CommonLit is a digital library of leveled texts: poems, articles, short stories, and historical documents. One of poems you are able to find on CommonLit is “On Turning Ten.” Well, here we are going to share information about On Turning Ten answers key and other information related to that poem.
On Turning Ten – Overview
“On Turning Ten” was published in the poet Billy Collins’s 1995 collection The Art of Drowning. Billy Collins is one of the most popular contemporary United States poets. He is known for his humorous and conversational poems. His poem parodies a long tradition of birthday poems, where the older poets reflect, frequently quite depressingly and with a bit of self-absorption, on their encroaching mortality. In this poem, the speaker is a child facing the prospect of turning ten with dread and horror. Wistfully reminiscing regarding his life up until this time, the speaker contrasts the imagination and also sense of invulnerability of early childhood with the painful loss of innocence which he has to face in growing up.
On Turning Ten Answers Key
Here is On Turning Ten answers key:
- Which of the following best summarizes a theme of the poem?
a. Imagination is constrained by age.
b. Growing old is a universal fear, even though it feels unique to the individual.
c. Growing up means letting go of the carefree innocence of childhood.
d. Nature reflects the human cycle of life.
Answer: c. Growing up means letting go of the carefree innocence of childhood.
- Which of the following phrases best supports the answer to Part A?
a. “The whole idea of it makes me feel / like I’m coming down with something.” (Lines 1-2)
b. “But now I am mostly at the window / watching the late afternoon light.” (Lines 17-18)
c. “Back then it never fell so solemnly / against the side of my tree house, / and my bicycle never leaned against the garage / as it does today, / all the dark blue speed drained out of it.” (Lines 19-23)
d. “This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself, / … It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends, / time to turn the first big number.” (Lines 24-27)
Answer: d. “This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself, / … It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends, / time to turn the first big number.” (Lines 24-27)
- Reread lines 5-7: “a kind of measles of the spirit, / a mumps of the psyche, / a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.” What does this description reveal about the speaker’s attitude towards aging?
a. The speaker feels physically nauseated by age and older people.
b. The speaker compares his feelings about growing up to sickness, suggesting that he does not have a positive outlook on it.
c. The speaker likens aging to sickness, believing it to be a physically arduous process.
d. The speaker fears aging because he associates it with sickness and dying.
Answer: b. The speaker compares his feelings about growing up to sickness, suggesting that he does not have a positive outlook on it.
- Which of the following best describes the tone of stanza 3?
Answer: a. Sullen
On Turning Ten Poem (by Billy Collins)
The whole idea of it makes me feel
like I’m coming down with something,
something worse than any stomach ache
or the headaches I get from reading in bad light–
a kind of measles of the spirit,
a mumps of the psyche,
a disfiguring chicken pox of the soul.
You tell me it is too early to be looking back,
but that is because you have forgotten
the perfect simplicity of being one
and the beautiful complexity introduced by two.
But I can lie on my bed and remember every digit.
At four I was an Arabian wizard.
I could make myself invisible
by drinking a glass of milk a certain way.
At seven I was a soldier, at nine a prince.
But now I am mostly at the window
watching the late afternoon light.
Back then it never fell so solemnly
against the side of my tree house,
and my bicycle never leaned against the garage
as it does today,
all the dark blue speed drained out of it.
This is the beginning of sadness, I say to myself,
as I walk through the universe in my sneakers.
It is time to say good-bye to my imaginary friends,
time to turn the first big number.
It seems only yesterday I used to believe
there was nothing under my skin but light.
If you cut me I could shine.
But now when I fall upon the sidewalks of life,
I skin my knees. I bleed.
Summary of “On Turning Ten” poem
Thinking about turning 10 makes the speaker feel like he is getting sick. The speaker explains that this feeling is more unpleasant than a minor sickness like a stomach ache or a headache. The speaker realizes that the readers might think he is too young to be feeling so nostalgic for the past. However, the speaker argues, they feel this way because they do not remember their early childhoods. By contrast, the speaker can still remember every year he has lived so far. He tells many fantastical identities that he has assumed throughout his childhood up until now. When he was four years old, he was an Arabian wizard with magical powers. When he was seven years old, he was a soldier. And when he was nine years old, he was a prince.
The speaker concludes that sadness has entered his life. And that he has to continue moving throughout the vast world with his sneaker’s shoes without the imaginary friends and magical happiness of his youth. He has to accept his fate and finally turn 10. He reflects that, he thought that he was composed of pure light. Thus, if he were injured, he would simply shine. However, now, he knows that he is vulnerable to real pain and injury, that if he were to scrape his knees on the sidewalk, he would draw blood.