Poem of the day

The Listeners
by Walter de la Mare (1873-1956)

“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
      Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grasses
      Of the forest’s ferny floor:
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
      Above the Traveller’s head
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
      “Is there anybody there?” he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
      No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
      Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listeners
      That dwelt in the lone house then
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight
      To that voice from the world of men:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
      That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
      By the lonely Traveller’s call.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
      Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
      ’Neath the starred and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
      Louder, and lifted his head:-
“Tell them I came, and no one answered,
      That I kept my word,” he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
      Though every word he spake
Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house
      From the one man left awake:
Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,
      And the sound of iron on stone,
And how the silence surged softly backward,
      When the plunging hoofs were gone.

3 thoughts on “Poem of the day

    • You keep better track of the poetry than I do. Occasionally, I will repeat a poem deliberately (as with “The New Colossus” on World Refugee Day) but generally any repetitions (and I don’t doubt that they happen) are inadvertent.

  1. Heh. The difference is I read the second one and said, “Hey, I’ve read this before!” Which revealed automatically *where* I’d read it before. Google found the date.

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