CLEP Humanities : Analyzing the Form of Nineteenth-Century Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Analyzing The Form Of Nineteenth Century Poetry

A limerick is a poem marked by what features?

Possible Answers:

Five lines with a strict rhyme scheme

Fourteen lines with an alternating rhyme scheme

Three lines of five, seven, and five syllables respectively

Eight lines of rhyming iambic pentameter

Twenty lines of non-rhyming iambic pentameter

Correct answer:

Five lines with a strict rhyme scheme

Explanation:

The limerick is a popular short poem form originating in the British Isles and named after a city in Ireland. A limerick always consists of five lines, with a strict rhythm, and an AABBA rhyme scheme. Limericks are frequently humorous and made of doggerel and satiric statements.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Form Of Poetry

Because I could not stop for Death,
He kindly stopped for me;
The carriage held but just ourselves
And Immortality

The above stanza of a poem is an example of which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Common meter

A haiku

Iambic pentameter

A sonnet

A cinquain

Correct answer:

Common meter

Explanation:

"Common meter" is the name of a simple but specific poetic format, with four lines per stanza, and an alternating rhythm and rhyme scheme. The first and third lines of a common meter poem are eight syllabes in four iambs, while its second and fourth lines are six syllables in three iambs; the rhyme scheme is a simple abab. Emily Dickinson, who wrote the poem from which the stanza in question was excerpted, wrote most of her poems in the common meter.

Example Question #2 : Analyzing The Form Of Nineteenth Century Poetry

A haiku, a three line poem with lines of 5,7, and 5 syllables, was developed in the literary tradition of which country?

Possible Answers:

China

Korea

Russia

Japan

Indonesia

Correct answer:

Japan

Explanation:

A haiku is a distinctive form of poetry which is a key feature of the Japanese literary tradition. In addition to its strict form, with each line having only a small number of syllables, the poem's structure also requires a kiru, or "cutting." This shift in tone and emphasis midway through the poem creates a paradox and dichotomy that is central to the genre.

Example Question #3 : Analyzing The Form Of Nineteenth Century Poetry

Which of the following writers wrote poems in common meter about the people and surroundings of Amherst, Massachusetts?

Possible Answers:

Ralph Waldo Emerson

William Wordsworth

Edgar Allen Poe

Walt Whitman

Emily Dickinson

Correct answer:

Emily Dickinson

Explanation:

Emily Dickinson spent essentially her entire life in the environs of Amherst, Massachusetts, and most of her poems deal with reflections on life in that community and her family. This simplicity of subject was reflected in her use of the simple common meter, which had an alternating rhyme scheme in four line stanzas featuring alternating lines of four and three iambs each. Despite the seeming simplicity of Dickinson's poems, they often ventured into ruminations on death, love, and loneliness.

Example Question #4 : Analyzing The Form Of Nineteenth Century Poetry

In poetry written in trochaic tetrameter, each line contains how many feet?

Possible Answers:

Six

Seven

Five

Ten

Four

Correct answer:

Four

Explanation:

In descriptions of poetic meter, the first word indicates the kind of poetic feet, or units of measure, in the line, while the second indicates the number of feet. In "trochaic tetrameter," the feet are trochees, or two syllable feet that each consist of a stressed followed by an unstressed syllable. "Tetrameter" indicates there are four feet per line. This meter was famously used in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's poem The Song of Hiawatha.

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