The Sleeper

By Walter de La Mare 1873–1956 Walter de La Mare
As Ann came in one summer’s day,
   She felt that she must creep,
So silent was the clear cool house,
   It seemed a house of sleep.
And sure, when she pushed open the door,
   Rapt in the stillness there,
Her mother sat, with stooping head,
   Asleep upon a chair;
Fast—fast asleep; her two hands laid
   Loose-folded on her knee,
So that her small unconscious face
   Looked half unreal to be:
So calmly lit with sleep’s pale light
   Each feature was; so fair
Her forehead—every trouble was
   Smoothed out beneath her hair.
But though her mind in dream now moved,
   Still seemed her gaze to rest—
From out beneath her fast-sealed lids,
   Above her moving breast—
On Ann; as quite, quite still she stood;
   Yet slumber lay so deep
Even her hands upon her lap
   Seemed saturate with sleep.
And as Ann peeped, a cloudlike dread
   Stole over her, and then,
On stealthy, mouselike feet she trod,
   And tiptoed out again.

Source: The Collected Poems of Walter de la Mare (1979)

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Poet Walter de La Mare 1873–1956



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 Walter  de La Mare


Walter de la Mare is considered one of modern literature's chief exemplars of the romantic imagination. His complete works form a sustained treatment of romantic themes: dreams, death, rare states of mind and emotion, fantasy worlds of childhood, and the pursuit of the transcendent.

De la Mare's life was outwardly uneventful. As a youth he attended St. Paul's Cathedral School, and his formal education did not extend beyond . . .

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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