Friday, June 30, 2006

Poetry Friday 7

I'd like to offer you three poems this week - they're not particularly related, except by my liking them !

The Listeners

'IS there anybody there?' said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed 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
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.

Walter de la Mare

The Blackbird

THE nightingale has a lyre of gold,
The lark's is a clarion call,
And the blackbird plays but a boxwood flute,
But I love him best of all.

For his song is all of the joy of life,
And we in the mad, spring weather,
We two have listened till he sang
Our hearts and lips together.

William Ernest Henley

The Spires of Oxford

I SAW the spires of Oxford
As I was passing by,
The grey spires of Oxford
Against the pearl-grey sky.
My heart was with the Oxford men
Who went abroad to die.

The years go fast in Oxford,
The golden years and gay,
The hoary Colleges look down
On careless boys at play.
But when the bugles sounded war
They put their games away.

The left the peaceful river,
The cricket-field, the quad,
The shaven lawns of Oxford,
To seek a bloody sod -
They gave their merry youth away
For country and for God.

God rest you, happy gentlemen,
Who laid your good lives down,
Who took the khaki and the gun
Instead of cap and gown.
God bring you to a fairer place
Than even Oxford town.

Winifred Letts

This last poem is about the men of Oxford who went to fight in the First World War; it seemed appropriate to offer at least one poem to commemorate the fact that tomorrow is the 90th anniversary of the start of the first Battle of the Somme, especially as the literature and history of the First World War is my other interest.


Unknown said...

Thanks for the poems; they were all new to me and I enjoyed them. I particularly liked The Listeners.

Michele said...

Oh really ? Walter de la Mare was a staple of my childhood poetry reading. I wonder if his poetry is still included in collections of verse for teaching in schools ? I recommend his poetry as it's enjoyable and quite a lot of it has a supernatural air to it. If you are interested in learning more about this remarkable poet, I recommend the Walter de la Mare Society's website: for his biography and for his poetry. He wrote a lot that's aimed specifically at children, which is probably why his poetry appeared so often in anthologies used in schools !

Unknown said...


Michele said...

You're welcome. Please do let me know what you think of his poetry if you decide to give it a try. That biography, I noticed, wasn't as detailed as it could have been, but I can't (on a short survey) seem to find a decent one online !