Now, we will review the poems studied in Form One to Form Three classes by recalling “What is the poem about?” and answering 2 /3 sets of questions per poem according to the PMR exam format. Do try to answer them on your own before you peep into the answers given. All the poems studied in the Lower secondary will be discussed here, they are: ‘The River’ by Valerie Bloom , ‘Mr. Nobody’ by Unknown author, ‘I Wonder’ by Jeannie Kirby, ‘Heir Conditioning’ by M. SHANmughaligam, ‘A Fighter’s Lines’ by Marzuki Ali, ‘Leisure’ by William Henry Davies.
Form One Poems
What is the poem “The River” about?
The River is about the many characteristics of a river. The river is a wanderer where he moves from one place to another. He does not stay still and is always moving. He is also a winder where he twists and turns or meanders. He is also a hoarder or a collector where he keeps things deep down in his river bed. Sometimes, he behaves like a baby when he is happily flowing along. At times, he is a singer as seen through the happy sounds of the water. Finally, he is also a monster and can devour trees. Each stanza describes the river in a particular way. Therefore, we are able to name the stanzas accordingly:
Now, read the poem and answer the questions-
The River’s a wanderer,
A nomad, a tramp,
He doesn’t choose one place
To set up his camp.
The River’s a winder,
Through valley and hill
He twists and he turns,
He just cannot be still.
The River’s a hoarder,
And he buries down deep
Those little treasures
That he wants to keep.
The River’s a baby,
He gurgles and hums,
And sounds like he’s happily
Sucking his thumbs.
The River’s a singer,
As he dances along,
The countryside echoes
The notes of his song.
The River’s a monster
Hungry and vexed,
He’s gobbled up trees
And he’ll swallow you next.
– Valerie Bloom
1. Why does the river twist and turn?
2. Based on the poem, what does the river represent?
1. it is flowing continuously and thus twists and turns at the obstacles along the way.
2. the journey in a man’s life- with good times and bad times as life goes on.
1. When we say that the river sings and dances, what is the river compared to?
2. (a) What does the choice of words like hungry, vexed, gobbled and swallow indicate about the river?
(b) Explain why the river which is compared to a baby is later compared to a monster.
1. Entertainer/someone happy
2. (a) irritated and angry
(b) The river is happy and becomes useful when we take care of it but the river becomes angry as it overflows and flooding occurs when people do not take care. People simply dump things into the river and causes the river to be polluted.
What is the poem “Mr Nobody” about?
The poem is about a mysterious little person who creates a lot of mischief in the house and gets away with it. This person is named as Mr. Nobody to give a shroud of mystery to the persona. He is not noticed as he moves around very quietly. Mr. Nobody makes a mess of things in the house. He uses things but never puts them back in order. He dirties the house, leaves his prints everywhere, soils the carpet and the curtains. When things are misplaced in the house, everyone points the finger to Mr. Nobody. Yet he never gets caught as no one has ever seen him or reports of his deeds.
Now, read the poem and answer the questions-
I know a funny little man,
As quiet as a mouse,
Who does the mischief that is done
In everybody’s house!
There’s no one ever sees his face,
And yet we all agree
That every plate we break was cracked
By Mr. Nobody
‘Tis he who always tears our books,
Who leaves the door ajar,
He pulls the buttons from our shirts,
And scatters pins afar;
That squeaking door will always squeak,
For, prithee, don’t you see,
We leave the oiling to be done
By Mr. Nobody.
He puts damp wood upon the fire,
That kettle cannot boil;
His are the feet that bring in mud,
And all the carpets soil.
The papers always mislaid,
Who had them last but he?
There’s no one tosses them about
But Mr. Nobody
The finger marks upon the door
By none of us are made;
We never leave the blinds unclosed,
To let the curtains fade;
The ink we never spill; the boots
That lying around you see
Are not our boots-they all belong
To Mr. Nobody
1. Why did the curtains fade?
2. (a) What are the three things Mr. Nobody should have done?
(b) Why do you think the persona in the poem is given a name Mr Nobody? What does the name indicate?
1. The blinds were not closed thus the strong light caused the curtains to fade.
2. (a) Closed the door, rearrange the papers, oil the door
(b) To give a mysterious identity to the persona. Maybe to even suggest that there is no definite person existing, that the mischief can be done by anyone.
