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Ballads: 'Mariana' by Alfred Lord Tennyson

In this worksheet, students develop their understanding of poetry by reading 'Mariana' by Alfred Lord Tennyson and working on the ballad form.

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Understand Meaning

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet is based on a ballad called 'Mariana' (1830) by the poet Alfred Lord Tennyson. A ballad is a poem that tells a story. This poem tells the story of a lady called Mariana who lives alone. Read the ballad and then answer the questions.

 

 

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

Mariana

 

With blackest moss the flower-plots

    Were thickly crusted, one and all:

The rusted nails fell from the knots

    That held the pear to the gable-wall.

The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:

    Unlifted was the clinking latch;

    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch

Upon the lonely moated grange.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

Her tears fell with the dews at even;

    Her tears fell ere the dews were dried;

She could not look on the sweet heaven,

    Either at morn or eventide.

After the flitting of the bats,

    When thickest dark did trance the sky,

    She drew her casement-curtain by,

And glanced athwart the glooming flats.

        She only said, 'The night is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

Upon the middle of the night,

    Waking she heard the night-fowl crow:

The cock sung out an hour ere light:

    From the dark fen the oxen's low

Came to her: without hope of change,

    In sleep she seem'd to walk forlorn,

    Till cold winds woke the gray-eyed morn

About the lonely moated grange.

        She only said, 'The day is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

About a stone-cast from the wall

    A sluice with blacken'd waters slept,

And o'er it many, round and small,

    The cluster'd marish-mosses crept.

Hard by a poplar shook alway,

    All silver-green with gnarled bark:

    For leagues no other tree did mark

The level waste, the rounding gray.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

And ever when the moon was low,

    And the shrill winds were up and away,

In the white curtain, to and fro,

    She saw the gusty shadow sway.

But when the moon was very low,

    And wild winds bound within their cell,

    The shadow of the poplar fell

Upon her bed, across her brow.

        She only said, 'The night is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

All day within the dreamy house,

    The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

    Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,

    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices call'd her from without.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,'

            I would that I were dead!'

 

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,

    The slow clock ticking, and the sound

Which to the wooing wind aloof

    The poplar made, did all confound

Her sense; but most she loathed the hour

    When the thick-moted sunbeam lay

    Athwart the chambers, and the day

Was sloping toward his western bower.

        Then, said she, 'I am very dreary,

            He will not come,' she said;

        She wept, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            O God, that I were dead!'

 

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

Select three words below that best describe the character of Mariana from your understanding of the poem.

sad

happy

friendly

lonely

positive

isolated

Stanza one describes her house:

 

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

With blackest moss the flower-plots

    Were thickly crusted, one and all:

The rusted nails fell from the knots

    That held the pear to the gable-wall.

The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:

    Unlifted was the clinking latch;

    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch

Upon the lonely moated grange.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

Using this description, select five correct details about the house.

moss covered flower pots

rusty nails

broken sheds

flower beds

broken front door

thatch roof

moat

pond

Reread the poem and focus on the chorus at the end of each stanza. The same lines are repeated. From your reading of this, why is Mariana sad?

 

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

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

She is sad because none of her friends have visited her.

She is sad because she is waiting for a man to visit her and he never comes.

She is sad because she is waiting for her family to visit her.

Mariana's house is described as sad and isolated just like her. In fact the house is personified and is an extension of her character.

       

Abandoned highland croft house showing the remains of the original log roof structure and turf thatched roof with chicken wire to hold the turfs in place. - stock photo

 

Look at the list of words to describe her house below that are taken from stanza one. Which four words can describe both the house and Mariana?

sad

pear

broken

rusted

lonely

strange

Mariana is so sad and lonely that she is unable to sleep in stanza five:

 

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

And ever when the moon was low,

    And the shrill winds were up and away,

In the white curtain, to and fro,

    She saw the gusty shadow sway.

But when the moon was very low,

    And wild winds bound within their cell,

    The shadow of the poplar fell

Upon her bed, across her brow.

        She only said, 'The night is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

Just as the house reflects Mariana's personality, the weather does too. Which line in this stanza describes the weather?

She saw the gusty shadow sway

And wild winds bound within their cell

The shadow of the poplar fell

But when the moon was very low

The stanza personifies the wind:

And wild winds bound within their cell

 

How does the description of the wind mirror Mariana's situation?

It is trapped like she is.

It moves quickly like she does.

In stanza six we read what she has to keep her company:

 

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

All day within the dreamy house,

    The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

    Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,

    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices call'd her from without.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,'

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

What word is repeated?

doors

glimmered

old

The word 'old' is repeated. What do you think these 'old faces... old footsteps... old voices' are referring to?

people who lived there before

ghosts

her memories

Stanzas six and seven contain onomatopoeia to show how even the quietest noises can be heard in the lonely house. 

Match the onomatopoeic word with the thing that makes the noise in the poem. 

 

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

All day within the dreamy house,

    The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

    Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,

    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices call'd her from without.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,'

            I would that I were dead!'

 

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,

    The slow clock ticking, and the sound

Which to the wooing wind aloof

    The poplar made, did all confound

Her sense; but most she loathed the hour

    When the thick-moted sunbeam lay

    Athwart the chambers, and the day

Was sloping toward his western bower.

