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

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
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.
Learned it at school now 73 years old still a favourite


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