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Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'Winter Swans'

In this worksheet, students will be able to revise key quotes in 'Winter Swans' (Owen Sheers) as part of the 'Love and Relationships' cluster.

'Identify and Explain Key Quotes in 'Winter Swans'' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 4

GCSE Subjects:   English Literature

GCSE Boards:   AQA

Curriculum topic:   Poetry

Curriculum subtopic:   Love and Relationships: 'Winter Swans'

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Refer to the poem 'Winter Swans' in your anthology.

 

Here's a quick recap of the poem: Written by Owen Sheers, this poem is about a couple who decide to take a walk in the park after two days of heavy rain. Their relationship is rocky, but they begin to find themselves reconciling when they see two swans doing a mating dance.

 

Thought bubble

 

This activity should help you revise some key quotes and help deepen your understanding of the poem. In the following questions, you'll be given a quote from the poem, and you'll need to identify the poet's meaning behind the quote.

 

Old Fashioned Camera

 

It may be helpful to write the quotes down as you do this exercise so you can try and remember them for the future!

 

Identify two devices that Sheers uses in the first two lines of the poem. 

Pathetic fallacy

Repetition

Long sentence

Personification

"...we skirted the lake, silent and apart"

 

What can you infer about the couple's relationship, at the beginning of the poem here?

 

Fill in the blank. Choose two correct answers out of the options below:

Happy

Devastated

Awkward

Strained

Grateful

Pathetic fallacy

Repetition

Long sentence

Personification

Tick the one box which correctly names the device used in the first two lines of the second stanza.

 

Metaphor

Alliteration

Personification

What does the quote in the third stanza, about the swans stopping the couple "in unison", suggest about a good relationship?

 

"They treated him as though he no longer existed"

The quote reflects how a relationship requires 'unison' to work

The quote highlights how a relationship requires dance

The quote reflects that all relationships are natural, because swans are a part of nature

"...like boats righting in rough weather..."

 

 

Identify what language device is used.

 

Metaphor

Simile

Personification

"...like boats righting in rough weather"

 

Why do you think this word is used? 

 

First, identify the classification of the bolded word.

 

Next, pick the answer you think is correct.

Metaphor

Simile

Personification

 

What does the verb "stilling", in the second line of the fifth stanza, suggest about the couple's natural surroundings at this point in the poem?

 

Pick one word out of the selection below:

  1. Everything's calm
  2. Everything's rough

"I noticed our hands, that had, somehow, swum the distance between us"

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

There is a simile in the quote

There is reverse personification in the quote, as the humans become more like the natural world around them

There is a feeling of naturalness to the quote, as the subjects seem to link hands without noticing

There is a rhyme scheme in the quote

There is personification in the quote, as the hands are swimming like the swans

Name two devices used in the last two lines of the poem.

Metaphor

Motif

Simile

Reverse personification

Last one!

 

"...like a pair of wings settling after flight"

 

Pick one word which links to the overall motif of calmness

 

(Motif- a recurring theme throughout a text):

 

Like

Pair

Settling

Flight

Wings

  • Question 1

 

Identify two devices that Sheers uses in the first two lines of the poem. 

CORRECT ANSWER
Pathetic fallacy
Personification
EDDIE SAYS
The poem begins with pathetic fallacy and personification, which really sets the mood of the poem - there's a lot of references to nature and how it reflects the two subject's moods and emotions.
  • Question 2

"...we skirted the lake, silent and apart"

 

What can you infer about the couple's relationship, at the beginning of the poem here?

