Friday, October 17, 2008

Poetry Friday: Someone, by Walter de la Mare

In 1997, for my first library Halloween storytime ever, I used the poem "Someone," by Walter de la Mare and had the audience tap on the floor with their knuckles while I said the words. I tried to use poetry in later storytimes, but I never felt as if I had the knack for sharing it properly. When I started to learn guitar, I realized that I wanted to set poems to music so that sharing them would come more naturally to me. I've already done that with Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Swing," and Lewis Carroll's "The Lobster Quadrille." I enjoy singing Eugene Field's "Wynken, Blynken and Nod," too.

I've wanted to set "Someone" to music for some time now, and finally have a simple melody to play. Now, the question is, "Will this song be appealing to children?" I like to bring new stories and songs to Third Place Books, as I've been performing there almost every month, and sometimes get the same crowds of people. One of the things I miss about having a library job is working with groups who come in on a regular basis.

Here is my video for Walter de la Mare's "Someone":

And here is the poem itself, published in Peacock Pie in 1913:

“Someone” by Walter de La Mare

Someone came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Someone came knocking;
I'm sure-sure-sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But nought 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.

Since I have the chutzpah to make this poem a Song of the Week, here are the chords I used:

Click on the image in order to enlarge it

The Poetry Friday roundup is at Becky's Book Reviews today.


The Library Lady said...

There is a version of Stevenson's "The Moon" on Priscilla Herdman's "Stardreamer" album--which incidentally is one of my favorite kids albums--and somewhere I have a picture book version to go with it. I have always wanted to use it with the music. But I'm afraid my voice isn't up to it--I just don't have her range!

Saints and Spinners said...

Library Lady: I've requested the album from my library. Thanks for letting me know about it. I don't know what it sounds like yet, but my voice teacher said a lot of these seemingly simple songs are actually a challenge to sing because of the range. (Incidentally, she said "Happy Birthday" is one of the hardest songs to sing, and that makes sense-- I've rarely heard it sung in a group where it didn't sound like a cacaphony.)

Anamaria (bookstogether) said...

I think I'm going to be humming that for the rest of the day! Thank you; it's a lovely fit of music to words.

jama said...

I enjoyed your song!! Lovely job :).

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Alkelda that is fabulous! Your music so perfectly fit the poem and your voice is lovely. I enjoyed that so much!

Jules at 7-Imp said...

That came out so well! I really do love that melody.

Anonymous said...

Nice! I think that would definitely work in a storytime.

The video came out nicely, too. I know you were talking about lighting earlier this week; it looks good.

tanita✿davis said...

Oh, I do love minor keys, and that's a really nice... autumnal, full moon, wind-whistling... sort of mysterious song. Well done. And the lighting did come out well. All that kind of stuff is so tricky...!

ShirleyHS said...


I enjoyed coming to your blog from FaceBook. I think it is great that you are setting up your own business as a storyteller/poet/musician. I liked this song very much.

I am also one of the 150,000 people with a blog. Check out what I am doing with memoir:


Saints and Spinners said...

Thank you, everyone, for your kind words. And do check out Shirley's memoir blog. I really like it, and I would even if she weren't my college professor!

The Library Lady said...

"Stardreamer" is just gorgeous. And don't miss her version of "Waltzing With Bears"--I often play that for the kids to dance to during my "NovemBEAR" programs.

Sometimes, when I can't sing something, I try changing the key. I've been using Nancy Stewart's "Hopping Like A Bunny" song, complete with my slide whistle, but Nancy's voice is higher than mine. But I found when I changed keys, I can do it pretty nicely.

I got royally frustrated last fall when I went to a kindermusik sort of class for teachers at Wolf Trap, and the leader said you should pitch your voice high because you can strain kids voices by making them sing at too low a pitch. What about MY voice? Argh...

(Besides, the kids always sing in their own key anyway...)

Saints and Spinners said...

Library Lady: I didn't know that straining kids' voices was the reasoning behind singing so high. I knew their voices were high anyway, and the teachers in my daughter's school sing way up in the head too. But you're right-- Lucia always sings an octave above me anyway (my comfort scale is B flat). When we get together for school festivals, the songs are often waaay too high for most of the adults there. I'm hoping to get together a school songbook so that parents can practice the songs beforehand in comfortable pitches!)

I'm so glad that Nancy Stewart's music is a reasource for you. I'll be sure to tell her-- she's always grateful to know that her resources are helpful.