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Semester Examination

M.A. English (Year I)

Poetry (MAENG101)

Time Duration: 3:00 Hrs. Max. Marks: 70

Min. Marks: 28
Attempt any five questions: - (5*14)

I. Prove ‘The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales’ is a Narrative poetry.

II. Discuss the significance for the poem ‘Progress of Poesy’.
III. Write a detail central idea for ‘The Rime of the Ancient Mariner’.
IV. How will you say ‘Absalom and Achitophel’ is a Satire Poetry?
V. Describe the elements of the ‘The Poison Tree’.
VI. Explain the Epic Poetry of John Milton with the help of few examples.
VII. Give a detail note on the ‘Ode to autumn’.
Answer 1.
The Canterbury Tales is a long narrative poem written in verse. The General
Prologue to the CanterburyTales is the introductory part of the main poem. It begins
with the description of the place around andthe seasonal changes. Then the narrator
starts to describe all the pilgrims individually who are going toSaint Thomas Becket's
tomb.A frame story or frame narrative is a literary technique which is one of the
most popular literarytechniques used in storytelling. In other words, when a
long story carry a short story inside it, it's calledthe frame narrative. Sometimes this
serves as a companion piece to a story within a story, where anintroductory or main
narrative is presented. The frame narrative may also be used to allow readers
tounderstand a part of the story, then jump to another part that can now be
The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales is a good example of frame narrative poetry.
Chaucer is praised by the critics as one of the four great story-tellers of the world. He
represents all the characters in his poemdramatically and in realistic way. However,
his prologue to Canterbury tales is the story of thecharacters.Chaucer at first
gather in Tabard inn with the pilgrims with whom he was going to the tomb of
St.Thomas Becket. The pilgrims tell many tales but the tales of those pilgrims are told
by Chaucer which ismore delightful. The way he describes them seemed like the
reader himself was with Chaucer. Thenarrator decides to describe all the characters
individually.Chaucer introduces the pilgrims, who aremainly stock characters. They
are totally different from each other and get very different personalities. Itseemed
like their descriptions are individual stories. He identified them all by
their occupations. Buttheir descriptions are ironic.For example, the 1st character of
this prologue is 'The Knight' who is a gentle, wise, truthful, bravewarrior. He fought
in different battle and succeed. Most important thing is he love chivalry or heroic
act.On the other hand, his son 'The Squire' has the opposite personalities. The
narrator said about him inthe poem,'A lovyere and a lusty bacheler.' (
The General Prologue to the Canterbury Tales,
line- 80)He acts like a hero or a brave man in front of his father. But truly he loves to
play flute and sing songs.He is a young loving bachelor. He passes his leisure
by singing, dancing, drawing and writing.Though the Squire is supposed to be like his
father he is totally different. According to many critics it isthe representation of the
difference between generations. So where the Knight and his son are differentfrom
each other, no doubt other characters have variety of personalities.However, by the
end of this prologue we can able to know that all the characters in this prologue
aregoing to tell their stories on the way to and from Canterbury. The name is proving
that it is not the mainstory rather the main stories are coming. This prologue is
actually the frame work for all of those tales.So we can said that 'the prologue of the
Canterbury tales' is a frame narrative.

Ans 3.
"The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" occurs in the natural, physical world-the land
and ocean. However, the work has popularly been interpreted as an allegory of
man's connection to the spiritual, metaphysical world. In the epigraph, Burnet
speaks of man's urge to "classify" things since Adam named the animals. The
Ancient Mariner shoots the Albatross as if to prove that it is not an airy spirit, but
rather a mortal creature; in a symbolic way, he tries to "classify" the Albatross. Like
all natural things, the Albatross is intimately tied to the spiritual world, and thus
begins the Ancient Mariner's punishment by the spiritual world by means of the
natural world. Rather than address him directly; the supernatural communicates
through the natural. The ocean, sun, and lack of wind and rain punish the Ancient
Mariner and his shipmates. When the dead men come alive to curse the Ancient
Mariner with their eyes, things that are natural-their corpses-are inhabited by a
powerful spirit. Men (like Adam) feel the urge to define things, and the Ancient
Mariner seems to feel this urge when he suddenly and inexplicably kills the
Albatross, shooting it from the sky as though he needs to bring it into the
physical, definable realm. It is mortal, but closely tied to the metaphysical, spiritual
world-it even flies like a spirit because it is a bird.
The Ancient Mariner detects spirits in their pure form several times in the poem.
Even then, they talk only about him, and not to him. When the ghost ship
carrying Death and Life-in-Death sails by, the Ancient Mariner overhears them
gambling. Then when he lies unconscious on the deck, he hears the First
Voice and Second Voicediscussing his fate. When angels appear over the sailors'
corpses near the shore, they do not talk to the Ancient Mariner, but only guide his
ship. In all these instances, it is unclear whether the spirits are real or figments of
his imagination. The Ancient Mariner-and we the reader-being mortal beings,
require physical affirmation of the spiritual. Coleridge's spiritual world in the poem
balances between the religious and the purely fantastical. The Ancient Mariner's
prayers do have an effect, as when he blesses the water-snakes and is relieved of
his thirst. At the poem's end, he valorizes the holy Hermit and the act of praying
with others. However, the spirit that follows the sailors from the "rime", Death,
Life-in-Death, the voices, and the angels, are not necessarily Christian archetypes.
In a move typical of both Romantic writers and painters, Coleridge locates the
spiritual and/or holy in the natural world in order to emphasize man's connection
to it. Society can distance man from the sublime by championing worldly
pleasures and abandoning reverence for the otherworld. In this way, the wedding
reception represents man's alienation from the holy - even in a religious tradition
like marriage. However, society can also bring man closer to the sublime, such as
when people gather together in prayer.

