The Centaur

Overview


Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten?

First published in 1956, May Swenson’s "The Centaur" remains one of her most popular and most anthologized poems. This is its first appearance as a picture book for children. In images bright and brisk and tangible, the poet re-creates the joy of riding a stick horse through a small-town summer. We find ourselves, with her, straddling “a long limber horse with . . . a few leaves for a tail,” and pounding through the lovely ...

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The Centaur

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Overview


Can it be there was only one summer that I was ten?

First published in 1956, May Swenson’s "The Centaur" remains one of her most popular and most anthologized poems. This is its first appearance as a picture book for children. In images bright and brisk and tangible, the poet re-creates the joy of riding a stick horse through a small-town summer. We find ourselves, with her, straddling “a long limber horse with . . . a few leaves for a tail,” and pounding through the lovely dust along the path by the old canal. As her shape shifts from child to horse and back, we know exactly what she feels.

Sherry Meidell’s water-color illustrations perfectly convey the wit and beauty of May Swenson’s poem. These are playful, satisfying images full of vitality and imagination. Meidell handles the joy of poem’s  fantasy and the joy of its occasional naughtiness with equal success.

Each day of the summer that she is ten, a girl takes a glorious ride astride a willow stick that becomes a horse for her, even as she becomes one with her imaginary steed.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780874216486
  • Publisher: Utah State University Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2007
  • Edition description: 1
  • Pages: 32
  • Age range: 4 - 10 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 11.00 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author


May Swenson was born in Logan, Utah in 1913, the first of ten children. As a child, she played in the willows and along a canal that carried water from the nearby mountains through her small town, just as the speaker in "The Centaur" does. Eleven volumes of her poetry were published during her lifetime, earning her dozens of awards, membership in the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, and the prestigious MacArthur Fellowship. During the last years of her life, she served as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets. May died in 1989 and is buried less than a mile from her canal in “The Centaur.”

Sherry Meidell lives in West Bountiful, Utah, and coincidentally spent many childhood summers near May Swenson's home. A member of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, she specializes in brushes and watercolor with pencil for detail. The Centaur is the ninth book she has illustrated.

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Read an Excerpt

The Centaur


By May Swenson

Utah State University Press

Copyright © 2007 The Literary Estate of May Swenson
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-87421-648-6


Chapter One

    The summer that I was ten —
    Can it be there was only one
    summer that I was ten? It must

    have been a long one then —
    each day I'd go out to choose
    a fresh horse from my stable

    which was a willow grove
    down by the old canal.
    I'd go on my two bare feet.

    But when, with my brother's jack-Knife,
    I had cut me along limber horse
    with a good thick Knob for a head,

    and peeled him slick and clean
    except a few leaves for the tail,
    and cinched my brother's belt

    around his head for a rein,

    I'd straddle and canter him fast
    up the grass bank to the path,

    trot along in the lovely dust

    that talcumed over his hoofs,
    hiding my toes, and turning

    his feet to swift half-moons.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from The Centaur by May Swenson Copyright © 2007 by The Literary Estate of May Swenson . Excerpted by permission of Utah State University Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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