The Traveller’s frustration and tension

To what extent are the reader’s questions answered in “The Listeners” by Walter de la Mare “On the Departure Platform” by Thomas Hardy “Ozymandias” by Percy Bysshe Shelley “The Man He Killed” by Thomas Hardy In “The Listeners” there are many questions. To these, there could be numerous answers. Firstly, the Traveller’s true identity is disclosed. All we know is that he is male. “From the one man left awake:” [Line 32] This shows he is definitely male and the fact that he is only referred to as ‘the Traveller’ and ‘he’ makes the reader more inquisitive and read the rest of the poem in hope of uncovering the true identity of the traveller.

This question is not answered. Another question raised is why he went there and what was his ‘word’? “‘Tell them that I came, and that no one answered, That I kept my word,’ he said” [Lines 27 + 28] This question is not answered either. It adds to the effect of mystery in the poem also the effect of everything being anonymous. Information about the Traveller and the listeners is left untold. I think the traveller is somehow aware of the presence of the listeners because lines 27-28 contain speech directed at the listeners.

This poem is very descriptive in certain areas though, despite keeping the reader in the dark about the Traveller and the listeners. For example, the house and the surrounding area is described in a lot of detail, as is the effect the Traveller has on the atmosphere and the sound aspect of the poem. “Stood thronging in the faint moonbeams on the dark stair, That goes down to the empty hall,” [Lines 17 + 18] This is an example of the type of description of the house. It gives a strong impression of silence, emptiness and nothing being whole.

Continuing the theme of the Traveller disrupting the tranquillity of the scene, he starts off fairly calm. “‘Is there anybody there? ‘ said the Traveller, knocking on the moonlit door” [Lines 1 + 2] As the word ‘moonlit’ is included, the mood of the poem is not really affected. It does not detract from the harmonious atmosphere because of this and also, the reader begins to wonder who the traveller is instead of noticing the disturbance. However, in the 7th line the Traveller knocks on the door again but this time it says, “… smote upon the door, … ” [Line 7]

‘Smote’ is a more powerful word for knocked and suggests the Traveller knocked harder. This disrupts the mood more. Before that, the general mood was very calm and gentle, signified by the ‘forest’s ferny floor’. In line 25 the poem says, “For suddenly he smote on the door, even Louder, and lifted his head:- ” The word ‘suddenly’ indicates sudden movement which until then in the poem didn’t exist. Also, the word ‘smote’ is repeated again and the actual word louder is used. These quotes indicate increasing disturbance caused by the traveller which adds to the effect of the Traveller’s frustration and tension.

This changes the mood. As an example of the sound aspect, which dominates the effect of the poem, I chose this quote. “Aye they heard his foot on the stirrup, And the sound of iron on stone” The two words highlighted are directly associated with this aspect. It also describes the area around the house by indicating there is a stone path leading to the house. The poet writes the poem very cleverly by involving the reader. He does this by leaving a lot to their imagination and by making them think about the sounds. There are a lot of poetic devices such as alliterations, assonances, imagery and evocative words.

Some examples are: ‘forest’s ferny floor’, ‘Louder, and lifted’, ‘silence surged softly’ These assonances make the poem easier to read and imagery is created easier by assonances. The whole poem works because the setting is imaginable. In ‘Ozymandias’ the features are similar. Although sound is not really used, the description is good and the setting is realistic. The main questions raised in this poem are:  Why was the statue built  Who was ‘Ozymandias’  What did he do that was so brilliant  Why does nothing remain if he was so important There could be many answers to these.

It appears that ‘Ozymandias’ was a ruler, judging by the name, of an Eastern European kingdom. From those questions, ‘who was he’ is the easiest to predict. However, the other three are unanswered and it is for the reader to imagine what they want. This poem has a fairly complex rhyming scheme. The beginning is more regular than the middle section. “I met a traveller from an antique land Who said: Two cast and trunkless legs of stone Stand in the desert … Near them, on the sand, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown” This is a fairly simple A, B, A, B rhyming scheme.