Winter Dusk

By Walter De La Mare 1873–1956 Walter De La Mare
Dark frost was in the air without,
   The dusk was still with cold and gloom,
When less than even a shadow came
      And stood within the room.

But of the three around the fire,
   None turned a questioning head to look,
Still read a clear voice, on and on,
      Still stooped they o’er their book.

The children watched their mother’s eyes
   Moving on softly line to line;
It seemed to listen too—that shade,
      Yet made no outward sign.

The fire-flames crooned a tiny song,
   No cold wind stirred the wintry tree;
The children both in Faërie dreamed
      Beside their mother’s knee.

And nearer yet that spirit drew
   Above that heedless one, intent
Only on what the simple words
      Of her small story meant.

No voiceless sorrow grieved her mind,
   No memory her bosom stirred,
Nor dreamed she, as she read to two,
      ’Twas surely three who heard.

Yet when, the story done, she smiled
   From face to face, serene and clear,
A love, half dread, sprang up, as she
      Leaned close and drew them near.

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

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Poet Walter De La Mare 1873–1956

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Subjects Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Relationships, Winter, Home Life, Nature, Family & Ancestors

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

 Walter  De La Mare

Biography

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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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Mythology & Folklore, Ghosts & the Supernatural, Relationships, Winter, Home Life, Nature, Family & Ancestors

SCHOOL / PERIOD Georgian

Poetic Terms Rhymed Stanza

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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