When Walter de la Mare (1873-1956) wrote the poem “Mistletoe,” he may not have realized the longevity of his words. “Mistletoe,” which first published in 1913, remains popular today. The 14-line poem is easily found online in several Christmas poetry collections, and I have been a fan of it for several years.
Structure of the 1913 Mistletoe Poem
The English poet de la Mare combines a clever rhyme scheme with flowing lines over two verses. He writes in the first-person perspective, and, as with many of his other poems, “Mistletoe” paints a deceptively simple scene and featured ghostly imagery (if this topic intrigues you, perhaps a read of his book Eight Tales would be one to check out). If you read the lines of this Christmas poem out loud, you may notice it has a musical quality about it.
What is Walter de la Mare’s ‘Mistletoe’ About?
The first few lines offer a snapshot of the central character sitting alone in a room under the mistletoe. A reader may assume it is nighttime as there is “one last candle burning low, / All the sleepy dancers gone.” The narrator is painted as being tired and lonely.
With the background set, de la Mare then writes that “Some one came, and kissed me there.” He repeats the sentiment at the end of the poem: “Stooped in the still and shadowy air / Lips unseen – and kissed me there.” The kiss is from a stranger and the mood the poet creates is eerie.