English Literature (Classic and Modern)
Gie me a spark o’ nature’s fire,
That’s a’ the learning I desire;
Then, though I drudge through dub an’ mire
At pleugh or cart,
My muse, though hamely in attire,
May touch the heart.
— Burns, “Epistle to J. Lapraik, An Old Scotch Baird, 1 April 1785”
Use this quotation as the starting point for an essay on primitivism in English poetry of
. . . ’twas a time when Europe was rejoiced,
France standing on the top of golden hours,
And human nature seeming born again
— Wordsworth, The Prelude (1805), VI, 352-4
Use this quotation as the starting point for an essay on the French Revolution and English
poetry of the Romantic period.
’Tis to create, and in creating live
A being more intense, that we endow
With form our fancy, gaining as we give
The life we imagine, even as I do now . . .
Soul of my thought! with whom I traverse earth,
Invisible but gazing, as I glow
Mixed with thy spirit, blended with thy birth,
And feeling still with thee in my crushed feelings’ dearth.
(Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, III, 46-54)
Write an essay on the construction of the self as an expressive and/or explorative strategy
in the poetry of the period.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure dome decree . . .
Discuss the treatment and significance of exotic settings and motifs in the poetry of the
“What we witness in the poetry of the Romantic period is the adaptation,
revision, and internalization of traditional myths, motifs, and values”.
Discuss, referring to specific passages as well as to larger, formal or structural analogues.
“It is the peculiar quality of a definitive poet that he always seems to have a
special relevance to the preoccupations of one’s own age” (Northrop Frye).
Discuss what you believe to be the ‘special relevance’ of the poetry of the period to our
own political or cultural predicament.
Alone, alone, all, all alone,
Alone on a wide wide sea;
And never a saint took pity on
My soul in agony.
— Coleridge, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
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