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


By: Zoe Samuel

5 Min Quiz

Image: shutterstock

About This Quiz

No man is an island. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. Halfway up the stairs is a stair where I sit. When the boys come back they will not be the same...

All of these are lines from some of the most famous works by some of the most famous poets in British history. Whether Scottish, Welsh, English, Northern Irish or from the various outlying islands, poets have been using the language of Shakespeare to create beautiful work since the beginning of British history and the English language. This came into being in a recognizable form as early as the Roman period, and then despite the name, began to truly flourish during the Dark Ages. There were a great many Anglo-Saxon poems, from Beowulf to Dream of the Rood, to Seafarer, that were recited by minstrels and written down on vellum or parchment. After them came the Middle English poetry of Geoffrey Chaucer and his contemporaries.

Once the Renaissance got underway, the English language was still not standardized, but as a great many people became literate, they began to use it in new and exciting ways. This led to William Shakespeare, widely held up as one of the greatest writers in all of human history, and contemporaries such as the Metaphysical poets. Dr. Johnson and the other dictionary writers (many of them poets) then standardized Modern English, and as the Industrial Age brought about the Romantic poets such as Samuel Taylor Coleridge and William Wordsworth. More and more women had access to literature at this point, and had a chance to have their work seen. This leads us to our modern writers such as Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and Jamaican-born Benjamin Zephaniah.

Truly knowing British culture means knowing them all! How many do you know by heart?

I am ____ dog at Kew / Pray tell me sir, whose dog are you?

This is one of Alexander Pope's shortest poems, seen here in its entirety. It was engraved on the collar of a puppy given to his friend, the Prince of Wales.


April is the ____ month, breeding / Lilacs out of the dead land...

This is from T. S. Eliot's poem, "The Wasteland".


That is no country for old men. The young / In one another's arms, the birds in the ____....

This is from "Sailing to Byzantium" by W. B. Yeats.


Stop all the ____, cut off the telephone / Prevent the dog from barking with that juicy bone...

This is from W. H. Auden's poem "Stop All the Clocks", written in honor of his dead lover.


What immortal hand or eye / Could frame thy ____ symmetry?

This is from William Blake's poem, "Tyger", an ode to the beauty of tigers.


...the Shepherdesses Charms, / Whose soft bewitching ____, / Had Damn'd him to the Hell of Impotence.

This is from "The Disappointment" by 17th century poet Aphra Behn.


Corinna wakes, a dreadful sight! / Behold the ruins of the ____!

This is from Jonathan Swift's very angry poem "A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed" about a woman who takes off her makeup, then her face, and so on.


Take some Picts, Celts and Silures / And let them settle, / Then overrun them with Roman ____...

This is from Rastafarian poet Benjamin Zephaniah's poem "The British", an ode to the melting pot of British culture.


Fair fa' your honest, sonsie face, / Great ____ of the Puddin' race!

This is from Scottish poet Rabbie Burns' poem, "Address to a Haggis". It's a very long poem about a meaty Scottish dish.


Do not go gentle into that good night. / ____, ____, against the dying of the light

This is from Dylan Thomas' villanelle, "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" about fighting against a premature or undeserved death.


What is't that ails young Harry Gill? / That _____ his teeth they chatter....

This is from William Wordsworth's comedy poem "Goody Blake and Harry Gill" about a mean rich man who is cruel to an old widow and becomes cursed to never be warm again.


We make more fuss of ballads than of _____....

This is from Wendy Cope's poem "Engineers' Corner", about how there is no monument to engineers in Westminster Abbey, though there is one for poets.


When by thy scorn, O ____, I am dead / And that thou think'st thee free...

This is from John Donne's creepy poem "The Apparition", about a man who blames a woman for rejecting him and thus resulting in his death, and threatens to stalk her from beyond the grave.


Had we but world enough, and time / This ____ lady, were no crime

These are the opening lines of Andrew Marvell's poem "To His Coy Mistress"


Dear friends, we surely all agree / There's almost nothing ____ to see

This is from Roald Dahl's poem, "Dear Friends, We Surely All Agree", about the evils of chewing gum.


Come friendly bombs, and fall on ____! It isn't fit for humans now.

Slough is a town in England that frankly, isn't very nice. Poet John Betjeman wrote his poem "Slough" about it.


And each man stands with his face in the light of his own drawn sword, / Ready to do what a ____ can

This is from "Napoleon III In Italy" by Elizabeth Barrett Browning.


All the pheasants ever ___ / Won't repay for one man dead

This is from Mark Beaufoy's poem "A Father's Advice", written to his son to encourage gun safety.


If you can wait and not be tired by waiting / Or being lied about, don’t deal in ____

This is from Rudyard Kipling's poem "If", which is about how to be a man.


I'm not the first or the last to stand on a hillock / Watching the man she married prove to the world he's a total, utter, absolute, Grade A ____

This is the entirety of the poem "Mrs. Icarus" by Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy. It's part of her book "The World's Wife" in which women in the lives of famous men are given the voice to comment on their situation.


In ____ did Kubla Khan / A stately pleasure dome decree...

This is the opening line of Samuel Taylor Coleridge's famous poem "Kubla Khan".


Something there is that doesn't love a _____

This is from Robert Frost's poem "Mending Walls" which is about how boundaries affect people's ability to get on with each other.


Remember me when I am gone away / Gone far away into the ____ land...

This is the opening line of Christina Rossetti's famous poem, "Remember", that is often read at British funerals.


I hate the dreadful ____ behind the little wood...

This is the opening line of George Gordon, Lord Byron's utterly weird monodrama, "Maud".


Out flew the web and floated wide / The mirror ____ from side to side!

This is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's famous epic poem, "The Lady of Shalott".


Then all at once I saw a cloud / A host of golden _____

This is from William Wordsworth's Romantic poem, "Daffodils".


Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? / Thou art more lovely and more _____

This hails from probably the most famous sonnet of William Shakespeare, "Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?"


Fools rush in where ____ fear to tread!

This comes from Alexander Pope's poem "Essay on Criticism", which is about how small time critics think they are more important than they are!


Here is no home, here is but ____ / Forth, pilgrim, forth!

This comes from Geoffrey Chaucer's poem "Good Counsel".


The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a ____ of hell, a hell of ___...

This comes from John Milton's great poem "Paradise Lost", which he wrote to be the English language equivalent of epics like Homer's Odyssey.


____ my heart, three-person'd God, for you / As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend

This comes from the metaphysical poet John Donne, whose sonnet "Batter my heart" begins with these lines.


You would not tell with such high ____ / To children ardent for some desperate glory....

This is Wilfred Owens, the World War I poet, and hails from his powerful poem "Dulce Et Decorum Est", which means "it is sweet and proper".


I think it is a ____ but I'm not quite certain / Nanny isn't certain too

This is from A. A. Milne and begins "In the corner of the bedroom is a great big curtain / Someone lives behind it but I don't know who!" Brownies are a little pixie-like creature that apparently live behind curtains.


La belle dame sans merci hath thee in ____!

John Keats' poem tells us that "La belle dame sans merci hath thee in thrall!"


James ____ Morrison _____ Weatherby George Dupree...

In "Disobedience" by A. A. Milne, we learn that "James James Morrison Morrison Weatherby George Dupree, took good care of his mother, though he was only three."


Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!