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Read and Interpret Narrative Poetry: 'The Listeners'

In this worksheets, students read 'The Listeners' by Walter de la Mare and answer questions on its form and content.

'Read and Interpret Narrative Poetry: 'The Listeners'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Curriculum topic:  Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:  Explore Meaning

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

A narrative poem is a poem that tells a story. The following narrative poem was written by Walter de la Mare (1873 - 1958). Read it through a few times until you are sure you have understood it. If you read it out loud you will get a better sense of its rhythm.

 

 

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The Listeners

 

"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:
And he smote upon the door again a second time;
"Is there anybody there?" he said.
But no one descended to the Traveller;
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.
And he felt in his heart their strangeness,
Their stillness answering his cry,
While his horse moved, cropping the dark turf,
'Neath the starred and leafy sky;
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," he said.
Never the least stir made the listeners,
Though every word he spake
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.

 

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In this worksheet you can answer questions on the poem.

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

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

A traveller arrives at a house and knocks on the door but nobody answers.

A traveller arrives at a house and has an argument with the people who live there.

Match up the old-fashioned words from the poem with their modern equivalents.

Column A

Column B

smote
lived
champed
chewed
dwelt
knocked
hearkening
listening

Who are the 'Listeners'?

nobody - the house is empty

animals sheltering in the house

ghosts in the house

How many times does the Traveller knock on the door?

two

three

four

The poem is written in rhyme, but what is the rhyming pattern?

rhyming couplets

every first and third line

every second and fourth line

Which poetic device is used in the following phrase?

 

the forest's ferny floor

personification

alliteration

metaphor

simile

Which of the following adjectives best describes the mood of the poem?

comic

mysterious

tragic

adventurous

  • Question 1

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

CORRECT ANSWER
A traveller arrives at a house and knocks on the door but nobody answers.
EDDIE SAYS
The Traveller knocks on the door three times and calls out, but nobody answers so he leaves on his horse.
  • Question 2

Match up the old-fashioned words from the poem with their modern equivalents.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

smote
knocked
champed
chewed
dwelt
lived
hearkening
listening
EDDIE SAYS
It is possible to work out the meanings of the old-fashioned words from their context (the other words around them). For example, it says that the horse 'champed the grasses' so the word is likely to refer to a way of eating.
  • Question 3

Who are the 'Listeners'?

CORRECT ANSWER
ghosts in the house
EDDIE SAYS
They are referred to as 'phantom listeners'. A phantom is another word for a ghost.
  • Question 4

How many times does the Traveller knock on the door?

CORRECT ANSWER
three
EDDIE SAYS
The Traveller knocks three times without an answer. The repetition makes the reader aware that he is very anxious to be let in.
  • Question 5

The poem is written in rhyme, but what is the rhyming pattern?

CORRECT ANSWER
every second and fourth line
EDDIE SAYS
The second and fourth line of the poem ('door' and 'floor') rhyme, and then the sixth and the eighth ('head' and 'said'). It is as if the poem were written in verses of four lines, but Walter de la Mare wrote it in one section without breaks.
  • Question 6

Which poetic device is used in the following phrase?

 

the forest's ferny floor

CORRECT ANSWER
alliteration
EDDIE SAYS
When two or more words begin with the same sound it is called alliteration.
  • Question 7

Which of the following adjectives best describes the mood of the poem?

CORRECT ANSWER
mysterious
EDDIE SAYS
The poem is mysterious. We don't know why the Traveller has come to the house or why it is full of phantoms. There is not much real action in the poem, but Walter de la Mare successfully builds up the atmosphere in different ways. The Traveller is referred to as 'lonely' and 'perplexed' (puzzled), and the poet mentions the emptiness, strangeness and silence of the setting. There are also a number of references to the moonlight and moonbeams, adding to the eeriness.
---- OR ----

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