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Poetry Friday: Dirda (and Others) on De La Mare

I was intrigued to read about Walter De La Mare (1873-1956) in the April 23rd "Dirda on Books," a live chat with Washington Post book critic Michael Dirda. (The whole conversation is transcribed at the Post's online edition.)

Anonymous: Thanks to you and my fellow posters for your great suggestions for children's poetry. I never would have thought of Emily Dickinson as a child-friendly poet, but the Poetry Foundation does include a couple of her works in the children's section of its Web site.

In an effort to return the favor, to the poster looking for absurd but trenchant books for teens, how about Walter de la Mare? He's English, not American, but it sounds like he otherwise fits the criteria. In fact, I recently read your 2004 review of his Memoirs of a Midget, a great read in itself.

Michael Dirda: Many thanks. Yes, De La Mare is one of the giants of children's poetry. The recent issue of the New Criterion has an excellent essay on his work by Eric Ormsby. [Note from S.T.: It's online here.]

When he reviewed De La Mare's Memoirs of a Midget four years ago, Dirda began by saying that the poet's Peacock Pie is "one of the half-dozen best books of poetry for children ever written." High praise indeed. The local library does not own Peacock Pie, but I can probably track it down through an interlibrary loan.

On Fridays, many of the children's literature blogs talk about poetry. You'll find a roster of today's Poetry Friday participants at The Miss Rumphius Effect.


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I picked up a copy of this at a library sale recently - which I suppose means that my local library doesn't own a copy either!

I guess not! Sometimes I volunteer to help de-acquisition books at our library; I've gotten some good ones for home that way.

What do you think of "Peacock Pie"?

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