Tuesday, March 23, 2010

'Neath the Starred and Leafy Sky

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 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.

"The Listeners," by Walter de la Mare (1912)
Image by MaxD-Art

5 comments:

KY Warrior Librarian said...

I loved this poem. And I really love your blog overall. Very well done. Quirky and fun. A pleasure to explore.

Róisín said...

Aw, thanks KY. It’s very kind of you to say. I love your blog too! I stumbled across it by accident one day there and was thrilled by all your book related goodies. Conan the Librarian- brilliant!

ruthie said...

thank you for posting this poem, it is such a fave of mine, i remember my grandma reading it to me. It always used to fire my imagination. x

Róisín said...

I know Ruthie, I remember we had to read it in primary school and then paint a picture of it. I wish I could get my hands on those paintings, all 20-odd of them done by seven-year-olds. I was really surprised when I went searching on the net that I couldn’t actually find any such Listener-inspired images to accompany it. Not one! Maybe I just wasn’t looking in the right places. Anyway, I posted the poem because I actually had it stuck in my head like a song for about a week. I hadn’t read it in years but then it just popped into my mind one day and I couldn’t get rid of it till I got my hands on a copy!

Plotspider said...

I must say that I happened upon your artwork here by mistake, but what a nice mistake. I am very impressed, and your title at the top is beautiful. I wonder if you do cover art for books? Anyway, I am enjoying what I'm seeing so far.

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