Poem of the day

The Keys of Morning
by Walter De la Mare (1873-1956)

While at her bedroom window once,
         Learning her task for school,
Little Louisa lonely sat
         In the morning clear and cool,
She slanted her small bead-brown eyes
         Across the empty street,
And saw Death softly watching her
         In the sunshine pale and sweet.

His was a long lean sallow face,
         He sat with half-shut eyes,
Like an old sailor in a ship
         Becalmed ’neath tropic skies.
Beside him in the dust he’d set
         His staff and shady hat;
These, peeping small, Louisa saw
         Quite clearly where she sat –
The thinness of his coal-black locks,
         His hands so long and lean
They scarcely seemed to grasp at all
         The keys that hung between:
Both were of gold, but one was small,
         And with this last did he
Wag in the air, as if to say,
         “Come hither, child, to me!”

Louisa laid her lesson book
         On the cold window-sill;
And in the sleepy sunshine house
         Went softly down, until
She stood in the half-opened door,
         And peeped; but strange to say,
Where Death just now had sunning sat
         Only a shadow lay; –
Just the tall chimney’s round-topped cowl,
         And the small sun behind,
Had with its shadow in the dust
         Called sleepy Death to mind.
But most she thought how strange it was
         Two keys that he should bear,
And that, when beckoning, he should wag
         The littlest in the air.

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