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Wooden Hill Primary and Nursery School

Wooden Hill Primary and Nursery School

Poem of the Week

The Listeners – 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.

The Song of the Shirt


With fingers weary and worn,

With eyelids heavy and red,

A woman sat in unwomanly rags,

Plying her needle and thread-

Stitch! Stitch! Stitch!

In poverty, hunger and dirt,

And still with a voice of dolorous pitch

She sang the ‘Song of the shirt!’


Work –work – work

Till the brain begins to swim;

Work – work – work

Till the eyes are heavy and dim.

Seam and gusset and band,

Band and gusset and seam,

Till over the buttons I fall asleep,

And sew them on in a dream.


Oh, Men, with sisters dear!

Oh, Men, with mothers and wives!

It is not linen you are wearing out,

But human creatures’ lives!

Stitch – stitch – stitch,

In poverty, hunger and dirt,

Sewing at once with a double thread,

A Shroud as well as a Shirt.


But why do I talk of Death?

That Phantom of grisly bone,

I hardly fear his terrible shape,

It seems so like my own –

It seems so like my own,

Because of the fasts I keep;

Oh, God, that bread should be so dear,

And flesh and blood so cheap!


On longer evenings,

Light, chill and yellow,

Bathes the serene

Foreheads of houses.

A thrush sings,


In the deep bare garden,

Its fresh-peeled voice

Astonishing the brickwork.

It will be spring soon,

It will be spring soon—

And I, whose childhood

Is a forgotten boredom,

Feel like a child

Who comes on a scene

Of adult reconciling,

And can understand nothing

But the unusual laughter,

And starts to be happy.


Philip Larkin





The Rainforest


I sit in the canoe, alone.

It gently rocks from

Side to side,

Nudged by the rivers flow.

The forest is quiet,

The heat intense.

On the opposite bank,

A large osprey and elegant

White heron perch together,

Searching the glittering water.


Above, a three toed sloth,

Grey, almost invisible,

Clings to a branch,

Lazily dozing.



A pair of scarlet and blue macaws,

Splash neon colours,

Across the hazy sky.


I sit in my wooden canoe and watch,

For a while I find a place,

Become part of the forests essence.

For a while I fit, for a while.

Week 4: 'Truth' by Barrie Wade

Sticks and stones may break my bones,

but words can also hurt me.

Stones and sticks break only skin,

while words are ghosts that haunt me.


Slant and curved the word-swords fall

to pierce and stick and inside me.

Bats and bricks may ache through bones,

but words can mortify me.


Pain from words has left its scar

on mind and heart that’s tender.

Cuts and bruises now have healed;

it’s words that I remember.


Week 3: ‘The Rider’ by Naomi ShihabNye

A boy told me 

if he roller-skated fast enough

his loneliness couldn’t catch up to him,

the best reason I ever heard

for trying to be a champion.

What I wonder tonight,

pedalling hard down King William Street

is if it translates to bicycles.

A victory! To leave your loneliness 

panting behind you on some street corner

while you float free into a cloud of sudden azaleas,

pink petals that have never felt loneliness

no matter how slowly they fell.


Week 2: 'Prayer to Laughter' by John Agard.

O Laughter

giver of relaxed mouths


you who rule our belly with tickles

you who come when not called

you who can embarrass us at times


send us stitches in our sides

shake us till the water reaches our eyes

buckle our knees till we cannot stand


we whose faces are grim and shattered

we whose hearts are no longer hearty

O Laughter we beg you


crack us up

crack us up