1. The following is a poem by Alfred Tenison:

When cats run home and light is come,
And dew is cold upon the ground,
And the far-off stream is dumb,
And the whirring sail goes round,
And the whirring sail goes round;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

When merry milkmaids click the latch,
And rarely smells the new-mown hay,
And the cock hath sung beneath the thatch
Twice or thrice his roundelay,
Twice or thrice his roundelay;
Alone and warming his five wits,
The white owl in the belfry sits.

What is the main idea of the text?
A. Cats and milkmaids share much in common: both are seen by the owl.
B. As the sun rises and the world comes to life, the owl settles in to rest.
C. The routine of each day is predictable and common.
D. The cat and the rooster are the waking signs of each morning.

2. “An Incident of the French Camp” is a poem by Robert Browning. Having read it, a student claims that the town of Ratisbon has been taken. Which quotation from the text best supports the claim?

A. You know, we French storm’d Ratisbon/ A mile or so away/ On a little mound, Napoleon/ Stood on our storming-day;
B. Just as perhaps he mus’d “My plans/ That soar, to earth may fall. Let once my army leader Lannes/ Waver at yonder wall,”
C. “Well,” cried he, “Emperor, by God’s grace/ We’ve got you Ratisbon!/ The Marshal’s in the market-place/ And you’ll be there anon!”
D. “You’re wounded!” “Nay,” the soldier’s pride/ Touched to the quick, he said: “I’m killed, Sire!” And his chief beside, Smiling the boy fell dead.

3. The following is the poem “Old Ironsides” by Oliver Wendell Homes:

Ay, tear her tattered ensign down!
Long has it waved on high,
And many an eye has danced to see
That banner in the sky;
Beneath it rung the battle shout,
And burst the cannon’s roar;—
The meteor of the ocean air
Shall sweep the clouds no more.

Her deck, once red with heroes’ blood,
Where knelt the vanquished foe,
When winds were hurrying o’er the flood
And waves were white below.
No more shall feel the victor’s tread,
Or know the conquered knee;
The harpies of the shore shall pluck
The eagle of the sea!

O, better that her shattered hulk
Should sink beneath the wave;
Her thunders shook the mighty deep,
And there should be her grave;
Nail to the mast her holy flag,
Set every threadbare sail,
And give her to the god of storms,
The lightning and the gale!

Based on the text, what fate would Holmes prefer for Old Ironsides?
A. That she be destroyed by a lightning strike
B. That she be taken ashore and preserved for posterity
C. That she lose her flag and decks
D. That she sink in glory to the depths of the sea

4. “Warren’s Address to the American Soldiers” is a poem by John Peirpont. A writer, knowing that that the poem echoes Warren’s rallying cry to American soldiers, claims that it aims to glorify a coming battle. Which quotation from the poem most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. Look behind you! They’re afire!/ And, before you, see/ Who have done it! – From the vale/ On they come!
B. Will ye look for greener graves?/ Hope ye mercy still?
C. What’s the mercy despots feel?/ Hear it in that battle-peal!
D. In the God of battles trust!/ Die we may, and die we must/ But, O, where can dust to dust/ Be consigned so well.

5. “My Own Shall Come to Me” is a poem by John Burroughs. A teacher tells her class that it is a poem about patience and the inevitability of fate. Which quotation from “My Own Shall Come to Me” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. I rave no more ‘gainst time or fate/For lo! My own shall come to me…/ No wind can drive my bark astray,/ Nor change the tide of destiny.
B. The stars come nightly to the sky;/ the tidal wave comes to the sea;/ Nor time, nor space, nor deep, nor high,/ Can keep my own away from me.
C. The waters know their own and draw/ The brook that springs in yonder heights;/ So flows the good with equal law/ Unto the soul of pure delights.
D. Serene I fold my hands and wait,/ Nor care for wind, nor tide, nor sea…/ What matter if I stand alone?/ I wait with joy the coming years;

6. The following is the poem “A Wish” by Samuel Rogers:
Mine be a cot beside the hill;
A bee-hive’s hum shall soothe my ear;
A willowy brook that turns a mill
With many a fall shall linger near.

The swallow, oft, beneath my thatch
Shall twitter from her clay-built nest;
Oft shall the pilgrim lift the latch,
And share my meal, a welcome guest.

Around my ivied porch shall spring
Each fragrant flower that drinks the dew;
And Lucy, at her wheel, shall sing
In russet gown and apron blue.

The village church among the trees,
Where first our marriage-vows were given,
With merry peals shall swell the breeze
And point with taper spire to Heaven.

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?
A. To describe the garden of the narrator
B. To paint a picture of an idyllic country life
C. To help the reader visualize all that the narrator has lost
D. To illustrate the domestic part of what the narrator is wishing for

7. “L’Envoi” is a poem by Rudyard Kipling. A commenter claims that if the entire poem is read as if Kipling approving of what he describes, then Kipling believes that artists should paint not because they must, but for the love of it. Which quotation from “L’Envoi” most effectively illustrates the claim?

A. And only the Master shall praise us/ and only the Master shall blame;/ And no one shall work for money,/ and no one shall work for fame;/ But each for the joy of the working
B. And those who were good shall be happy: they shall sit in a golden chair;/ They shall splash at a ten-league canvas with brushes of comet’s hair;
C. When the oldest colors have faded, and the youngest critic has died,/ We shall rest, and, faith, we shall need it—lie down for an eon or two.
D. They shall find real saints to draw from – Magdalene, Peter, and Paul;/ They shall work for an age at a sitting and never be tired at all!

8. The following is the poem “Little Things” by Ebenezer Cobham Brewer:

Little drops of water,
Little grains of sand,
Make the mighty ocean
And the pleasant land.

