Walter de la Mare

(1873 - 1958 / Kent / England)

Nicholas Nye - Poem by Walter de la Mare

Thistle and darnell and dock grew there,
And a bush, in the corner, of may,
On the orchard wall I used to sprawl
In the blazing heat of the day;

Half asleep and half awake,
While the birds went twittering by,
And nobody there my lone to share
But Nicholas Nye.

Nicholas Nye was lean and gray,
Lame of leg and old,
More than a score of donkey's years
He had been since he was foaled;
He munched the thistles, purple and spiked,
Would sometimes stoop and sigh,
And turn his head, as if he'd said,
'Poor Nicholas Nye! '

Alone with his shadow he'd drowse in the meadow,
Lazily swinging his tail,
At break of day he used to bray,-
Not much too hearty and hale;
But a wonderful gumption was under his skin,
And a clean calm light in his eye,
And once in a while; he'd smile:-
Would Nicholas Nye.

Seem to be smiling at me, he would,
From his bush in the corner, of may,-
Bony and ownerless, widowed and worn,
Knobble-kneed, lonely and gray;
And over the grass would seem to pass
'Neath the deep dark blue of the sky,
Something much better than words between me
And Nicholas Nye.

But dusk would come in the apple boughs,
The green of the glow-worm shine,
The birds in nest would crouch to rest,
And home I'd trudge to mine;
And there, in the moonlight, dark with dew,
Asking not wherefore nor why,
Would brood like a ghost, and as still as a post,
Old Nicholas Nye.


Comments about Nicholas Nye by Walter de la Mare

  • Rookie - 0 Points David Murphy (6/19/2015 12:25:00 PM)

    I had to learn this by heart and recite in front of the class. Funny, that should have made me hate it, but in reality I loved it then and love it still. 'ON the orchard wall, I used to sprawl... such a memory of carefree childhood in a little village in Cornwall. (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Rookie Bob Gibson (7/18/2009 3:35:00 PM)

    Such a pleasure to read this ageless/timeless poetry (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Valerie Kirkham (10/10/2007 11:10:00 AM)

    I love the line containing 'a wonderful gumption was under his skin'. This was also a favourite of mime whem I was about 10 years.
    I also learnt 'Someone came knocking at my wee small door', which my class of kindergarten used to love when I recited it to them! (Report) Reply

  • Rookie Val Cookson (1/27/2005 1:12:00 PM)

    A favourite poem of mine since a girl (Report) Reply

Read all 4 comments »



Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Read poems about / on: purple, dark, lonely, sometimes, smile, green, home, alone, sky, light



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003

Poem Edited: Saturday, July 26, 2014


[Hata Bildir]