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Mare, Walter de la: The Listeners

Portre of Mare, Walter de la

The Listeners (English)

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,

Knocking on the moonlit door;

And his horse in the silence champ’d 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

Lean’d over and look’d into his grey eyes,

    Where he stood perplex’d 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 stirr’d 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 starr’d and leafy sky;

For he suddenly smote on the door, even

    Louder, and lifted his head:—

’Tell them I came, and no one answer’d,

    ’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.

Uploaded byP. T.
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