OTHER WRITERS - 

WALTER DE LA MARE

Walter de la Mare, in full Walter John de la Mare, (born April 25, 1873, Charlton, Kent, England—died June 22, 1956, Twickenham, Middlesex), British poet and novelist with an unusual power to evoke the ghostly, evanescent moments in life.

De la Mare was educated at St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir School in London, and from 1890 to 1908 he worked in the London office of the Anglo-American Oil Company. From 1902, however, when his poetry collection Songs of Childhood appeared under the pseudonym Walter Ramal, he devoted himself increasingly to writing.

THE LISTENERS

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.