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WALTER DE LA MARE

b.1873

933                                               An Epitaph

HERE lies a most beautiful lady,
    Light of step and heart was she:
I think she was the most beautiful lady
    That ever was in the West Country.
But beauty vanishes; beauty passes;
    However rare, rare it be;
And when I crumble who shall remember
    This lady of the West Country?

934                                             The Listeners

IS there anybody there? said the Traveller,
   Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champd the grasses
   Of the forests ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
   Above the Travellers head:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
   Is there anybody there? he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
   No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leand over and lookd into his grey eyes,
   Where he stood perplexd and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
   That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
   To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
   That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirrd and shaken
   By the lonely Travellers call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
   Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
   Neath the starrd and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
   Louder, and lifted his head:
Tell them I came, and no one answerd,
   That I kept my word, he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
   Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
   From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
   And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
   When the plunging hoofs were gone.

935                                               Fare Well

WHEN I lie where shades of darkness
Shall no more assail mine eyes,
Nor the rain make lamentation
        When the wind sighs;
How will fare the world whose wonder
Was the very proof of me?
Memory fades, must the rememberd
        Perishing be?
Oh, when this my dust surrenders
Hand, foot, lip, to dust again,
May these loved and loving faces
        Please other men!
May the rusting harvest hedgerow
Still the Travellers Joy entwine,
And as happy children gather
        Posies once mine.

Look thy last on all things lovely,
Every hour. Let no night
Seal thy sense in deathly slumber
        Till to delight
Thou have paid thy utmost blessing;
Since that all things thou wouldst praise
Beauty took from those who loved them
        In other days.

 

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