One of my favorite childhood poets is Sir Walter de la Mare. the first poem which we had to memorise at school was ‘Five Eyes’ and to this day, I still remember it line for line.
De La Mare was born at Charlton, Kent, England 25 April 1873 – 22 June 1956. He came from quite a well off family. His father, James Edward de la Mare, was an official of the Bank of England. His mother, Lucy Sophia (Browning) de la Mare was related to the poet Robert Browning. He was educated in London at St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School, which he left at age 16.
From 1890 to 1908 he worked in London in the accounting department of the Anglo-American Oil Company.
His career as a writer started from about 1895 and he continued to publish to the end of his life. His first published story, ‘Kismet’ (1895), appeared in the Sketch under the pseudonym Walter Ramal.
The Listeners is one of his most famous poems – full of atmosphere and imagination.
In Hans old mill his three black carts,
Watch the bins for the thieving rats
Whisker and claw, they crouch in the night,
Their five eyes smouldering, green and bright:
Squeaks from the flour sacks, squeaks from where
The cold wind stirs on the empty stair,
Squeaking and scampering everywhere.
Then down they pounce, now in, now out
At whisking tail and sniffing snout;
While lean old Hans he snores away,
Till peep of light and break of day;
Then up he climbs to his creaking mill,
Out come his cats all grey with meal,
Jekkel and Jessop, and one eyed Jill.
Video edwardcsargeant with thanks!
PS There’s a new post over on my other blog ‘Echostains’ called