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  • These illustrations are based on a poem (below) that I learned in school called The Listeners by Walter de la Mare. I always loved the sense of mystery and unreality that he was able to create, and the fact that the story was so open to interpretation. Why has the traveller returned, and who is he calling out to?
    The project was exhibited at the Love/Illustrate exhibition in Temple Bar, Dublin recently.
    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 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.