Poem Of The Week: 31 October 2016
Today sees us kicking off a new series … Poem Of The Week. Please check back every Monday to see what the weekly poem is. Better still – suggest a poem for the series!
As well as the wonderful short story ‘The Monkey’s Paw’, which you can read here (with the lights turned low), here’s another spookily-themed literary masterpiece for you to sample, if you dare.
There’s also a remarkable back-story about how I got to know this poem …
My copy of this poem was bought at Sutton’s booksellers, in Ulverston. Many of you won’t know that right at the top of Sutton’s is a small, cosy room filled with second-hand books (and a beaten-up sofa). I found that room during the Summer holiday before I started working at the Vic, and probably spent at least an hour there – carefully checking each book on every shelf, so that I didn’t miss anything interesting.
I LOVE second-hand books: the smell of them; the strange binding and cover designs of familiar works; and the stories that come with the books themselves … and my copy of de la Mare’s poems was a real find. Although the poem was first published in 1912, my volume was published in 1921 and bought by – intriguingly – someone who signed themselves ‘Puck the Painter’ and labelled the book ‘A slight return!’, whatever THAT means …
But as you can see from this image, the real treasure was a letter from the poet to a Mr. Wilson (Puck the Painter?), who seemed desperate to get de la Mare to give a talk about his work. So, for the princely sum of £5, I got a volume of de la Mare’s poetry that’s almost 100 years old PLUS a signed letter from the author!
Anyway, enjoy this week’s spooky poem – and visit your local bookshop, soon!
The Listeners, by Walter de la Mare (1912)