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Understand Meaning and Identify Structure in Poetry

In this worksheet, students will read the poem 'I saw three witches' by Walter de la Mare and answer questions about it.

'Understand Meaning and Identify Structure in Poetry' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 2

Year:  Year 5 English worksheets

Curriculum topic:   Reading: Comprehension

Curriculum subtopic:   Explore Meaning

Popular topics:   Reading Comprehension worksheets

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

Poems written a long time ago can seem hard to understand at first, as they often contain old-fashioned words that we no longer use. However, older poetry can be just as rewarding as modern poems if we take the time to try and understand it.


In this activity, you can read a poem by Walter de la Mare, who was born in 1873. There may be words that you don't understand, but see if you can work out their meaning from the context (the other words around them).


Try reading the poem aloud to help you understand its rhythm. 



I Saw Three Witches


witches on broomsticks


I saw three witches

That bowed down like barley,

And took to their brooms 'neath a louring sky,

And, mounting a storm-cloud,

Aloft on its margin,

Stood black in the silver as up they did fly.


I saw three witches

That mocked the poor sparrows

They carried in cages of wicker along,

Till a hawk from his eyrie

Swooped down like an arrow,

And smote on the cages, and ended their song.


I saw three witches

That sailed in a shallop,

All turning their heads with a truculent smile,

Till a bank of green osiers

Concealed their grim faces,

Though I heard them lamenting for many a mile.


I saw three witches

Asleep in a valley,

Their heads in a row, like stones in a flood,

Till the moon, creeping upward,

Looked white through the valley,

And turned them to bushes in bright scarlet bud.




Let's try some questions now.


Remember that you can look at the poem again by clicking on the red help button.

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