SAT II Literature : Structure and Form: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #25 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

The poetic form that Bradstreet uses in this poem is __________.

Possible Answers:

sonnet

sestina

heroic couplets

None of the other answers is correct

blank verse

Correct answer:

heroic couplets

Explanation:

The poem is written in heroic couplets, which are rhymed pairs of lines in iambic pentameter.  The poem would only be in blank verse if the iambic pentameter lines did not rhyme.  The poem is also too long and in the wrong form to be a sonnet and is too short to be a sestina.

Passage adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Example Question #2 : Structure And Form: Poetry

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree

    Toward heaven still,

    And there's a barrel that I didn't fill

    Beside it, and there may be two or three

    Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.

    But I am done with apple-picking now.

    Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

    The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

What rhyme scheme is this?

Possible Answers:

Sprung rhythm

None of these

Free verse

Blank verse

Heroic verse

Correct answer:

Free verse

Explanation:

Free verse describes poetry that does not have a particular rhyme scheme or meter, and that is the case with this poem. Blank verse refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter, and heroic verse refers to rhymed couplets of iambic pentameter. Sprung rhythm is a pattern designed to mimic the cadences of natural spoken speech.

Passage adapted from Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking.” North of Boston. (1915)

Example Question #1 : Structure And Form: Poetry

1 Those lines that I before have writ do lie,

  Even those that said I could not love you dearer;

  Yet then my judgment knew no reason why

  My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.

5 But reckoning Time, whose million'd accidents 

  Creep in 'twixt vows and change decrees of kings, 

  Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents, 

  Divert strong minds to the course of altering things;

9 Alas, why, fearing of Time's tyranny, 

  Might I not then say 'Now I love you best,' 

  When I was certain o'er incertainty, 

  Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?

13 Love is a babe; then might I not say so,

   To give full growth to that which still doth grow? 

(1609)

The form of this poem is best described as ______________.

Possible Answers:

monologue

ballad

sonnet

villanelle

terza rima

Correct answer:

sonnet

Explanation:

This is a sonnet.  Specifically, it is a Shakespearean sonnet, a type of sonnet which follows these specifications:  it is written in iambic pentameter, has fourteen lines, and employs the rhyme scheme ABAB CDCD EFEF GG.  

A monologue is a long speech delivered by a single character in a play. 

Terza rima is a rhyme scheme of ABA, BCB, CDC, and so on, which is most commonly found in Italian.  

A ballad is a narrative poem with stanzas of two or four lines.  They often include a refrain and are frequently meant to be sung.  

A villanelle is a poem of nineteen lines with the rhyme scheme ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABA, ABAA.  The first and third lines of the first stanza repeat throughout the poem and reappear together in the final stanza.

Passage adapted from Shakespeare's "Sonnet 115" (1609)

Example Question #4 : Structure And Form: Poetry

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

(1847)

What meter does this poem employ?

Possible Answers:

Dactylic hexameter

Dithyrambic tetrameter

Trochaic pentameter

Iambic pentameter

Spondaic hexameter

Correct answer:

Dactylic hexameter

Explanation:

This is one of the English language’s best known examples of dactylic hexameter. This meter involves six pairs of one long and two short syllables (although the occasionally deviates from this scheme for the sake of sense and sound). Dactylic hexameter is also sometimes known as heroic hexameter.

Passage adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Evangeline.” (1847)

Example Question #2 : Structure And Form: Poetry

In pious times, e’r Priest-craft did begin,

Before Polygamy was made a Sin;

When Man on many multipli’d his kind,

E’r one to one was cursedly confin’d,

When Nature prompted and no Law deni’d   (5)      

Promiscuous Use of Concubine and Bride;

Then Israel’s Monarch, after Heavens own heart,

His vigorous warmth did, variously, impart

To Wives and Slaves: And, wide as his Command,

Scatter’d his Maker’s Image through the Land.    (10)

(1681)

What is the rhyme scheme of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Dactylic pentameter

Free verse

Blank verse

Heroic couplets

Spondaic pentameter

Correct answer:

Heroic couplets

Explanation:

The passage exhibits rhymed pairs of iambic pentameter, which is also known as heroic couplets. (In the case of satirical or ironic couplets, the form is often referred to as a “mock heroic.”) Don’t confuse this with blank verse, which is the use of unrhymed iambic pentameter.

