All SAT II Literature Resources
Example Question #1 : Genre: Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century Poetry
1 O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
2 The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won,
3 The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
4 While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;
5 But O heart! heart! heart!
6 O the bleeding drops of red,
7 Where on the deck my Captain lies,
8 Fallen cold and dead.
What type of poem is this?
Though similar in function, the elegy is distinct from the epitaph, the ode, and the eulogy: the epitaph is very brief; the ode solely exalts; and the eulogy is most often written in formal prose. Also, the elegy is typically written in response to the death of a person.
(Passage adapted from "O Captain! My Captain!" by Walt Whitman, ln. 1-8, 1865)
Example Question #2 : Genre: Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century Poetry
'Hard by yon Wood, now frowning as in Scorn,
'Mutt'ring his wayward Fancies he wou'd rove,
'Now drooping, woeful wan, like one forlorn,
'Or craz'd with Care, or cross'd in hopeless Love.
'One morn I miss'd him on the custom'd Hill, (5)
'Along the Heath, and near his fav'rite Tree;
'Another came; nor yet beside the Rill,
'Nor up the Lawn, nor at the Wood was he.
'The next with Dirges due in sad Array
'Slow thro' the Church-way Path we saw him born. (10)
'Approach and read (for thou canst read) the Lay,
'Grav'd on the Stone beneath yon aged Thorn.
What genre of poem is this?
Based on the mournful tone, the narrative content, and the use of words like “Dirges,” we can assume that this is an elegiac poem. An ode is a lyric poem expressing love for someone or something, and a sonnet is generally a 14-line love poem. A villanelle is a 19-line poem that follows specific rules of repeating lines, and a pantoum is a similar poetic form.
Excerpt adapted from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. (1751)
Example Question #3 : Genre: Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century Poetry
On either side the river lie
Long fields of barley and of rye,
That clothe the wold and meet the sky;
And thro' the field the road runs by
To many-tower'd Camelot; (5)
And up and down the people go,
Gazing where the lilies blow
Round an island there below,
The island of Shalott.
Based on these lines, in what genre is this poem written?
The poem is idealizing rural, agrarian life in these lines. This is a classic feature of a pastoral. An elegy is a poem mourning someone’s death. An encomium is a speech that enthusiastically and formally praises someone or something. Bildungsromans are coming-of-age stories (e.g. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (1951) or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations (1861)).
Passage adapted from “The Lady of Shalott,” Poems by Alfred Tennyson (1833).
Example Question #4 : Genre: Eighteenth And Nineteenth Century Poetry
This poem contains elements of what genre?
This poem contains strong elements of the pastoral genre. Pastoral poetry or literature takes as its subject matter rural life. Shepherds are often the main characters, and the setting is usually the countryside or a forest. In addition, these elements are idealized in pastoral; rural life is presented as being perfect, peaceful, and blissful--never gritty realism, etc.
Passage adapted from John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)