All but Blind Questions and Answers
by Walter De la Mare

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Comment briefly on the poet's use of the word "blind." What other words reinforce our awareness of the blindness of the mole and the owl?

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In Walter De la Mare's poem "All But Blind," De la Mare doesn't say that the creatures are completely blind but, as the title states, all but blind.

De la Mare emphasizes their blindness by using verbs that the reader would usually associate with someone doing something in an aimless or out-of-control manner. For example, he says that the mole "gropes for worms" and the owl "blunders on her way."

In addition, he describes how a bat "twirls" through the night. The reader would probably assume that any flying object that twirls, such as an airplane, was out of control and about to crash. However, he doesn't say that the bat loses control. He doesn't say that the mole doesn't get the worms or that the owl doesn't find his way.

Despite what the author views as their disability, these creatures still live life and do what they need to survive, thereby asking the question: how blind are they, really?

De la Mare answers this in the last few lines of the poem.

And blind as are
These three to me,
So, blind to Someone
I must be.

In other words, the animals are only blind in comparison to the poet's own abilities. There are things that they can no doubt "see," even if it's through the use of another sense, that he could never perceive himself. As he says, someone observing him and his way of living life may see him as being blind as well.

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