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Arts & Entertainment
Literature
Poetry

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Numbers
Hiawatha
Owl and Pussycat
Terminology
Titles
Collections
Details

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Poetry

For questions where you're given the title of a poem, and asked who wrote it – and other stuff about poets (including poets laureate) – see Poets.

For questions where you're given a quotation from a poem, and asked for the title and/or who wrote it, see Poems.

This page is intended to cover everything else that you might get asked about poetry.  It includes poetical terminology, questions about poems themselves and collections of poetry), and the details of the words of poems.

It starts with some numbers, and then deals with two famous poems that are perennial favourites with question setters.

Numbers

Lines in a haiku Click to show or hide the answer
Lines in a clerihew Click to show or hide the answer
Lines in a limerick Click to show or hide the answer
Lines in a sonnet Click to show or hide the answer
Syllables in a haiku Click to show or hide the answer

The Song of Hiawatha (Longfellow)

Any of these questions might be asked the other way round.  For example: "Which title character of a famous poem had a name that meant "He makes rivers?"

Hiawatha means Click to show or hide the answer
Hiawatha married Click to show or hide the answer
Minniehaha means Click to show or hide the answer
Hiawatha's mother Click to show or hide the answer
Hiawatha's father (Mudjekeewis) was Click to show or hide the answer
Hiawatha's grandmother ("Daughter of the Moon") Click to show or hide the answer
Tribe on whose legends Longfellow based his poem Click to show or hide the answer
Lake beside which Hiawatha lives Click to show or hide the answer
English name of Gitchee Gumee Click to show or hide the answer

Tam o'shanter (Burns)

Title character escapes from a chasing crowd of warlocks and witches, by riding his horse across a stream (witches can't cross running water) Click to show or hide the answer
A "cutty–sark" (as described in Tam o'shanter) is (in English) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Name of the witch (a "winsome wench and waulie") that wears the "cutty–sark" – and nearly catches Tam as he flees for his life, only managing to grab the tail of his trusty mount Click to show or hide the answer
Name of Tam's trusty grey mare Click to show or hide the answer
Souter (cobbler) Johnny was the "ancient, trusty, drouthy (thirsty) crony" of Click to show or hide the answer
The town that "ne'eer a town surpasses / for honest men and bonnie lasses" (according to Burns in Tam o' Shanter) – giving the football team its nickname (the Honest Men) Click to show or hide the answer

The Owl and the Pussycat (Edward Lear)

Colour of the boat that they went to sea in Click to show or hide the answer
They wrapped their money (and possibly also their honey) in Click to show or hide the answer
They sailed away for Click to show or hide the answer
Tree that grew in the land that they sailed to Click to show or hide the answer
Sold them his ring Click to show or hide the answer
The piggy–wig kept his ring Click to show or hide the answer
Cost of the ring Click to show or hide the answer
Creature (that lived on the hill) by which they were married Click to show or hide the answer
They dined on Click to show or hide the answer
Click to show or hide the answer
Type of spoon that they ate their quince and mince with (word coined by Lear) Click to show or hide the answer

Terminology

Poetry that doesn't rhyme Click to show or hide the answer
An irregular form of humorous biographical verse, invented by the popular English novelist E. C. Bentley (1875–1956), when still at school, and given his middle name Click to show or hide the answer
A mournful or plaintive poem or song – especially a lament for the dead – most famously used in the title of Thomas Gray's best–known poem Click to show or hide the answer
Word describing a poem that depicts agriculture or rural life – originally the second major work by the Latin poet Virgil, written after the Eclogues and before the Aeneid Click to show or hide the answer
Japanese mode of poetry with three lines of 5, 7 and 5 syllables respectively (total 17). (Strictly 17 morae, a Japanese phonetic unit which only partially corresponds to the syllable of languages such as English.) Developed from the older hokku form in the late 19th century by Masaoka Shiki Click to show or hide the answer
Form of verse, popularised in the 19th century (by Edward Lear among others) and first given this name in 1880 in a New Brunswick newspaper Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
The art of versification and the study of poetic metre, rhyme etc. (but sounds as if it's about any writing other than poetry!) Click to show or hide the answer
A collection of verses in a Persian form of four–line stanzas – best known in the Western world through one particular example Click to show or hide the answer
Poetic form with 19 lines – 5 stanzas of 3 lines each, and one of 4; rhyming scheme ABA, ABAA (A and B the same in each stanza). Introduced to English from French in the 19th century, an example is Dylan Thomas's Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night (1951) Click to show or hide the answer

