All posts tagged The Little Home

Thurs Sep 23 8’oc. P.M. [1943]

Have just added last few lines to my poem which I call for the moment, “The little house”. It is almost a week since I wrote most of it instead of in my diary. P.C. Coates has just called. I wonder what he is after. He was enquiring about something to do with Mr Moore (Ki. Moore). Said he had a list of his patients and Mr and Mrs Hill were named. I think we ought to have notice of questions and visits but still I only told him truth, if I gave the wrong answer I can’t help it, we don’t owe Moore anything. I told him the only dental treatment we had from him was, that he made Father a set of teeth some years ago. Can’t remember when. Think before the war but not sure.

There is a continual rumble of planes going out. There were a few planes over here last night and bombs dropped. I don’t know how near but I slept well. Father is patrolling so I am not so nervous. Churchill is back. War seems to be going in Allies’ favour all over now. We won the day at Salerno and 8th Army joined 5th much quicker than they expected, but I am afraid there has been a lot of lives lost and maimed. We had an A.M. [airmail] letter from Frank Adams to-day. We are pleased to hear that he is safe and not in Italy so far, at least he was in Sicily on Sep 6. We were pleased to get it but disappointed that it was not from Ron. Also we wonder if Ron has moved as it is over a month since the date of Ron’s last letter unless Emmie has had another. Frank said he could get to a town and that they were getting things normal and ship-shape again very quickly there. He had bought silk stockings and silk underwear set for Sybil and sent home. I hope it arrives safely. I must write to her, she will be relieved that he is not in Italy just now. We all feel better for knowing he’s safe, but it has made us wonder more than ever if Ron has moved again. We had several letters last week-end but they were all old ones, we had already had the newest one dated 17th. They cheered us up at first, as they were very cheerful letters. He seems to be more settled now as if he had got used to being away and we can get used to most things and it is a little easier then. However that has passed and we are anxiously awaiting a letter from him.

‘The Little House’ (or ‘The Little Home’) was almost completed on 17th September 1943.

Police Constable Coates was NOT the regular local officer. The policeman for Hogsthorpe and Chapel St Leonards was PC Fenn, father-in-law of Grace, née Clowes, Fenn who was a member of WRNS at ‘Royal Arthur’.

‘Kimoor’ was a bungalow, opposite ‘Sunny Side’ (see Village Map), named after the wife of dentist, Mr Moore.

Prime Minister Winston Churchill arrived back in Britain on the battleship ‘HMS Renown’ following an extended stay in Canada and the USA. He had been attending the top secret First Quebec Conference with US President Franklin D Roosevelt and host Canadian Prime Minister Mackenzie King.

In the Allied invasion of Italy, the British 8th Army, Montgomery’s ‘Desert Rats’, and US 5th Armies had joined forces at the Salerno bridgehead, from which the Germans withdrew.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Friday Sep. 17 / 43. 8.30. A.M.

Oh! dear! as Jo said in “Little Women”, “Genius burns” so must needs write down my poem ere it evaporates.

‘Little Women’, a novel about the lives of four sisters, was written by Louisa May Alcott, an American author, and first published in 1868. An additional volume was separately published in 1869 and later incorporated in a single published volume.

May Hill’s poem ‘The Little Home’ was completed on 23rd September.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?

Sep. 17th and 23rd 1943.
The Little Home.

I have a little home, my boyhoods home;

Not quaint, and old, and thatched with overhanging eaves;

Not timbered walls and tight-shut casements, low rooms and dark oak beams;

Nor yet so new and modern as the flat-roofed present style.

Just old enough to be familiar, homelike, edges worn a little smooth.

A tiny hall red-paved with polished tiles, that trip unwary feet,

And tempt the younger ones to steal a slide when mother’s back is turned.

A stairway that can’t quite make up its mind which way to go.

First it goes east, then takes a step towards the north,

No room to wander there so skirts the wall towards the west,

Then dawdles round the corner and ends due south upon a narrow landing.

Two doors are to the left with bedrooms facing early morn and setting sun.

A wee room to the right with bath and bowl, how many times

I’ve dried the bowl and pumped the water to the tank among the spars,

And fed the kitchen fire with wood to heat the water for the bath.

One door, the last one, leads to my little room beneath the sloping roof;

Warm in the winter with its tank, cool in summer with the western breeze.

The casement opens wide (I made those “blackouts” ere I came away).

The kitchen garden lies behind, with cabbages and bean-row,

I see the little square, now filled with wood, the salvage from the sea,

Just where my little tent, my “Innisfree”, was wont to stand in summer months
In there I slept while summer rain fell in the cool, dim, starlit nights, and “strafed” the beetles and the gnats

That on occasion joined me, and sometimes removed a cat,

That crept beneath the canvas and curled up upon my bed.

Beyond the garden a stretch of pasture, emerald green,

All gold in spring with buttercups and white with daisy and sheep;

Further afield the nodding corn and scattered farms.

A plume of smoke from our one chimney-stack, that marks the ‘modern dairy’,

Too far away to soil our clean sea breeze or fall in smuts, upon the washing day.

And then, beyond; the wolds the boundary of our view,

Far off they look to-day in mist of faintest blue

In the shimmering haze of memory’s summer heat.

At times they seem to travel nearer and we see

The fields, laid out in squares, like patch-work,

With feather-stitch of hedges bordered round.

Trees and little wood stand etched upon the crest,

A long white road winds up the slopes away into the west.

We know that rain is coming when the wolds are near,

And the clattering sound of the distant train we hear.

In front a little lawn, all daisies in the spring,

With diamond flower-bed where grows

Carnation and anemones and wee pink rose.

A little path leads from the door, past the wide bay window of “the room”.

The long dim room, with well-worn chairs,

Books and piano, games and shabby carpet on the floor.

Cool on summer afternoons, warm in winter with fires of drift-wood from the sea.

Thro’ the gates, (half doors), over the narrow road,

Sand-hills rise to part us from the sandy shore.

Down every path we scramble up cascades of sand, slide down

As on the top we turn and stand;

We view the miles of green and sunlit land,

And the little house that nestles ’neath the shadow of the hills,

In sound of the restless waves that the air with music fills.

'Lenton Lodge', Anderby Road, near Chapel Point

‘Lenton Lodge’, Anderby Road, near Chapel Point

'Sunny Side', the roadside part of a divided farmhouse in South Road

‘Sunny Side’, the roadside part of a divided farmhouse in South Road

May obviously wrote this poem for Ron who would often be thinking of home. Several drafts showed that the title changed from ‘My Old House’ to ‘The Little House’, which then became ‘The Little Home’. The house is clearly ‘Lenton Lodge’, the family home at the time of writing, although the poem relies upon a certain amount of ‘poetic licence’. Ron was already in his late teens when the family moved there from ‘Sunny Side’, a rented part of a farmhouse on the other side of the village centre, where Ron would have erected his tent in the garden at a younger age (see Village Map). ‘Innisfree’ is a reference to a private cabin depicted in the poem ‘Lake Isle of Innisfree’ by WB Yeats.

The poem has been added to the poems collection on this site. It also appears in the book The Casualties Were Small which contains over twenty of May’s poems as well as selected diary extracts, including those which suggest the background to each poem, accompanied by many nostalgic photographs.

Have you read an introduction to May Hill & family (includes photographs) and explored ‘The Casualties Were Small’?