Walter de la Mare

I just found this book on my shelf after many years and was enchanted all over again by the sweetness of the cover. The illustrator is Margery Gill.

The back cover is no less delightful.

I received this book for Christmas when I was ten. I remember choosing it with the woman who gave it to me. She was a lodger of my mother’s who used to take me to and from school. I didn’t always like her very much as she was quite severe and strict but there were good moments. She used to buy me sweets on the way home. I’m not sure my mother knew about this. My mum definitely didn’t like her I seem to remember. I think she may have been an erstwhile friend of her mother’s. I called her Ciocia Wala. My mother called her Walercia behind her back! (Sounds quite pejorative in context.) She lived in a big room in our flat. She had budgies in a cage which I found fascinating, especially when she let them flutter about the room. I was sometimes allowed to feed them. (If only I’d known at the time about Dorothy Parker’s budgie called Onan – but maybe that would have been too precocious!)

She also had a poodle that I wasn’t too fond of but I used to enjoy drawing him

Spring poodle

As you can see my artistic abilities were second to none!

I am trying to remember what her surname was. She had a son who was a fairly famous actor in Polish circles at the time. I think he was a friend of my father’s too- which wouldn’t have endeared him to my mother much, I suspect.

His first name was Boguś, and it’s bugging me now. His surname is on the tip of my tongue. I think it began with a z .

Looking at this dedication I still feel very guilty, as I now remember I actually stole money from her purse. My mother found out and my punishment was no sweets for two months! Two months! But actually it weaned me off sweets generally. After that the cravings stopped and now sixty years later I still don’t eat sweets. So, every cloud…

But back to Walter de la Mare. I loved his poems.

I opened the book at random just now. Isn’t it perfect? Does anyone read him now?

7 comments on “Walter de la Mare

  1. Well, well! I was cooking up something similar, concerning a book which I received when I was young.
    I’ll try not to imitate, replicate, emulate…

    De la Mare, other than a few entries in my Oxford Books of English Verse and Light Verse, no I haven’t read much of his work. I think that’s the problem with compilations, you tend to read lots by many and not lots by one.


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