One of the most well loved poems of all time and my absolute favourite. It works to best effect when you keep in mind that it is The Traveller who is the spirit, not The Listeners.
"Is there anybody there?" said the Traveller,Knocking on the moonlit door;And his horse in the silence champed the grassOf 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 sillLeaned over and looked into his grey eyes,Where he stood perplexed and still.
But only a host of phantom listenersThat dwelt in the lone house thenStood listening in the quiet of the moonlightTo 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 shakenBy 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, evenLouder, 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 spakeFell echoing through the shadowiness of the still houseFrom 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.
"The Listeners," by Walter de la Mare (1912)
Image by MaxD-Art