The Listeners by Walter de la Mare


Walter de la Mare craftily evokes in the reader a sense of mystery and suspense in the poem, “The Listeners”.  The opening question asked by the traveller, “Is there anybody there” with poses a question to every reader a fundamental question- Do we have an awareness of where we are. Instead of using ‘here’, the poet deliberately uses ‘there’ to evoke an indifferent attitude of the listeners. In fact nobody listens and responds. The ghosts just stand in awe but they don’t respond. The questions are again and again reverberated and resounded in the open air which indirectly teases the indifferent attitude of those who encounter the traveler.

The need of doing one’s duty without thinking or worried about the outcome or other’s reaction to it is aptly depicted when the traveller says, ” Tell them  I came, and no one answered that I kept my word”. The every word he uttered echoed through the shadowiness of the still house. Just do our duty and withdraw from the front paving way for others. Life after all a duty and a journey that happens in a wilderness or at a ‘house of ghosts’ where the expected response wouldn’t happen.

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