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Poetry about Relationships: 'The Farmer's Bride'

In this worksheet, students develop their skills in analysing poetry by studying 'The Farmer's Bride' by Charlotte Mary Mew.

'Poetry about Relationships: 'The Farmer's Bride'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  

Curriculum subtopic:  

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet will allow you to develop your understanding of poetry by studying one of a cluster of poems about relationships.

Read the following poem by Charlotte Mary Mew (1869–1928) and then answer the following questions. The poem tells about an unhappy relationship between a farmer and his young wife.

 

 

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


The Farmer's Bride 


Three summers since I chose a maid,
Too young maybe - but more's to do
At harvest-time than a bide and woo.
When us was wed she turned afraid
Of love and me and all things human;
Like the shut of a winter's day
Her smile went out, and `twasn't a woman -
More like a little frightened fay.
One night, in the Fall, she runned away.

"Out 'mong the sheep, her be," they said,
Should properly have been abed;
But sure enough she wasn't there
Lying awake with her wide brown stare.
So over seven-acre field and up-along across the down
We chased her, flying like a hare
Before out lanterns. To Church-Town
All in a shiver and a scare
We caught her, fetched her home at last
And turned the key upon her, fast.

She does the work about the house
As well as most, but like a mouse:
Happy enough to chat and play
With birds and rabbits and such as they,
So long as men-folk keep away
"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech
When one of us comes within reach.
The women say that beasts in stall
Look round like children at her call.
I've hardly heard her speak at all.

Shy as a leveret, swift as he,
Straight and slight as a young larch tree,
Sweet as the first wild violets, she,
To her wild self. But what to me?

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,
The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,
One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,
A magpie's spotted feathers lie
On the black earth spread white with rime,
The berries redden up to Christmas-time.
What's Christmas-time without there be
Some other in the house than we!

She sleeps up in the attic there
Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair
Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down, 
The soft young down of her, the brown,
The brown of her - her eyes, her hair, her hair!

 

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

In stanza one the poet describes how quickly the wife changed:

 

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

When us was wed she turned afraid

Of love and me and all things human;

Like the shut of a winter's day

Her smile went out, and `twasn't a woman -

 

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

 

 

What technique is being used here, and what is the change being compared to? Choose two answers.

metaphor

simile

the sudden darkness on a winter's day

the sudden closing of a door

The wife is described as a "frightened little fay". 

What does the word fay mean?

mouse

fairy

butterfly

In stanza two, the poet uses the simile 'flying like a hare.' Why do you think the poet compares her to a hunted animal?

Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus) or Blue Hare or Tundra Hare or Variable Hare or White Hare or Alpine Hare or Irish Hare vintage engraved illustration. Trousset encyclopedia (1886 - 1891). - stock vector

because she is running so fast

to express her fear and terror

to show she is from the country

Reread stanza three.

 

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

She does the work about the house

As well as most, but like a mouse:

Happy enough to chat and play

With birds and rabbits and such as they,

So long as men-folk keep away

"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech

When one of us comes within reach.

The women say that beasts in stall

Look round like children at her call.

I've hardly heard her speak at all.

 

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

 

 

Who does the wife only communicate directly with?

her husband

other women

animals

The poet extends the metaphor in the stanza of the wife being a hunted animal. 

Which prey animals are referred to? Select the correct answers.

mouse

fox

birds

rabbits

voles

Now reread stanza four:

 

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

Shy as a leveret, swift as he,

Straight and slight as a young larch tree,

Sweet as the first wild violets, she,

To her wild self. But what to me?

 

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

 

 

Match the following statements about this stanza with their effects.

Hare or Lepus sp., vintage engraved illustration. Dictionary of Words and Things - Larive and Fleury - 1895 - stock vector 

Column A

Column B

It is a very short stanza.
suggests the wife rejects conventional society and...
The wife is compared to a leveret in a simile.
emphasises the wife's link with nature
repetition of the same 'S' sound at the start of w...
to make it stand out and to mark a turning point i...
repetition of the word 'wild'
continues the extended metaphor of the wife being ...

Now reread stanza five:

 

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

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,

The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,

One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,

A magpie's spotted feathers lie

On the black earth spread white with rime,

The berries redden up to Christmas-time.

What's Christmas-time without there be

Some other in the house than we!

 

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

 

 

In this stanza the poet changes the season from spring to winter. Why?

 

Oak tree with frost in winter landscape - stock photo

to show how time has passed and to represent death and decay and the end of his hopes

to show how time has passed and to symbolise hope with Christmas time

to show how time has passed and to suggest a fresh start with the next spring

Now reread the final stanza:

 

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

She sleeps up in the attic there

Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair

Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down, 

The soft young down of her, the brown,

The brown of her - her eyes, her hair, her hair!

 

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

 

 

How is she compared to an animal here?

She is described as a maid.

Her skin is described as soft down like the fur of an animal.

