Walter de la Mare

(1873 - 1958 / Kent / England)

Off The Ground - Poem by Walter de la Mare

Three jolly Farmers
Once bet a pound
Each dance the others would
Off the ground.
Out of their coats
They slipped right soon,
And neat and nicesome
Put each his shoon.
One--Two--Three!
And away they go,
Not too fast,
And not too slow;
Out from the elm-tree's
Noonday shadow,
Into the sun
And across the meadow.
Past the schoolroom,
With knees well bent,
Fingers a flicking,
They dancing went.
Up sides and over,
And round and round,
They crossed click-clacking
The Parish bound;
By Tupman's meadow
They did their mile,
Tee-to-tum
On a three-barred stile.
Then straight through Whipham,
Downhill to Week,
Footing it lightsome,
But not too quick,
Up fields to Watchet
And on through Wye,
Till seven fine churches
They'd seen slip by --
Seven fine churches,
And five old mills,
Farms in the valley,
And sheep on the hills;
Old Man's Acre
And Dead Man's Pool
All left behind,
As they danced through Wool.
And Wool gone by,
Like tops that seem
To spin in sleep
They danced in dream:
Withy -- Wellover --
Wassop -- Wo --
Like an old clock
Their heels did go.
A league and a league
And a league they went,
And not one weary,
And not one spent.
And log, and behold!
Past Willow-cum-Leigh
Stretched with its waters
The great green sea.
Says Farmer Bates,
'I puffs and I blows,
What's under the water,
Why, no man knows !'
Says Farmer Giles,
'My mind comes weak,
And a good man drownded
Is far to seek. '
But Farmer Turvey,
On twirling toes,
Up's with his gaiters,
And in he goes:
Down where the mermaids
Pluck and play
On their twangling harps
In a sea-green day;
Down where the mermaids
Finned and fair,
Sleek with their combs
Their yellow hair. . . .
Bates and Giles --
On the shingle sat,
Gazing at Turvey's
Floating hat.
But never a ripple
Nor bubble told
Where he was supping
Off plates of gold.
Never an echo
Rilled through the sea
Of the feasting and dancing
And minstrelsy.
They called -- called -- called;
Came no reply:
Nought but the ripples'
Sandy sigh.
Then glum and silent
They sat instead,
Vacantly brooding
On home and bed,
Till both together
Stood up and said: --
'Us knows not, dreams not,
Where you be,
Turvey, unless
In the deep blue sea;
But axcusing silver --
And it comes most willing --
Here's us two paying our forty shilling;
For it's sartin sure, Turvey,
Safe and sound,
You danced us a square, Turvey,
Off the ground.'


Comments about Off The Ground by Walter de la Mare

  • (6/16/2017 2:25:00 PM)


    Can remember my school headmaster reading us this poem when I was about 9. I am now 60 and just found it on your site and love it still (Report) Reply

    Neil Harvey (11/13/2017 3:16:00 AM)

    Our headmaster (Mr B M Luke) read it to us also (Barncoose CP School) ..

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
Read all 2 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: sea, green, dance, silver, together, tree, hair, dream, sleep, water, home, sun



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



[Report Error]