a man and a horse in front of a haunted house
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The Listeners: NBSE Class 10 English notes

Get here the summary, notes, questions, solutions, textual answers, pdf, and extras of the chapter The Listeners of NBSE Class 10 English. However, the given notes and solutions should only be used for references and should be modified or changed according to needs.

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1. Which of these lines tell us that the setting of the poem is eerie? 

i. And a bird flew up out of the turret 

ii. Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight 

iii. And the sound of iron on stone 

iv. And his horse in the silence champed the grasses 

Answer: i and ii 

2. What is the line ‘Of the forest’s ferny floor’ an example of? 

A. assonance B. onomatopoeia C. alliteration D. internal rhyme 

Answer: C. alliteration 

3. Which of the lines tell us that the speaker believes that there were ghosts inside the house? 

A. phantom listeners 
That dwelt in the lone house then 
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight 

B. And a bird flew up out of the turret 
Above the Traveller’s head 
And he felt in his heart their strangeness 
Their stillness answering his cry 

C. ‘Tell them I came and no one answered 
That I kept my word’ he said. 

Answer: A. phantom listeners 
That dwelt in the lone house then 
Stood listening in the quiet of the moonlight 

4. At the end of the poem the traveller leaves. Why does he leave? 

A. He feels the strangeness of the place and decides to leave. B. His horse is restless prompting him to leave. C. There was nobody to meet him and so he leaves. D. The sound of iron on stone scares him to leave. 

Answer: C. There was nobody to meet him and so he leaves. 

5. Which of these lines from the poem is an example of personification? 

A. air stirred and shaken by the lonely Traveller’s call B. And how the silence surged softly backward C. the sound of iron on stone D. For he suddenly smote on the door even Louder and lifted his head 

Answer: B. And how the silence surged softly backward 

Reference to Context

1. For he suddenly smote on the door, even
Louder, and lifted his head:
‘Tell them I came, and no one answered,
That I kept my word.’
Silence surged softly backwards
‘Is there anybody there?’
He suddenly smote on the door even louder.

a) Who do you think ‘them’ refers to in line 1?
b) What was the word that he has kept?
c) Is there a suggestion of impatience on the part of the traveller? What gives you this impression?
d) The poem is set in medieval times. Pick out a word and a description that tells us so.

Answer: a) Here, ‘them’ refers to the inmates of the house.

b) The traveller has kept a promise that he must have made to one of the inmates in the house in the past.

c) Yes, there is a suggestion of impatience on the part of the traveller. The gestures of the traveller that gives us the impression is that he was knocking on the door impatiently over and over and he was continuously asking aloud if there was anyone inside. He just wanted to fulfil his promise and leave the place as soon as possible.

d) The poet in the poem “The Listeners” uses a lot of archaic words like “spake” that assures us that the poem is set in medieval times. Besides the use of archaic words, the Supernatural setting of the poem and the traveller which closely resemble a knight who must have been returning from a long quest gives us the impression that the ballad is set in medieval times.

2. No head from the leaf-fringed sill
Leaned over and looked into his grey eyes,
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:
Stood thronging the faint moonbeams on the dark stair,
That goes down to the empty hall,
Hearkening in an air stirred and shaken
By the lonely Traveller’s call.

a) Why are the eyes of the traveller described as grey?
b) Identify two words used to give the poem an eerie atmosphere.
c) ‘voice from the world of men’. Whose voice is it? How is it significant?
d) Why was he ‘perplexed and still’?

Answer: a) The word grey is often used to describe unclarity or confusion. In the poem “The Listeners” the poet describes the eyes of the traveller as grey as we know nothing about the traveller except that he was at the door of the house to keep a promise.

b) Two words used to give the poem an eerie atmosphere are “grey” and “phantom”.

c) It is the voice of the lonely traveller. It is significant as the voice bridges two separated worlds of the living and the dead.

d) He was “perplexed and still” because he was expecting an answer from the inmates of the house but despite repeated calls, there was no response. He was there to keep a promise and therefore was certain to receive an answer.

Read and Write

1. In the poem ‘The Listeners’, how did the traveller feel as he repeatedly knocked on the door?

Answer: As he repeatedly knocked on the door but received no response, the traveller sensed an eerie atmosphere and came to the realisation that no one was going to answer the door. He was at the door all alone and as time passed, he grew uneasy at the deathly silence and finally decided to you leave. But before he would leave, he declared at the top of his voice: ‘Tell them I came, and no one answered, That I kept my word.’ He was there to keep a promise and he wanted anyone who could hear him that he had kept his promise.

2. What does the poet mean when he says the silence surged softly backwards?

Answer: The poet means that as soon as the traveller was gone with his horse, the silence that surrounded the house and its vicinity which was disturbed by the advance of the lonely traveller, reoccupied the place and everything fell silent once again.

Think and Answer

1. How does the poet describe the atmosphere in the poem ‘The Listeners’?

Answer: The poet describes the atmosphere of the poem through a series of eerie elements about the whole scene. The poet also keeps many a thing unclear which only adds to the eerieness of the setting.

The poet brings together two worlds- the worlds of the living and the dead, close to each other in the poem with the advent of the lonely traveller about whom we know nothing except that he was there to keep a promise to the house at the dead of the night in the middle of the woods. The poet, however, chooses to not reveal anything more about the ghosts that inhabit the house or the traveller and his promise. All these make the poem a very compelling read.

