In this song, the elephants are swinging on a spider web as if they're on a swing.

You can sing the English translation to the French melody if you sing the word "swinging" using 3 beats like "swin-nnnng-ing".

This song dates back to at least 1842. You can learn more about it in the Notes below.

Un éléphant se balançait - French Children's Songs - France - Mama Lisa's World: Children's Songs and Rhymes from Around the World  - Intro Image


The line "C'était un jeu tellement amusant" translates more literally to "It was a game that was so much fun." I changed it to fit the tune in the mp3.


A similar beginning to the song can be found in "Scènes de la Vie Privée et Publique Des Animaux" by Grandville (1842). It was sung to the tune of Femmes, voulez-vous éprouver from the opera "Le secret" by Jean-Pierre Solié (1755 – 1812). Now, which song came first is still a mystery! (Cf. the lyrics below.)

Lyrics of the verse found in the book mentioned above:

Un éléphant se balançait (An elephant was swinging)
Sur une toile d'Araignée ; (On a Spider web)
Voyant qu'il se divertissait, (Since he* was enjoying himself)
Une mouche en fut indignée : (A fly was offended:)
Comment peux-tu te réjouir, (How can you rejoice)
Dit-elle, en voyant ma souffrance ? (She* said, when you see my suffering?)
Ah ! Viens plutôt me secourir, (Ah, come instead to rescue me)
Ma main sera ta récompense. (My hand will be your reward.)

*In French, the word "elephant" is masculine and "fly" is feminine, hence the fly offering the elephant to get married as a reward.


The standard lyrics to this song are slightly different:

Un éléphant se balançait
sur une toile d'araignée,
il trouva ça si amusant,
qu'il appela un autre éléphant.

Deux éléphants se balançaient etc. etc.

English Translation:

An elephant was swinging
On a spider's web,
He found it so fun
He called another elephant.

Two elephants were swinging etc. etc.


The midi is the more standard tune.


Instruments in the recording: guitar, kazoo and tom-tom drum (floor tom)...


Many thanks to CM2 (5th grade) students, St-Ambreuil (71), France, school year 2008-2009, for contributing this song, for singing it for us and for the wonderful illustrations!

Please let us know if you think this video has been taken down by YouTube.

Thanks and Acknowledgements

Many thanks to Marie and Séverine for contributing this song. Translated by Lisa.

Merci beaucoup!