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Poetry about Conflict: 'Futility'

In this worksheet, students develop their understanding of poetry by answering questions on Wilfred Owen's poem 'Futility'.

Key stage:  KS 4

Curriculum topic:  Reading

Curriculum subtopic:  Read a Wide Range of High-Quality Texts

Difficulty level:  

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QUESTION 1 of 10

This worksheet will help you develop your understanding of poetry.

Read the following poem written by Wilfred Owen (1893–1918), a soldier, in the trenches of World War One. 

 

 

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


Futility


Move him into the sun -

Gently its touch awoke him once,

At home, whispering of fields unsown.

Always it woke him, even in France,

Until this morning and this snow.

If anything might rouse him now

The kind old sun will know.

 

Think how it wakes the seeds, -

Woke, once, the clays of a cold star.

Are limbs, so dear-achieved, are sides,

Full-nerved - still warm - too hard to stir?

Was it for this the clay grew tall?

- O what made fatuous sunbeams toil

To break earth's sleep at all?

Hope - stock photo

 

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

This poem is about an injured and probably dead soldier in World War One. What country is it set in?

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium.  Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres. - stock photo

England

Germany

France

What is the poet questioning in the poem?

Why we fight in wars when it is a pointless waste of life.

What is the point of creating life if it can be so easily destroyed.

Why it has to be him that discovers the dead soldier.

The poet mainly uses half rhyme rather than full rhyme to make the poem seem more conversational and less formal.

Match the following words from the poem with their half-rhyme partners.

Column A

Column B

sun
sides
once
unsown
seeds
stir
star
France

The poem is structured in two stanzas. What does each stanza begin with?

a command or imperative

a rhetorical question

a simile

The poet uses a mixture of the past and present tense.

Match the following quotations with past or present tense.

Column A

Column B

'Move him into the sun'
present tense
'Always it woke him'
present tense
'Think how it wakes the seeds'
past tense
'Woke once the clays of a cold star.'
past tense

Why do you think that the poet uses a mixture of present and past tenses throughout the poem?

to show the contrast between the soldier's previous life as a farmer and his situation now; life and death

to show how the war hasn't always been going on

to show a contrast between winning and losing the war

What technique is the poet using in his description of the sun:

'The kind old sun will know.'

simile

metaphor

personification

How is the sun being portrayed?

as a friend who is powerless to help the dead soldier

as an enemy who refuses to help the dead soldier

What is the effect of the questions that are directed at the reader in the final stanza? Select three correct answers from below.

to make the reader emotionally involved in the poem

to show a build-up of the poet's emotions

to show that the poet is no longer mourning the dead solider

to challenge the reader to consider why the soldier's life has been wasted

What attitudes and feelings towards conflict are explored in this poem? Select two correct options below.

sympathy and respect for the dead soldier

anger at the waste of life caused by war

anger that the soldier wasn't a better soldier

  • Question 1

This poem is about an injured and probably dead soldier in World War One. What country is it set in?

 

Tyne Cot Cemetery in Ypres, Belgium.  Tyne Cot Commonwealth War Graves Cemetery and Memorial to the Missing is a Commonwealth War Graves burial ground for the dead of the First World War in the Ypres. - stock photo

CORRECT ANSWER
France
EDDIE SAYS
The poem is set in France.
  • Question 2

What is the poet questioning in the poem?

CORRECT ANSWER
What is the point of creating life if it can be so easily destroyed.
EDDIE SAYS
The poet is questioning what is the point of creating life if it can be so easily destroyed.
  • Question 3

The poet mainly uses half rhyme rather than full rhyme to make the poem seem more conversational and less formal.

Match the following words from the poem with their half-rhyme partners.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

sun
unsown
once
France
seeds
sides
star
stir
EDDIE SAYS
sun = unsown
once = France
seeds = sides
star = stir
  • Question 4

The poem is structured in two stanzas. What does each stanza begin with?

CORRECT ANSWER
a command or imperative
EDDIE SAYS
Each stanza begins with a command or imperative.
  • Question 5

The poet uses a mixture of the past and present tense.

Match the following quotations with past or present tense.

CORRECT ANSWER

Column A

Column B

'Move him into the sun'
present tense
'Always it woke him'
past tense
'Think how it wakes the seeds'
present tense
'Woke once the clays of a cold st...
past tense
EDDIE SAYS
'Move him into the sun' = present tense
'Always it woke him' = past tense
'Think how it wakes the seeds' = present tense
'Woke once the clays of a cold star.' = past tense
  • Question 6

Why do you think that the poet uses a mixture of present and past tenses throughout the poem?

CORRECT ANSWER
to show the contrast between the soldier's previous life as a farmer and his situation now; life and death
EDDIE SAYS
The poet uses a mixture of tenses to show the contrast between the soldier's previous life as a farmer and his situation now; life and death.
  • Question 7

What technique is the poet using in his description of the sun:

'The kind old sun will know.'

CORRECT ANSWER
personification
EDDIE SAYS
The poet is using personification in his description of the sun.
  • Question 8

How is the sun being portrayed?

CORRECT ANSWER
as a friend who is powerless to help the dead soldier
EDDIE SAYS
The sun is portrayed as a friend who is powerless to help the dead soldier.
  • Question 9

What is the effect of the questions that are directed at the reader in the final stanza? Select three correct answers from below.

CORRECT ANSWER
to make the reader emotionally involved in the poem
to show a build-up of the poet's emotions
to challenge the reader to consider why the soldier's life has been wasted
EDDIE SAYS
The questions in the final stanza are directed at the reader to make the reader emotionally involved in the poem, to show a build-up of the poet's emotions and to challenge the reader to consider why the soldier's life has been wasted.
  • Question 10

What attitudes and feelings towards conflict are explored in this poem? Select two correct options below.

CORRECT ANSWER
sympathy and respect for the dead soldier
anger at the waste of life caused by war
EDDIE SAYS
The poet feels sympathy and respect for the dead soldier and anger at the waste of life caused by war.
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