2. What are the poetic devices used in the poem? 

Answer: The poem “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare employs several poetic devices to enhance its thematic depth and atmospheric quality. These include: 

Alliteration: The repetition of consonant sounds at the beginning of words close to each other, which adds a musical quality to the poem and helps to emphasize certain images or ideas. An example can be found in phrases like “forest’s ferny floor.” 

Assonance: The repetition of vowel sounds within close proximity to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, contributing to the poem’s lyrical quality. 

Imagery: Descriptive language that appeals to the senses, painting vivid pictures in the reader’s mind. The poem is rich in visual and auditory imagery, bringing to life the silent, moonlit scene at the mysterious house. 

Personification: Attributing human qualities to non-human elements, which is evident in how the silence and the house itself seem to react to the Traveller’s presence and actions. 

Symbolism: The use of symbols to represent ideas or concepts. The silent, unresponsive house symbolizes mystery and the unknown, while the phantom listeners symbolize the unseen or unheard presences in our lives. 

Repetition: The poem uses repetition of certain phrases and questions to emphasize the Traveller’s growing frustration and the eerie persistence of silence throughout his visit. 

Rhyme Scheme: The poem follows a consistent ABAB pattern, lending a rhythmic structure that enhances its haunting, lyrical quality. 

3. What does the poem imply about the inmates of the mansion? Pick words and phrases to support your answer.  

Answer: The poem subtly implies that the inmates of the mansion may not be of the physical world. Instead, they are ethereal or supernatural entities, hinted at through the silence and absence of response to the Traveller’s calls. Words and phrases like “phantom listeners,” “silence surged softly backward,” and the Traveller’s unanswered plea, “Is there anybody there?” suggest the presence of beings who exist beyond the tangible realm. These descriptions create an atmosphere of mystery and the supernatural, inviting readers to ponder the nature of the mansion’s silent occupants. 

4. Attempt this short quiz.  

i. Which of the following characters in the poem is a presumption? 

a) the horse b) the traveller c) the listener 

Answer: c) the listener 

ii. Which word(s) below suggests that the setting involves a mansion or castle? 

a) moonlit door b) turret c) iron on stone 

Answer: b) turret 

iii. Which of the following suggests that the Traveller knew the people who lived in the house? 

a) That I kept my word. b) Is there anybody there? c) He suddenly smote on the door even louder. 

Answer: a) “That I kept my word” 

iv) Which is an example of alliteration? 

a) the plunging hoofs were gone. b) the silence surged softly backward c) sound of iron on stone 

Answer: b) “the silence surged softly backward” 


1. ‘This poem is a classic example of imagination, mystery and creativity’. Comment. 

Answer: “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare indeed embodies a blend of imagination, mystery, and creativity. The poem transports readers to a moonlit, deserted mansion, engaging the imagination with its vivid descriptions and eerie setting. Mystery is woven throughout, as the identity and nature of the silent listeners remain undisclosed, compelling readers to ponder who or what they might be. Creativity shines through the use of poetic devices, such as alliteration and personification, enhancing the poem’s atmosphere. This work exemplifies how poetry can evoke emotion, provoke thought, and create a world that transcends the ordinary, inviting readers into a realm of speculation and wonder. 

2. The poem is rich in imagery. Poets use imagery to draw readers into a sensory experience. Images often provide us with mental images that appeal to our senses of sight, sound, taste, touch, and smell. This helps the reader to connect emotionally to the poem. Most poetic imagery is auditory and visual, which appeals to a reader’s eyes and ears. Make a list of all the words and phrases that the poet uses to bring out an atmosphere of the supernatural in the poem. Put them under the heads of ‘Sight’ and ‘Sound’. 

Answer: In “The Listeners,” Walter de la Mare uses vivid imagery that appeals to the senses of sight and sound to create an atmosphere of the supernatural. 

For Sight: 

  • The poem describes a “moonlit door” and “turret” to set a mysterious and ancient scene. 
  • Phrases like “forest’s ferny floor” evoke a dense, untouched setting, adding to the supernatural ambiance. 

For Sound: 

  • “The silence surged softly backward” captures an eerie quiet that seems alive, enhancing the supernatural feel. 
  • Sounds associated with the Traveller’s actions, such as “smote on the door” and “his horse in the silence champed the grass,” add a sense of isolation and otherworldliness. 

These examples use the senses to draw readers into a world where the line between the natural and supernatural blurs, inviting emotional connection and imagination. 

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27 thoughts on “The Listeners: NBSE, AHSEC summary, MCQs, notes”

  1. It helps me very much for my online examination…. I know this chapter is for 9,10,11,12 but I am studying in class 7 ..but I need these answers as this chapter is in my syllabus for examination. Thank You so much! Once again.

  2. I learnt this poem at school and at seventy-six, can still recite it by heart. No indication is given – to my knowledge – that it refers to a particular era; I have, therefor, applied my own interpretation.
    An officer of the British Army is returning home after the Battle of Waterloo. During the fighting, a brother officer was mortally wounded and pleaded with him to promise that, on his way he would call at his parental home and comfort them by saying his death had been swift. The traveler kept his promise but the occupants had previously deceased.

  3. 5. What is the effect created by the words ‘The silence surged softly backwards’?this is the question that i need answer . any it was helpful and thanku

  4. verryyy helpfull…thank a lot…..can u plss come up with the answers of ch-6 The Life Of John Smith & ch-4 The Mother of Orphans

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