Wednesday, 18 November 2009

The Old Stone House by Walter de la Mare

The Old Stone House

Nothing on the grey roof, nothing on the brown,
Only a little greening where the rain drips down;
Nobody at the window, nobody at the door,
Only a little hollow which a foot once wore;
But still I tread on tiptoe, still tiptoe on I go,
Past nettle, porch and weedy well, for oh, I know
A friendless face is peering, and a clear still eye
Peeps closely through the casement as my step goes by.

Walter de la Mare

This is a poem that I learned by heart at school. I was probably aged nine or ten. That sense of the unknown, maybe the supernatural, is so powerful. I was reminded of it again tonight, as I read Bovey Belle`s short story, Little Llettygariad, on Codlins and Cream 2.

The line "Only a little hollow which a foot once wore;"
has always fascinated me. If I walk across an old doorstep, worn to a hollow by the feet of many years, there is a tangible link with other lives, lived long ago.


Morning's Minion said...

Old houses have that feeling, wooden steps worn down, a banister polished by generations of hands sliding the length of it, a cellar where the scent of potatoes and onions long stored still lingers.
de la Mare's "The Listeners" has this same feel of other times and other stories, tales we wish we knew.

Bovey Belle said...

I only know a couple of de la Mare's poems and this isn't one of them. What an absolutely perfect foil for my posting on Llettygariad though. Thank you for this. I think I shall print it out and put it on my wall.

Dartford Warbler said...

W. de la Mare seemed to have a fascination with old, unlived in houses. I love "The Listeners" too, MM. It is a poem I use when I`m teaching and the children respond just as I did when I first heard it.

BB, you would love more of his poetry, I`m sure. I have a hardback of his anthology "Peacock Pie", but my favourite collection is a tattered old paperback Puffin, "Poems" by Walter de la Mare, that I bought as a child in a small local bookshop. Probably with a book token from my aunt. It cost four shillings in old money!

Goosey said...

Thank you for having a peep at my blog...I've been having an enjoyable peep at yours too!
That poem is very nice, I have never heard it before.
Our doorstep is well worn in the middle and I love it that lots of feet have crossed the threshold to our home...people in the past who we never knew. Our house is only about 90 years old but the step is worn.