Unit Six Section A


”Logical English”

All languages follow rules of grammar. Sometimes these rules are both confusing and amusing. How logical is English, according to the unknown writer of this poem?

I said, "This'horse, sir, will you shoe?"

And soon the horse was shod.
I said, "This deed, sir, will you do?"
And soon the deed was dod!

I said, "This stick, sir, will you break?"

At once the stick he broke.
I said, "This coat, sir, will you make?"
And soon the coat he moke!
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What four things does the speaker of this poem ask to have done?
2. In which pairs of lines of the poem does the speaker use the correct present and past tense form of the verb? In which lines is the past tense form incorrect?
3. What point might the poet be making in this humorous poem? Do you agree that English is sometimes illogical? Use specific examples to support your opinion.

English Riddles

A riddle is a puzzling question with a clever answer. Read these English riddles. Try to determine why each was so popular.

1) If Dick's father is John's son,
What relation is Dick to John?

2) Noah of old three babies had,
Or grown-up children, rather;
Shem, Ham, and Japheth, they were called,
Now who was Japheth's father?

3) The man who made it did not want it.
The man who bought it did not use it,
The man who used it did not know it.
Try to guess just what to call it.

4) Thirty white horses upon a red hill;
Now they tramp, now they champ,
Now they stand still.

5) Two brothers we are,
Great burdens we bear
By which we are bitterly pressed;
The truth is to say
We are full all the day
And empty when we go to rest.

6) From Heaven I fall, though from earth I begin;
No lady alive can show such a skin.
I'm bright as angel, and light as a feather,
But heavy and dark when you squeeze me together.

7) As I was going to St. Ives
I met a man with seven wives;
Every wife had seven sacks;
Every sack had seven cats;
Every cat had seven kits.
Kits, cats, sack, and wives---
How many were going to St. Ives?

Answers: 1) grandson 2) Noah 3) coffin 4) teeth

5) shoes 6) snow 7) one
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. How would you answer riddles I and 2? Are there any tricks involved in these riddles?
2. What is the answer to riddle 3? What clues led you to your answer?
3. In riddle 4, the horses and hill represent parts of the mouth. What are the horses and the hill? What kinds of movements do they make?
4. The answer to riddle 5 concerns articles of clothing. What are the "brothers"?
5. What is the answer to riddle 6? Why does the subject change its appearance?
6. How many people were going to St. Ives in riddle 7? How did you arrive at the answer?
7. Which riddle did you find most difficult to solve? Which is the most clever? Explain your answer.

“Dare To Be True” by George Herbert

Telling a lie can seem an easy way out of a difficult situation. Read this poem to see what the poet feels about the dangers of telling a lie.

Dare to be true;

Nothing can need a lie.
The fault that needs one most
Grows two thereby.
Developing Comprehension Skills

1. According to the speaker, when is a lie “needed"?
2. Why do you think the speaker says, "Dare to be true"?
3. According to the speaker, what happens when a person begins lying?
4. Do you agree with the speaker's advice about lies? Why or why not? If possible, use a personal experience to support your answer.

"To the Virgin to Make Much of Time"
by Robert Herrick

Do you always make the most of every moment? What advice does this poem offer about how to live our lives?

Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.

The glorious lamp of heaven, the Sun,
The higher he's a-getting
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he's to setting.

That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times, still succeed the former.

Then be not coy, but use your time;
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. To whom is the speaker giving advice in this poem?
2. Why does the speaker say "Gather ye rosebuds while ye may"? What does he mean by this bit of advice?
3. The speaker talks about the movement of the sun. What is he comparing to this?
4. Does the speaker feel life is better during youth or adulthood? What are his reasons?
5. Do you agree with the speaker's views on life? Is his advice useful to others besides the young women? Why or why not?

"Song, to Celia" by Ben Jonson

Love is a favorite theme of poets. In what unusual way does this poet express his love for Celia? Is she worthy of his love?

Drink to me only with thine eyes,
And I will pledge with mine;
Or leave a kiss but in the cup,
And I'll not look for wine.
The thirst that from the soul doth rise
Doth ask a drink divine;
But might I of Jove's nectar sup,
I would not change for thine.

I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope, that there
It could not withered be.
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent'st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself, but thee.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. What does the speaker ask of Celia in the first line? What will he do in return?
2. What "thirst" does the speaker have? What will satisfy this "thirst"?
3. Why does the speaker send Celia a wreath?
4. What is Celia's effect on the wreath? Do you think this really happened? If not, what point is the speaker making?
5 .How do you think Celia might feel about the speaker?
6. What is your opinion about the speaker and his idea of love?

"To Lucasta on Going to the Wars"
by Richard Lovelace

People have different ideas about what it means to be “honorable.” How does the speaker in this poem define the word?

Tell me not (Sweet) I am unkind,
That from the nunnery
Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
To war and arms I fly.

True, a new mistress now I chase,
The first foe in the field;
And with a stronger faith embrace
A sword, a horse, a shield.

Yet this inconstancy is such
As you too shall adore;
I could not love thee (Dear) so much,
Lov'd I not Honour more.

Developing Comprehension Skills

1. Who is the speaker addressing in the first line?
2. Why is the speaker leaving Lucasta?
3. Who is the "new mistress" the speaker is going to? What will he embrace instead of Lucasta?
4. How does the speaker try to convince Lucasta that his "inconstancy" does not mean that he is unfaithful? Does his argument make sense to you?