Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Listeners



(Q&A from The Listeners from Whispers of Immortality for ICSE students of class X. If you need a clarification, please post your comment below.)

Q1. Where does the scene take place? Why does the narrative begin with a question?
A1. The scene described in the poem takes place on a moonlit night in a deserted medieval castle. The castle had been deserted for a long time. The narrative begins with a question because the traveler is trying to find out if there was anyone in the castle by asking “ Is anybody there?” A question in the beginning also indicates that there are some part of the story which happened before the question was asked but are not revealed to the reader.

Q2.Why does the traveler comes to the place in silence, at night?
A2.The traveler comes to the place at night because the traveler has traveled a long distance on horseback to reach the place. Due to the long journey,the traveler has reached the place only at night.

Q3.Give the meaning of :
-champed the grass : this means that the horse grazed on the grass,noisily, outside the castle
-turret : a tower which is a part of the castle.

Q4.What is the significance of the bird flying up out of the tower at night.
A4.The significance of the bird flying out of the turret at night are :
-it signifies that the castle had been abandoned for so long that birds had made their nest there.
-that the traveler had knocked so hard on the door of the castle that the bird had got frightened and flew away from its nest.
-the other significance of the bird flying from its nest is that it helps the poet in creating a scary feeling among the readers.

Q5.How may times did the traveler knock on the door of the house? What response did he get.
A5.The traveler knocked thrice on the door of the house.He got no response from the house.

Q6. State briefly the theme of the poem.
A6. The theme of the poem is about a person who return to particular house after many years. He had promised someone in the house that he would return to that house.However, he was returning after so many year that no one lived in the house any more. He house was overgrown with grass and weeds. Birds had made their nests in the turrets of the house.The theme of the poem is about the mystery of :
-why this man returned after so many years.
-why there was no one living in house and what had happened to them.

Q7. Why did the traveler smite upon the door, a second time.
A7. The traveler smote on the door a second time because the first time he knocked he did not get any response from anyone in the house. The first time he had knocked only a bird got frightened and flew from its nest in the turret.

Q8. Give the meaning of “ But no one descended to the traveler,no head from the leaf fringed sill.
A8.This means that even when the traveler knocked on the door of the castle for the second time there was no response from anyone in the castle. The traveler had expected that either someone would open the door or atleast peep out from the
window to see who was knocking. But there was no response from the castle.

Q9. State the significance of :
A9. a) Leaf fringed sill : The window sill had been covered with creepers. This signifies that the castle was a badly maintained place indicating that there was no one living there.
b) Grey Eyes : The traveler was half expecting some one to peep out of the window to see who was knocking.
c) perplex’d and still : This means that the traveler was perplexed why no one from the castle was opening the door. The traveler was standing still while he was knocking the door. He was trying to listen whether there was any response from inside the castle to his knocking.

Q10.Why did the traveler stand there, perplexed?
A10.The traveler stood there perplexed because he had knocked on the door of the castle twice but there was no response from anyone in the castle. The traveller was puzzled as to why there was no response to his knocking on the door.

Q11.Referring to the material given in the extract, state why the place looked strange to the traveler.
A11.The place looked strange to the traveler because no one opened the door of
the castle even after he had knocked the door thrice. The first time he knocked a bird flew out of its nest in the turret – frightened. The window sill of the castle was over grown with creepers. No one had mowed the grass in the lawns for a long time and the grass had overgrown. Moonbeams falling of the castle gave the place an eerie look. It appeared that the castle was inhabited by phantoms which did not want to respond to the knocks on the door.

Q12.What are referred to as Phantom listeners? What were they doing in the moonlight?
A12.There was no one in the castle who could hear the knocking on the door.According to the poet, it was as if there were ghosts in the castle who were listening to the travelers knocking on the door. Moonlight fell inside the castle. It was almost as if the moonlight was falling on the castle to highlight that there was no one in the castle except Phantoms on whom the moonlight was falling.

Q13.Briefly describe the atmosphere in the house.
A13.The atmosphere in the house was eerie. The grass on the lawn was over grown. The moon shone brightly making the place look very mysterious. The travelers knocking on the door disturbed a bird which flew out of its nest creating a further impression of mystery. Moonlight falling inside the castle made it appear that there were Phantoms in the castle on whom the moonlight shone. Creeper which were growing on the window sill gave the castle an unused and mysterious look.

Q14.What was the voice that was from the world of men.
A14. The traveler’s loudly calling out “ is there anybody there” is referred to as the voice from the world of men. This is called the voice from the world of men as there were no other people in the castle.

Q15.Give the meaning of “hearkening in an air stirr’d and shaken by the lonely travelers call.
A15. This means that the castle had been empty for such a long time that it appeared that even the air in the castle had not moved for a long time. It seemed that the travelers load voice was the first thing that had stirred the air in the castle in a long time.

Q16.Who were the inhabitants of the house? In what way were they different from the traveler?
A16.There were no human inhabitants of the house. It appeared that the only inhabitants of the house were ghosts who were invisible. The inhabitants of the house were different from the traveler because they were invisible.

Q17.Who is he in the extract? Whose strangeness is referred to in the extract? Why does he feel strange in his heart?
A17.The traveler is the “ he” in this extract. The strangeness that is referred to in the extract is the strange feeling the traveler felt when only silence greeted his loud voice asking if there was anyone in the house. He feel strange because there is no one who is responding to his question of there being anyone in the house.