        Then, said she, 'I am very dreary,

            He will not come,' she said;

        She wept, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            O God, that I were dead!'

 

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

Column A

Column B

creaked
sparrow
chirrup
hinge
ticking
wind
wooing
clock

Tennyson has borrowed the character of Mariana from one of Shakespeare's plays. Can you do your own research and find out which play she appears in?

All's Well that Ends Well

Measure for Measure

Romeo and Juliet

  • Question 1

Select three words below that best describe the character of Mariana from your understanding of the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
sad
lonely
isolated
EDDIE SAYS
The words that best sum up the character of Mariana are: sad, lonely and isolated.
  • Question 2

Stanza one describes her house:

 

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

With blackest moss the flower-plots

    Were thickly crusted, one and all:

The rusted nails fell from the knots

    That held the pear to the gable-wall.

The broken sheds look'd sad and strange:

    Unlifted was the clinking latch;

    Weeded and worn the ancient thatch

Upon the lonely moated grange.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

Using this description, select five correct details about the house.

CORRECT ANSWER
moss covered flower pots
rusty nails
broken sheds
thatch roof
moat
EDDIE SAYS
The five correct details are: moss covered flower pots, rusty nails, broken sheds, the thatch roof was full of weeds and holes and the house has a moat around it.
  • Question 3

Reread the poem and focus on the chorus at the end of each stanza. The same lines are repeated. From your reading of this, why is Mariana sad?

 

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

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

CORRECT ANSWER
She is sad because she is waiting for a man to visit her and he never comes.
EDDIE SAYS
Mariana is sad because she is waiting for a man to visit her and he never comes.
  • Question 4

Mariana's house is described as sad and isolated just like her. In fact the house is personified and is an extension of her character.

       

Abandoned highland croft house showing the remains of the original log roof structure and turf thatched roof with chicken wire to hold the turfs in place. - stock photo

 

Look at the list of words to describe her house below that are taken from stanza one. Which four words can describe both the house and Mariana?

CORRECT ANSWER
sad
broken
lonely
strange
EDDIE SAYS
Words that could describe both Mariana and the house are: sad, broken, lonely and strange.
  • Question 5

Mariana is so sad and lonely that she is unable to sleep in stanza five:

 

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

And ever when the moon was low,

    And the shrill winds were up and away,

In the white curtain, to and fro,

    She saw the gusty shadow sway.

But when the moon was very low,

    And wild winds bound within their cell,

    The shadow of the poplar fell

Upon her bed, across her brow.

        She only said, 'The night is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

Just as the house reflects Mariana's personality, the weather does too. Which line in this stanza describes the weather?

CORRECT ANSWER
And wild winds bound within their cell
EDDIE SAYS
The line that describes the weather is: "And wild winds bound within their cell".
  • Question 6

The stanza personifies the wind:

And wild winds bound within their cell

 

How does the description of the wind mirror Mariana's situation?

CORRECT ANSWER
It is trapped like she is.
EDDIE SAYS
The wind is like Mariana because just as she is trapped in the house, the wind is a prisoner in a cell.
  • Question 7

In stanza six we read what she has to keep her company:

 

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

All day within the dreamy house,

    The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

    Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,

    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices call'd her from without.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,'

            I would that I were dead!'

 

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

 

 

What word is repeated?

CORRECT ANSWER
old
EDDIE SAYS
The word 'old' is repeated.
  • Question 8

The word 'old' is repeated. What do you think these 'old faces... old footsteps... old voices' are referring to?

CORRECT ANSWER
her memories
EDDIE SAYS
They are referring to Mariana's memories.
  • Question 9

Stanzas six and seven contain onomatopoeia to show how even the quietest noises can be heard in the lonely house. 

Match the onomatopoeic word with the thing that makes the noise in the poem. 

 

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

All day within the dreamy house,

    The doors upon their hinges creak'd;

The blue fly sung in the pane; the mouse

    Behind the mouldering wainscot shriek'd,

Or from the crevice peer'd about.

    Old faces glimmer'd thro' the doors,

    Old footsteps trod the upper floors,

Old voices call'd her from without.

        She only said, 'My life is dreary,

            He cometh not,' she said;

        She said, 'I am aweary, aweary,'

            I would that I were dead!'

 

The sparrow's chirrup on the roof,

    The slow clock ticking, and the sound

Which to the wooing wind aloof

    The poplar made, did all confound

Her sense; but most she loathed the hour

    When the thick-moted sunbeam lay

    Athwart the chambers, and the day

Was sloping toward his western bower.

        Then, said she, 'I am very dreary,

            He will not come,' she said;

        She wept, 'I am aweary, aweary,

            O God, that I were dead!'

 

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

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

creaked
hinge
chirrup
sparrow
ticking
clock
wooing
wind
EDDIE SAYS
creaked = hinge
chirrup = sparrow
ticking = clock
wooing = wind
  • Question 10

Tennyson has borrowed the character of Mariana from one of Shakespeare's plays. Can you do your own research and find out which play she appears in?

CORRECT ANSWER
Measure for Measure
EDDIE SAYS
Mariana appears in Measure for Measure.
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