Can You Match the Poem to Its Author?

Marie Hullett

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About This Quiz

While many people had to recite the likes of Walt Whitman or Robert Frost in class, these days; many people are hard-pressed to recall lines of verse. What relies on a red wheelbarrow, again? "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood" ... and then what happened? If you can answer these questions, you just might possess the poetic memory necessary to rise through this quiz like Maya Angelou. 

The word poetry stems from the Greek word poiesis, which means "making." Inside each poem lives a world of its own, although it also necessarily reflects the culture, time and place in which the poet created it. From Homer's "The Odyssey" to Danez Smith's "not an elegy for Mike Brown" — not to mention the generations of spoken-word poetry that likely came before it — the art has naturally evolved over centuries. Whether iambic pentameter from the 8th century B.C. or 2019's insta-poems, when successful, poetry always manages to elicit the same visceral, emotive responses that bring people together and help them feel less alone. 

So, do you think you match the famous poem to its author? You'll have to take the following quiz to find out. As Emily Dickinson says, "the brain is wider than the sky," so you can do this! And don't worry, this isn't your 10th-grade literature class, so you won't have to explicate the symbolism of the bird or the cage afterward. 

"Caged Bird" is a famous poem published in 1983 by which American poet?

"The caged bird sings / with a fearful trill / of things unknown / but longed for still," part of Angelou's famous poem reads. People often discuss the poem in relation to her vocal feelings of confinement and struggle with being an African American woman. As "the caged bird sings of freedom," though, the poem is also viewed as an emblem of hope for the future.

"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" is a bit of an unusual title for a poem, especially for 1952, when it was published. Can you guess the author?

e.e. cummings' rule-defying punctuation and grammar was considered a groundbreaking poetic innovation for the mid-20th century. Though he was widely praised, naturally, many traditionalists rejected his work entirely. This tender poem reads in part, "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in / my heart) i am never without it(anywhere / i go you go,mydear."

"Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary ..." this famous poet wrote. Do you know who authored "The Raven"?

Published in 1845, Allen Poe's musical and macabre "The Raven" remains one of the most famous poems ever written. The poem tells of a talking raven who watches a man mourn his long-lost love. As the poem progresses, the raven describes the man's descent toward madness.

"You do not do, you do not do / any more, black shoe," the poem "Daddy" begins. Do you know who wrote it?

Acclaimed poet Sylvia Plath wrote the biting poem "Daddy," in 1962, just a few years before her death. Readers often interpret Plath's work as confessional and autobiographical and thus read "Daddy" as a work about her real father. Since Plath herself did not discuss the poem in autobiographical terms, though, it may be best to read it as a mythological or psychoanalytical piece.

"We real cool. We / Left school. We / Lurk late. We / Strike straight," this beloved American poem starts. Who wrote it?

"We / Sing sin. We / Thin gin. We / Jazz June. We / Die soon," the rest of Gwendolyn Brooks' 1960 poem reads. From its subject matter to its line breaks and rhyme scheme, the poem defies conventions that make it, quite frankly, too cool for school. Brooks said her inspiration for the poem stemmed from observing a local pool hall full of boys.

"The Road Not Taken" is a poem taught in many a high school literature class. So, do you remember who wrote it?

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference," Frost's famous 1916 poem concludes. The narrative, nearly iambic-tetrameter poem is often hailed as a positive piece about choosing one's own way. However, the title and lines suggest some degree of irony about this euphemistic perspective; in fact, Frost himself said it was about someone "who, whichever road he went, would be sorry he didn't go the other."

"Tonight I Can Write (The Saddest Lines)" is a famous poem translated from Spanish. Do you know the author?

This heartbreaking poem is perhaps one of the Nobel Prize-winning Chilean author's most popular due to its relatable theme. "Tonight I can write the saddest lines. / To think that I do not have her," the 1924 piece reads in part.

The strange innovation of the 1923 poem "The Red Wheelbarrow" has made it possibly one of the most widely discussed poems of all time. Do you know who wrote it?

"So much depends / upon / a red wheel / barrow / glazed with rain / water / beside the white / chickens," this poem reads in its entirety. Among many things, the free verse work has been called "meditative," "pictorial" and an example of 20th-century Imagism. To this day, its self-reflexive ineffability seems to mystify even the most vocal scholars.

"I, too, sing America," the first line of this famous poem reads. Do you know who wrote it?

"I, too, sing America," Hughes' 1926 poem reads, "I am the darker brother. / They send me to eat in the kitchen / When company comes, / But I laugh, / And eat well, / And grow strong." At the poem's close, he maintains, "They'll see how beautiful I am / And be ashamed— / I, too, am America." In this piece, Hughes beautifully depicts how patriotism and personhood cannot be limited by race.

