Topic outline

    • Night Voices (by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle)

      About the poem

      Read to understand

      A. Answer these questions with reference to the context.

      ‘“But you sit so still and straight,

      Ever staring, ever smiling, at the door.”’

      1. Who does ‘you’ refer to?

      Ans. ‘You’ refers to the child’s father.


      2. Who says these lines?

      Ans. The child says these lines.


      3. What is the speaker’s mood at this time? Why?

      Ans. The child is getting impatient with his father because it is getting late but the father just sits and stares at the door.

      B. Answer these questions.

      1. What sounds does the child hear in the night?

      Ans. The child hears the sound of someone whispering, murmuring, and laughing in the night.


      2. Does the child think the sounds are from an animal or a human? Why do you say so?

      Ans. The child thinks it is a human voice because the child asks who and not what.


      3. What explanation does the father give for the sounds?

      Ans. The father explains the sounds as the breeze in the trees and the roaring waves on the shore.


      4. Was the child satisfied with the explanations? How do you know?

      Ans. No, the child was not satisfied with the explanation because he asks similar questions again and again.


      5. Which lines tell us that the child was a little afraid of the dark?

      Ans. The child is afraid as he constantly questions the father about the sounds of whispering, murmuring, and chuckling that can be heard. He also wants to go and says:

      Oh, father, let us go,

      For the light is burning low;

      it is dark and it is late.

      Discuss and write

      1. Does the poem make you feel sad, nervous, or a little scared? Why?

      Ans. I feel sad because the child was frightened and the father was not reacting in a quick or positive manner.


      2. Do you think the father answered the child’s questions truthfully? Give a reason for your answer.

      Ans. No, I don’t think the father answered the child’s questions truthfully. His words were meant to calm him.


      3. In stanza 4, the child says, ‘Tell me what you’re waiting for,’ but the father does not respond. How do you think the child must have felt?

      Ans. The unresponsive nature of the father must have scared the child even more.


      Read to appreciate

      While reading the poem ‘Night Voices’, you must have noticed a pattern of the rhyming words that runs through the four stanzas of the poem. What do you think is the rhyme scheme?

      A. Fill in the blanks to identify some of the style elements used by the poet.

      a) There are five lines in each stanza.

      b) The second and the fifth line in each stanza end with the same word.

      c) The third and the fourth line in each stanza end with rhyming words.


      B. Arrange the words in these lines in the correct order to get a stanza written in the same style as used in ‘Night Voices’. The last word in each line is underlined.

      I / knocking. / I / Father, / heard / some / father, / think

      on / the / that’s / porch?/ Who / is / walking / it

      I / see./ none / can / that / There’s

      dark / and / For / it’s / dreary./ quite

      sure / But / I’m / someone / porch./ the / on / there’s


      Father, father I think I heard someone knocking.

      Who is it that’s walking on the porch?

      There’s none that I can see,

      For it’s dark and quite dreary,

      But I’m sure there’s someone on the porch.