The Listeners – Walter de la Mere

One of my favourite poems…It was another that we had to learn off by heart at school and recite, but luckily I knew most of it by the time we came to study it in our English class.  It’s not a surprise that I was drawn to it…I have always been fascinated by the paranormal – whether I believe, well, that is another matter, the problem being that the subject is so vast and is comprised of the plausible as well as the ludicrous!  But, that isn’t the focus of this post!  I think that which has been left unsaid by Walter de la Mere actually makes the poem what it is…it sets the atmosphere and hauntingly engages with your imagination…
 
“Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
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.
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About sammi witch

writer and witch...
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