Titles

Wordsworth (first line and title): 'My heart leaps up when I behold ... Click to show or hide the answer
Work by Shelley, read by Mick Jagger in Hyde Park, 1969, in memory of Brian Jones Click to show or hide the answer
Title used by Dryden (for 1666) and Larkin (for 1963) Click to show or hide the answer
Written 1927 by Max Ehrmann; became famous after being found at the deathbed of Adlai Stevenson in 1965; long thought to date from 1692 (which was in fact the foundation date of a church in Maryland whose rector included it in a compilation) Click to show or hide the answer
Poem by Keats, based on the Greek myth of a beautiful young shepherd loved by the Moon goddess Selene Click to show or hide the answer
Associated with Stoke Poges, Bucks Click to show or hide the answer
Far from the Madding Crowd (Thomas Hardy) and Paths of Glory (Humphrey Cobb – the source for Kubrick's film): titles came from
Epic poem by Keats, telling of the despair of the Titans after their fall to the Olympians; title is the name of one of them, who was the father of Helios Click to show or hide the answer
Work by Kipling, voted Britain's most popular poem, in a BBC poll in 1995 Click to show or hide the answer
Popular poem by Canadian officer John McCrae, evoking the desolation of WWI battlefields – written in May 1915, published in Punch in December 1915 Click to show or hide the answer
Common name for William Blake's 1808 poem And Did Those Feet in Ancient Time (includes the phrases "dark satanic mills", "chariot of fire", and "England's green and pleasant land") – set to music in 1916 by Sir Hubert Parry Click to show or hide the answer
Composition was curtailed, according to its author (Samuel Taylor Coleridge) when his reverie was interrupted by "a person from Porlock" Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Thomas Moore's epic poem (1817) about India and Kashmir Click to show or hide the answer
Poem by George Meredith that inspired a Vaughan Williams fantasia Click to show or hide the answer
Poem by William Barnes, set to music by Vaughan Williams in 1901 (his first published work) Click to show or hide the answer
Famous short poem by Shelley, believed to refer to Ramesses II of Egypt: "I met a traveller from an ancient land ... " Click to show or hide the answer
Work by Milton: took seven years to write, sold for £5 per edition Click to show or hide the answer
Allegorical narrative poem, written between 1370 and 1390 – one of the greatest works of English Literature from the Middle Ages; attributed to William Langland, of whom nothing else is known Click to show or hide the answer
Late 14th–century Middle English chivalric romance: one of the best–known Arthurian stories, begins in Camelot on New Year's Day. By an unknown poet known as "the Pearl Poet" Click to show or hide the answer
Work by T. S. Eliot, in five parts: The Burial of the Dead, A Game of Chess, The Fire Sermon, Death by Water, What the Thunder Said Click to show or hide the answer

Collections

Ted Hughes's 1998 book, posthumous winner of Whitbread Book of the Year (1999) Click to show or hide the answer
Siegfried Sassoon's 1907 collection for children: eleven stories (in verse) about children who misbehaved and got their just deserts: e.g. Jim, who ran away from his nurse and was eaten by a lion and Matilda, who told lies and was burned to death Click to show or hide the answer
Tennyson's series of twelve narrative poems on Arthurian themes (1859–85): retells the legend of King Arthur, his knights, his love for Guinevere and her tragic betrayal of him, and the rise and fall of Arthur's kingdom Click to show or hide the answer
Life's work of US poet Walt Whitman, first published in 1855 and constantly revised until his death in 1892; controversial at the time for its overt sexuality Click to show or hide the answer
1798: collection by Wordsworth, with a few by Coleridge including The Rime of the Ancient Mariner; said to mark the beginning of the English Romantic movement Click to show or hide the answer
(The) Rum Tum Tugger, the Jellicles, Mungojerrie and Rumpelteazer, Old Deuteronomy (patriarch of the Jellicles), Mr. Mistoffeles, Macavity (the Mystery Cat), Gus (the Theatre Cat), Bustopher Jones (the Cat About Town), Skimbleshanks (the Railway Cat): all appear in Click to show or hide the answer

Details

Shot by Coleridge's Ancient Mariner (and hung around his neck) Click to show or hide the answer
The sacred river that flows through Xanadu (the palace of Kubla Khan), in Coleridge's poem Click to show or hide the answer
The title character stops a man ("one of three") on his way to a wedding feast, to tell him his tale; Life–in–Death wins his life in a game of dice with Death (who wins those of his fellow crew members) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Hunting of the Snark (Lewis Carroll): variety of the Snark, when they finally caught it Click to show or hide the answer
Subject of the first clerihew: " ... abominated gravy / He lived in the odium / Of having discovered sodium" Click to show or hide the answer
Edward Lear character: "was happy and gay, till he fell in love with a Jumbly Girl" Click to show or hide the answer
Wrecked on the reef of Norman's Woe (in a poem by Longfellow) Click for more information Click to show or hide the answer
Had "jaws that bite, claws that catch"; slain with a "vorpal blade", which "went snicker–snack" (Lewis Carroll) Click to show or hide the answer
Edward Lear: "their heads are green and their hands are grey, and they went to sea in a sieve" Click to show or hide the answer
Tennyson: Excalibur was given to Arthur by Click to show or hide the answer
1798 battle described in the poem Casabianca ("The boy stood on the burning deck … ") Click to show or hide the answer
From T. S. Eliot's Book of Practical Cats: described as "patriarch of the Jellicles"; "[he's] buried nine wives ... And his numerous progeny prospers and thrives" Click to show or hide the answer
Dante's Divine Comedy: 'All hope abandon, ye who enter here' Click to show or hide the answer
Word invented by Milton (in Paradise Lost) for the capital of Hell Click to show or hide the answer
From T. S. Eliot's Book of Practical Cats: a.k.a. the Railway Cat; "Every now and then he has a cup of tea / With perhaps a drop of Scotch while he's keeping on the watch" Click to show or hide the answer
John Betjeman: "Come friendly bombs, and fall on ... " Click to show or hide the answer
The Rape of the Lock (Pope): the lock ends up as a Click to show or hide the answer
The main subject of Milton's Paradise Regained (1671) is Click to show or hide the answer
John Gay's 1716 burlesque poem, loosely based on the Satires of the Latin poet Juvenal (active in the late 1st and early 2nd century AD), subtitled The Art of Walking the Streets of London – named after the Roman goddess of crossroads Click to show or hide the answer
Barrack Room Ballads (Kipling): Gunga Din's occupation Click to show or hide the answer
River in which the Pied Piper drowned the rats (according to Browning) Click to show or hide the answer

© Haydn Thompson 2017–18