An In-depth Exploration of "The Listeners" by Walter Del La Mare

Categories: Poems

"The Listeners" by Walter De La Mare is a poem that captivates readers with its unexpected ending and eerie atmosphere. In this essay, I will delve into the ways in which the poet employs imagery, alliteration, rhythm, and rhyme to create a haunting mood. The narrative follows a mysterious "traveller" who arrives at an abandoned house in the forest, repeatedly knocking on the door and asking, "Is there anybody there?" The unanswered queries leave the traveller perplexed, contributing to the overall ghostly nature of the poem.

Imagery and Atmosphere

The mood of the poem is deeply intense, evoking a sense of both curiosity and unease. De La Mare skillfully employs vivid imagery to build a strange and daring atmosphere. The emptiness of the forest floor and the silence that envelops it add to the haunting quality of the poem. The reader is left with unanswered questions, inviting them to engage with the narrative on a deeper level and interpret the mysterious events in the poem.

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The choice of a narrative style enhances the reader's perspective, observing the traveller from a distance and adding an extra layer of complexity to the unfolding story.

Rhythm and Rhyme

The poem's rhythm, with 12 and 7 beats in every two lines, establishes a distinctive pattern. This rhythm, combined with the rhyme scheme, contributes to the overall musicality of the poem. Every second line rhymes, creating a sense of continuity and connection within the narrative. The choice of this rhythmic pattern adds to the reader's engagement, making the poem both captivating and memorable.

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Alliteration as a Tool of Fear

De La Mare employs alliteration masterfully throughout the poem, heightening its eerie undertones. Phrases such as "forests ferny floor" showcase the repetition of the "F" sound, drawing attention to the soft and silent nature of the forest. The use of alliteration not only creates a sensory experience but also contributes to the overall spooky ambiance of the poem. For instance, the phrase "silence surged softly" employs the repetition of the "S" sound, suggesting that the silence intensifies after the traveller's departure, leaving behind an unsettling emptiness.

In conclusion, "The Listeners" is a compelling poem that utilizes a combination of narrative style, rhythm, rhyme, and alliteration to create a mysterious and haunting atmosphere. The poet's adept use of imagery allows readers to immerse themselves in the peculiar world of the traveller and the deserted house. The unanswered questions and the lingering sense of emptiness make this poem both enigmatic and thought-provoking. De La Mare's skillful crafting of mood and atmosphere, along with the strategic use of literary devices, elevates "The Listeners" to a realm where the boundary between the living and the ghostly becomes blurred, leaving an indelible impression on the reader's mind.

Updated: Dec 29, 2023
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An In-depth Exploration of "The Listeners" by Walter Del La Mare. (2017, Jan 15). Retrieved from

An In-depth Exploration of "The Listeners" by Walter Del La Mare essay
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