Create a short prequel or sequel to "The Listeners."

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In the poem "The Listeners" by Walter de la Mare, a lone traveler on horseback arrives at a large house in a forest on a moonlit night. He knocks on the door and asks if anyone is there. No one answers because the only inhabitants of the house are "phantom listeners." In other words, the house is full of ghosts. The ghosts listen to the call of the traveler but cannot respond. The traveler finally says, "Tell them I came, and no one answered, that I kept my word" and then he rides away. The poet does not indicate to whom he kept his word; the traveler's motivation for going to that spooky lonely house full of ghosts is unknown.

A prequel describes a story that is written after a work has been published wherein the events of this new work predate the events of the original story. A sequel is the opposite (wherein the events take place after the events of the original story). In writing a prequel or a sequel, a good approach would be to speculate why the traveler was out visiting that strange house. Was it the house of his own family with whom he is now estranged? Maybe it could be the house of a distant relative, a business contact, or a stranger to whom he is supposed to deliver a message. When you imagine his motivation in going to the house, it is then easy to write a short prequel to explain the man's motivations for visiting the house (and how he is related to "the listeners").

If you write a sequel, you need to imagine what happens after he rides away from the house. He gave his word to someone that he would go there, but no one answered his knock on the door. What would be the consequences as a result? Perhaps when he leaves, the ghosts follow him, and he becomes aware of their presence.

The object of this assignment is for you to discern what happens in the poem and use your imagination to come up with a motivation and background for the traveler and to use this information to add to the background or build on the story.

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