The poetry of Charlotte Mew (1869-1928) was admired by some of the best poets of her day: Thomas Hardy, Walter de la Mare, and Siegfried Sassoon (among others) all praised her. Because of her difficult financial circumstances, in 1923 Hardy, de la Mare, and John Masefield successfully petitioned for her to receive a Civil List Pension. Their petition to the Prime Minister read, in part: "As she is a poet, writing poetry of a rare kind, she may not be widely known for many years. We feel that it would be a wise and gracious act, worthy of a great people, to give to this rare spirit the means of doing her work until the work can appraise and reward it."
I remember rooms that have had their part
In the steady slowing down of the heart;
The room in Paris, the room at Geneva,
The little damp room with the seaweed smell
And that ceaseless maddening sound of the tide --
Rooms where for good or for ill, things died:
But there is the room where we two lie dead
Though every morning we seem to wake, and might just as well seem
to sleep again
As we shall some day in the other dustier quieter bed
Out there -- in the sun -- in the rain.
"Riviera Window, Cros de Cagnes" (1926)
Please you, excuse me, good five-o'clock people,
I've lost my last hatful of words,
And my heart's in the wood up above the church steeple,
I'd rather have tea with -- the birds.
Gay Kate's stolen kisses, poor Barnaby's scars,
John's losses and Mary's gains,
Oh! what do they matter, my dears, to the stars
Or the glow-worms in the lanes!
I'd rather lie under the tall elm-trees,
With old rooks talking loud overhead,
To watch a red squirrel run over my knees,
Very still on my brackeny bed.
And wonder what feathers the wrens will be taking
For lining their nests next Spring;
Or why the tossed shadow of boughs in a great wind shaking
Is such a lovely thing.
Charlotte Mew, Complete Poems (edited by John Newton) (Penguin 2000).