Q18.Give the meaning of:
A18.Cropping the dark turf: this means that the travelers horse was eating the overgrown grass outside the castle.
Smote on the door : This means to knock loudly on the door.

Q19. What is described as the starred and leafy sky? Why is it said to be so?
A19. The clear night with stars visible and tall leafy trees which appeared to touch the sky is referred to as the starred and leafy sky. It is said to be so because the stars on in the sky were clearly visible and the leafy trees were looking like a canopy under the sky.

Q20. Why is the traveler smiting on the door again and again? Why did he lift his
head? What does he do finally?
Q20. The traveler is smiting on the door again and again because no one is responding to his knocking on the door. He lifts his head because he wanted to shout loudly one last time asking if there was anyone in the house. Finally, he get up on his horse and rides away.

Q21. How does the poet build an eerie atmosphere I the extract by the art of suggestion?
A21. The poet builds and eerie atmosphere by using the art of suggestion. The art of suggestion is the art of making the reader believe in the presence of something which does not exist. For example the poet says that the fact no one answered means that there were Phantoms in the castle who were listing to the knocking on the door but were not responding. The sound made by the horse while eating the grass is also use to create an eerie atmosphere.

Q22. How does the poem show that there are two worlds – one alive and the other dead – in the poem.
A22. The poet shows that there are two worlds on alive and one dead by using symbolisms for the world alive and the world dead. For the world alive he uses
the following symbolism:
- loud shouting by the traveler.
- the noisy eating of the grass by the travelers horse.
- the bird flying out of the turret.
- the sound of the horse galloping away.

For the world dead the poet uses the following symbolisms:
- silence to the travelers question.
- use of a world like Phantom which is associated with the world of the dead.
- Using a sentence like “ hearkending in an air stirr’d and shaken by the travelers call – indicating that even the air in the castle had not moved till the traveler came there.

Q23. What is pre-supposed in the following expression of the traveler. “ That I kept my word”?
A23. This presupposes that the traveler had come to the castle before and that the had promised someone in the castle that he would come back to meet them. It also means that he had come to the castle before.

Q24.Who are they referred to in the extract? Why no one answers the question of the traveler?
A24.“They” are the people who lived in the castle and who are now answering the travelers question “ Is anyone there?” No one answers the question of the traveler because there is no one in the castle to answer the question.

Q25. Who is the one man left awake? What happened to the other?
A25. The one man left awake refers to the traveler. The “others” who are the residents of the castle had either died or had left the castle.

Q26. Give the meaning of :
“ Though every world he spake,
Fell echoing through the showiness of the still house..
A26. This means that every time the traveler shouted “ Is anyone there?” his words could be heard clearly for a long distance since it was very quiet.

Q 27. What does the “ shadowiness of the still house tell the readers about the medieval castle in the poem?
A 27. The shadowiness of the still house tell the reader that the castle had been deserted for a long time. It tell the reader that perhaps the inhabitants of the castle had died or had left the castle for reason that are not clear.The use of the world shadowiness also creates and eerie image of the castle in the minds of the reader.

Q28.Giving two examples from the poem, show how the poet uses his imagination
to build up suspense in the story.
A28.The two examples which shows that the poet uses his imagination to build up suspense are :
-“A bird flew out of the turret” – this creates suspense and eeriness.
-“But only a host of phantom listeners that dwelt in the house”. This too brings up images of ghosts living in house.


Q29. Who were they? They never interact with the traveler. Then why are they
introduced in the poem.
A29. “They” are the unseen or the non-existent people in the house. The poet does not clarify if “they” are the emptiness in the castle or are phantoms.
They do not interact with the traveler because they are not real people and do not exist. “They” are introduced in the poem to show that the castle was deserted for a long time. “They” are also introduced in the poem to bring in an element of mystery in the poem.

Q30. Give the meaning of : And how the silence surged softly backward.
A30. This means that as the traveler rode away from the castle the noise of his horse galloping away reached the castle. This noise of the horse galloping away gradually started fading as the traveler went further away from the castle.

Q31. What are :
a) the sound of iron on stone : this is the sound of the horse-shoe hitting the stony surface of the path leading away from the castle.
b) plunging hoofs : this describes the galloping of the travelers horse away from
the castle.

Q32.State in your own words how the visitor goes back.
A32.When the visitor does not get a reply to this “is anyone there” on two occasions the then lifts his head to tell the invisible occupants of the
castle that he came to the castle to keep this word. When even this did not evoke a response – the jumped on his horse to ride away from the castle very
disappointed that he could not meet the residents of the castle.

Q33.Give two examples to show that the author uses situations to appeal to the senses of sight and hearing.
A33.The two examples that show that the author uses situations to appeal to the
senses of sight and hearing are :
- “And his horse in the silence champ’d the grasses.” Here the poet uses the situation to appeal to the sense of hearing by using world like silence and champ’d.
- “ in the quiet of the moonlight”

Q33. How does he poem appeal to you. Give two reasons to justify your answer.
A33. The poem appeals to me because of the mystery that it creates. The traveler is a mysterious traveler. We do not know why the traveler came to the castle. We do not know what was his relationship with the people in the castle. We do not know why the castle is deserted. The poem also appeals to me because the poet creates and issue of the castle being inhabited by phantoms or ghosts. Finally,the poet intensifies the mystery by not clarifying what the traveler would do after going away from the castle. Would he try to find the whereabouts of the the people who he did not find in the castle or he would just forget about them.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This was very helpful for my English essay!

Bharat R Ram said...

Am glad you found it useful. Thanks