Walter de la Mare

(1873 - 1958 / Kent / England)

The Listeners - Poem by 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.


Comments about The Listeners by Walter de la Mare

  • (2/14/2018 4:20:00 AM)


    It was my 10 marks assignment for the school . But this site made my 10 marks easy (Report) Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • (2/4/2018 5:52:00 AM)


    poo poo poo poo poo poo poo v v poo poo poo poo poopoo poo (Report) Reply

  • (1/31/2018 3:50:00 AM)


    I got a activity for school to bring this poem and present it in class so thanks for your help . (Report) Reply

  • (1/31/2018 2:38:00 AM)


    I got an activity from my school to collect the poems of Walter de la Mare I loved this poem (Report) Reply

  • (1/30/2018 11:27:00 AM)


    my favourite poem of all.
    the flow and the atmosphere are superb.
    heard it first as a child and still, every time i read it, it enthuses me
    (Report) Reply

  • (1/25/2018 1:29:00 PM)


    I always loved this poem it fascinates me . (Report) Reply

  • (1/22/2018 9:18:00 PM)


    Who were the listeners (Report) Reply

  • (1/15/2018 8:25:00 AM)


    This amazing poem by Walter de la Mare is just the best... (Report) Reply

  • (1/1/2018 5:40:00 AM)


    I have carried the first few lines of this poem in my head since fists year of secondary schoo. (Report) Reply

  • (1/1/2018 5:36:00 AM)


    I have carried the first few lines of this poem in my head from the age of 12. It was read to the class in the first year of secondary school by a teacher named Mrs Falconer, we was asked to memorise as much as we could of the poems within 20 minutes, The few lines was all I could memorise, (Report) Reply

  • (12/1/2017 10:46:00 AM)


    My late mum would read this poem to me as a child. I grew up loving ghost stories. I am thrilled to read this again. Xoxo (Report) Reply

  • (11/28/2017 1:27:00 AM)


    Thank u this helped a lot (Report) Reply

  • (11/19/2017 9:48:00 PM)


    Very interesting poem (Report) Reply

  • Robert Murray Smith (5/5/2017 11:23:00 PM)


    A great image filled poem.10 (Report) Reply

  • (3/18/2017 4:08:00 AM)


    I believe that the traveller is me. I have come back from the future to find once again the dreams of my youth. I call out to the listeners, these are my younger selves buried deep within me, who remember the secret desires i have long since forgotten. Try as I might I can not rouse them, I have learned too much to see the world as purely and beautifully as they. To me, their house remains empty. My only solace as I slide my feet back into the stirrups of a horse named Duty, is that I have tried, Although I may not be able to remember the dreams of my youth, I have not forgotten that I had them.
    This poem reminds me that I must make the most of each and every day and do my best not to put off until tomorrow the things I would like to do today, because tomorrow I won't be the person I am today.
    (Report) Reply

  • Tom Allport (1/7/2017 6:01:00 AM)

    tom allport
    a lovely poetic story about fulfilling a promise made. (Report) Reply

  • (9/18/2016 11:56:00 AM)


    Beautiful poem, recall my school days when I read it, still enjoy reading it. So lot to imagine and visualise. (Report) Reply

  • (1/10/2016 12:08:00 PM)


    This is my favourite poem. I love the sense of someone fulfilling some long-standing promise, keeping his word only to find the people he made the promise to dead and gone. I like the way it is left to the reader's imagination to alleviate about the past events that led to the Traveller's return, and the nature of his relationship with the Listeners. (Report) Reply

    (1/10/2016 12:10:00 PM)

    The word alleviate should say speculate - predictive text error!

  • (11/4/2015 1:45:00 PM)


    We were taught in England at school that this was a crusader who had been long, long gone who had made a promise but when he returned everyone was but a ghost, but they still knew he had kept his promise. The question we had to answer in an essay was: What was tbe promise? (Report) Reply

    (4/22/2016 6:32:00 PM)

    How did your teacher know that he is a crusader? It is not hinted at in the poem. For some reason I always imagined the setting to be 18 th century rather than middle ages.

  • Anish Debnath (10/2/2015 4:04:00 AM)


    Sometimes we feel spooky when alone
    in a loony place where there is none.
    Even the slightest noise makes us aware
    & we want to leave abandoning the works undone

    But we can't since our promised duties
    to perform & stay at least for a try
    showing the words are kept properly.
    Leave the place & sigh.
    (Report) Reply

Read all 48 comments »

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Read poems about / on: horse, silence, house, dark, lonely, sky, world, star



Poem Submitted: Friday, January 3, 2003



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