LITS2002 (E20B) POETRY II
PAST EXAM PAPERS
questions, each from a different section.
In Section A, you may refer to any poets studied in this course but
Section B is limited to those studied in Module Two.
In each answer, you should refer closely to at least TWO
relevant works studied.
Do not repeat substantially the same material in both answers.
Section A: General
you agree with this description of Romanticism? Answer
with reference to the work of TWO poets studied.
2. "The Romantics were not content simply to write poetry -- they
were compelled to write about it." Respond
by comparing the poetry and literary theory of ONE poet studied.
3. With reference to the work of TWO poets studied, discuss the view
that Romantic poetry is "deeply infused with an almost utopian zeal."
Section B: Individual Poets
What light does this quote shed on Shelley’s poetry?
4. "The wilderness has a mysterious tongue / Which teaches awful
doubt, or faith so mild . . . that man may be, / But for such faith,
with nature reconciled" (Shelley, "Mont Blanc").
5. "When I have fears that I may cease to be . . . then on the shore
/ Of the wide world I stand alone, and think / Till Love and Fame to
nothingness do sink" (Keats, "When I Have Fears").
Do Keats’ odes demonstrate this strategy?
Do you agree with this
assessment of Hopkins’ poetry?
6. "A harbinger of Modernism? More likely the last hurrah of
Answer TWO questions.
In each answer, you should refer to the work of TWO poets. You should
show knowledge of FOUR poets in all.
1. Would you agree that “British Romanticism is best divided into two
phases, an earlier and a later”? Answer with reference to the work of
ONE poet studied in Module 1 and ONE poet studied in Module 2.
2. “The poetry of Shelley and Keats is riddled with Existentialist
3. “The preferred Romantic genre.” With reference to ONE poem by Shelley
and ONE by Keats, discuss the formal and thematic characteristics of the
4. “A form of escapism that ignores pressing social and political
issues.” Is this a fair indictment of all nineteenth century poetry?
Answer with reference to the work of TWO poets studied in Module 2.
5. Would you agree that “satire enjoys a resurgence in Victorian
poetry”? Answer with reference to the work of TWO of the following
poets: Tennyson, Robert Browning, Arnold, Hardy, and Hopkins.
6. Comparing Hopkins’ poetry with that of ONE Romantic poet studied in
this course, say whether or not you agree with the claim that Hopkins is
“at heart a Romantic.”
Answer TWO questions. In each answer, you should refer to the work of TWO poets.
1. Is there a single ‘Romanticism’? Answer with reference to the work of
ONE poet studied in Module 1 and ONE studied in Module 2.
2. "The Sea of Faith / Was once, too, at the full . . . But now I only
hear / Its melancholy, long withdrawing roar" (Arnold). Discuss with
reference to the work of TWO poets studied in Module 2.
3. "The point is not merely to interpret the world, but to change it"
(Marx). Discuss with reference to the work of TWO poets studied in Module 2.
4. "The ode, in its apparent formlessness, anticipates in many ways
Modernist free verse." Discuss with reference to the work of TWO poets
studied in Module 2.
5. Does the adjective ‘Victorian’ denote a distinctive kind of poetry? Answer with reference to the work of ONE Romantic poet and ONE of the
following poets: Tennyson, Browning, Arnold, Hardy, Hopkins.
6. By comparing Dunbar’s poetry with that of ONE other poet studied, say
whether or not you would classify him as a ‘Romantic’ poet.
(Dr. Nicola Hunte)
TWO (2) questions.
Your answer must be in essay format. You must
demonstrate knowledge of the works of
FOUR poets overall: TWO poets for each
1. “An understanding of the nature of God
infuses Romantic expression.” Discuss.
2. Keats observes that his poetical
character is “that sort distinguished from the Wordsworthian egotistical
sublime.” Do you agree that this distinction is characteristic of the
relationship between the First and Second Wave Romantics?
3. Explain the difference between the use
of the first person speaker in Victorian dramatic monologue and Romantic
4. “Victorian poetry demonstrates a clear
break with the optimistic pantheism of the Romantics.” Do you agree?
5. With close reference to the work of
TWO Victorian poets, critically assess
the representation of the black and/or
female voice in poetry.
6. “Romantic poetry, unlike that of the Victorian era,
is remarkably out of touch with the human condition.” Discuss.
Answer TWO (2) questions.
1. A "spilt religion" (T. E. Hulme). Referring closely to
the work of TWO poets, say whether you agree with this characterisation of
2. "I seem as in trance sublime and strange / To muse on my
own separate fantasy" (Shelley "Mont Blanc"). Discuss the ways in which the
poetry of Shelley and Keats challenges many of the assumptions of the ‘first
wave’ of Romantic poetry.
3. Is Victorian poetry, in your view, "essentially
neo-Romantic" poetry? Answer with reference to the work of TWO such poets.
4. "Most often a polemic directed against the oppression of
women." Discuss with reference to the work of TWO female poets.
