To Walter de la Mare
The children who explored the brook and found A desert island with a sandy cove (A hiding place, but very dangerous ground, For here the water buffalo may rove, The kinkajou, the mungabey, abound In the dark jungle of a mango grove, And shadowy lemurs glide from tree to tree - The guardians of some long-lost treasure-trove) Recount their exploits at the nursery tea And when the lamps are lit and curtains drawn Demand some poetry, please. Whose shall it be, At not quite time for bed? ... Or when the lawn Is pressed by unseen feet, and ghosts return Gently at twilight, gently go at dawn, The sad intangible who grieve and yearn; When the familiar is suddenly strange Or the well known is what we yet have to learn, And two worlds meet, and intersect, and change; When cats are maddened in the moonlight dance, Dogs cower, flitter bats, and owls range At witches' sabbath of the maiden aunts; When the nocturnal traveller can arouse No sleeper by his call; or when by chance An empty face peers from an empty house; By whom, and by what means, was this designed? The whispered incantation which allows Free passage to the phantoms of the mind? By you; by those deceptive cadences Wherewith the common measure is refined; By conscious art practised with natural ease; By the delicate, invisible web you wove - The inexplicable mystery of sound.
-- T. S. Eliot