Describe the house and its surroundings in the poem "The Listeners."

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"The Listeners" gives readers a wonderful glimpse at a house that is likely quite normal; however, the narrator is able to creep readers out by including specific details about the home. One of the first details about the house is that the front door is moonlit, which means that the front of the house is facing the moon. The house in located near or in a forest, but it is shown that the house itself has grass surrounding it because the horse is eating that grass. (That seems like a mundane detail, but I live in southern California. People have rocks in their front yards or fake grass in my neighborhood.)

The house has a turret which gives the house a Victorian look to it. I always picture ivy or similar creeping plants growing against the house because readers are told that the window sill is leaf-fringed. I also think it is important to note that the house is alone. It is not a house that is part of a neighborhood or community. That loneliness adds to the creepiness of the man's situation. We are told the house has a long hallway and some stairs. The stairs and the presence of the turret alert readers to the fact that the house is at least two stories high.

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"The Listeners" is a delightfully eerie poem by Walter de la Mare that describes a human traveler who, hoping to keep a mysterious promise he's made, knocks on the door of a spooky abandoned house.

The most important thing we know about this place is that it's silent and still. The speaker repeats that information throughout the poem. Here's what else we know about the house and its surroundings:

1. There's moonlight shining on the front door:

‘Is there anybody there?’ said the Traveller,

Knocking on the moonlit door;

2. The house is located in a forest where there are ferns on the ground:

And his horse in the silence champed the grasses

Of the forest’s ferny floor:

3. The house has a turret, which is a small round tower that may or may not contain a spiraling staircase:

And a bird flew up out of the turret,

Above the Traveller’s head:

4. There are leaves around the window sill, indicating that no one is actively keeping the exterior of the house clean:

But no one descended to the Traveller;

No head from the leaf-fringed sill

5. The house is empty inside, but in a sense it's full, too, because there are lots of silent spirits in there. Also, the house stands alone (with no neighbors). It's at least two stories high, because there's a staircase inside, and the moonlight is shining in a little bit on that staircase:

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,

6. The trees in the forest surrounding the house are quite tall, because their leaves seem to be part of the sky:

’Neath the starred and leafy sky;

7. The rooms inside the house are large enough to cause the traveler's voice to echo:

Though every word he spake 

Fell echoing through the shadowiness of the still house

8. Finally, the property features some kind of stone walkway or driveway outside, because as the traveler leaves on horseback, the animal's iron horseshoes make a distinct sound against the stone:

Ay, they heard his foot upon the stirrup,

And the sound of iron on stone....

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