5. How is the "I" altered (Curran) in poetry written by TWO
African Americans during this period?
Answer TWO (2) questions.
1. Referring to the work of any TWO (2) poets,
examine Lovejoy’s view that there is more than one kind of Romanticism.
2. "Every reflecting mind must allow that there is no proof
of the existence of a Deity" (Shelley The Necessity of Atheism). What
light does this claim shed on his poetry?
3. What does Shelley mean when he writes in "A Defence of
Poetry" that poetry is the "expression of the imagination"?
4. "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." Of what
relevance is Keats’ epitaph to an understanding of his odes?
5. "Philosophically, Hardy was a nihilist." Discuss with
reference to his poetry.
6. What aspects of Hopkins’ poetry might be described as
Course not offered.
Course not offered.
Answer TWO (2) questions in all, one from section A and the other from
Section A: Module 2: Political Perspectives on / Alternative
Voices of the Nineteenth Century:
1.Edward Said argues that European imperialism and its concomitant ills
(slavery, racism, etc.) constitute a most often overlooked, but nevertheless
major, determinant of nineteenth century literature. Discuss this claim with
reference to the work of two (2) poets studied in this module.
2."She had lived / A sort of cage-bird life, born in a cage, /
Accounting that to leap from perch to perch / Was act and joy enough for any
bird." Discuss the narrative techniques by which Elizabeth Barrett Browning
critiques the condition of nineteenth century women in Aurora Leigh.
Section B: Module 3: the Victorians:
3.Laurence Lerner claims that so-called Victorian poetry is merely a
"continuation of the Romantic tradition." Discuss these claims with
reference to two (2) poets studied in this module.
4.Where the lyric poem invites us to identify persona and poet, in dramatic
poetry we are encouraged to recognise them as different. Discuss the role of
irony in Robert Browning’s poetry in the light of this statement.
5.Examine the "tensions between science and Christian belief" in
the work of two (2) poets studied in this module.
Course not offered.
Answer TWO (2)
of the following questions.
1."Imagination for the view of poetry, nature for the view of the world,
and symbol and myth for poetic style." (René Wellek) In the light of
this definition of Romantic poetry, consider whether the poetry of Shelley and
Keats is characteristically ‘Romantic.’
2.Examine how the "I" is "altered" (Stuart Curran) in the work of
(2) of the following poets:
- Charlotte Smith,
- Felicia Hemans,
- Letitia Landon.
3.Compare the responses of Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Christina Rossetti
in Aurora Leigh and Goblin Market respectively to Victorian
stereotypes of femininity.
4.Through close reference to the work of
two (2) poets, discuss the
view that Victorian poetry is an "important vehicle for social
5.Consider the dialectic of tradition and innovation in Victorian poetry with
reference to the work of two (2) of the following poets:
- Robert Browning,
Answer TWO (2)
questions. You should
NOT choose both questions
from the same section. In your answers, you should play close attention to
matters of literary technique.
1.Through close reference to specific poems which you have read, compare the
use made by Shelley and Keats of the ode.
2."It is probably true to say that Charlotte Smith, Felicia Hemans and
Letitia Landon were in many ways themselves often influential upon, far from
being entirely influenced by, the male Romantic poets." Do you agree with
3."Does the ‘Queen’ try to sound like the ‘King,’ imitating his
tone, his inflections, his phrasing, his point of view? Or does she ‘talk back’
to him in her own vocabulary, her own timbre, insisting on her own viewpoint?
(Gilbert and Gubar) Discuss Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s Aurora Leigh
in the light of this query.
4."Are God and Nature then at strife?" Tennyson asks. To what
degree does In Memoriam constitute a profound questioning of Wordsworth’s
5.Compare Robert Browning’s use of the dramatic monologue with Coleridge’s
achievement in his so-called ‘conversation poems.’
6."His poetry oscillates in an almost Blakean way between the optimism
that accompanies innocence and a pessimism that is the product of
experience." Discuss this assessment of Hopkins’s poetry.
Answer TWO of the following questions. Students should not
repeat substantially the same material in more than one question. Students are
also reminded to pay close attention to matters of literary technique in
answering any question.
1. Through close reference to the poetry of at least one poet which you have
studied this semester, outline some of the formal and thematic
characteristics of what M.H. Abrams has termed the ‘greater Romantic lyric.’
2. "Shelley’s poetry is a compelling mixture of hope and despair,
idealism and uncertainty." Discuss with close reference to one or more of
3. "As his short life drew to a close, he increasingly sought refuge in
the stasis and beauty of art from the flux and miseries of time." What
light does this comment shed on Keats’s odes?
4. Literary historians often draw a clear line between the Romantic and
Victorian periods. Referring closely to the work of one Victorian poet which you
have studied, show how such a clear-cut distinction may be questioned.
5. "A moving personal record of Tennyson’s psychological recovery from
grief and the regeneration of his religious faith." Do you agree with this
assessment of In Memoriam?
6. Examine Browning’s use of the dramatic monologue.