetry for children, including:

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A Children’s Treasury of Poems
Illustrated by Linda Bleck

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Poetry for Young People: Robert Louis Stevenson
Edited by Frances Schoonmaker
Illustrated by Lucy Corvino
(Singable Poems include: Bed in Summer, The Swing, The Land of Counterpane)

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A Family of Poems (My Favorite Poetry for Children)
Selected by Caroline Kennedy
Illustrated by Jon Muth
“The Swing” by RLS is printed and illustrated on pps. 105-106

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Ursula Shaw, has a charming illustration of the poem on her blog “Ursula’s Art,”
http://ursulashaw.blogspot.com/2007/07/illustration-friday-poem.html

(Original artwork shown with permission from Ms. Shaw)

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talking like the rain, kennedy, dyer
Talking Like the Rain (a First Book of Poems)
Words and Tunes by Various Artists
Selected by X. J. Kennedy and Dorothy M. Kennedy
Illustrated by Jane Dyer

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Bullwinkle recited his own version of the poem:

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Addendum 7/7/2015

THE SWING (poem by Robert Louis Stevenson with traditional tune) really is one of my very favorite little songs to sing.

Here’s a cute illustration by Linda Bleck:

swing linda bleck
The Swing
Poem by Robert Lewis Stevenson
Traditional Tune
Illustrated by Linda Bleck
Published in A Children’s Treasury of Poems

Sing “The Swing” with Emily:

https://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/the-swing-rls-eleg-sbwe

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Link to my post about A Child’s Garden of Verses:
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/a-childs-garden-of-verses-singable-poems-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

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Link to the post “Mark Twain on Robert Louis Stevenson
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/mark-twain-on-robert-louis-stevenson/

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Two illustrations for “The Swing” by the fabulous illustrator EULALIE :

This one was first published in “The Bumper Book,”

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“The Swing” is one of the songs we selected to be part of
Oh, What a Beautiful Day: Sing Books with Emily, the Cabaret.”

Completing my Song Craft Worksheet is part of my process for working on songs:


 Emily’s Song Craft Worksheet

Because the first section of the Song Craft Worksheet involves background research on the song, I’ll share the answers with you so you can know about the song, too.  The more about the song you know (both concrete facts and less tangible artistic choices), the more “authority,” and heart and soul you can put into the singing and sharing of the song with others.  If you are interested in improving your artistic abilities for singing songs in any capacity, just simply filling out the Song Craft Worksheet is a great place to start!  After the background research, the rest of the Song Craft Worksheet gets VERY personal…don’t worry!  I won’t bore you with that.

1 Q: Who wrote the words?
1 A: Robert Louis Stevenson

2Q: Who wrote the music?
2A: The tune is considered “Traditional,” meaning that the exact origins of the tune are either ancient or ambiguous and that the tune is so ubiquitous it can’t be attributed one person.  The tune belongs to everyone and is in “The Public Domain.”

3Q: When was the song written?
3A: The poem was written by RLS and first published in 1885

4Q: At what point in the lyricists’ and composer’s career was the song written?
4A: RLS was born in 1850 and died young in 1894.  He published “Child’s Garden” in 1885, just after writing “Treasure Island” but before writing “Jekyll and Hyde.”

5Q: What is the song from?
5A: RLS collection of poems, “A Child’s Garden of Verses”

6Q: If from a show, what character sang it?
6A: NA

7Q: If from a show, from what situation does the song arise?  Why does the character sing the song?  What function does the song/character play in the story?
7A: NA

8Q:  What other contextual elements of the song are significant?
8A: For me, I’ve always loved to swing on a swing set and always seek them out.  Plus, when my children were babies, it was the wonderful swing we had that helped them fall asleep on many nights.  We’d put ’em in the swing and they’d start snoozin’ and that was joy for us parents!

9Q: Was the song written for a particular singer?  Why?
9A: NA

10Q: If not from a show, why did the songwriter write the song?
10A: NA

11Q: What do you feel the lyricist is trying to say?
11A: Swinging is a joy of childhood, giving a sense freedom and wonder.

12Q: Does the song tell a story or just express feelings or ideas?
12A: This song expresses feelings and ideas about a child’s joy on a swing.

13Q: Who else has recorded this song:
13A:

The rest of the questions require personal answers and I will spare you those!

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Addendum 7/8/2013

One of my favorite songs to sing is “The Swing.”  It’s a traditional tune that I’ve heard a couple of places, but there is never a name associated with it.  The tune’s sweet waltz fits the poem so perfectly that I always get the sensation and joy of swinging when I sing it.

I’d almost forgotten about recording the song!  Here is it so you can sing-along, too:

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https://soundcloud.com/singbookswithemily/the-swing-rls-eleg-sbwe

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Related Posts:

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SING “THE SWING” WITH EMILY

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CHILD’S GARDEN OF VERSES, SINGABLE POEMS BY ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/03/28/a-childs-garden-of-verses-singable-poems-by-robert-louis-stevenson/

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MARK TWAIN ON ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2010/12/31/mark-twain-on-robert-louis-stevenson/

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EDUCATIONAL CONTENT

A list of SPBs with fun and sneakily educational content.  The kids won’t even know they’re learning!
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/08/15/singable-picture-books-with-sneaky-educational-content/

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POETRY SINGABLE POETRY IN COMPILATIONS

An list of  singable poems from compilations of poetry for children
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2011/04/17/singable-poetry-a-list-of-poems-that-can-be-sung-from-illustrated-compilations-of-poetry-and-singable-picture-books/

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POETRY, SINGABLE POETRY IN INDIVIDUALLY ILLUSTRATED SINGABLE PICTURE BOOKS
A list of individually illustrated poems that have been set to music and can be sung
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2012/04/20/poems-individually-illustrated-spb/

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The Swing (Singable Poem by RLS) a New Illustration by Julie Morstad
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/the-swing-singable-poem-by-rls-a-new-illustration-by-julie-morstad/

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Another Cute Illustration for THE SWING
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2015/07/07/another-cute-illustration-for-the-swing/

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