POETRY QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS

(answers are in bold)

“When in disgrace…”- William Shakespeare

1.  Explain the first line of the poem.

The speaker feels that fortune has turned its back on him and he feels like an outcast (nobody wants to be associated with him.)

2.    Which word in the last quatrain emphasizes the speaker’s loneliness?

“alone”

3.  What does the speaker accuse heaven of?

He accuses heaven of not listening to him.

4.  Why does the speaker use the word “bootless”?

To emphasise that his cries are useless, it is not being heard.

5.  Describe the tone of the first quatrain.

Depressed, miserable, melancholy

6.  Explain the 2nd quatrain in detail.

He wishes he had more hope. He longs to look like someone who is admired by many (he wants more friends), He wishes he had creative talents like other people. What he can do no longer brings him joy.

7.  Which word emphasizes a shift in the mood of the poem?

“yet”

8.   Who or what does the speaker almost despise in the 3rd quatrain?

Himself

9.   What happens to his “state” in the 3rd quatrain? Why?

He feels elated, happier. He thinks of his loved one and thinking about her and her love for him, alters his state.

10.  Explain the reference made to the lark?

The lark is the bird that flies the highest, so high that it cannot be seen from below. It is believed that larks fly so high to reach heaven’s gate and sing their melody there because it is far too sweet to sing on earth. The lark is also associated with new beginnings because it is the bird that sings in the early hours of the morning.

 

11.   What figure of speech is used in the 3rd quatrain? Explain this figure of speech.

Simile, he compares himself to the lark because he feels elated and like a new person. He feels like flying to      heaven and singing at heaven’s gate.

12.   What description of the earth is given by the speaker?

         Earth is described as sullen. (miserable)

13.   Explain the rhyming couplet.

When he thinks of the loved received from his loved one, he feels so wealthy, wealthier than a king. He says he would not change who he is to be a king.

14.    What type of poem is this?

Elizabethan, Shakespearean Sonnet.

15.      Explain the structure of this type of poem.

3 Quatrains of 4 lines each and a rhyming couplet.

16.    Explain the shift in mood and tone in this poem.

Initially the narrator is melancholy and sombre but later he becomes elated and happy.

17.  Explain the significance of the word “yet”.

Yet”, is the turning point in the poem.

“I saw your mother”

1.      Refer to the title, “I saw your mother”

1.1    Whose mother is the speaker referring to?

His mother-in-law/ wife’s mother.

1.2    How do you know this?

He uses the word “Your” to indicate that it was not his mother.

1.3    What topic were they not allowed to talk about? (stanza2)

Politics

2.     Choose the correct option fro

m the choices given below.

The visit in stanza 1 occurred while he was …

A      awaiting trial for murder

B      a political prisoner

C      awaiting his transfer to another prison

D      imprisoned for his wife’s death

3.     Write down any TWO conditions which made it impossible for him to interact

normally with his visitor.

He was flanked by two prison guards and he was separated from his visitor        

                      by a  plate glass.

4.  Refer to line 6: “Extra visit, special favour”    

4.1    Why are the above words written in quotation marks?

It is the words spoken by the guards.

4.2     Why do you think the prison authorities considered this visit to be a “special favour”?

Political prisoners were not allowed to have visitors. It emphasises their cruelty for reminding him that they were doing him a favour at that difficult time. It shows that they were in control.

5. Refer to stanza 3:

Complete the following by choosing a phrase or word of similar meaning for each of the underlined sections from the list below. Write down only the number of the question and the correct answer.

Cried bitterly, embrace, sadness, condolences, moaned.

In stanza two the speaker refers to the fact that being behind a glass plate made it impossible for him to 5.1 place his arm around (embrace ) his visitor in order to extend his 5.2 sympathies(condolences) on her loss when she 5.3 wept(cried bitterly) while she was talking to him.

6. Refer to line 16:

6.1    Explain what was meant by, “Fifteen minutes up”?

As soon as the fifteen minutes were up he was escorted back to the workshop, he was given no extra time considering the special circumstance.

6.2        Who do you think spoke these words and why?

The guards, to remind him that they were in control. To show how strictly the rules were enforced.

7. Refer to lines 19-22 and quote seven consecutive words which indicate that the speaker does not blame the apartheid government for his wife’s death.

“one crime the managed not to perpetrate”

8. “On the day that you died” is repeated in the closing line of the poem. Why do you think the speaker does this.

To emphasise what a dreadful day it was/ to show that he is still haunted by the events of that day/ to show that he has not quite come to terms with what happened on that day.

“When I Have Fears That I May Cease To Be”- John Keats

  1. What type of poem is this?

Elizabethan/ Shakespearean Sonnet.

  1. Explain the structure of this particular poem.

It consists of 14 lines, 3 quatrains of 4 lines each and a rhyming couplet. The rhyming couplet contains the final message/ climax.

  1. What does the phrase ‘cease to be’ mean?

Expresses the idea of death.