"Howl" is a famous long poem published in 1956. Can you name the Beat poet who wrote it?

According to Ginsberg's bibliographer, frightening hallucinations induced by peyote inspired the epic poem. Due to its sexually explicit and graphic nature, the distributors were arrested and charged with disseminating obscene literature. In 1957, though, the judge ruled that the poem was not obscene.

"One Art" is a famous American poem that begins, "The art of losing isn't hard to master." Can you identify the author?

"Lose something every day. Accept the fluster / of lost door keys, the hour badly spent....Then practice losing farther, losing faster," Bishop's poem reads in part. The poem is written as a villanelle, which is a traditional, repetitive form that seems to reinforce the everyday quality of loss the poem discusses.

"Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy’s Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota" is a title of a poem by which poet?

When published in 1961, the American author's poem was received with some resistance. Since the 13-line poem mostly recounts a pastoral scene ("The cowbells follow one another / Into the distances of the afternoon"), its final line, "I have wasted my life," comes as a surprise to many. Of course, this startling and slightly sad, tongue-in-cheek ending is also what makes it so popular.

"Song of Myself" is a poem published in the popular collection "Leaves of Grass" in 1892. Who wrote it?

The first stanza reads, "I celebrate myself, and sing myself, / And what I assume you shall assume, / For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you." At the time, critics praised the 52-section, free-verse poem for breaking barriers in the poetic form. Many heralded it as "spiritual," while others denounced it for its references to human sexuality.

"Love After Love" is another poem with themes of self-acceptance. Can you guess who wrote it?

Saint Lucian poet and Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott's work begins, "The time will come / when, with elation, / you will greet yourself arriving / at your own door, in your own mirror, / and each will smile at the other's welcome." The poem is often described as an ode to self-love.

"'Hope' is the thing with feathers" is a poem written in 1861 by which author?

"'Hope' is the thing with feathers - / That perches in the soul - / And sings the tune without the words - / And never stops - at all," the first stanza of Dickinson's poem reads. Dickinson, who lived much of her life in isolation, wrote prolific poems like this one on pieces of scrap paper while doing chores.

"Archaic Torso of Apollo" is a widely-read poem first published in 1908. Do you know who wrote it?

Bohemian-Austrian poet Rilke's famous piece tells of the lingering beauty of a long deteriorated, headless and legless sculpture. What's left of it, Rilke's narrator seems to tell the reader, more than compensates for what's missing. It concludes "... for here there is no place / that does not see you. You must change your life."

"September 1, 1939" was written just after the start of World War II. Which of these acclaimed poets wrote it?

English-American poet W.H. Auden wrote "September 1,1939" in deliberate reference to William Butler Yeats' "Easter, 1916." Both poems recount historical error and tragedy and hint at the potentiality for amelioration in the future. "There is no such thing as the State / and no one exists alone; / Hunger allows no choice / To the citizen or the police; / We must love one another or die," Auden's poem goes.

You've probably heard of the poem "The Second Coming" before, but do you know who composed it?

The final lines of Yeats' poem read: "And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?" The poem, which reads as a portent of a dark "Second Coming," has been so widely borrowed from in pop culture that the Paris Review's Nick Tabor called it perhaps "the most thoroughly pillaged piece of literature in English."

Can you correctly name the author of the poem "Phenomenal Woman"?

"It's in the reach of my arms, / The span of my hips, / The stride of my step, / The curl of my lips. / I'm a woman / Phenomenally," Maya Angelou's poem reads. The poem is often hailed as an anthem of self-confidence and empowerment, especially for black women like Angelou.

"Do not go gentle into that good night" is a poem written by who?

"Do not go gentle into that good night, / Old age should burn and rave at the close of day; / Rage, rage against the dying of the light," the first stanza of Thomas' poem reads. When he sent the villanelle to a friend and editor, he enclosed a note that read, "The only person who I can't show the little enclosed poem to is, of course, my father, who doesn't know he's dying."

The poem "Goblin Market" was first published in 1862. Do you know who wrote it?

"Morning and evening / Maids heard the goblins cry: / 'Come buy our orchard fruits, / Come buy, come buy: / Apples and quinces, / Lemons and oranges," Rossetti's famous narrative poem begins. The piece tells of two girls who feel tempted to purchase fruit from goblin merchants. Though many interpret the poem to possess strongly sexual themes, it also has been considered a children's poem.

"How Do I Love Thee?" is a famous sonnet you likely have heard referenced before. Can you correctly identify the author?

