'Is there anybody there?'
THE LISTENERS'Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,Knocking on the moonlit door;And his horse in the silence champed the grassesOf 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.
-- Walter de la mer
Walter de la Mare offered no analysis, which others have sought to do. He stated only that the "Traveller" had discovered "a universe."
Yes, "phantoms," whatever that could mean, realistically or metaphorically. A higher realm, another dimension where contact with another world is either impossible or not desired. Just my viewpoint.
Man cannot connect with Nature nor can he connect with the universe . . .
One critique I read stated that Nature is indifferent to the anxiety felt by the "traveller," who wished only to acquit himself of a promise made. Yet, we have no clue what he promised and if the lodgers moved on in the flesh but left behind their essence.