  1. Explain the second line of the first quatrain.

He wants to extract as many ideas from his brain he possibly can.

  1. Identify and explain the figure of speech in the last line of the first quatrain.

Simile/ Like a garner would hold grains of wheat which was harvested, so Keats hopes his books will hold the ideas he has extracted from his mind and composed into poems.

  1. Explain the sustained metaphor in the first quatrain.

The sustained metaphor relates to farming. Like a farm would be harvested and the grain stored in a granary/grain store. Keats compares his brain to harvested wheat, his composition of poetry to the harvesting process and the books that will contain all his poems to a granary/ grain store.

  1. To which movement did Keats belong and how is this conveyed in the 2nd quatrain?

Romantic Movement.

  1. Why is there a shift in the mood in the 2nd stanza?

He is reminded of his impending death.

  1. Explain the meaning of  “….magic hand of chance….”.

The random gifts received from God.

  1. Quote the word which relates to poetry writing in the 2nd quatrain.

“trace” 

  1. What fear is expressed in the 2nd stanza?

The fear that he may never live to see and write about the beauty he has observed in nature.

  1. What desire and fear is expressed by the poet in the 3rd quatrain?

He fears that he will never experience love.

  1. Explain the use of the word ‘unreflecting’ in the poem.

He is referring to love; love that is unreflecting is unrequited. He does not mind if his love is unrequited, as long as he has had the opportunity to have loved.

  1. Explain the rhyming couplet.

He has to face death all alone and leave behind all that he has accomplished in life. He compares the shore to approaching death, land to life and the sea to death.

  1. Describe the mood and tone of the last two lines.

Lonely and empty

  1. What do the following words represent in the poem: shore, land and sea?

Shore- dying

Land- life

Sea-     death

“sunstrike” -Douglas Livingstone

  1. What does the word ‘solitary’ mean?

The prospector was working on his own. 

  1. What does a prospector do for a living?

A prospector searches for precious metal and gems. 

  1. Quote a word from the first stanza which explains the body language of the prospector.

“staggered” 

  1. What is meant by ‘…slate of hills that capered….’?

The hills were dancing because the prospector was hallucinating/ The intense heat was creating a mirage. 

  1. What does the line reveal about the prospector’s state of mind?

He was hallucinating/ Suffering from a sunstroke. 

  1. What does the word ‘unquenchable’ tell us about the river?

He could not drink it. 

  1. Why do we feel sympathy for the prospector at this stage?

He going to perish all alone in the devastating heat of the desert.

  1. What was the prospector searching for in the 3rd stanza?

He was searching for water.

  1. Quote the word which tells us that the prospector was frustrated.

“cursed”

  1. Why was his find ironic? Explain.

He was no longer desperately searching for his wealth; he was now looking desperately looking for water to stay alive.

  1. Why did his find leer at him?

The gems were laughing at him because he was paying the price for his greed/ To him they were mocking him because he was hallucinating. 

  1. Explain the last stanza in detail.

The prospector loses his mind and thinks he has found water, he dives in and out of the sand like a madman. The carrion crows are assembling like a choir in a church because they are getting ready to feast on the body of the prospector at his own funeral. 

  1. Explain the pun on the word ‘sunstrike’?

To strike it lucky/ The sun has struck you (sunstroke).

“Riot Policeman” Christopher Van Wyk

1.                  What time of day is depicted in the first stanza?

Early evening, “Tonight

  1.  2.                  In which country is the poem set?

South Africa

  1.  3.                  During which political period is the poem set?

Apartheid

  1.  4.                  What does the word “doused” mean?

To extinguish/ To put out

  1.  5.                  What is a hippo?

A police armoured vehicle

  1. 6.                  What do the shirts and shoes represent?

The dead bodies of those who have protested/ They are referred to as this because they are seen as mere objects.

  1. 7.                  What does this description convey about the authorities?

They were harsh and cruel/ Treated people of colour like objects.

  1. 8.                  What would teargas have been used for?

To disperse the crowd.

  1.  9.                  Explain what takes place in the 3rd stanza.

A black man stole a bottle of brandy and ran away when he was apprehended by the policeman. The policeman drinks the brandy instead of returning it to the shop owner. This shows his total disregard for his job and his uniform.

  1.  10.              Explain why the riot policeman wipes his mouth on his uniform.

He has no respect for the job he performs.

  1.  11.              Why is the last stanza ironic?

The riot policeman expects to spend time with his family when he gets home , but part of his job entails killing those who have families and those who are part of a family.

  1.  12.              What is the significance of the word tomorrow?

The next day/ In the future.

  1.  13.              What will the riot policeman be held accountable for?

For killing innocent victims.

  1.  14.              Explain the double meaning of pay day?

The riot policeman will be held accountable for killing the innocent (he will pay for what he has done)/ He will get paid a salary for doing his job.

  1.  15.              Why is the last line: “It is time to go home” repeated at the end of each stanza?

To emphasise the routine the riot policeman follows on a daily basis.