Poetry Quizzes

PART ONE: Introduction

Natural Similarities and Opposites
in Two Poems by Joseph Ceravolo

Sometimes poets use opposite or contradictory statements to express many sides of a feeling. After all, smooth surfaces can be dangerous (think of the flat surface of a deep lake, for instance). Joseph Ceravolo was an American poet who often mixed similar and opposite ideas in his verse. In the following two poems Ceravolo suggests that natural objects that we often take for granted can be viewed as extraordinary, even unnatural. Ceravolo looks at trees and finds they contain wild feelings.

PART TWO: The Poems

When the First Tree Blossoms

Snow fall like April:
the icicles stick. Like April
the birds float.
It is white foam.

Like April when the first tree blossoms
and you do not know it.

Happiness in the Trees

O height dispersed and head
in sometimes joining
these sleeps. O primitive touch
between fingers and dawn
on the back

You are no more
simple than a cedar tree
whose children change
the interesting earth
and promise to shake her
before the wind blows
away from you
in the velocity of rest

PART THREE: The Quizzes

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Quiz 1

The following words have the SAME meaning as words from Ceravolo's two poems. Find words in the poems which mean the SAME as these:

  1. spikes of ice

  2. quiet or sleep

  3. uniting

  4. pledge or vow

  5. speed

  6. flowers

  7. scattered

Quiz 2

The words that follow have meanings OPPOSITE to words in the poems. Find words in Ceravolo's two poems that have OPPOSITE meanings:

  1. breaking up

  2. sophisticated

  3. complicated

  4. slowness

  5. unfasten

  6. almost never

Quiz 3

Decide if the following statements are TRUE or FALSE.

  1. Another way of expressing "foam" is "a mass of bubbles."

  2. The words "rest" and "velocity" contain opposite ideas.

  3. "Primitive" means "ugly."

  4. "Joining is like "sticking."

  5. "Promise" is like "vow."

  6. "Icicles" and "blossoms" are sort of opposites.

  7. When the wind "blows" it "moves."

  8. "Dispersed" means "united."

  9. "Height" means the opposite of "tallness."

  10. "Sometimes" means "always."

These quizzes are adapted from the website "Experiments in Poetry" by Jack Kimball.
To visit the website: American Poetry for Students of English Worldwide
Mail to: kimball@post.miyazaki-med.ac. jp
Kimball's Homepage: http://interserver.mi yazaki-med.ac.jp/~Kimball/

This quiz is part of the HTML-Only Self-Study Quizzes which is part of Activities for ESL Students, a project by The Internet TESL Journal.