A noble sober mouse

Back in 2013 I told about my mouse problem which had sparked a long-held memory of a poem I learned by heart when I was a child — probably around 12 years old when I kept a lot of pet mice. The school task was to learn a poem and whilst the other girls chose Daffodils or other poems studied in class I picked one that had appeared in, I think, my mother’s WI magazine. I quoted some of it in the blog and anguished that I could still remember it except for three lines. A year ago I received a message from an 80-year old in Australia who also remembered loving the poem but couldn’t supply those missing lines, then a few days ago I received an email from David Hipperson who asked if I could send him the poem which he also remembered and loved from long ago. Alas, I said, I was missing three lines. Next day he wrote back:

Thank you for your reply. Like you my Google search only came up with your blog, which was why I contacted you. However, I have just now found a copy of the poem which I attach.

My first knowledge of this poem was back in the 1960’s when I worked as a biology technician in a local grammar school. Those pupils who were studying for their A levels used genetically pure strains of mice that were paired together to determine how genes were passed from both parents to successive generations. They only did 3 generations and the resultant families of mice were normally either given away to pupils as pets or kept in single sex colonies at the school. Needless to say I looked after a lot of mice!!

It was one of the sixth formers who brought the poem to my attention and I just loved it.

I managed to find a contact to this person and he was able to tell me the name of the poet and to supply a copy.

So, thanks to the internet and to David’s persistence, here’s the complete poem. It brings both a grin of happiness and a lump in the throat. It’s by Walter Meade.

The Mouse

I live in sober Suffolk,
In a dim and sober house
And I share this dim sobriety
With a noble sober mouse.

On an eager April morning
I discovered that the mouse
Had minced a first edition
To lend comfort to its house.

I set a trap to catch the mouse
I bated it with cheese
And bacon rind and honeycomb
The harvest of my bees.

The mouse was caught
It looked at me with eyes of velvet brown
It looked at me, I looked at it
I could not put it down.

Of course I should have drowned it
It was weak of me, but oh!
The velvet eyes were starred with hope
I had to let it go.

But all who gaze in velvet eyes
Must pay a settled price.
And now my first edition warms
Some newly published mice.