(7)Ans : Ode to Autumn is an unconventional appreciation of the autumn season.

It surprises the reader with the unusual idea that autumn is a season to rejoice.
We are familiar with Thomas Hardy's like treatment of autumn as a season of
gloom, chill and loneliness and the tragic sense of old age and approaching
death. Keats sees the other side of the coin. He describes autumn as: "Season of
mists and mellow fruitfulness! / Close bosom friend of the maturing sun". He
understands maturity and ripeness as one with old age and decay. Obviously thin,
old age is a complement to youth, as death is to life. Keats here appears as a
melodist; he seems to have accepted the fundamental paradoxes of life as giving
meaning to it. The very beginning of the poem is suggestive of acceptance and
insight after a conflict.
The subject matter of this ode is reality itself at one level: Keats depicts the
autumn season and claims that its unique music and its role of completing the
round of seasons make it a part of the whole. Although autumn will be followed by
the cold and barren winter, winter itself will in turn give way to fresh spring. Life
must go on but it cannot continue in turn give way to fresh spring. Life must go on
but it cannot continue without death that completes one individual life and begins
another. This is indirectly conveyed with the concluding line of the ode: "And
gathering swallows twitter in the skies". In one way, this gives a hint of the coming
winter when shallows will fly to the warm south.
The theme of ripeness is complemented by the theme of death and that of death
by rebirth. So, in the final stanza, the personified figure of autumn of the second
stanza is replaced by concrete images of life. Autumn is a part of the year as old
age is of life. Keats has accepted autumn, and connotatively, old age as natural
parts and processes them.
Among the six wonderful Odes of Keats To Autumn occupies a distinct place of its
own, for it is, in execution, the most perfect of his Odes. Many critics agree in
ranking To Autumn first among Keats’ Odes. Its three eleven-line stanza
ostensibly do nothing more than a season; no philosophical reflections intrude.
His simple love of Nature without any tinge of reflectiveness and ethical meaning
finds expression in To Autumn. The scented landscape in the first stanza, and the
music of natural sounds in the last stanza would have been enough for most
poets, but the effect would have been incomplete without the figures of the
winnower, the reaper, the gleaner and the cider-presser which give a human
touch to Autumn. Although the poem contains only three stanzas, Keats has been
successful in expressing the beauty, the charm, the symphony of Autumn, and the
ageless human activities in the lap of Nature.
To Autumn is, in a sense, a return to the mood of the Ode on Indolence-«making
the moment sufficient to itself. It is, apparently, the most objective and descriptive
poem, yet the emotion has become so completely through it. There is no looking
before and after in this poem as Keats surrenders himself fully to the rich beauty
of the season. He is not troubled by the thought of the approaching winter nor by
that of the vanished spring. In this approach to Nature he remains the great artist
that he was. Neither philosophy taints his thoughts, nor does sorrow cloud his
vision. Other poets have thought of Autumn as the season of decay. But to Keats,
Autumn was the season of mellow fruitfulness and happy content. He is content
with the autumn music, however pensive it may be.
There are no echoes in it, no literary images; all is clear, single, perfectly attuned.
Our enjoyment of the beauty and peace of the season is disturbed by no romantic
longing, no classic aspiration, no looking before and after, no pining, for what is
not, no foreboding of winter, no regret for the spring that is gone, and no prophetic
thought of other springs to follow. To Autumn expresses the essence of the
season, but it draws no lesson, no overt comparison with human life. Keats was
being neither allegorical, nor Wordsworthian. Keats in this poem is almost content
with the pure phenomenon. He describes Nature as she is.
This is the secret of Keats’s strength, his ability to take the beauty of the present
moment, so completely into his heart that it becomes an eternal possession. For
him the poetry of the earth is never dead. It is noteworthy that To Autumn is the
only major poem of Keats that is completely unsexual. Woman as erotic object
has been banished from this placid landscape. Keats’ sense of the wholeness of
life is nowhere communicated so richly or with such concentration as in this Ode.
The characteristic tension of the other Odes makes them more passionate,
perhaps, but leaves them with a sense of strain. Here all is relaxed and calm, life-
4. Dryden was a famous English poet, best known for his satirical poetry. His
Absalom and Achitophel characters is considered as one of his best political
satire. The poem is allegoric in nature. Dryden uses the device of allegory in order
to criticize the political situation of his time.

