SSAT Elementary Level Reading : How to Recognize and Analyze Main Ideas in Poetry Passages

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SSAT Elementary Level Reading

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Poetry Passages

Adapted from “The Duel” by Eugene Field (1888)

The gingham dog and the calico cat
Side by side on the table sat;
'Twas half-past twelve, and (what do you think!)
Not one nor t'other had slept a wink!
The old Dutch clock and the Chinese plate
Appeared to know as sure as fate
There was going to be a terrible spat.
(I wasn't there; I simply state
What was told to me by the Chinese plate!)

The gingham dog went "bow-wow-wow!"
And the calico cat replied "mee-ow!"
The air was littered, an hour or so,
With bits of gingham and calico,
While the old Dutch clock in the chimney-place
Up with its hands before its face,
For it always dreaded a family row!
(Now mind: I'm only telling you
What the old Dutch clock declares is true!)

The Chinese plate looked very blue,
And wailed, "Oh, dear! What shall we do?"
But the gingham dog and the calico cat
Wallowed this way and tumbled that,
Employing every tooth and claw
In the awfullest way you ever saw--
And, oh! how the gingham and calico flew!
(Don't fancy I exaggerate!
I got my views from the Chinese plate!)

Next morning where the two had sat
They found no trace of the dog or cat;
And some folks think unto this day
That burglars stole the pair away!
But the truth about the cat and the pup
Is this: They ate each other up!
Now what do you really think of that!
(The old Dutch clock, it told me so,
And that is how I came to know.)

From whom does the author claim he heard this story?

Possible Answers:

A stranger in a restaurant

The Dutch clock and the Chinese plate

None of these answers

His mother when he was a child

The Gingham dog and the Calico cat

Correct answer:

The Dutch clock and the Chinese plate

Explanation:

This poem is written following a set pattern for each verse, as is commonly done in poetry. Each verse ends with a two line refrain describing how the author heard about the story. For example in the first verse the author says: “(I wasn't there; I simply state; what was told to me by the Chinese plate!)” And in the last verse the author says: “(The old Dutch clock, it told me so, And that is how I came to know.)” This reveals that the author was told about this story by the Dutch clock and the Chinese plate - you can assume that this is not a true story, but rather a silly poem meant for children. 

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