Who Came Knocking

Who Came Knocking

This week’s choice is Someone by Walter de la Mare.

So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.

Walter de la Mare (1873—1956)

Poem 206. Someone

Someone came knocking
At my wee, small door;
Someone came knocking,
I’m sure — sure — sure;
I listened, I opened,
I looked to left and right,
But nought there was a-stirring
In the still, dark night;
Only the busy beetle
Tap-tapping in the wall,
Only from the forest
The screech owl’s call,
Only the cricket whistling
While the dewdrops fall,
So I know not who came knocking,
At all, at all, at all.

I discovered this poem through listening to the audiobook of Miriam Margolyes’ autobiography (read by the author herself) which is funny, honest and very direct. Early in the book, she quotes this poem which she learned at school, and it struck me as a good choice for Poet’s Day.

It reminds me of The Listeners—a sort of mirror image of that poem’s story told by the inhabitant of a house who is disturbed by a mysterious caller who leaves no trace of their presence except for the memory of a rap at the door. Is it a spectral visitant, a stealthy interloper, or a run-away ring? Like the narrator of the poem, we can only speculate. On the other hand, perhaps the knocking is imagined: the desire of a lonely person for company, another voice in one’s solitude?

I like this poem because it is in its own way just as mysterious and atmospheric as The Listeners, and de la Mare creates another marvellous image with words that shine like jewels.


  • The Listeners was the second poem I covered, back in April 2020. I wrote about it in “Stand and Wait”.