Scaffolding Poem Summary Meanings Answers

Scaffolding poem study material is given here. The meanings, summary, solutions, explanations and poetic devices all are given here. The study material is based on the English textbook.

Poem: Scaffolding by Seamus Heaney

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall

-By Seamus Heaney - 1939-2013


This is a simple poem with a deeper significance. The poet takes a cue from the masons building a structure, securing it with scaffolding. Just as scaffolding, initially required for a structure to stand, till it gains its own strength, human relations are also the same. The poet believes that masons when they start a building, are careful about the scaffolding. If the scaffolding is strong and secure, they can go further, building the structure. Planks are kept carefully so as not to slip at busy points, ladders are secured, and bolts are tightened around the joints. However, once the building is complete, all the scaffolding comes down and is removed. Similarly, the poet addresses his friend, that in the case at any point of time his friend thinks that all the old ties between he and his friend are breaking, he/she should not fear or worry. He says that while we may have let the scaffolds fall but rest assured that they have built their wall. It means that they have a strong relationship. He wants to remind us that friendships are important in life. Here, Heaney makes a link between constructing scaffolding and building a friendship. Good friends don’t need outside help when they’ve taken the time to build a strong foundation. 


mason – a person skilled in building with stone and bricks

careful – cautious

scaffolding – support structure erected to build a wall of any building

planks – wooden flat narrow pieces used to make foundations, flooring and bed

slip – fall or collapse

busy points – here it means the most travelled portions on planks

breaking – collapsing

old bridges – old things and activities that used to connect and build a relationship

Textbook Exercise


  1. a. The masons have to make sure that planks don’t slip at busy points.
    b. A building or any structure is being built.
    c. The ladders should be secured because masons have to do their job of building a structure and while doing so, they have to climb floors, so the ladders have to be secured.
  2. a. The poet uses ‘yet’ because earlier he is talking about securing planks ladders, and tightening bolted joints but as soon as the building is made all these things are taken off the structure.
    b. ‘All this’ refers to ladders, planks, bolts and other necessary stuff that goes into scaffolding
    a building.
    c. The ‘job’ is to build a structure/ a building.
    6 Scaffolding
  3. a. The speaker is asking his friend not to fear.
    b. The wall symbolises the relationship between two people.
    c. The speaker is confident about his/ her relationship with his friend.


  1. The masons test the scaffolding before starting upon a building. They check the planks, ladders and
    the bolts.
  2. Scaffolding is tested by making sure that the planks won’t slip at busy joints, securing the ladders
    and tightening the bolted joints.
  3. Once the wall is built the scaffolding is removed.
  4. Once the scaffolding is removed, once can see the complete structure or the wall.
  5. The speaker doesn’t fear the breaking of the bridges because he is sure that a solid structure or a
    wall between the two friends has been built.
  6. The speaker is confident about his relationship and bonding with his friend. Just as a building requires
    ample scaffolding and once the structure is ready the scaffolding is removed. Similarly, the speaker
    feels that between him and his friend the scaffolding has been removed, old bridges have been broken
    yet the solid structure or the wall is there and it is strong enough. This means that no matter what
    happens he shares a good bond with his friend and they don’t have to worry about their friendship.
    It is everlasting. He wants to show the importance of scaffolding but also highlights that the structure
    once made is solid and can endure anything.

Poetry Appreciation


A. The rhyme scheme is aa bb cc dd ee. The structure of the poem is five couplets with rhyme. Seamus Heaney chose this to reflect the careful, well-planned structure of the scaffolding. It reflects that scaffolding is the key aspect for any building. Rhyme reflects the effectiveness of the idea behind the poem.

B. bridges breaking between, sure and solid stone

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Yaar class 7 madhubun publications ki wind chimes ke saare chapters dal to do yaar. Pichle 2 mahino se request kar rahi hoon

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