The Listeners by Walter De La Mare
Sue Butler’s choice number 1.
From childhood I loved poetry that had rhythm, that I could read aloud. I have a memory – probably false – of reading this to myself in my small bedroom. The bed had to be set down the room, across and no adult could squeeze past to my cupboard. Reading in the light slipping beneath my curtains when I was supposed to be sleeping, whispering the words and enjoying the small shivers down the spine that the poem provoked, felt delightfully transgressive although in the long run might have contributed to my lifelong fear of the dark. In my present life a friend and I visit a care home once a month to read poetry with some of the residents. Many of the residents, including some with dementia could recite much of “The Listeners” poem by heart and we all enjoyed sharing the childhood memories the poem revived.