CBSE Class 8 English Literature Poem The Listeners Bywalter De La Mare


POEM: The Listeners Bywalter De La Mare


Walter John de la Mare was an English poet, short story writer and novelist, probably best remembered for his works for children and The Listeners. He came from a family of French Huguenots, and was educated at St Paul's School. His first book, Songs of Childhood, was published under the name Walter Ramal. He worked in the statistics department of the London office of Standard Oil for eighteen years while struggling to bring up a family, but nevertheless found enough time to write, and, in 1908, through the efforts of Sir Henry Newbolt he received a Civil List pension which enabled him to concentrate on writing.

One of de la Mare's special interests was the imagination, and this contributed both to the popularity of his children's writing and to his other work occasionally being taken less seriously than it deserved.

De la Mare also wrote some subtle psychological horror stories; "Seaton's Aunt" and "Out of the Deep" are noteworthy examples. His 1921 novel, Memoirs of a Midget, won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize for fiction.


“The Listeners” describes a Traveller who has come to knock on a moonlit door in an eerie, unknown place.  He has come to keep an unnamed promise, and knocks on the door harder and harder, but gets no response.  Unbeknownst to him, a “host of phantom listeners’ (line 13) are inside but unresponsive to his calls.  The traveller finally leaves, but the listeners remain.

The theme of the poem is the place of man in a universe which is far greater than he, and which he can neither connect with nor understand.  It focuses on man’s state of isolation and disharmony with the natural world.  Nature, as represented by the horse placidly munching on the grass and the bird frightened by the man’s disturbing clamour, is normally serene – it is only man who is anxious because of his separateness.  The traveller tries to overcome his aloneness and establish meaning by fruitless seeking (knocking) and responsible living (keeping promises), but the natural world remains unyielding in keeping its distance, and the traveller continues on alone.


I. Answer with reference to context:

1. “Is there anybody there?” said the Traveller,
Knocking on the moonlit door;
And his horse in the silence champed the grass
Of the forest’s ferny floor;
And a bird flew up out of the turret,
Above the Traveller’s head:

(a) Who was the traveller looking for?

(b) Where did he stop?

(c) Describe the atmosphere 

2. 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:

(a) Why was he perplexed?

(b) Explain the phrase ‘a host of phantom listeners’? 

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. 

(a) What is happening in the above lines?

(b) What does the phrase ‘silence surged softly backward’signify?

II. Answer the following questions briefly:

  1. Who are the listeners in “The Listeners”?
  2. Why were they called so?
  3. In the poem “The Listeners,” what does “iron on stone” mean?

III. Choose the correct answer from the options given below:

1.Which of the following sentences best sums up what happens in the poem?

(a) A traveler arrives at a house and knocks on the door, but is sent away again.

(b) A traveler arrives at a house and knocks on the door but nobody answers.

(c) A traveler arrives at a house and has an argument with the people who live there. 

2. Who are the ‘Listeners’?

(a) nobody – the house is empty

(b)animals sheltering in the house

(c)ghosts in the house 

3.What are the poetic devices used in the poem “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare?

(a) personification

(b) simile

(c) imagery

(d) all the above



Click for more English Study Material

Latest NCERT & CBSE News

Read the latest news and announcements from NCERT and CBSE below. Important updates relating to your studies which will help you to keep yourself updated with latest happenings in school level education. Keep yourself updated with all latest news and also read articles from teachers which will help you to improve your studies, increase motivation level and promote faster learning

Class 10 and Class 12 Board Exams to be resumed only for Main Subjects

The CBSE Board Exams have been postponed twice this year! New Delhi: The Education Ministry has urged the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to reinstitute the board exams only for the main subjects. As per the official statement the Board will not conduct...

CBSE Board Exams in July Press Release

CBSE has released press note for the dates for the CBSE Board exams for Class 10. CBSE said “With regards to conduct of Class X examinations several queries are being received by the CBSE. In this context, it is once again reiterated that remaining examinations of...

Class 12 Board Exams Datesheet Announced

CBSE has announced the datesheet of the remaining class 12 board exams, see below:  

Checking of Boards Answer sheets starts today

CBSE has instructed almost 3000 schools to start the evaluation work for class 10th and class 12th board exam answer sheets from today. The checking of answer sheets for class 10th and class 12th was stopped earlier due to covid crisis in the country. Now in order to...

CBSE Boards Answer Sheet Evaluation Class 10 and Class 12

HRD Minister Ramesh Pokhriyal, through a video conference with all the education ministers of the state, discussed the further steps to be taken to smoothen the education process during the Covid-19 lockdown. The most important topic which was discussed repeatedly on...

Class 10 Datesheet announced

CBSE has announced the date sheet for the remaining class 10 Board Exams, see dates below

Studies Today