Next up in our Life in Books series, it’s my turn to share a poem that I loved as a young child. Can you guess which one from the image? Keep reading to find out! Read more
Posts from the ‘My Life in Books’ Category
We haven’t done one of these in a while so for those of you new to our blog… Our Life in Books is a recurring post where we both take you through books and literature that were either meaningful to us or contributed to who we are as readers today. We are starting with our early reading experiences in a range of genres and we’ll move forward in time with each successive post. You can check out our past posts here. BW picks it back up with poetry
Where is there a better source of morbid material than in the world of poems? My favourite poem of all time is the haunting The Listeners by Walter de la Mare.
I was introduced to this poem as 9/10 year old (lets admit it was so long ago I cannot accurately remember) when an enthusiastic teacher read it to the class and then tasked us with writing a back story for the horse man.
Here is the poem and if you are not intrigued and touched by the traveller then you are not human (just kidding):
by Walter De La Mare
‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
‘Is there anybody there?’ he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
‘Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:-
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word,’ he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
When the plunging hoofs were gone.
For my back story, I imagined the traveller as a suitor to the lady of the house. Knowing he is not worthy of her, he leaves to make his fortune but promises to come back and claim her as his own. When he returns, she and her entire family have been wiped out by a plague (come on is that not a book you would read?)
The funniest thing I remember about the assignment was the back story invented by a male classmate. He imagined that the traveller was the milkman. Wow that is some dedicated milkman! You don’t get service like that nowadays!
To hear a rendition of this poem, see this youtube clip:
So my obsession with the end of the human race even translated over into my favourite picture book: Not Now Bernard by David McKee
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the book, the storyline is as follows (kids turn away now as this contains spoilers):
1) There is a monster under Bernard’s Bed
2) Every time he tells his mother about the monster he is greeted with the phrase “not now Bernard”
3) Eventually the monster eats Bernard
4) The monster gets into Bernard’s bed
5) Bernard’s mother doesn’t notice
Sounds like a scary book for a child doesn’t it? But it appeals because the mother is wrong and the boy is right. It’s also a warning to parents to make time for their children and to beware of saying “not now” too much.
Bookworm approaching the apocalypse 2 Babes in the wood and 1 Bernard at a time
I acknowledge that I can be a bit of a book snob, but I have enjoyed books from many different genres and I have eclectic tastes. So, it is hard for me to select only one nursery rhyme to reflect my development as a reader. I also have to admit that Book Worm has a much better memory than I do because the truth of the matter is I can’t think of only one nursery rhyme that stood out to me above others. Read more
Right so you have read my introduction page (of course you have) so you know that my favourite genres are postapocalyptic and dystopian fiction but how did I arrive at this choice, like everything we learn I believe it started at an early age…
A small child carries a hardcover book of nursery rhymes it has a plain brown front as the dust jacket has been lost, approaching the nearest she asks for her favourite nursery rhyme to be read Babes in the Wood the adults roll their thinking not that morbid story again..
Back in the present day whenever the small child (who has now grown up) mentions her favourite nursery rhyme she is greeted with blank stares and the immortal words “What, never heard of it”
So for those of you thinking “What, never heard of it” and for those of you going I vaguely remember that one here it is; Read more
Welcome to a new recurring post! My Life in Books is a chance for you to get to know us a little better as readers. Posts will be dedicated to books, poems, nursery rhymes, magazines, short stories, authors, and more that have contributed in some meaningful way to who we both are as readers today. We’ll start at the beginning with literature that impacted us as young children and continue through to present day. Although we often rate books similarly, we have different reasons for liking/disliking books and we have different preferences in terms of genre. Jen’s favorite genres include literary fiction, historical fiction, & fantasy. Bookworm’s favorite genre is dystopian fiction. We both are trying to work our way through the 1001 Books to Read list.
We also want to know about you. So each time we post, we hope you will let us know what sorts of things contributed to your current reading interests.
What are your favorite genres?
Coming soon… Book Worm will start us off with a nursery rhyme that she loved as a child. Start thinking about which nursery rhymes you remember from your childhood so you can share your reading memories with us.