I'm sure that everyone has read "The Listeners" by Walter de la Mare (if you haven't, click here) and I'm sure that you, like me, have always loved it. Have you noticed though how we never find out anything about the traveller? Where is he? What's he doing? Why did he have to "keep his word"? Well... I wrote this tongue-in-cheek sequel to give you none of the answers...
“It isn’t bloody fair!” said the Traveller,
Walking on the moonlit moor;
His voice was hoarse, his hair was greasy
And his feet were bloomin’ sore.
And a bird flew down out of the sky,
Above the Traveller's head:
And he yelled at the fowl and threw a stone;
“Would you bugger off!” he said.
But the bird followed the Traveller;
It really wouldn’t leave him alone,
It just flapped along and twittered
No matter how many rocks were thrown.
“What do you want?!” he said, at last,
Flopping down on the boggy peat,
And wasn’t he surprised when the bird hopped up
And said in an awkward tweet;
“I was that bird the other day
That flew up above your head,
You know… when you were knocking on that tower door…
I heard every word you said.”
“Oh brilliant!” said the Traveller,
“A bloody talking bird!”
And up he got and squelched away
Without another word.
The bird caught up and spoke in its annoying little trill,
“If I were you I’d have worn a coat,
You’re sure to catch a chill.”
The Traveller traipsed on In his exasperated state,
Not looking at the bird,
Waiting for his anger to abate.
“I thought you had a horse,”
It said, unable to take a hint.
“I did,” muttered the Traveller,
Glaring up with a hostile squint,
“But when I left that bloody tower,
The stupid ruddy colt,
Got scared of nothing, threw me off,
Like a damned catapult!
And now I’m lost in a marshy fen
With a nocturnal talking bird,
And the situation seems to me
To be a tad absurd.”
“Well, I would have helped you,
If you’d been more polite,
But I’m nocturnal for a reason,
And now I’ll bid you goodnight!”
“No! Wait!” yelled the Traveller,
And then, thereupon,
The silence surged softly backward,
And the flutter of wings was gone.
The Traveller regretted
Being nasty to the bird,
As he stood knee-deep in marshwater,
His cries quite unheard.
The phantoms had followed him
Into the morass,
They echoed his words
And swarmed him en masse.
The Traveller spun around,
And the noiselessness he heard
Sent shivers down his spine,
He was suitably deterred
That the Listeners were now sure
That he never would go back,
To that turret in the forest
Down that muddy little track.
They’d taught him his lesson;
That it wasn’t any good
To yell at leafy sills,
In the middle of a wood.
This is where I post tunes I've transcribed and bits & pieces I find interesting. A few old articles have been transferred from my old blog, The Daily Orator.