I’ve been having an off week. Allergic to the world and just feeling like the best idea would be to curl up with a book and tea. Alas, it’s not been the kind of week where that is possible. The next best thing is the Muppet Green album. I’ve been entranced with the Amy Lee version of “Halfway Down the Stairs” almost since my first listen. It’s a slow, sweet ballad that speaks to awkward shyness and half listened to conversations in other rooms. It reminds me of how I used to listen in on the adult conversation when I was a child, as I think all children do. We didn’t have a house with stairs, but the feeling of wanting to know what’s next fills the song with a palpable longing.
The song lyrics are in fact A.A. Milne’s “Halfway Down” from When We Were Very Young (1926). Milne is the poet who created Winnie the Pooh and Christopher Robin. The poem’s layout in the collection even resembles a staircase a little bit, and the illustration accompanying the poem (color in the link to Google Books, black and white here) suggests that our speaker is Christopher Robin. Winnie the Pooh hangs over the top stair, discarded in favor of whatever is happening just out of view.
Set to music by Harold Fraser-Simson, the song was popular enough for Gene Kelly to record it.
The song appeared on the Muppet Show sung by Robin, Kermit’s tiny cousin. Robin was one of my favorite characters as a kid, perhaps because I was the second generation of kids to grow up with the Muppets I identified with the smaller, more child like Robin than the more adult Kermit and Miss Piggy.
I can only assume that the reason this scene reminds me of James Joyce’s “The Dead” is because I’m planning a Maymester trip to Dublin. I can see a child on the stairs, listening into the dancing and Gabriel’s speech at dinner.