“Silver” by Walter de la Mare

On 22 June 1956 English poet, short story writer, and novelist Walter John de la Mare  (b. 1873) died in Middlesex. His reported last words were: “I’m perfectly all right.

He had passed his final years largely in bed, in the care of a young nurse, Nathalie Saxton, with whom he had once been in love. He had never had a physical relationship with her since her Christianity, as well as his principles, forbade consummation

His poem “Silver” is a fourteen-line sonnet known as “Clare” or line-rhymed sonnet owing to his rhyme scheme aabbcc… (poet John Clare established much of his reputation through verse written in this pattern).

In this poem, Walter de la Mare describes the visible effects that the silver light of the moon has on everyday objects and creatures.

profumo acqua

Silver

Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
This way, and that, she peers, and sees
Silver fruit upon silver trees;
One by one the casements catch
Her beams beneath the silvery thatch;
Couched in his kennel, like a log,
With paws of silver sleeps the dog;

From their shadowy cote the white breasts peep
Of doves in a silver-feathered sleep;
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws and a silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

 

Argento

Lentamente, in silenzio, ora la luna
percorre la notte nelle sue scarpe d’ argento;
scruta qua e là e scorge
frutti d’ argento su alberi d’argento;
le finestre catturano a uno a uno
i suoi raggi sotto l’argenteo tetto;
accovacciato nella cuccia profondamente
dorme il cane con zampe d’argento;

dalla buia piccionaia fa capolino il petto bianco
di colombe addormentate in piume d’argento;
un topolino corre di soppiatto,
anche lui con unghie e occhi d’argento;
e pesci immobili luccicano nell’acqua,
fra canne d’argento in flutti d’argento.
                          (L.Z.)

 

26 thoughts on ““Silver” by Walter de la Mare

  1. I am always a front row viewer when it comes to poetry full of romance. To tell the truth, he did not know the poet, but in this poem he reveals romanticism in all its dimensions. “Run away to a forgotten night”, a verse that I really liked. A choice on his part, where his exquisite poetic sensitivity recognizes what will have an emotional impact on us when reading a poem. Thank you Luisa for sharing it.
    Manuel

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  2.  We often see the sky as the metaphorical home of fanciful notions; blue sky thinking, the sky’s the limit and pie in the sky. Roger McGough turns the latter idea on its head with his ‘Sky in the Pie’ and asks for the moon – which  is supplied by Walter de la Mare in the  poem ‘Silver’. The light of the silvery moon has been an inspiration for the fanciful notions of poets and composers for ever. The arietta ‘Vaga Luna Che Inargenti’ by Vincenzo Bellini and sung by Cecilia Bartoli tells of the moon as a messenger of love, looking down on romance and longing while Henry David Thoreau’s poem ‘The Moon’ deals with lunar indifference to human fate.

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