LITS3001 (E30A) MODERN POETRY
Answer TWO (2) questions in all, one from Section A and one from Section B.
1. With reference to the work of at least two poets studied, discuss what is characteristically ‘modernist’ about them.
2. The World War I poets have been described as ‘anti-Romantic.’ Discuss with reference to at least four poems.
4. "Eliot’s style in The Waste Land is fragmented and dislocated and avoids the coherence and closure that is the goal of traditional poetry." Discuss.
5. In "Tradition and the Individual Talent," Eliot was one of the first theorists to emphasise the intertextuality of poetry. What do you understand by this concept and what role, if any, does it play in his early poems?
6. To what extent can Langston Hughes be described as a modernist poet? Refer to at least four of his poems in answering this question.
Answer TWO (2) questions.
1. "Much Modernist poetry is vehemently anti-Romantic." Discuss with reference to TWO (2) poets studied.
2. Discuss the techniques employed by TWO (2) of the following poets to condemn the horrors of war: Siegfried Sassoon, Isaac Rosenberg, and Wilfred Owen.
3. "A manifesto for Imagism." Discuss the light shed on the poetry of either Williams or Pound by Pound’s "A Retrospect" .
4. With what justification might Eliot’s poetry, up to and including The Wasteland, be described as "intensely nihilistic"?
5. With reference to selected examples drawn from his poetry, discuss Eliot’s notion of the ‘objective correlative.’
6. "All art is propaganda and ever must be" (Du Bois). Of what relevance is this comment to the poetry of Langston Hughes?
AnswerTWO (2) questions in all, one from Section A and one from Section B.
1. What features of Yeats’s poetry would justify describing it as ‘Romantic’?
2. “Yeats’s poetry is dominated by a powerful sense of the tragic: the structure of existence inevitably defeats all human desire and effort.” Discuss.
3. “The apparition of these faces in the crowd: / Petals on a wet, black bough.” In what ways does Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” illustrate the main principles of Imagism?
4. “The medium is the message” (McLuhan). To what extent is this statement applicable to Eliot’s early poetry?
5. “The poem juxtaposes apparently unrelated speaking voices, symbolism, myth and allusion to bewildering effect. As a result, its meanings are ambiguous and the fragments do not comprise an ordered whole. But precisely this, the poem illustrates, is the human condition.” Consider The Wasteland in the light of this description.
6. Poets of the Harlem Renaissance “sought less to engage with the dominant white poetic tradition than to express the attitudes, experiences, ways of life, and imaginative styles of black people in forms that would speak to them because they were theirs" (Perkins). Discuss with reference to the poetry of Cullen and / or Hughes.
AnswerTWO questions in all.
1.Either Is it correct to describe all Yeats’s poetry as "unavoidably Irish"?
Or An aged man is but a paltry thing, / A tattered coat upon a stick, unless / Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing / For every tatter in its mortal dress. . . . ("Sailing to Byzantium") Discuss the so-called ‘last poems’ written by Yeats in the light of this quotation
2. Illustrating your answer with reference to at least THREE poems, outline the main tenets of Imagism.
3.Either "The essential advantage for a poet is not to have a beautiful world with which to deal: it is to be able to deal with beauty and ugliness, to see the boredom and the horror and the glory" (Eliot). Discuss with reference to at least ONE of Eliot’s early poems.
Or "You cannot say, or guess, for you know only / A heap of broken images. . . ." Examine Eliot’s poetic technique in The Wasteland in the light of this statement.
4. Langston Hughes found in jazz the "instrument best fitted to express the rebelliousness of a whole people" (Jean Wagner). Discuss with reference to selected examples of his poetry.
Answer TWO (2) questions, one from section A and one from section B.
1. With reference to at least two works, discuss what you understand by the term 'Modernism.'
2. Examine the impact of one of the following on the work of two poets studied:
3. Referring to at least four of his poems, discuss Yeats's concern with the antithesis of either youth / age or nature / art or both.
4. Referring to at least four of his poems, comment on the changes in theme and style evident over Yeats's career.
5. Using evidence from the poem, explain why The Waste Land has been considered the chief example of Modernism in poetry.
6. Do you agree that Dylan Thomas's poetry shows a "celebration of the glory and joy of life despite the inevitability of death"?
7. Using the work of either Langston Hughes or Countee Cullen or Claude McKay, discuss the insights offered into the experience of Afro-Americans.
Answer TWO (2) questions, one from section A and one from section B. Do NOT write on the same poets in each question.
1.Discuss those aspects of the work of TWO (2) poets studied this semester which you would describe as specifically ‘modernist.’
2."There are two trends in modern poetry: the impersonal and the highly personal." Discuss with reference to the work of TWO (2) poets studied this semester.
3."The heroic cry in the midst of despair." What light do Yeats’ words here shed on the poems which he wrote in the last few years before his death?
4.Discuss Eliot’s use of the dramatic monologue.
5."The Harlem Renaissance is a significant moment in the development of African American cultural nationalism." Discuss the poetry of either Claude McKay or Langston Hughes or Countee Cullen in the light of this comment.
Answer TWO (2) questions, each from a different section. Do NOT write on the same poets in each question.
1. "Much Twentieth century poetry explicitly or implicitly seeks to ‘unsay’ the Romantics." Discuss with reference to the work of TWO poets whom you have studied this semester.
2. Examine the impact of ONE of the following on the work of TWO poets that you have studied this semester:
3. The ‘impersonal theory of poetry’ advanced by Eliot "merely crystallised a prominent trend among poets of the era to distance themselves from their creations." Discuss the merits of this claim with reference to TWO poets whom you have studied.
4. "A way of controlling, of ordering, of giving a shape and a significance to the immense panorama of futility and anarchy which is contemporary history." In the light of this statement, discuss the various narrative strategies employed by Eliot in The Wasteland.
5. "Yeats’s poetry is shaped by his tendency to think in terms of antitheses. These, he thought, were ultimately responsible for the tragic structure of existence." Discuss with reference to TWO of the following pairs: nature/art; youth/age; body/soul; animal/man; anarchy/order; change/stasis; existence/essence.
6. "The form of much of Stevens’s poetry is the same as its subject: the human mind thinking about reality." Do you agree?
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Answer TWO (2) of the following questions. Students are reminded that they will be penalised for focusing on content to the exclusion of matters of literary technique.
1. "The dialectic of tradition and innovation is a powerful force informing the work of many of the Modernist poets." Discuss with reference to TWO such poets whom you have studied.
2. With reference to any TWO poets whom you have studied this semester, discuss the view of John Crowe Ransom and others of his ilk that a poet’s life ought to have no bearing on the criticism of his or her poetry.
3. Discuss the impact upon any TWO poets whom you have studied this semester of any of the following schools of thought:
4. With reference to TWO contemporary poets whom you have studied, discuss some of those features of their poetry which might be described as characteristically postmodernist.
5. "The ‘eternity of artifice’ attracts Yeats for a long while, but in the final analysis he returns to the ‘foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart’ in order to embrace the ‘fury and mire of human veins.’" Discuss.
6. "The Wasteland represents the lowest point of Eliot’s despair." Comment upon this assessment of Eliot’s poetry as a whole?
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For the 1993-1994 exam, please click here.
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