Thus the little minutes,
Humble though they be,
Make the mighty ages
Of eternity.

8. Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To illustrate how small and individual moments build into all of history.
B. To discuss time lost while visiting the ocean.
C. To contrast the relentless progression of time with the endless movement of the ocean
D. To encourage the reader to take their time as they go through life.

9. The following is the poem “The Butterfly and the Bee” by William Lisle: BowlesMethought I heard a butterfly
Say to a laboring bee:
“Thou hast no colors of the sky
On painted wings like me.”

“Poor child of vanity! those dyes,
And colors bright and rare,”
With mild reproof, the bee replies,
“Are all beneath my care.

“Content I toil from morn to eve,
And scorning idleness,
To tribes of gaudy sloth I leave
The vanity of dress.”

What is the main idea of the text?
A. In an imaginary conversation, a butterfly and a bee have little in common.
B. As a personal quality, work ethic is far preferable to beauty.
C. Being judgmental of others is not an admirable pastime.
D. Even creatures as small as bees have lessons to teach us all.

10. The following is the poem “Ingratitude” by William Shakespeare: Blow, blow, thou winter wind,

Thou are not so unkind
As man’s ingratitude;
Thy tooth is not so keen
Because thou are not seen,
Although thy breath be rude.

Freeze, freeze, thou bitter sky,
Thou dost not bite so nigh
As benefits forgot;
Though thou the waters warp,
Thy sting is not so sharp
As friend remembered not.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?
A. To explain that winter is a harsh time through which all men must suffer.
B. To illustrate that emotional pain can hurt far worse than physical pain.
C. To paint a picture of various harms that many befall the narrator.
D. To show the readers the dangers of making friends with the wrong people.

Answer Explanations

  1. B. Each stanza starts with a description of the morning. These descriptions include the cat coming home, the light coming, the milkmaid leaving her house, and the rooster crowing. Each stanza ends with the owl sitting and warming himself in his belfry. This best fits answer option B. We have no evidence that the owl sees the world waking, making option A incorrect. The daily routine is described, but not focused on as predictable, making option C incorrect. The cat and the rooster are only mentioned to highlight the time of day, making option D incorrect.
  2. C. Choice C best shows that Ratisbon has been taken. In it, we hear words spoken to the Emperor that “we’ve got you Ratisbon”. The army has taken the city and the Emperor will be in Ratisbon’s market place “anon” or soon. Option A proves that an army has stormed the town, but not that the town fell to that army. Option B shows that the leader is concerned they might not succeed in their military efforts. Option D shows the death of the messenger who came to the emperor.
  3. D. When reading the second stanza, we see that Holmes would prefer that the “harpies of the shore” not pluck “the eagle of the sea”. He says “O, better that her shattered hulk should sink beneath the wave.” Through the rest of the second stanza he clarifies that he would prefer to give her to the “god of storms”. He does not say that he wants her to be struck by lightning, so answer A is too specific. Answer B is the opposite of his preference. Option C is not described in the poem.
  4. D. Answer option D best glorifies the coming battle. It calls on the soldiers to trust in the God of battles, tells them that some will die, and then explains that such a death (dust to dust) will be consigned well. Answer option A talks of an oncoming foe, but does not glorify. Option B asks the soldiers if they are hoping to avoid the battle. Option C points out that the opposition will have no mercy.
  5. A. Option A best shows both patience and fate. The narrator does not rave against time or fate, but rather waits patiently for his “own” to come to him. He knows he cannot change destiny, so he does not try. Option B could prove his feelings about fate, but they do not show his patience. Option C speaks to neither fate nor patience. Option D speaks to patience, but not fate.
  6. D. The key in answering this question is in the title of the poem: A Wish. The entire poem describes what the narrator wishes for. Each stanza describes part of his wish. The underlined stanza describes his home and wife—these are domestic things, making option D the best answer. Answer A is incorrect as the garden is not the only thing described in the stanza and we have no evidence that the wish has been granted and that the garden actually exists. Option B is incorrect as this is not a generic picture of country life, but a specific hope for the future that the narrator has. Option C is incorrect as there is no evidence that the narrator once had this and lost it.
  7. A. A key note in the question is that the assumption is that Kipling approves of what he describes in the poem. This makes answer A the best option, as Kipling would approve of artists working, not for money or fame, but rather because it brings them joy. Option B describes happy painters, but not their motivations. Option C describes exhausted artists taking a rest. Option D describes what they paint.
  8. A. The first stanza describes how the vastness of land and sea are made up of tiny grains of sand and drops of water. This illustration, then is used in the second stanza to show how tiny moments of time make up all of extant history. This best fits answer option A. Answer option B is too literal. Answer options C and D draw conclusions not supported by the text.
  9. B. In the text, the butterfly points out that the bee does not have beautiful wings. The bee then pities and reproofs the butterfly for her vanity and highlights the hardworking nature of the humble bee. This best fits with option B. Answer option A is incorrect as the main idea is that of vanity and work, not that bees and butterflies have nothing in common. Answer option C is incorrect as while it is true, it is not the main idea. Option D is true, but not the message of the author.
  10. B. In each of the two stanzas, Shakespeare first describes horrible winter conditions and then says that ingratitude and “friend remembered not” respectively are far worse. These emotional pains are pointed out as worse than freezing winter weather, making option B the best choice. It isn’t option A as there is an emotional component to the poem. It isn’t option C as Shakespeare doesn’t mean to highlight physical harms, rather emotional ones. It isn’t D as there is no evidence that the emotional pain comes only from “the wrong people”.

Each poem is taken from “Poems Every Child Should Know”, edited by Mary E. Burt. If you wish to improve your poetry skills, you can read more poems from this book on Project Gutenberg:


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