Tackling poetry in Section D

I am sure by now you are aware that onlyone poem will be tested in Section D ofPaper 2. Make sure you have a completeunderstanding of all the poems so you areprepared for any one of them. This can bedone by reading all the poems carefully andfinding the meanings of difficult phrases andwords. If possible, paraphrase the poems.This week, we shall look at two poems indetail to help you revise for the exam.  

THE ROAD NOT TAKENby Robert Frost 

Stanza 1 

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,And sorry I could not travel bothAnd be one traveler, long I stoodAnd looked down one as far as I couldTo where it bent in the undergrowth; 

Stanza 2 

Then took the other, as just as fair,And having perhaps the better claim,Because it was grassy and wanted wear;Though as for that the passing thereHad worn them really about the same, 

Stanza 3 

And both that morning equally layIn leaves no step had trodden black,Oh, I kept the first for another day!Yet knowing how way leads on to way,I doubted if I should ever come back. 

Stanza 4 

I shall be telling this with a sighSomewhere ages and ages hence;Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –I took the one less travelled by;And that has made all the difference 


Stanza 1 

The persona came across two roads in a forestin autumn. He felt sorry that he could notchoose both roads. He looked as far as he could to see where one of the roads led. The under-growth (low-growing plants and shrubs beneath trees in a forest) prevented him from seeing further. 

Stanza 2 

Both roads seemed equally fresh and invitingthat morning as no one had passed by yet.However, he decided to choose the second roadonly because fewer travellers had used it. Yet, after having taken that road, he felt it might have been just the same. 

Stanza 3 

He thought he could keep the first road forsome other day. Yet, deep down, he knew thatas one thing leads to something else, theremight not be another opportunity to take thatfirst road. 

Stanza 4 

The persona mused that one day in future hewould probably realise he would have no regrets choosing the road less travelled by because it would have made his life more meaningful. 


Answer the following questions: 

1a. Where is the persona in the poem? 

b. What season is suggested in line 1, stanza1 above? 

c. What is the decision the persona has tomake? 

2a. Explain the line ‘In leaves no step hadtrodden black’ in your own words. 

b. Why did the second road have the betterclaim? 

c. What did the persona find out about thesecond road after he had chosen it? 

3a. What does the persona hope to do withthe first road? 

b. Why did the persona doubt that hewould ever come back? 

c. Which stanza of the poem do you likebest? Give a reason to support youranswer. 


Suggested answers: 

1a. In a forest 

b. Autumn 

c. He has to decide which of the tworoads to take. 

2 a. No one had stepped on the leavesyet. 

b. Because it was still new and notmany people had used it yet. 

c. The road turned out to be the sameas the first. 

3a. He hoped to explore it another day. 

b. Because one thing leads to anotherand he would not have the time orthe chance to come back again. 

c. Stanza 4, because he took the risk oftaking the road less travelled andthat has made all the difference inhis life. 


IF by Rudyard Kipling


Stanza 1 

If you can keep your head when all about youAre losing theirs and blaming it on you;If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,But make allowance for their doubting too;If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,Or being lied about don’t deal in lies,Or being hated don’t give way to hating,And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise; 

Stanza 2 

If you can dream – and not make dreams yourmasterIf you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;If you can meet with Triumph and DisasterAnd treat those two impostors just the same;If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spokenTwisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools; 

Stanza 3 

If you can make one heap of all your winningsAnd risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,And lose and start again at your beginningsAnd never breathe a word about your loss;If you can force your heart and nerve and sinewTo serve your turn long after they are gone,And so hold on when there is nothing in youExcept the Will which says to them: “Holdon!” 

Stanza 4 

If you can talk with crowds and keep yourvirtue,Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch;If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;If all men count with you, but none too much;If you can fill the unforgiving minuteWith sixty seconds worth of distance run,Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,And which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son! 



Stanza 1 

The father advises his son to:

  • be calm at all times even though oth-ers are blaming him; 

  • trust himself when others doubthim; give them benefit of the doubt; 

  • be patient and not to lie even thoughothers lie to him nor allow hate tocome into his life; 

  • be humble as well as moderate inappearance and speech. 

    Stanza 2 

    The father advises his son to:

  • dare to dream but not to let hisdreams control him; 

  • think and act wisely but not to wastehis life just merely thinking; 

  • treat success and failure the sameway; 

  • not be upset when others distort hiswords. 

    Instead, he should be strong in times offailure and start rebuilding even if he maybe tired. 

    Stanza 3 

    The father advises his son to:

  • be prepared to take risks, and if hefails, he should not moan or com-plain about it. 

  • start again after each failure. 

  • continue to serve even though hemay feel tired or hopeless. 

  • persevere and not to quit. 

    Stanza 4 

    The father advises his son to

  • be virtuous and humble, to socialisewith people from all walks of life; 

  • live harmoniously with others, treat-ing everyone the same; 

  • use every second wisely becausetime cannot be replaced; 

    If the son can achieve all these things,he will enjoy the blessings of the Earthand be a fine human being. 


    Answer the following questions: 

    1a. What does “keep your head” mean inline 1? 

    b. What does the phrase “make allowancefor their doubting too” mean? 

    c. Why do you think the father advises hisson not to give way to hating? Give areason. 

    2a. In stanza 2, what does “triumph anddisaster” refer to? 

    b. How should we treat triumph and dis-aster? 

    c. Do you agree with the father’s adviceabout triumph and disaster? Give a rea-son. 

    3a. Explain the phrase “keep your virtue” instanza 4? 

    b. What does the word “Earth” refer to inthis stanza? 

    c. Based on your knowledge of this poem,give two virtues the son must possessin order to be a “Man”. 


    Suggested answers: 

    1a. Keep your cool, do not lose your tem-per. 

    b. To give others the benefit of the doubt;to listen to their opinions. 

    c. Because hating will destroy him. 

    2a. Success and failure; the ups and downsof our lives. 

    b. We should treat them both equally; weshould not get too carried away by suc-cess nor should we be overly sad aboutfailure. 

    c. I agree that we should treat both suc-cess and failure equally because if weregard success as more important thanfailure, it would be difficult for us toaccept failure. 

    3a. Be virtuous; to remain true to yourself. 

    b. It refers to the world’s richness andblessings. 

    c. He should be patient and not lose hishead. (or any other two virtues statedin the poem.)

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