Tuesday 29 October 2013

Day 466: The Listeners

'"Is there anyone there?" said the Traveller/knocking at  the moonlit door'...

Since it's Hallowe'en this week, I'll be posting spooky-themed poems from here on in.

'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare is quite a famous poem and chances are, you may have studied it at school at some point. (It's a favourite choice among teachers for its rhyme and sound effects). The poem also offers an example of atmosphere built up to breaking point. The tension is exceptional, created in part from its short terse lines, the night-time setting and the emphasised silence. All lending to the poem's aura of mystery.

And as everyone knows, it's atmosphere that makes something scary. Which is merited here! - '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.' Creepy, eh?!

(Check out a spooky animated version here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mAmpKUHwGRU

The Listeners - Walter de la Mare

"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. 

1 comment:

  1. "And his horse, in the silence, champed the grass"
    What silence? The traveller is knocking & shouting.


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