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Poem Questions

Hibbison's Grade-Raising Hint: It would be wise to READ all four poems for this unit, even though you will be responding to only two.  Whichever track you take will require that you deal with a sonnet, and the "Silken Tent" quiz may well illuminate ways of handling Sonnet 116--and vice versa.  Similarly, the imagery in "Birches" may well help you visualize the situation in "Death of the Ball Turret Gunner"--and maybe vice versa--since visualizing is crucial to understanding each of these poems.

Reminder 1: You STILL have to QUOTE PHRASES to support your statements about the poem or essay in this poetry unit and in the final essay, just as you did for the "Hills" essay. No quotations = no credit for the assignment.

Reminder 2: A POEM is not an ESSAY.  Regarding "Birches," Frost wrote the poem called "Birches"; a student wrote her essay about it, according to a pre-set outline that I gave to the class for a "recommendation essay."  Your task for "Birches" (since you are all essay writers, too) is to use your understanding of the poem and of essay writing methods to assess how good a job the student did representing her ideas about the essay.

Advanced: For a total of up to 50 points, respond to Sonnet 116 by William Shakespeare AND to "Birches" by Robert Frost by email to Include a copy of the question with your answer.  (A total of about 2 pages, 40 lines or so, is not unusual for this unit.)
  • Directed at getting students to see how the craftsmanship of a poem enhances its theme, the module on Shakespeare's Sonnet 116 includes Real Player audio files for variant readings of the poem, as well as variant readings of selected lines. But there is much, much more in this overview of how to read a poem.
    • What to do:  Here is the collection of questions first published with this module.  I have added a "level of difficulty" to each question--advanced for the most challenging, intermediate for somewhat challenging tasks, and just interesting for tasks that still call for thinking but shouldn't be as difficult to handle as those in the other categories.
    • Work through the module, studying all or most of the pages before selecting ONE of the questions to answer. 
    • Email me the QUESTION and your ANSWER, preferably before the deadline.        AND----
  • Robert Frost's poem, "Birches," celebrates soaring and returning safely to earth.  See what one student makes of this poem, drawing from all of the facets of looking at a poem offered by "New Criticism" (which was "new" about 80 years ago).
Beginner: Respond to "The Death of the Ball Turret Gunner" in the Litonline introduction to poetry module and take a 25-question, multi-media, multiple-choice quiz on Robert Frost's poem, "The Silken Tent."
  • Study the Understanding Poetry module that uses a short poem, "The Death of the Ball-Turret Gunner," to show how compressed a poem can be.  It is essential to study the glossary and the pages of explanation about bombers in WW2.  These pages show various photos of a "ball turret" and a photo of the ground-based anti-aircraft guns that shot exploding shells, known as "flak."  This background will help you understand the literal side of the poem, which can be read by clicking the little photo of a B-17 at the top of each page in the module.
  • Answer ONE of the numbered questions on the list linked from the sitemap (look for the typing hand logo).  Some questions have multiple parts; the later questions are quite philosophical and require you to draw as much information from real life as from the poem.
    Writing 1/2 to 1 page is typical for this task.      AND-----
  • Students should work through the multimedia, 25-question, multiple-choice quiz regarding Robert Frost's sonnet, "The Silken Tent," which is based on patterns of sound and unsound answers assembled from a few years' of student responses to the items as open-ended questions.  The quiz stresses how the craft of a poem enhances its theme. (suggested value: 2 points per question. You can write brief explanations for any answers, but you must at least write explanations for your answers for questions 21-25.)


Click the purple quilt piece on
each root page to go to the Litonline sitemap.