Silver – Walter de la Mare – Analysis


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 silver feathered sleep
A harvest mouse goes scampering by,
With silver claws, and silver eye;
And moveless fish in the water gleam,
By silver reeds in a silver stream.

Walter de la Mare

Shoon = shoes – Scottish (I was told dress when at primary school)
Casements = windows
Cote – small shelter for birds (dove-cote)
Moveless = motionless

This sonnet of 7 double line rhyming personifies the moon and how she ‘silvers’ the night scene as she walks along. Silver has different connotations such as colour, currency and precious value.

At night the moon has the ability to colour the common place with its own distinct fingers. It changes everything seen in daytime. Green trees suddenly become silver trees.

Perhaps the poem is about how we perceive things and how, in different situations, we and others might perceive the same scene completely differently. And if we were to become ‘the moon’ how do we colour life with our own personality? Silver is a precious metal – do we colour in a precious way? I could also say that hopefully we bring light into dark places. And if we think of silver as money then it can bring value.

It has particular significance for me as I had to recite it when at primary school. We had elocution lessons and at the end of one term we had to recite this poem before a representative from the UK Poetry Society (namely the poet Roberta Shuttleworth 1895-1965) and we were judged on the ‘art of speaking verse’.

I think it a fine choice of poem for a child as it encourages the use of imagination – to become the moon and to do her painting.

To memorise there are 7 key words for the double-lines – Moon, Fruit, Casements, Dog, Dove, Mouse and Fish. Only the second lines contain the word ‘silver’ and the second lines do the colouring of the objects under consideration.

More analysis is on this site –

For interest, below are the Poetry Society Certificates from my primary school days –


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