Quiz 2

Monday, April 22.

The quiz will consist of three questions, each worth five points. For each question, you will read an excerpt from a poem or essay. From a list of 4 options, select the literary movement, period or mode that the text represents or refers to (1 point). Then answer the question, “How did you know?” (4 points).

Time: 45 minutes. You may consult a print dictionary, to be provided by the instructor.


Sample question. Read the following lines:

I am a little world made cunningly
Of elements and an angelic sprite,
But black sin hath betray’d to endless night
My world’s both parts, and oh both parts must die.
You which beyond that heaven which was most high
Have found new spheres, and of new lands can write,
Pour new seas in mine eyes, that so I might
Drown my world with my weeping earnestly,
Or wash it, if it must be drown’d no more.
But oh it must be burnt; alas the fire
Of lust and envy have burnt it heretofore,
And made it fouler; let their flames retire,
And burn me O Lord, with a fiery zeal
Of thee and thy house, which doth in eating heal.


1. These lines are representative of:

(a) Metaphysical poetry (1 point)
(b) The eighteenth century or Augustan era
(c) British romanticism
(d) Victorian baroque

2. How did you know?
Possible answers include:
-This is a Petrarchan sonnet, which was a popular form in the late sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries. (2 points)
-It’s by John Donne, a Metaphysical poet. (1 point)
-The poem unites the mortal and the divine, or the microcosm and the macrocosm. Thus a single person is compared to a whole world, composed of material and celestial “parts.” (1 point)
-The metaphors are highly condensed. The speaker does not waste time in explaining all the analogies (e.g., tears are like the ocean). Densely entwined figures like these are known as metaphysical wit. Eighteenth-century critics found the technique unnecessarily showy, referring to unrelated ideas “yoked by violence together.” (3 points)
-The poet-speaker addresses God in an intimate manner. (1 point)
-Some of the metaphors come from the domain of astronomy. During the Renaissance, developments in astronomy were changing the way people conceived of the “spheres,” heaven, and God. (2 points)
-This is a world of moral absolutes, in which the only way to be disburdened of sin is through Christlike suffering and sacrifice. This stance is characteristic of the Metaphysical poets. (1 point)


Terms for study

A span of time distinguished by political and cultural trends, and which also gave rise to distinctive literary styles or subject matter.

  • The Renaissance or early modern period, c. 1485-1616
  • The Restoration and the eighteenth century (also known as the Augustan period, the Enlightenment, or the age of sensibility)
  • Romanticism: British, c. 1789-1848; American, c. 1830-1900
  • Victorian era, 1837-1901
  • Modernism, c. 1900-1960
  • Postmodern and/or contemporary period, c. 1960-

A group of writers who lived around the same time and place and who held common values about technique, merit, and the artist’s role in society.

  • Cavalier
  • Metaphysical
  • Romantic (yes, you can call it a period or a movement, and no, you needn’t worry about that)
  • “High” modernism; closely associated with the New Criticism
  • Harlem Renaissance
  • Imagism and Objectivism
  • Confessional poetry
  • Black Arts Movement
  • New Formalism
  • Later 20th-century experimental forms
  • Spoken word and slam

Poetic conventions that occur in multiple periods and styles of poetry.

  • Ballad
  • Epic
  • Elegy
  • Essay in verse
  • Lyric
  • Manifesto
  • Mock-epic or mock-heroic
  • Ode
  • Pastoral



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