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

  • Kay Duck (7/6/2020 11:59:00 AM)

    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(Report)Reply

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  • June Roberts (née Bill) (N Z) (6/8/2020 5:06:00 PM)

    I learned this poem over seventy years ago as a pupil North Fort Street School (Leith) , it has seen me through various c.t scans or unpleasant procedures, I would recite it in my mind, have always loved it.(Report)Reply

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  • Tosh Stewart (4/19/2020 12:25:00 PM)

    Learned it at school now 73 years old still a favourite(Report)Reply

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  • Nicholas Nye (12/10/2019 2:05:00 AM)

    This poem has followed me since Primary school and after 50 years I am now resembling the subject.(Report)Reply

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  • Charlie (5/9/2019 3:09:00 AM)

    I had to learn this poem some 50 years ago at school and it is still a favourite go to when I am feeling a down(Report)Reply

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  • rebecca (4/15/2019 12:33:00 AM)

    like the poem(Report)Reply

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  • Charles Young (4/4/2019 4:54:00 PM)

    The best English teacher a young boy could have, used to read this poem to my class, along with many others.
    That was 56 years ago. The teacher was Mr Polehill and the school was Bramcote Preparatory School.
    Because he had the ability to bring life to both poems and stories I was always captivated with his lessons.This poem was one of my favourites and I really can feel the warmth of the sun when I read it.(Report)Reply

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  • Olga Hughes Lloyd (2/1/2019 8:07:00 PM)

    I learned this poem 70 years ago it is so poignant and has lingered in my mind all these many years.My favourite line Something much better than words between me and Nicholas NYE 2/2/2019(Report)Reply

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  • riyasingh (7/27/2018 12:11:00 PM)

    i am learning this poem we have this poem in class 7
    this is a nice poem with beautiful meaning(Report)Reply

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  • Pamela (7/25/2018 2:28:00 PM)

    85years old and still love it.(Report)Reply

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  • Margaret Rushe (7/14/2018 12:58:00 PM)

    I learned this poem at my Convent School in the 1950s. I had forgotten some of the lines, but reading it now, it has come back to me. What a beautiful poem by Walter de la Mare.(Report)Reply

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  • jo lyngkhoi (6/23/2018 1:32:00 AM)

    Jo
    Love the poem(Report)Reply

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  • Anurag Suman (5/10/2018 10:40:00 AM)

    Very good poems(Report)Reply

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  • wimpy (1/23/2018 2:27:00 AM)

    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)(Report)Reply

    Charlie(5/9/2019 3:12:00 AM)

    The poem isn't talking about right or wrong on keeping animals, how do we know it didn't have a donkey companion or a decent diet etc, read the poem again...

    2 person liked.
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  • barker (1/9/2018 3:50:00 AM)

    lovely poem - vile robotic rendition though(Report)Reply

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  • Valerie Hewitt (6/5/2017 6:11:00 PM)

    my mum had my learn this poem when i was young as i was off school with a broken leg, whenever i read it reminds me of good times miss you mum xxxx(Report)Reply

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  • Peter Daly (7/3/2015 5:56:00 AM)

    I love this poem.It brings back long summer holidays with nothing to do except get sunburned and thirsty. The line I love most is And nobody there my lone to share(Report)Reply

    3 person liked.
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  • 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

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  • Bob Gibson (7/18/2009 3:35:00 PM)

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

    7 person liked.
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  • 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

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Read all 22 comments »




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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