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The Well Read Poem

Jan 15, 2021

Because reading is interpretation, The Well Read Poem aims to teach you how to read with understanding! Hosted by poet Thomas Banks of The House of Humane Letters, these short episodes will introduce you to both well-known and obscure poets and will focus on daily recitation, historical and intellectual background, elements of poetry, light explication, and more!

Play this podcast daily and practice reciting! The next week, get a new poem. Grow in your understanding and love of poetry by learning how to read well! Brought to you by The Literary Life Podcast.

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 champ’d the grasses
    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
Lean’d over and look’d into his grey eyes,
    Where he stood perplex’d 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 stirr’d 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 starr’d and leafy sky;
For he suddenly smote on the door, even
    Louder, and lifted his head:—
’Tell them I came, and no one answer’d,
    ’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.