The Listeners By Walter De La Mare Essay

De la Mare uses several poetic strategies to make “The Listeners” effective. His language, for example, is quite simple and ordinary, an apt contrast to the strange and eerie quality of the setting. None of his words causes a reader to search out their meanings in a dictionary; it is as if he wants to convince readers that the world he is portraying is the actual world in which they live. With the exception, perhaps, of the turret on the house, none of the concrete details is exotic or arcane. The strangeness, in other words, is in the atmosphere created by the mind of the traveler, not in ordinary reality.

The repetition of words is also effective: knocking, still and stillness, and listening are prominent. There is a general absence of metaphor and simile as well; it is the language of the setting itself, dark, empty, still, listening, which creates a mood of sadness, loneliness, and emptiness.

It is perhaps the rhythm, however, which is the most striking stylistic component: de la Mare uses a basically anapestic rhythm (two unstressed syllables followed by a stressed syllable), more commonly used in rollicking ballads or sea chanteys, to communicate a sense of urgency and anxiety in the situation. Indeed, for many readers, it is difficult to be left behind in the forest at the poem’s end. When the traveler leaves, one wishes to leave with him, rather than to stay behind with the phantom listeners.

'the Listeners' Analysis

‘The Listeners’ by Walter De La Mare is a narrative poem. It tells us about a traveller that comes to a house and knocks but nobody answers. He tries knocking a few more times but leaves. There are 36 lines in this poem and every other word rhymes.
We know that the poem is set in a dark forest as the word ‘forest’ is used at the start of the poem. There are quite a few ancient words which are used throughout the poem. We do not use these words now, so we know that the poem is set a long time ago. The poet also describes a ‘turret’ which is a small bird tower. Only houses that are very old have these near their front door so the poet is suggesting that this poem is from a long time ago and the house is old.
The Traveller has come from a long distance, but we are not told where he has come from or who he is. The Traveller knocks a few times. The poet builds up suspense every time he knocks. When the Traveller knocks the first time, no one answers, but a bird flies up from the turret. This gives the reader a creepy idea that maybe the house is mysterious. The Traveller knocks a second time but this time there is silence. ‘He smote upon the door again a second time’’. He has started to increase the strength of his knocking on the door. There is still no reply and the reader could begin to suggest that no-one is at home. Finally the Traveller knocks a final time, even harder ‘He suddenly smote on the door, even louder’ we know he doesn’t want to wait anymore.
He has knocked three times so decides to leave and says ‘Tell them I came, and no one answered, that I kept my word’. There was a reason why he had come but we are not told what the reason is. He also says that he kept his word. He is an honest person by keeping his word, and very patient for waiting there.
The Traveller travels on a horse. He does not use any other type of transport. ‘And his horse in the silence…’ The Traveller is probably an independent man and likes things simple so decides to make his own way to this place without...

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