The Listeners Poem Summary and Analysis

The listeners Poem by Walter De La Mare

Poem ‘The listeners’ was written by Walter de La Mare and published in 1912. This poem ‘The Listener’ has mysterious and supernatural touch with the mention of ‘phantoms’ that might be the listeners because the query of the traveller goes unanswered.

The Listeners Poem Word-Meanings

champed – chomped, chewed making sounds

ferny– floor – the fern plants growth on the forest soil

turret – a cylindrical tower rising from a building

smote (pt. of smite) – struck or hit

leaf-fringed sill – the plant growth reaching and around the window sill

sill – a narrow shelf at the base of a window frame

perplexed – confused and anxious

phantom – a ghost

dwelt – lived

world of men – human beings

thronging – crowding

harkening – listening

stirred and shaken – as if vibrating the air and the moonbeam

felt their strangeness – felt the creepiness of the inside atmosphere of the house

neath – beneath

leafy sky – the reflection of sky when seen from under the trees.

spake – spoke

shadowiness – darkness created by the shadow of the house

sound of iron on stone – the galloping of horse

surge – rise and move forward

plunging – jumping

Summary: The Listeners

The poem has mysterious and supernatural touch with the mention of ‘phantoms’ that might be the listeners because the query of the traveller goes unanswered.

The poem begins with the traveller knocking on a moonlit door in an unknown place. It is this sense of the unknown, with all its ambiguities, that controls the tone and mood of the poem. The place in the forest where the traveller finds himself is deserted and overgrown with brambles. The sense of isolation and strangeness causes the lonely human visitor first to knock on the door of the turreted house, then to smite it, and finally to smite it even louder, as his cries receive no response. It is only he who is perplexed and lonely in this night time scene though his horse is shown contentedly champing the grasses. This sense of mystery is deepened because we don’t know why the traveller was there. It is clearly to keep some promise, though it is peculiar for him to come to this lonely and isolated place in the middle of the night. Something must have compelled him to cry out repeatedly to a deserted house, without entering to see for himself who or what might be there. While the traveller feels in his heart the strangeness, stillness of the place and the ‘listeners’, his horse continues to crop the ‘dark turf’—oblivious to the things around. The poem ends with a shift in focus from the lonely traveller to the silent listeners; while he rushes to flee the scene, they remain behind in the returning silence.

Though the traveller leaves by leaving an oral message to the unknowns and leaves the place but the readers are left to think as who the listeners were – were they really ghosts or anything else be the case.

The Listeners: Question-Answers

B. Answers

1. The poem is set in a moonlit evening at a dwelling in a forest. The tone is serious and the atmosphere is eerie and supernatural otherworldly. A mystery shrouds the poem in the end leaving the reader thinking as who were in the house.

2. The traveller knocked at the door and said, “Is there anybody there?”

3. The poem creates an eerie and mysterious atmosphere with supernatural touch. The poem develops through a starry moonlit night. The traveller knocks the door of a big house thrice but gets silence in reply. It might be that there were phantoms listening but not responding. The traveller stands there still hoping someone to come out and lean over the window. Not only the traveller but his horse also senses strangeness in the atmosphere. When the stranger leaves the place, the same eerie silence follows. The reader is left with guessing and thinking as who might be there in the house.

4. No one answered the traveller because there were either no one in the house except the host of phantoms or the house was empty.

5. The traveller left the message for the inhabitants by asking them to tell that he had come and kept his promise.

6. These two creatures, the bird and the horse, create and add an element of mystery, spookiness making the atmosphere eerie.

7. The traveller was answered by the listeners in the form of creepy silence. The poet means by these lines that he also felt the strangeness of the atmosphere that was creepy silence all around the house. And it was this silence that was the answer to his question if anybody was inside the house.

8. The unanswered questions are:

i. Were there really any people in the house?

ii. Were there really a host of phantom inside the house?

iii. What was the promise that the traveller had come to fulfil?

iv. Why the traveller reached the house at night?

Possible Answers:

i. No, it seems that there were no people inside the house otherwise they would have responded as the traveller had knocked the door thrice.

ii. The creepy strangeness was felt by the traveller and it makes us think that some supernatural elements were present there and that may be phantoms.

iii. It is not clear but maybe it was none of his intimates’ house. May be someone had asked him to visit at night in the forest to judge his courage or capability to fulfil the promise.

iv. The traveller may have reached at night may be according the conditions of the promise or he had come a long distance that it became evening by the time he reached there.


1. The personification has been used as stillness has been shown as any person answering his cry. The lines also contain the poetic device ‘paradox’ as to how can stillness answer a cry.

2. ‘Personification’ as silence is shown surging as a person trying to rise forward. ‘Alliteration’ – silence surged softly

B. Examples of Alliteration are:

i. forest’s ferny floor

ii. suddenly smote

iii. silence surged softly

iv. louder, and lifted

v. stirred and shaken

This Post Has 19 Comments

  1. Shiva Shukla

    Thank You sir🙂🙂🙂

  2. Shail Pandey

    Thank you sir

  3. Vaibhav Raj Singh

    Sir summary bhi krni hai

  4. Asad

    Thank you so much sir

  5. Asad

    Thanks sir

    1. Karma yeshey

      Thank you so much sir it help alot with this reference ☺️☺️

  6. BOI

    Thx mam

  7. BOI

    Thx mam thankyou so much mam

  8. BOIII

    Thx mam thankyou so much mam

    1. Sirji


  9. Baishakhi Show

    Can I get the reference to the context

  10. Bbbbbbbbbb


    1. Sirji

      You mean the exercise given in the book!

  11. Bbbbbbbbbb


  12. Bbbbbbbbbb

    It is given

  13. Ishita Agarwal

    Can you please give question/answer

    1. ......


    2. Sirji

      But question answers are available. If you have this poem in any other book then send me the book publication.

  14. Soumili Mondal

    Good 👍

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