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.
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.
Such a pleasure to read this ageless/timeless poetry
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!
This poem is a classic case of animal abuse. A donkey requires 1 companionship, ideally another donkey 2. Shelter from the elements 3. a decent diet - preferably barley straw and supplements and a mineral lick. 4. Clean fresh water 5. Attention to his hooves from a farrier to ensure that they do not overgrow. Contrast bony and ownerless Nicholas Nye's treatment with that of the donkey Platero in Juan Ramon's novella Platero y yo (Platero and I)
I learned this poem when I was a boy at school and it now brings back many happy memories
I was given this to learn at school about 60 years ago. I loved it then and love it now. When i first read it as a child it was probably the first poem that transported me to the meadow where the donkey lived. It felt and still feels like a comforting blanket.
I learnt this poem over 60years ago. It still often echoes in both my dreams and waking hours like a comforting reminder of my childhood.
I recall our teacher dear old Mr Buck reading us this poem and telling us we lacked the gumption mentioned in the poem. On another occasion He looked over the class saying some of us would see the 21st Century that was 75 years ago.I hope the SOME turned out to be ALL, He was right alas saying he would not be with us then. (Sprowston Junior School)
My dear elderly mother has asked me to print out this poem for her-she shared poetry’s splendour with me since I was a small girl
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.I would like to translate this poem
A favourite poem of mine since a girl