De la Mare was born in Charlton, Kent, in the south of England, of wealthy parents. His father, James Edward Delamaere, was an official at the Bank of England. His mother, Lucy Sophia (Browning) Delamare, was related to the poet Robert Browning.
He was educated in London at St. Paul's Cathedral Choir School, which he left at age 16. In 1895, de la Mare's career as a writer started; and he publish works until the end of his life.
In 1908, de la Mare was awarded an annual government pension of £100, and he devoted himself to writing. He retired to Taplow in Buckinghamshire, where he lived with his wife, Constance Elfrida Ingpen, and four children. He died at Twickenham, near London, on June 22, 1958. De la Mare is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.
Below are the six poems that I read to Sophia and Olivia along with their reactions to the poems.
I heard a horseman
Ride over the hill;
The moon shone clear,
The night was still;
His helm was silver,
And pale was he;
And the horse he rode
Was of ivory.
Sophia thought: I liked that it wasn't very long. Sometimes when poems are long, they kind of drag on. I like the horse and that the horseman's face was pale.
Olivia thought: I liked it. I liked that the horse he was riding was white. That part stood out for me the most.
Some one came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Some one came knocking,
I'm sure -- sure -- sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But naught there was a-stirring
In the still dark night;
Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech-owl's call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.
Sophia thought: I find it kind of strange that he said "wee" because most Englishmen who write poems don't say "wee." I liked the couple of times when he repeated his words. It's kind of like a mystery...he never finds out who was knocking at his door.
Olivia thought: I think it's nice. I especially liked the part about the dewdrops. I also liked the part when he used the word "wee." I liked the parts with the beetle and screech owl.
My dear Daddie bought a mansion
For to bring my Mammie to,
In a hat with a long feather,
And a trailing gown of blue;
And a company of fiddlers
And a rout of maids and men
Danced the clock round to the morning,
In a gay house-warming then.
And when all the guests were gone, and
All was still as still can be,
In from the dark ivy hopped a
Wee small bird: and that was Me.
Sophia thought: I kind of liked it and kind of didn't. I didn't like the part about the Mammie. I only hear that word when I've read books about the south and they use the word, "Mammie." I liked the last part - the last couple of words - and the part of the gown of blue. I just imagine that it is silk. When I pictured the house, I was thinking about the White House.
Olivia thought: I liked the title and the ending part when he said, "...and that was Me." When I was thinking the mansion I was thinking about one of the houses in this book I'm looking at (about the homes that Frank Lloyd Wright designed).
Hide and seek, says the Wind,
In the shade of the woods;
Hide and seek, says the Moon,
To the hazel buds;
Hide and seek, says the Cloud,
Star on to star;
Hide and seek, says the Wave,
At the harbour bar;
Hide and seek, say I,
To myself, and step
Out of the dream of Wake
Into the dream of Sleep.
Sophia thought: It reminds me a poem that you use to read when I was little, and it's about how the moon sees everything. (I see the moon and the moon sees me. God bless the moon and God bless me.) It kind of reminds me of the same quietness and the dream-like quality in this poem. It was a bit repetitive. It was okay, but I prefer things that aren't so repetitive.
Olivia thought: They repeated "Hide and seek" quite a lot. I like the part about the moon. I also liked the ending because it was nice.
Behind the blinds I sit and watch
The people passing - passing by;
And not a single one can see
My tiny watching eye.
They cannot see my little room,
All yellowed with the shaded sun;
They do not even know I'm here;
Nor'll guess when I am gone.
Sophia thought: The beginning reminded me of the Dr. Seuss book Cat in the Hat when the two kids are sitting in their chairs watching the rain fall and people go by outside. The part about the room reminds me Mary's old room at Nana's home, and when the sun comes in through the shades and it is kind of yellowish. It's not a real cheerful poem...it's quiet...maybe even a bit dismal.
Olivia thought: That one was slightly strange. It was kind of weird about the window and watching people. I think the person watching in the poem is a young boy who is staring at other people.
‘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.
Sophia thought: No one speaks like that. I mean, who uses the words "champed" or "spake?" It's a story - kind of - if you take out all the odd words. Except the part that mentions that he kept his promise...then it sounds like it's in the middle of a book or the introduction - like a spooky beginning.
Olivia thought: It sounded more like a story than a poem. It was so long...it sounded so much like a story. I liked the poem, though. It was kind of sad that no one answered him. There were strange ghostly people in the house. I wouldn't want to go there because it sounds kind of scary.