1. List two activities done by Mr. Nobody as in stanza 3.
2. What is the central idea of the poem? Discuss
1. Used damp wood to boil water, brought in mud and soiled the carpets.
2. No one dares to admit to their actions. Thus, they tend to point fingers at others. In life, we come across people who create mischief and never get caught or own up to their mistakes, yet we tolerate them and still live among them.
Form Two Poems
What is the poem “Heir Conditioning” about?
The first stanza is light as the grandchild seems to be asking frivolous questions. The reader would probably find this entertaining – that the grandchild is unable to understand how the adults could actually live without the modern inventions. The grandchild saw nothing good of those times. The tone here is “ignorant, and looking down”. The tone is anticipation of trivial answers.
There is a change in the tone in the second stanza. It is emphatic and a no nonsense answer from the grandfather. The tone “more experienced” implies that the grandchild did not have the privilege and contrarily should not look down towards the elderly. The older generation argues that despite the grandchild’s “backwards” view towards them, wonderful experience was evident at the time. The tone here also suggests wisdom, as a sharp contrast to the ignorance.
Read the poem and answer the questions-
Grand dad did you breathe
before air cons were invented?
was it hard staying
alive without modern inventions?
Grandma weren’t you flustered
as you fluttered with paper fans?
could you communicate before
faxes and long distance calls
became basic necessities?
Grandchild we lived
before your age. Because
of our ignorance,
we did not know
pollution, stress, traffic jams
destruction of forests, streams and
we feared God and nature
now nature fears you and
money is your new God.
1. List three things in the poem that indicate the negative effects of modernization?
2. What does the title of the poem mean to you? Provide an explanation for your answer
1. pollution, stress, traffic jams
destruction of forests, streams and
2. The title of the poem “Heir Conditioning” suggests about the conditioning of the minds of the younger generation who are so dependent on modern inventions in their daily life. Their minds are so tuned/conditioned to having modern inventions to manage their daily life that to them it may seem impossible to live without these inventions.
1. What is the poet’s main concern in the second stanza?
2. What is the message that the poet wishes to express in this poem?
1. The poet expresses his concern that though there is progress with modern inventions, man is regressing. If modern amenities and development are there to give us comfort, easy access and a better lifestyle, how come we have to deal with calamities and problems like stress and traffic jams?
2. The poet is trying to impart the message that modernization should be a gradual process and that mankind should not be overly dependent or taken up with new inventions that could lead to the destruction of the environment.
What is the poem “I Wonder” about?
The persona is curious about who, what and why do “things” happen. She is curious about nature. The persona discovers that the beautiful world is so big and mysterious and that there are so many unanswered questions. But we always try and look for ways to find out the answers to all of our questions. The last two lines about ‘dad’ not telling imply that not everyone will know the answers to the mysterious questions but they can always learn. The question represents the basic instincts to rely on some trustworthy power and since it is read through the eye of an innocent child, the line may refer to the father of the child, as a child usually will ask anything from the parents. These two lines suggested knowledge gained through asking. A child will not gain the whole knowledge all at once but will eventually learn bit by bit. It also stressed on the need of a teacher or a father to guide the curious child.
Answer the following questions based on the given poem “I Wonder”.
I wonder why the grass is green,
And why the wind is never seen?
Who taught the birds to build a nest,
And told the trees to take a rest?
O, when the moon is not quite round,
Where can the missing bit be found?
Who lights the stars, when they blow out,
And makes the lightning flash about?
Who paints the rainbow in the sky,
And hangs the fluffy clouds so high?
Why is it now, do you suppose,
That Dad won’t tell me, if he knows?
1. What does the use of the word ‘wonder’ in the passage indicate? Explain.
2. In your understanding what does the last line imply?
1. Man’s ability to think.
2. A teacher or a father is needed to guide the curious child
1. What does the persona want to know about the moon?
2. (a) How does the curiosity within the persona leads him/her to behave?
(b) In your opinion, what is the major theme of the poem?
1. She wonders why the shape of the moon is sometimes not complete and wonders where the missing part is.
2. (a) She asks more questions as she looks around.
(b) A major theme of the poem is the value of education. We must be aware that knowledge can produce intellectuals and a civilised society. We must always be resourceful and independent in enriching our world of knowledge.
FORM 3 POEMS
What is the poem “A Fighter’s Lines” about?
