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Reading Poetry: 'The General'

In this worksheet, students read the poem 'The General' by Siegfried Sassoon, and answer questions to show their understanding of the text.

'Reading Poetry: 'The General'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Check Understanding

Difficulty level:  

down

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Read this short poem by Siegfried Sassoon:

 

 

*****************

The General

‘Good-morning; good-morning!’ the General said 
When we met him last week on our way to the line. 
Now the soldiers he smiled at are most of ’em dead, 
And we’re cursing his staff for incompetent swine. 
‘He’s a cheery old card,’ grunted Harry to Jack
As they slogged up to Arras with rifle and pack.

But he did for them both by his plan of attack.

 

*****************

 

 

Now answer the following questions on the poem. If you need to read it again as you go through the worksheet, you can click on the Help button.

How does the General first come across when he speaks to the troops? 

bossy

friendly

annoyed

What information does the line: "When we met him last week on our way to the line."  tell us about the General? Choose three statements from the list below.

that he is not at the front line

that he has a good relationship with the soldiers

that he is not marching with the troops all the way

that he is not fighting alongside his men

that he is brave

The tone suddenly changes in this poem. Which word is used to shock the reader and let them know that the poem may be more negative from now on?

Which of the following is the best explanation for the word "incompetent"?

are not brave on the battlefield

cannot do your job properly

get confused easily

Which other offensive word does the writer use to describe the higher ranking officers?

Re-read how Harry and Jack react to the General. How does the writer want us to think about them?

that they are cheerful and happy

that they are stupid for trusting the General

that they are innocent and to feel sorry for them

The last line is all by itself. This emphasises its meaning. What does "he did for them both" mean?

Because of the General's stupid plan, both Harry and Jack were killed.

Because they disobeyed orders, Harry and Jack were killed.

Because the Germans were a powerful enemy, Harry and Jack were killed.

The General in this poem is very 'two-faced'. He keeps the troops sweet by chatting to them, but his plans then kill them. Fill in the table below to show his dual nature.

 How he comes across What he is really like
chatty
cunning
false
cheery
cold-hearted
positive

Readers could respond to this poem in different ways. Match up the response with the explanation. If you can't read the whole sentence in each box, hover your mouse over it.

Column A

Column B

shocked with the general's behaviour
incompetent people should not be in charge
think the writer is disloyal
they were just following orders
feel sorry for Harry and Jack
he should be supporting the officers
to be angry at the situation
he should be making good decisions

Read this student's work and identify the missing word. The same word is used both times. Write the word in the box below.


The writer has an interesting use of  _________ in the poem. It starts off with alternate lines, and then the final three lines ________ with each other. This shows how the happy, positive mood at the beginning suddenly turns sour when we realise that our thoughts about the General are false, and Harry and Jack have been unnecessarily killed.

  • Question 1

How does the General first come across when he speaks to the troops? 

CORRECT ANSWER
friendly
  • Question 2

What information does the line: "When we met him last week on our way to the line."  tell us about the General? Choose three statements from the list below.

CORRECT ANSWER
that he is not at the front line
that he is not marching with the troops all the way
that he is not fighting alongside his men
EDDIE SAYS
If the men "met him last week", this shows that he is not marching and fighting alongside them. If they were on their way to the front line, was the General going to a place of safety?
  • Question 3

The tone suddenly changes in this poem. Which word is used to shock the reader and let them know that the poem may be more negative from now on?

CORRECT ANSWER
dead
EDDIE SAYS
The use of the word 'dead' shocks the reader because of how blunt it is, and immediately informs the reader that negative things are happening.
  • Question 4

Which of the following is the best explanation for the word "incompetent"?

CORRECT ANSWER
cannot do your job properly
  • Question 5

Which other offensive word does the writer use to describe the higher ranking officers?

CORRECT ANSWER
swine
  • Question 6

Re-read how Harry and Jack react to the General. How does the writer want us to think about them?

CORRECT ANSWER
that they are innocent and to feel sorry for them
  • Question 7

The last line is all by itself. This emphasises its meaning. What does "he did for them both" mean?

CORRECT ANSWER
Because of the General's stupid plan, both Harry and Jack were killed.
  • Question 8

The General in this poem is very 'two-faced'. He keeps the troops sweet by chatting to them, but his plans then kill them. Fill in the table below to show his dual nature.

CORRECT ANSWER
 How he comes across What he is really like
chatty
cunning
false
cheery
cold-hearted
positive
  • Question 9

Readers could respond to this poem in different ways. Match up the response with the explanation. If you can't read the whole sentence in each box, hover your mouse over it.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

shocked with the general's behavi...
he should be making good decision...
think the writer is disloyal
he should be supporting the offic...
feel sorry for Harry and Jack
they were just following orders
to be angry at the situation
incompetent people should not be ...
  • Question 10

Read this student's work and identify the missing word. The same word is used both times. Write the word in the box below.


The writer has an interesting use of  _________ in the poem. It starts off with alternate lines, and then the final three lines ________ with each other. This shows how the happy, positive mood at the beginning suddenly turns sour when we realise that our thoughts about the General are false, and Harry and Jack have been unnecessarily killed.

CORRECT ANSWER
rhyme
---- OR ----

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