Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Mistletoe - Walter de La Mare

Sitting under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
One last candle burning low,
All the sleepy dancers gone,
Just one candle burning on,
Shadows lurking everywhere:
Some one came, and kissed me there.

Tired I was; my head would go
Nodding under the mistletoe
(Pale-green, fairy mistletoe),
No footsteps came, no voice, but only,
Just as I sat there, sleepy, lonely,
Stooped in the still and shadowy air
Lips unseen - and kissed me there.

In this Walter de La Mere poem, a sleepy, sing song-y atmosphere is cultivated throughout, making us feel that drowsiness of which narrator speaks.  The image is hazy yet clear to the mind's eye.  We imagine a comfortable seat under "mistletoe (pale-green, fairy mistletoe)."  There's but one candle left, the shadows are all about, and as if out of nowhere, we are kissed.

The kiss comes as an antidote for de La Mere's maladies.  He's lonely, sleepy, in a room dim with only one candle's light, and suddenly, as if by magic, an affirmation that he is loved.  I think that's the real takeaway of this poem.  At Christmas-time (I am assuming it's Christmas time, given the mistletoe), there is love for everyone, even if we cannot see it.  We can feel it, even if it is not visible.

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