Talking to the Wall

poem by Robert Schechter , illustrated by Tohby Riddle

Learning intention:

I am learning to identify and understand the purpose and meaning of idioms so that I can use them appropriately in my own writing.

Success criteria:

  • I can explain the meaning of the idiom ‘might as well be talking to the wall’.
  • I can identify the author’s purpose for using this idiom in his poem.
  • I can use this idiom appropriately in my own poem.

Before reading the poem, discuss student understanding of the idiom ‘talking to the wall’. Remind students that an idiom is a type of figurative language and is not related to the literal meaning of its words.

Read the poem, then ask students if they think their earlier understanding was correct, or if they can guess the meaning of the phrase now that they have context from the poem. If not already identified, explain that the phrase means that there is no point in communicating with someone because the other party isn’t listening or is being stubborn.


Ask students to identify the repetition in the poem. This should include:

‘And yet I know I might as well be talking to the wall’ at the end of the first, third and fifth stanzas

‘I beg’ in the first and third stanzas

The second and fourth stanzas starting with ‘Because in’


Discuss why the man in the poem wants to stop the leaves and snow from falling and the Earth from turning (perhaps he doesn’t like the cold and doesn’t want the seasons to change). Students should brainstorm other things that they are unable to stop from happening, such as the sun shining or wind blowing.

Using the ideas from their brainstorm, students should write their own version of the poem in the text. It should include the repetition of the lines ‘And yet I know I might as well be talking to the wall’ along with the ABCB rhyme scheme.