Year 7

Form and Structure in 'If We Must Die'

Year 7

Form and Structure in 'If We Must Die'

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Lesson details

Key learning points

  1. In our fourth lesson on the poem 'If We Must Die', we will look at the sonnet form and see what Claude McKay has in common with William Shakespeare. We will look at how McKay uses and plays with a tradition of poetry which stretches back over 800 years.

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8 Questions

Q1.
What is imagery?
A picture which you see next to the poem
It is your imagination
Correct answer: Language which draws on the five senses to build pictures in your mind
The five senses: sight, sound, taste, smell and touch
Q2.
What is a metaphor?
Correct answer: A word or a phrase used to describe something as if it were something else
A word or phrase used to describe something by comparing it to something else using ‘like’ or ‘as’.
A word or phrase which draws on the five senses to build pictures
A word or phrase which sounds like the sound that it makes
Q3.
Which of these is a simile to describe the treatment of the oppressed in the poem?
Like dogs
Correct answer: Like hogs
Like monsters
Like precious blood
Q4.
Which quotation includes brutal bestial imagery?
'If We Must Die'
'like hogs'
Correct answer: 'mad and hungry dogs'
'thousand blows'
Q5.
What does it mean to be dignified?
Acting like animals
Nervous and scared
Correct answer: Noble, honourable and calm
Oppressed
Q6.
What can we call these letters: t, k, p d, g, and b?
Explosives
Correct answer: Plosives
Plurals
Spitters
Q7.
Which of these words from the poem contains plosives?
Correct answer: Bark
Lies
Men
Vain
Q8.
Why does McKay use plosives in 'If We Must Die'?
To create a beautiful image
Correct answer: To create harsh, violent but also inspiring sounds
To make the poem explode
To use figurative language

8 Questions

Q1.
What does a sonnet contain?
Correct answer: 14 lines, iambic pentameter, a tight rhyme scheme and a volta
Love, tradition and conflict
Oppression and dangerous language
Rhyming couplets, a loose metre and a cyclical structure
Q2.
Why did Claude McKay use the sonnet form for 'If We Must Die'?
Because he did not know any other forms of poetry
Because he loved Shakespeare
Correct answer: Because he wanted the poem to be a dignified response to oppression
Because he was writing traditionally about love
Q3.
What is iambic pentameter?
Correct answer: A metre which has 5 pairs of syllables following the pattern: stressed, unstressed
A metre which has 5 syllables in each line
A metre which is a heartbeat
A metre which was invented by Shakespeare
Q4.
Why might McKay use iambic pentameter?
So that he doesn't get told off about using the wrong metre
Correct answer: To deliver a controlled but inspiring response to the violence
To sound like a heartbeat which is a pulse
To sound really frightened and worried
Q5.
What is the rhyme scheme of 'If We Must Die'?
AABB CCDD EEFF GG
Correct answer: ABAB CDCD EFED FF GG
ABAB CDCD EFEF GHGH
ABBA ABBA CDCDCD
Q6.
Why does McKay use the rhyme pairs 'die-defy', 'brave-grave' and 'back-pack'?
Because he wanted to emphasise the sadness of death
Because these are the rhymes of the sonnet form
To show that he is a good poet who can rhyme
Correct answer: To show that his community will fight back against the threat of death
Q7.
What is a volta?
A form of poetry
A time to turn back on yourself
Correct answer: A turn of thought or argument
A type of pole used in gymnastics
Q8.
Which of these lines is the volta in the poem 'If We Must Die'?
'Like men we’ll face the murderous, cowardly pack'
Correct answer: 'O kinsmen! we must meet the common foe!'
'So that our precious blood may not be shed'
'While round us bark the mad and hungry dogs'