Passage adapted from “Absalom and Achitophel,” by John Dryden (1681)

Example Question #3 : Structure And Form: Poetry

As I was going down impassive Rivers,

I no longer felt myself guided by haulers:

Yelping redskins had taken them as targets

And had nailed them naked to colored stakes.

 

I was indifferent to all crews, (5)

The bearer of Flemish wheat or English cottons

When with my haulers this uproar stopped

The Rivers let me go where I wanted.

 

Into the furious lashing of the tides

More heedless than children's brains the other winter    (10)

I ran! And loosened Peninsulas

Have not undergone a more triumphant hubbub…

What rhyme scheme does this passage employ?

Possible Answers:

Sprung rhythm

Heroic couplets

Quatrains

Free verse

Blank verse

Correct answer:

Quatrains

Explanation:

This poem demonstrates the use of quatrains, four-line units of poetry. Sprung rhythm is a pattern designed to mimic the cadences of natural spoken speech, while heroic couplets are the use of rhyming pairs of iambic pentameter. Blank verse refers to unrhymed iambic pentameter, and heroic verse refers to rhymed couplets of iambic pentameter. Free verse describes poetry that does not have a particular rhyme scheme or meter.

Passage adapted from Arthur Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat,” (1920)

Example Question #4 : Structure And Form: Poetry

As I was going down impassive Rivers,

I no longer felt myself guided by haulers:

Yelping redskins had taken them as targets

And had nailed them naked to colored stakes.

 

I was indifferent to all crews, (5)

The bearer of Flemish wheat or English cottons

When with my haulers this uproar stopped

The Rivers let me go where I wanted.

 

Into the furious lashing of the tides

More heedless than children's brains the other winter    (10)

I ran! And loosened Peninsulas

Have not undergone a more triumphant hubbub…

What meter do lines 2 and 6 display?

Possible Answers:

Iambic pentameter

Alexandrines

Villanelles

Dithyrambic hexameter

Spondaic tetrameter

Correct answer:

Alexandrines

Explanation:

The lines in question contain 12 syllables with no particular pattern of unstressed or stressed syllables. This 12-syllable meter is known as alexandrines. (In the original French version of the poem, the entire work is written in alexandrines.)

Passage adapted from Arthur Rimbaud’s “The Drunken Boat,” (1920)

Example Question #5 : Structure And Form: 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.

(1751)

In what meter is this passage written?

Possible Answers:

Dactylic hexameter

Trochaic pentameter

Free verse

Heroic couplets

Iambic pentameter

Correct answer:

Iambic pentameter

Explanation:

Be careful not to mistake rhymed iambic pentameter in ABAB form for heroic couplets (AABB form). This passage is in rhymed iambic pentameter in an alternating rhyme scheme.

Excerpt adapted from Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard. (1751)

Example Question #9 : Structure And Form: Poetry

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,

And what I assume you shall assume,

For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

 

I loafe and invite my soul,

I lean and loafe at my ease observing a spear of summer grass.(5)

 

My tongue, every atom of my blood, form'd from this soil,

     this air,

Born here of parents born here from parents the same, and

     their parents the same,

I, now thirty-seven years old in perfect health begin,

Hoping to cease not till death.

What is this poem’s organizing structure?

Possible Answers:

Free verse

Slant rhyme

Sprung rhythm

Loose tercets

Feminine rhyme

Correct answer:

Sprung rhythm

Explanation:

This poem is not organized by any uniform metrical pattern or specific type of stanza. It also lacks rhyming, although it does have a strong voice and cadence. In the absence of overt organizational schemes, we can classify this passage as an example of free verse.

Passage adapted from Walt Whitman’s “Song of Myself,” Leaves of Grass (1855).

Example Question #6 : Structure And Form: Poetry

Midway upon the journey of our life

  I found myself within a forest dark,

  For the straightforward pathway had been lost.

Ah me! how hard a thing it is to say

  What was this forest savage, rough, and stern, (5)

  Which in the very thought renews the fear.

So bitter is it, death is little more;

  But of the good to treat, which there I found,

  Speak will I of the other things I saw there.

How is this poem organized?

Possible Answers:

Couplets

Quatrains

Tercets

Spondees

Anapests

Correct answer:

Tercets

Explanation:

This poem is separated into units of three lines each: tercets. Quatrains are units of four lines, and couplets are units of two lines. An anapest is a poetic foot consisting of two unstressed and one stressed syllables. A spondee is a poetic foot consisting of two stressed syllables.

Passage adapted from Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, trans. Charles Eliot Norton (1920)

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