Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
Walter De la Mare. 1873–
 
86. The Listeners
 
'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,         5
  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  10
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  15
  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.  20
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  25
  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  30
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,  35
  When the plunging hoofs were gone. 
 
 
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