Elizabeth Browning wrote this much-loved sonnet for her husband, the poet Robert Browning, in 1850. Although highly famous, many people mistakenly attribute it to to William Shakespeare. "I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight," the poem reads.

"This being human is a guest house. / Every morning a new arrival," this piece by a very famous poet begins. Do you know who wrote "The Guest House"?

Jalal ad-Din Muhammad Rumi, typically referred to as simply Rumi, is a Persian poet who was born more than 800 years ago. Yet his books have sold in the millions of copies across the West in recent years, making him now the most popular poet in the U.S. This particular poem is often used in mindfulness teachings.

"A Woman Speaks," published in 1975, is written by which of these poets?

Lorde, who has self-described herself as a "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet," was a feminist icon and civil rights activist in the '60s and '70s. "Moon marked and touched by sun / my magic is unwritten / but when the sea turns back / it will leave my shape behind," this poem begins.

"The Sad Mother" is a poem by who?

In 1945, Chilean poet Gabriela Mistral became the first Spanish-American author to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature. The first stanza of "The Sad Mother" reads, "Sleep, sleep, my beloved, / without worry, without fear, / although my soul does not sleep, / although I do not rest."

Published in 1910, the poem "If—" begins, "If you can keep your head when all about you / Are losing theirs and blaming it on you ..." Do you know who it's by?

English Nobel Prize-winner Rudyard Kipling wrote this Victorian stoic poem through the voice of a man speaking to his son. The poem emphasizes maintaining restraint, modesty and virtue in a variety of situations that life brings.

The poem "The New Colossus," which reads, in part, "'Give me your tired, your poor, / Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free" is inscribed on the Statue of Liberty. Do you know who wrote it?

American poet Emma Lazarus wrote this poem in 1883 as part of an effort to raise funds for New York monument's construction. In the poem, she contrasts the statue to the Colossus of Rhodes, a wonder of the ancient world, and speaks to America's mission to help the impoverished and persecuted.

The first line of "Daffodils" is "I wandered lonely as a cloud." You might remember hearing it in English class, but do you know who wrote it?

Alternately titled "I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud," this lyric poem is Wordsworth's most famous piece. It details the narrator's intimate, gleeful experience of looking out at a bed of daffodils and how that moment serves to bring pleasure again and again.

"Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?" the enduringly famous "Sonnet 18" begins. Who wrote it?

Perhaps William Shakespeare's most famous sonnet, Sonnet 18 speaks of a "lovely" young man with a "gold complexion," who is even more wonderful than a summer day. Unlike a summer day, the narrator notes, the lovely man cannot fade away — he will forever remain in his poetry.

"Tyger Tyger, burning bright, In the forests of the night; What immortal hand or eye, Could frame thy fearful symmetry?" begins the poem "The Tyger." Which of these poets authored it?

William Blake's 1794 poem is among the most anthologized poems in the English language. The poem grapples with the question of why a god would instill evil and fear into earth — why would a loving creator bring to life a terrifying creature like the tiger, for instance?

"Sonnet X," also called "Death Be Not Proud," was written by which poet in the year 1609?

"Death Be Not Proud" is part of a collection of metaphysical sonnets called "Holy Sonnets" or "Divine Meditations" written by English poet John Donne. The poem seems to offer an argument against death's perceived power, stating that although people might call it "Mighty and dreadful," it is "not so."

"Those Winter Sundays" is a poem written by a famous African-American poet in 1962. Do you know who it was?

The narrator in Robert Hayden's poem recounts his father's early morning wake-ups and cold, thankless existence. Though the narrator feared "the chronic angers of that house," he concludes by saying, "What did I know, what did I know / of love's austere and lonely offices?"

Do you know which feminist poet published "Diving into the Wreck" in 1973?

In "Diving into the Wreck," perhaps the acclaimed poet's most famous work, the narrator compares the struggle of women to deep sea exploration. "I came to explore the wreck./ ... I came to see the damage that was done," Rich writes.

The famous poem "In a Station of the Metro" is just two lines. Do you know who wrote it?

Pound's 1913 poem reads in full: "The apparition of these faces in the crowd; / Petals on a wet, black bough." Many people consider it the "first English haiku." Although it doesn't abide the traditional structure of haiku, it does juxtapose two ideas in an extremely short form. It's also an example of early Modernist poetry, since it broke with traditional meter and avoided the use of verbs.

Speaking of Ezra Pound, the poem "The Waste Land" is dedicated to him. Who wrote it?

T.S. Eliot published "The Waste Land" in 1922. The 434-line piece is rife with allusions to everything from the legend of the Holy Grail to Buddhism to the Western canon. Although very long, drafts reveal Eliot cut it nearly in half since its original edition, in part thanks to Pound's many suggested changes.

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