Can You Fill in the Missing Words in These Famous American Poems?


By: Isadora Teich

6 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

Think you know your American poems inside out? While a lot of literature has become such a part of pop culture that people take it for granted, there are just as many famous poems out there. Many people tend to decide they don't like poetry without even giving it a chance, but that doesn't mean they have never encountered any of it. Literature has been shaping and informing American culture for centuries, and poetry plays a bigger role in that than many people realize. Poets often act as voices for entire eras, ideas and ideals. They are both voices of rebellion and reflection. 

Poetry can take many forms and serve many different purposes. It can be highly structured, like a sonnet or a haiku, or have little to no form at all. Some poems are only a few words long, while other single poems can fill up whole books on their own. From Whitman to Plath to Ginsberg to Hughes, American history is rich with different forms, emotions, times, places and experiences. 

If you know your American poets and their works inside and out, see if you can fill in the missing words in these poems and complete them with this quiz! 

"The caged ______ sings with a fearful trill Of things unknown but longed for still And his tune is heard on the distant hill for The ______ bird sings of freedom."

Bird is the correct answer. This is an excerpt from "I know why the caged bird sings" by Maya Angelou.


"Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!" Quoth the __________, "Nevermore."

"The Raven" is a famous poem by horror genre pioneer Edgar Allan Poe. Some say he even invented the detective story before Arthur Conan Doyle created the famous Sherlock Holmes.


"Dying is an _______, like everything else. I do it exceptionally well."

"Lady Lazarus" is a poem by Sylvia Plath. Her struggle with mental illness is documented throughout her works.


"But O heart! heart! heart! O the bleeding drops of red, Where on the deck my _________ lies, Fallen cold and dead."

"O Captain! My Captain!" is a poem by Walt Whitman. He is considered by many to be the father of free verse poetry.


"Give all to _________; Obey thy heart; Friends, kindred, days, Estate, good fame, Plans, credit, and the muse; Nothing refuse."

This is the opening stanza of the poem "Give All To Love" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. It urges the reader to love wholly and without restraint.


"Whosever ________ this is should be ashamed! His underwear is hanging on the lamp."

This is the start of the poem "Messy Room" by Shel Silverstein. The most famous work of this Chicago-born writer is the children's book "The Giving Tree."


"Two roads diverged in a _________, and I, I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference."

"The Road Not Taken" is a poem by Robert Frost. These are its closing lines.


"i carry your _________ with me(i carry it in my heart)i am never without it (anywhere i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done by only me is your doing, my darling)"

"[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]" is a poem by E. E. Cummings. He is known for his experimental style.


"He, the young and strong, who cherished Noble longings for the strife, By the roadside fell and perished, Weary with the march of __________!"

"Footsteps of Angels" is a poem by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. This poem's main theme is death.


"There is another _________, Ever serene and fair, And there is another sunshine, Though it be darkness there;"

This begins the poem "There is another sky" by Emily Dickinson. She was a New England poet who lived a reclusive life.


" ____________ I've given you all and now I'm nothing. America two dollars and twenty seven cents January 17, 1956. I can't stand my own mind. America when will we end the human war?"

"America" is a poem by Allen Ginsberg. It was written in Berkeley, California in 1956.


"For the moon never beams without bringing me dreams Of the beautiful Annabel __________;"

"Annabel Lee" is a poem by Edgar Allan Poe. It was his last complete poem.


"We are the hollow ______ We are the stuffed men Leaning together Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!"

"The Hollow Men" is a poem by T.S. Eliot. He was an early 20th century poet born in Missouri.


"with joy you realize for the first time 'thinking's just like not ___________- So I don't have to think any more"

This is the ending of the poem "How to Meditate" by Jack Kerouac. He was a pioneer of the Beat Generation of writers.


"The apparition of these ________ in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough."

"In A Station Of The Metro" is a poem by Ezra Pound. This is the poem in its entirety.


"You cannot make love to _________ if you cannot pretend concrete needs your loving"

This is a piece of the poem "Making Love To Concrete" by Audre Lorde. This 20th century poet began writing poems as a child.


"We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us, and we _________."

These are the closing lines of the poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot. He was a Harvard educated poet.


"What happens to a dream deferred Does it dry up Like a ______ in the sun?"

This is the beginning of the poem "A Dream Deferred." It is by Langston Hughes.


"So dawn goes down to day. Nothing _______ can stay."

These are the last lines of the poem "Nothing Gold Can Stay." It is by Robert Frost.


"Because I could not stop for _______%0DHe kindly stopped for me The Carriage held but just Ourselves And Immortality."

"Because I could not stop for Death" is a poem by Emily Dickinson. She suffered from depression throughout her life and often wrote about death.


"I SING the _____ electric; The armies of those I love engirth me, and I engirth them;"

"I Sing the Body Electric" is a poem by Walt Whitman. He was very controversial for exploring sexuality in his work.


"O skinny legions run outside O starry spangled shock of mercy the eternal _______ is here O victory forget your underwear we're free"

"Howl" is a poem by Allen Ginsberg written for Carl Solomon. It was written between 1955-56 in San Francisco.


"You fit into me like a hook into an ______ A fish hook An open eye"

"You Fit Into Me" is a short poem by writer Margaret Atwood. This is the entire poem.


"The moonlight fades from flower and rose And the stars dim one by one; The tale is told, the song is sung, And the ________ feast is done."

Louisa May Alcott wrote this poem. She is best known for writing the novel "Little Women."


"why do you need a bad _______? you need to be tortured, don't you? you think life is rotten if somebody treats you rotten it all fits, doesn't it?"

"I'm In Love" is a poem by Charles Bukowski. He is known for his works, which follow him living rough around the US.


"Let _________ be _________ again. Let it be the dream it used to be. Let it be the pioneer on the plain Seeking a home where he himself is free."

This is from the poem "Let America Be America Again." It is by the famous Harlem Renaissance poet Langston Hughes.


"Today we woke up to a revolution of _______, its white flag waving over everything, the landscape vanished,"

These are the first lines of the poem "Snow Day" by Billy Collins. Collins is an award-winning poet with several books of poetry.


"Who bides at home, nor looks abroad, Carries the eagles, and masters the _________."

These are the closing lines of the poem "Fate" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. He was a poet, philosopher and essayist.


"poem supposed to be about one minute and the lives of three __________ in it writing it and up the block a woman killed by her husband"

This is the beginning of the poem 4:02 p.m. by Suheir Hammad. She was born in Amman, Jordan to Palestinian refugee parents before moving to America as a child.


"Birds _________ in the dark —Rainy dawn."

This poem is one of Jack Kerouac's Haikus. He wrote several of them.


"Under a spreading chestnut-tree The village smithy stands; The smith, a mighty man is he, With ________ and sinewy hands;"

The poem is "The Village Blacksmith" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was a 19th century poet from New England.


"I am fourteen and my skin has betrayed me the ______ I cannot live without still sucks his thumb in secret"

"Hanging Fire" is a poem by Audra Lorde. She was a novelist, poet and essayist.


"Daddy, I have had to ________ you. You died before I had time——"

"Daddy" is a poem by Sylvia Plath. She is known for her poems and only novel "The Bell Jar."


"Tree you are, Moss you are, You are _______ with wind above them."

"A Girl" is a poem by Ezra Pound. He is considered to be one of the main fathers of modernist poetry.


"why didn't you take my ________? they usually do from the sleeping drunken pants sick in the corner. next time take my left arm or a fifty but not my poems:"

This poem is called "To The Whore Who Took My Poems" by Charles Bukowski. It details a prostitute stealing his poems and paintings, when he wishes she had just taken his money.


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