How can I analyze the poem "The Listeners" in a narrative essay?

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sciftw | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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"The Listeners" by Walter de la Mare is about a lone traveler's encounter with an empty house.  The poem indicates that the house is out away from a city or town.  It does this by focusing on the nature that surrounds the house.  There is a forest and grass instead of buildings and streets.  The traveler knocks on the door several times, but he is not greeted by anybody.  Perhaps the home is empty.  The poem seems to indicate that the home is occupied by the ghosts of the previous owners.  

"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:"
I would say that the theme of the poem is most important.  I believe that the theme is meant to point out the man's isolation and feelings of discomfort that it brings him.  Nature is present in the poem, but does not care that the man is there.  The horse ignores him.  The bird is startled by his knocking.  The poem indicates that the traveler is disturbing an otherwise peaceful scene.  
 
I think that your teacher wants you to write a story that takes inspiration from the poem.  A narrative essay tells a story while making a point.  That's what the poem does.  It's a short story of a traveler.  He is alone, and that causes him discomfort.  You should write an essay that tells a story that makes a similar point.  Come up with a basic plot that causes your main character to be isolated.  A shipwreck victim would do nicely.  Perhaps place your protagonist on another planet.  Make him/her a polar explorer or a mountain climber that has been separated from the group.  Set the initial scene and plot direction, and then focus on the feelings of isolation.  
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