“The Traveller” (Poem)

A fictional narrative poem by Alyssa Wright about the traveler mentioned in Walter de la Mare’s “The Listeners.”

I purposefully misspelled the word traveler to reflect an archaic spelling. This poem is a response to Walter de la Mare’s “The Listeners.” I originally wrote this in November 2014.


The people of the house’ve gone crazy,
An uproar found at every turn;
The Traveller’s come to visit,
The curious mister’s come!
Whyever could he be here,
How long will he stay?
The people are all anxious
To find out just the same.
So they call a meeting,
Ment’ning the Traveller’s name.
“He should make a promise, to prove that
He is safe, he means no harm or folly
To come upon our sons.”
“Whyever such a promise?
Such thing I cannot prove,
For folly is of something that I find does amuse.”
“So you say you’ll bring us harm?
Or that you are cruel?”
“For, nay, I say, but this I cannot prove.”
“If you bring us an object, a thing of a
Rare find, and in pristine condition,
Just as how you find [it];
We will grant you trust and invite,
No ridicule here for you, Traveller.”
He shook his head,
“I will be back, if not but soon.
This ‘fact of old possibly with me.
But know that I am coming,
Coming upon you thus:
I won’t send a warning, day or night,
I’ll show up and expect a welcome,
But not accept lavish gifts and such.”
So he left, the Traveller.
The peace returned to overwhelm that house,
For they had grown used to having
That Traveller about.
But as the days had gone,
With no sign of his return,
They all started [to] grow weary [of] wishing Traveller home.
The years grew long and fin’lly,
Those first old men burnt out,
Left the house to their young sons.
Still yet more time went by,
The Traveller not about,
All [the] boys and girls of [the] old house
Thinking he was but a story their
Dads had told them all but full of flout.
When finally the people of that house had
All gone out,
There came upon the place — the Traveller,
His promise yet unfulfilled.
So the house was full of phantoms,
Those men we spoke about,
List’ning to the Traveller
Say he’d brought the promised gift.