Sunday Quiz – Waxing Lyrical!

Robert Browning, from his poem ‘Home Thoughts From Abroad’: ‘That’s the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over, Lest you should think he never could recapture The first fine careless rapture!’

Dear Readers, this week I thought I’d try something different for the quiz. Below are some photos of birds, and in a strangely uncharacteristic burst of generosity, I’m also going to tell you what species the birds are.  What I want you to do is to try to match the poem to the bird. Extra points if you can tell me who the poet was (and one poet is featured more than once)  So, if you think poem a) relates to the house sparrow (1), your answer is a) 1.

As usual, if you don’t want to be influenced by those who answered earlier, write your responses down before you pop them into the comments. Obviously you can play without going public with your answers, but if you want to be ‘marked’, please note that the deadline is 5 p.m. on Monday UK time. The solutions will be published on Tuesday. Have fun!


“But who is stronger than death?
Me, evidently.”


“My feet are locked upon the rough bark.
It took the whole of Creation
To produce my foot, my each feather:
Now I hold Creation in my foot

Or fly up, and revolve it all slowly –
I kill where I please because it is all mine.
There is no sophistry in my body:
My manners are tearing off heads.


How he sings for joy this morn!
How his breast doth pant and glow!
Look you how he stands and sings, 
Half-way up his legs in snow!


Everyone for what he likes!
We like to be
Heads down, tails up,
Dabbling free!

High in the blue above,
Swifts whirl and call –
We are down a-dabbling
Up tails all!


I caught this morning morning’s minion, king-
dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn xxxxxx, in his riding
Of the rolling level underneath him solid air, and striding 
High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing
In his ecstasy!


When the wave snaps shut over his blue head, the
remains water–hunger is the only story
he has ever heard in his life that he could
I don’t say he’s right. Neither
do I say he’s wrong. Religiously he swallows the
silver leaf
with its broken red river, and with a rough and
easy cry
I couldn’t rouse out of my thoughtful body
if my life depended on it, he swings back
over the bright sea to do the same thing, to do it
(as I long to do something, anything) perfectly.


Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert, 
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still doth soar, and soaring ever singest. 


He’s no artist.
His taste in clothes leans towards
the dowdy and second hand.
And his nest — that blackbird, writing
pretty scrolls on the air with the gold nib of his beak
would call it a slum. 


My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk;
‘Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,-
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, 
In some melodious plot 
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 


Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter
In there stepped a stately …… of the saintly days of yore.
Not the least obeisance made he: not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door – 
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door – 
Perched and sat, and nothing more. 

Photo One by Joe Ravi / CC BY-SA (

1) House sparrow (Passer domesticus)

Photo Two by Neil Smith from from

2) Skylark (Alauda arvensis)

Photo Three by Mr TinDC from

3) Mallards (Anas platyrhynchos)

Photo Four by Tony Hisgett from Birmingham, UK / CC BY (

4) Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Photo Five by Andreas Trepte / CC BY-SA (

5) Common kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)

Photo Six by Brian Gratwicke at

6) Raven (Corax corax)

Photo Seven by Roger Batt from

7) Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)


Photo Eight by Bernard DUPONT from FRANCE / CC BY-SA (

8) Carrion crow (Corvus corone)

Photo Nine by Imran Shah from Islamabad, Pakistan / CC BY-SA (

9) Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)

Photo Ten by Kev Chapman from

10) Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)


6 thoughts on “Sunday Quiz – Waxing Lyrical!

  1. Anne

    a8 Ted Hughes; b9 Ted HUghes; c4 W.H. Davies; d3 Kenneth Grahame; e5 Gerard Manley Hopkins; f7 Mary Oliver; g2 Percy Bysshe Shelley; h1 Norman MacCraig; i10 John Keats; j6 Edgar Allan Poe.
    This was really fun!

  2. Sarah

    This is my favourite quiz yet! I know six of the poems (and love them) and enjoyed guessing the others. It wasn’t hard… you can’t really confuse a kingfisher with a sparrow (both of those are new poems to me).
    a 8
    b 9
    c 4
    d 3
    e 5
    f 7
    g 2
    h 1
    i 10
    j 6

  3. gertloveday

    I am so impressed by the literary knowledge shown above. I only got four. 3D Kenneth Graham
    5E Gerald Manley Hopkins. 2g Shelley. 10 i Ode to a Nightingale Keats.


Leave a Reply