Our country Malaysia does not want to miss out on what most countries are aiming for-to reach the highest level of development. But, without realizing it, we are slowly losing our morality and our country is slowly being engulfed in a sea of lies. The poet stresses here that if we, as the younger generation cannot find the way to stop the dishonesties and lies we are putting our country’s fate in danger as this dishonesties can actually shake the stability of our country and the peace it possesses. That is why in the Stanza 4, he urges the younger generation to be united disregard of the races and religions to speak out their opinions. This is important as these lies may cause disharmony amongst us. As the persona feels helpless, he wants the younger generation to come forward and fight in the name of justice.
Answer the following questions based on the given poem “A Fighter’s Lines”.
“A Fighter’s Lines”
I am old and worn
and have lost all my strength
and the history of the fight for independence
have forced sacrifices
that know no name
from the wheelchair of the rest of my days
I, body and energy crushed
see and cannot do much
these times are too big a challenge
for the remnants of my crippled years
the net of deceit spread everywhere
In the name of justice
Wake up and form ranks sons of our ancestor
And erect a wall of people
Stand up heirs of our freedom
I have no more voice
It is you now who should speak!
1. Who is the persona in the poem?
2. (a) What does the word ‘history’ in line 4 refer to?
(b) Why does the persona feel helpless?
1. A soldier
2. (a)The war fought for independence
(b) He has been injured due to his involvement in the war for independence. Now he is old and disabled and cannot do much to free his country from new challenges. He still cares for the country but unable to fight as he used to do.
1. What does the phrase “a wall” refers to?
2. (a) Who is referred to by the pronoun “you” in the last line?
(b)What message is the poet trying to spread? Explain
1. ‘United population”. In order to fight for our freedom, first we have to be united.
2. (a) younger generation
(b) We must defend our independence after the hardships that our late warriors had been through as they sacrificed themselves to grant us the peace that we are able to enjoy now. With all of our efforts, we must work hard to retain it.
What is the poem “Leisure” about?
The poet is trying to tell us to take time to appreciate the beauty of nature. People are too busy with their daily life & worry too much, that they forget to watch and admire nature’s beauty. Sometimes, the mind should be free of work stress so that we can we enjoy the beauty of the little pleasures of life. We are usually not alert of our surroundings. Thus, life becomes meaningless as become unhappy. We must learn to set aside time for ourselves and our families.
Answer the following questions based on the given poem “Leisure”.
What is this life if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
No time to stand beneath the boughs
And stare as long as sheep or cows.
No time to see, when woods we pass,
Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.
No time to see, in broad daylight,
Streams full of stars, like skies at night.
No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,
And watch her feet, how they can dance.
No time to wait till her mouth can
Enrich that smile her eyes began.
A poor life this if, full of care,
We have no time to stand and stare.
William Henry Davies
1. What is implied by the word “Leisure” as used in the poem?
2. Explain what the poet meant by the last two lines.
1. Time spent enjoying simple beauties cherished and regarded as a forgotten pastime.
2. The fever and fret of worldly responsibilities deprives man of sweet moments of leisure and rest. If human life is nothing but painful cares and worries, then it is really poor and miserable. Man should give as much importance to pleasure and peace of mind as to the earning of money to raise his status.
1. What is implied by the word ‘stare’?
2. Discuss in your own words the views of the poet on the life of man in the modern age.
1. The various things that people are not able to do due to lack of leisure.
2. He has condemned the materialistic attitude of life that makes it ugly and unpleasant. He thinks that the desire for material progress has given man unnecessary cares and worries of life. He remains awfully busy day and night. The love of earning money makes him indifferent to all the charms and pleasures of life.
1. Why is the word ‘Beauty’ capitalized?
2. (a) Why did the poet express grief in the poem?
(b) In your opinion, why must we take advantage of our free time?
1. The word “Beauty” in line nine is capitalized as if it is a name. Beauty is a metaphor but also a name for Mother Nature.
2. (a) The poet expresses his grief at the fact that modern rush of life has deprived us of many commonplace pleasures. We run around after our material pursuits, so crazily that we have no time to spend in a relaxed manner and appreciate nature.
(b) The poem teaches us that we need to slow our lives down and take a look around and notice the little things. Every piece of technology mankind crafts is just a manipulation of the nature that was previously there. Nothing humans create can derive from something other than what is found in nature; therefore, the greatest piece of the entire everlasting universe is and always will be nature. We need to take advantage of our free time. Leisure should be something that is put to great use.