The restoration of England Monarchy began in 1660. Before Restoration, Oliver

Cromwell was ruling over England and subsequently his son Richard Cromwell.
During these several years, there was no monarchy in England. In 1610, English,
Scottish, and Irish monarchies were all restored under Charles II.

In 1681 in England, Charles II was in his advanced years and had no legitimate
heirs. His brother, James II was not liked by people because of his intense incline
towards Roman Catholics. On the other hand, James Scott, the illegitimate son of
King Charles and the Duke of Monmouth, was very popular for both his personal
charisma and his favor for the Protestants. Moreover, there was also a prevailing
tussle among the Wighs and Tories.

When Charles’ health suffers, there was a panic in the House of Common over
the chances of the nation being ruled by a Roman Catholic King. People were
eager to see Duke of Monmouth as their future king, but according to the law of
succession, he could not rule the nation. Wighs ignited the fire of rebellion against
King Charles. The James Scott was manipulated by Earl of Shaftesbury to rebel
against his father. The James Scott was caught preparing to rebel and this lead to
his execution by the orders of James II in 1685.

Dryden wrote this poem on King’s demand. Through this poem, Dryden
lampooned the Wighs and Earl of Shaftesbury. However, he did not use harsh
criticism for James Scott. Absalom and Achitophel veils its political satire under
the transparent disguise of a Biblical Story. This poem perfectly depicts the
existing crisis and political issues of the contemporary society.

Absalom was persuaded by Achitophel to rebel against King David. Absalom

symbolizes James Scott and Achitophel symbolizes Earl of Shaftesbury. Dryden,
using the Biblical Allegory, satirizes Achitophel and those who were following him.
The satire proceeds from leader to the followers: the Whigs. Through his poem,
Dryden wants to tell King Charles that James Scott was not guilty because the
person who inflamed the will of rebellion in James Scott was Earl of Shaftesbury.
The poem also satirized King Charles but not in harsh words. He criticized the
King by mentioning his “many wives and slaves”.

Absalom and Achitophel remains the greatest political satire in English Literature,
partly because of its judicious and moderate satire and partly because of its true
depiction of the follies and vices that prevails in a particular section of the nation.

6. Definition
Epic poetry refers to long poems which are modelled on a range of classical epics.
These include:
 Ancient Greek poems, such as: Homer's Iliad, which tell the stories of the fall
of the city of Ilium
o Homer's Odyssey, which recounts the adventures of Odysseus
 Ancient Roman poems, such as:
o Virgil's Aeneid, which tells of the founding of Rome by the hero

The epic is usually a long, book-length poem (hence a common usage of the word
to mean ‘lengthy'), and is usually divided into cantos, or chapters, often called
‘books'. Originally, the term epic would have referred to oral folk poetry, whose
originator would not be known and which would be told aloud. The literary epic,
however, refers to the epics that are written down and whose authors are known.

Epic conventions
Epic poetry follows the conventions used in the classical epics. These conventions

 The invocation, in which the gods are invoked in support of the poet at the
beginning of the poem
 Starting in medias res, a Latin phrase for ‘in the middle of things'. The epic
tends to thrust the reader into the heat of the action and explain the
background story later
 A statement of the theme of the poem, usually in the first few lines
 Use of deus ex machina, a literary device in which the gods provide a
miraculous solution or diversion in the plot
 A patriotic focus, such as the founding or fall of a great city. To support this,
epics frequently give details of the genealogy of heroes, or catalogue the
ships in a fleet, for example.


 The epic tends to use elaborate sentence structure and to draw

upon Latinate, rather than Anglo-Saxon, vocabulary. This increases the sense
of importance of the plot, protagonist(s) and location of the poem
 Epic poetry also tends to use epic similes, similes which are longer than usual
and extremely detailed, to the extent that they may temporarily take over
the narrative of the text. These are also known as Homeric similes.


 Epics tend to emphasise war and fighting, thus demonstrating the bravery (or
otherwise) of its characters
 There is usually a struggle of some kind, which may be mental as well as
physical, which the hero must overcome
 The gods feature heavily in classical epics as the source of human events,
and writers often show the gods playing with humankind for amusement.


 The Faerie Queene (1596), by Edmund Spenser, is one of the longest

poems in English,and tells of a fairy queen called Gloriana, and the successes
and struggles of her kingdom. It is a thinly-disguised tribute to Queen
Elizabeth I and the Tudor dynasty
 John Milton's Paradise Lost (1667) is one of the most famous epics in
English Literature. Milton tells the story of the Fall of Adam and Eve and
expulsion from the Garden of Eden, as told in the book of Genesis. Though
Adam is ostensibly the hero, Milton's vivid and often sympathetic descriptions
of Satan have caused critics to debate the hero-figure in Paradise Lost. Like
the classical epics, Milton opens his poem with a statement of his theme and
an invocation.