CLEP Humanities : Identifying Titles, Authors, or Schools of Twentieth-Century Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for CLEP Humanities

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Example Questions

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Example Question #14 : Poetry

The author of the poem The Waste Land is __________.

Possible Answers:

W. H. Auden

T. S. Eliot

A. A. Milne

E. E. Cummings

W. B. Yeats

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

The Waste Land is a lengthy poem, spanning nearly 434 lines, and narrates a modernist story about the Fisher King and the Holy Grail. A landmark of Modernist Poetry from its initial publication in 1922, it enhanced the already considerable reputation of its author, T.S. Eliot. An Anglo-American himself, Eliot became one of the most well known writers on both sides of the Atlantic, and eventually won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948.

Example Question #1 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

What South American author first gained fame as a 19 year old with his 1924 collection Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair?

Possible Answers:

José Martí

Jorge Luis Borges

Pablo Neruda

Gabriel García Márquez

José Hernández

Correct answer:

Pablo Neruda

Explanation:

The erotically-infused poems of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair caused an uproar when the collection was published in 1924. In addition to its literary worth, the fact that a 19-year-old, Pablo Neruda, wrote about such topics was considered scandalous. Neruda would remain a well known literary figure for the next fifty years of his life, winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Which twentieth-century American poet was well known for writing in blank verse about scenes from rural New England?

Possible Answers:

Robert Frost

Wallace Stevens

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Carl Sandburg

Anne Sexton

Correct answer:

Robert Frost

Explanation:

Robert Frost lived nearly his entire life in New England, particularly living as an adult in rural New Hampshire, which provided the settings for many of his poems. Although on the surface Frost's poems appeared to be bucolic tales of rural life, a darker subtext was usually present. Frost was a national icon by the time he died in 1963, having won four Pulitzers for poetry and the Congressional Gold Medal in 1960.

Example Question #2 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Which confessional American poet wrote the chronologically presented collection of poems Live or Die (1967)?

Possible Answers:

Sylvia Plath

Allen Ginsberg

John Berryman

Anne Sexton

Robert Lowell

Correct answer:

Anne Sexton

Explanation:

"Confessional poetry" is a term denoting poetry that emerged in the 1950s and 1960s that saw poets admit to mental illness, past traumas, and other personal issues. Anne Sexton was considered the model confessional poet, and her work was considered controversial because of the large number of typically verboten subjects she covered. Her Live or Die, which chronicled her struggles with mental illness in a series of blank verse poems, won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1967.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are poets most closely associated with writing about __________.

Possible Answers:

World War I

religious themes

violent crimes

Victorian sexual mores

life in British colonial outposts

Correct answer:

World War I

Explanation:

World War I was such a large, Europe-wide tragedy and involved such large amounts of young men that it produced a great deal of literature about the war and its issues. Among them were British poets, who were typically quite critical of the politics and the experience of the horrors of trench warfare. Both Siegfried Sassoon and Wilfred Owen are among the poets who are known for writing about WWI.

Example Question #3 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Who was the author of the rhyming lyric poem "Renascence," which is over two hundred lines long and was published in 1912?

Possible Answers:

Amy Lowell

Virginia Woolf

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Ezra Pound

Robert Frost

Correct answer:

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Explanation:

Edna St. Vincent Millay had her first major literary success at age 19, when her lengthy rhyming poem "Renascence" was published by the magazine A Lyric Age. Millay was a throwback in terms of style, employing strict rhyme and meter to write lyrical verses at the time Ezra Pound and E.E. Cummings were pushing the boundaries of poetry.

Example Question #4 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Who is the poet who wrote "Funeral Blues" and "September 1, 1939?"

Possible Answers:

W. H. Auden

Ezra Pound

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

E. E. Cummings

T. S. Eliot

Correct answer:

W. H. Auden

Explanation:

The poet W.H. Auden had instant success and notoriety with his poems, which featured strict rhyme and metrical schemes, features unusual in the poetry of his time. His "Funeral Blues" was published in 1938, and set to music by the composer Benjamin Britten. "September 1, 1939" was published in October of that same year; it concerns Germany's invasion of Poland and was immediately widely read.

Example Question #7 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

The poet who wrote "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" and The Waste Land was __________.

Possible Answers:

William Butler Yeats

Wallace Stevens

T. S. Eliot

Ezra Pound

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

T. S. Eliot became one of the masters of Modernist poetry with the publication of his 1915 poem, "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock." Eliot was even more lauded for his 1922 poem, The Waste Land. Eliot's poems were lengthy ruminations on the alienation of modern society, and he broke with traditional poetic forms by writing each in inventive blank verse.

Example Question #8 : Identifying Titles, Authors, Or Schools Of Twentieth Century Poetry

Which poet wrote the modernist poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" in 1915?

Possible Answers:

Edna St. Vincent Millay

Wallace Stevens

Ezra Pound

Wilfred Owen

T. S. Eliot

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

"The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" announced T. S. Eliot's arrival on the literary stage, as its publication in 1915 immediately brought the poet notoriety. As the first poem of Eliot's to reach an audience, it bore the hallmarks of his style, with a weight of allusions to literature, while also using dark imagery to create a new form of poetry. In particular, the poem owes a massive debt to Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy, while obviously taking place in a modern, industrialized world.

Example Question #21 : Poetry

"My soul has grown deep like the rivers.

I bathed in the Euphrates when dawns were young.
I danced in the Nile when I was old
I built my hut near the Congo and it lulled me to sleep.
I looked upon the Nile and raised the pyramids above it.
I heard the singing of the Mississippi when Abe Lincoln
        went down to New Orleans, and I've seen its muddy
        bosom turn all golden in the sunset."

(1921)

Who is the author of the poem from which this excerpt is taken?

Possible Answers:

William Carlos Williams

W. E. B. DuBois

Maya Angelou

Zora Neale Hurston

Langston Hughes

Correct answer:

Langston Hughes

Explanation:

The poem from which the passage is excerpted, "The Negro Speaks of Rivers," was written in 1920 by Langston Hughes, an influential poet and leader of the Harlem Renaissance.

(Passage adapted from "The Negro Speaks of Rivers" by Langston Hughes (1921).)

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