 

Fill in the blank. Choose two correct answers out of the options below:

Happy

Devastated

Awkward

Strained

Grateful

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The fact that the weather has been rainy and the couple are "silent", and "apart" definitely suggests that they have a strained, awkward relationship. We don't know what's going on, really. We just know that it's been raining. But, there's some hope ahead!
  • Question 3

Tick the one box which correctly names the device used in the first two lines of the second stanza.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Personification
EDDIE SAYS
The image that the personification in the quote provides, is one of nature being suffocated in some way. This seems to directly relate (as all the nature references in the poem do) to the idea of suffocation within a relationship. Perhaps as the soil is "gulping for breath", the relationship between the two main subjects is "gulping" and straining for some kind of communication. There is definitely a sense that something is missing in the relationship, it's straining for some kind of sustenance to maintain it.
  • Question 4

What does the quote in the third stanza, about the swans stopping the couple "in unison", suggest about a good relationship?

 

CORRECT ANSWER
The quote reflects how a relationship requires 'unison' to work
EDDIE SAYS
The key part of the quote is "in unison", which suggests a sense of togetherness or unity present in nature. Nature really seems to contrast the couple in the poem and influence them to repair the broken fractures in their relationship - the swans inspire the couple to stop drifting 'apart' and come back together.
  • Question 5

"...like boats righting in rough weather..."

 

 

Identify what language device is used.

 

CORRECT ANSWER
Simile
EDDIE SAYS
Sheers' use of simile here not only suggests that the swans coming together are like boats righting themselves, but the verb "righting" suggests something about the subject's relationship. As we have clarified, the natural setting reflects the mood of the relationship. Therefore, the idea of the boats 'righting' suggests that things will be right again between the subjects. The continuous verb "righting" suggests immediacy and continuation.
  • Question 6

"...like boats righting in rough weather"

 

Why do you think this word is used? 

 

First, identify the classification of the bolded word.

 

Next, pick the answer you think is correct.

CORRECT ANSWER
EDDIE SAYS
The adjective "rough" suggests that hardship is present in relationships, but with the symbolism of the "boats righting" themselves, it can be inferred that stability comes from within a relationship, not due to external factors like the weather! Notice how the boats right themselves. Nothing external fixes them, it is a natural and inherent process (just like all the references to nature)!
  • Question 7

 

What does the verb "stilling", in the second line of the fifth stanza, suggest about the couple's natural surroundings at this point in the poem?

 

Pick one word out of the selection below:

  1. Everything's calm
  2. Everything's rough
CORRECT ANSWER
Everything's calm
Everythings calm
Everything is calm
EDDIE SAYS
The continuous verb (ongoing and active) "stilling" suggests that the water, which was previously rough, is now calm. Directly affecting the couple's status with each other, we can deduce that the couple are relaxed in each other's company again. Think about the motifs in the poem - calm vs rough, rain vs light, weather and natural imagery etc. What do all these motifs suggest about the themes of the poem?
  • Question 8

"I noticed our hands, that had, somehow, swum the distance between us"

 

What are two things you notice about this quote? Pick from the options below. 

 

Tick two boxes.

CORRECT ANSWER
There is reverse personification in the quote, as the humans become more like the natural world around them
There is a feeling of naturalness to the quote, as the subjects seem to link hands without noticing
EDDIE SAYS
Not only does the quote use reverse personification, where the humans are acting like the swans as their hands "swum" towards each other, there is also an involuntary reconciliation (making up with someone) going on here. The subjects don't seem to be actively doing anything - everything is done naturally, without any real intent. What do you think the poet is implying about the idea of nature/naturalness here?
  • Question 9

Name two devices used in the last two lines of the poem.

CORRECT ANSWER
Simile
Reverse personification
EDDIE SAYS
The two devices here are simile - "like a pair of wings..." and reverse personification in the way the hands "fold" like wings. Think about the idea this image presents.
  • Question 10

Last one!

 

"...like a pair of wings settling after flight"

 

Pick one word which links to the overall motif of calmness

 

(Motif- a recurring theme throughout a text):

 

Like

Pair

Settling

Flight

Wings

CORRECT ANSWER
settling
EDDIE SAYS
The verb "settling" suggests that things have calmed down, especially "after flight". There is the imagery of things previously being up in the air and hectic. But, now, in this moment, everything is ok. The tone is now still and calm in the poem, isn't it?
---- OR ----

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