She has brown hair.

What does the broken syntax and repetition in the last line of the poem show about the farmer?

He is confused.

He is excited.

He is breaking down and losing control.

Match the feeling with the character in the poem who feels it.

 the wifethe farmer
fear
frustration
desire
  • Question 1

In stanza one the poet describes how quickly the wife changed:

 

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

When us was wed she turned afraid

Of love and me and all things human;

Like the shut of a winter's day

Her smile went out, and `twasn't a woman -

 

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

 

 

What technique is being used here, and what is the change being compared to? Choose two answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
simile
the sudden darkness on a winter's day
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses a simile by including the word 'like'.
  • Question 2

The wife is described as a "frightened little fay". 

What does the word fay mean?

CORRECT ANSWER
fairy
EDDIE SAYS
'Fay' means fairy and is used to make the wife seem mysterious and delicate.
  • Question 3

In stanza two, the poet uses the simile 'flying like a hare.' Why do you think the poet compares her to a hunted animal?

Mountain Hare (Lepus timidus) or Blue Hare or Tundra Hare or Variable Hare or White Hare or Alpine Hare or Irish Hare vintage engraved illustration. Trousset encyclopedia (1886 - 1891). - stock vector

CORRECT ANSWER
to express her fear and terror
EDDIE SAYS
The poet compares her to a hunted animal to express her fear and terror. It makes her seem more vulnerable and intimidated.
  • Question 4

Reread stanza three.

 

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

She does the work about the house

As well as most, but like a mouse:

Happy enough to chat and play

With birds and rabbits and such as they,

So long as men-folk keep away

"Not near, not near!" her eyes beseech

When one of us comes within reach.

The women say that beasts in stall

Look round like children at her call.

I've hardly heard her speak at all.

 

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

 

 

Who does the wife only communicate directly with?

CORRECT ANSWER
animals
EDDIE SAYS
The wife only communicates with animals. It says she is 'happy enough to chat and play with birds and rabbits'.
  • Question 5

The poet extends the metaphor in the stanza of the wife being a hunted animal. 

Which prey animals are referred to? Select the correct answers.

CORRECT ANSWER
mouse
birds
rabbits
EDDIE SAYS
The poet refers to a other small animals to extend the metaphor of the wife being a hunted animal and to make her seem vulnerable and week.
  • Question 6

Now reread stanza four:

 

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

Shy as a leveret, swift as he,

Straight and slight as a young larch tree,

Sweet as the first wild violets, she,

To her wild self. But what to me?

 

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

 

 

Match the following statements about this stanza with their effects.

Hare or Lepus sp., vintage engraved illustration. Dictionary of Words and Things - Larive and Fleury - 1895 - stock vector 

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

It is a very short stanza.
to make it stand out and to mark ...
The wife is compared to a leveret...
continues the extended metaphor o...
repetition of the same 'S' sound ...
emphasises the wife's link with n...
repetition of the word 'wild'
suggests the wife rejects convent...
EDDIE SAYS
This stanza gives more detail about the wife and shows how different she is from other women.
  • Question 7

Now reread stanza five:

 

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

The short days shorten and the oaks are brown,

The blue smoke rises to the low grey sky,

One leaf in the still air falls slowly down,

A magpie's spotted feathers lie

On the black earth spread white with rime,

The berries redden up to Christmas-time.

What's Christmas-time without there be

Some other in the house than we!

 

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

 

 

In this stanza the poet changes the season from spring to winter. Why?

 

Oak tree with frost in winter landscape - stock photo

CORRECT ANSWER
to show how time has passed and to represent death and decay and the end of his hopes
EDDIE SAYS
The poet changes from spring to winter to reinforce the idea of endings; winter is at the end of the year. It is also linked to death and darkness.
  • Question 8

Now reread the final stanza:

 

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

She sleeps up in the attic there

Alone, poor maid. `Tis but a stair

Betwixt us. Oh! my God! the down, 

The soft young down of her, the brown,

The brown of her - her eyes, her hair, her hair!

 

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

 

 

How is she compared to an animal here?

CORRECT ANSWER
Her skin is described as soft down like the fur of an animal.
EDDIE SAYS
She is compared to an animal because her skin is described as soft down like the fur of an animal. This makes her seem sweet and innocent and vulnerable.
  • Question 9

What does the broken syntax and repetition in the last line of the poem show about the farmer?

CORRECT ANSWER
He is breaking down and losing control.
EDDIE SAYS
The use of hyphens and exclamation marks break up the final verse, reflecting the broken state of mind of the farmer.
  • Question 10

Match the feeling with the character in the poem who feels it.

CORRECT ANSWER
 the wifethe farmer
fear
frustration
desire
EDDIE SAYS
The wife feels fear, shown in the line 'When us was wed she turned afraid' and the farmer experiences frustration and desire, shown in the repetition of 'her hair' at the end of the poem.
---- OR ----

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