Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts : Analyze a Subject’s Portrayal in Two Media: CCSS.ELA-LITERACY.RL.9-10.7

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts

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All Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #14 : Reading: Literature

Adapted from John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn" (1819)
Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, 
       Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
       A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape 
       Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
               In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
       What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
               What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
       Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, 
       Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
       Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
               Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve; 
       She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
               For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair! 
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
         Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
         For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
         For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd, 
                For ever panting, and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above, 
         That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd, 
                A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 
Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
         To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
         And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
What little town by river or sea shore, 
         Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
                Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
         Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
                Why thou art desolate, can e'er return. 
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede 
         Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
         Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 
         When old age shall this generation waste, 
                Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st, 
         "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all 
                Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

On what kind of artistic work is this poem based?

Possible Answers:





Correct answer:



This is a very general question that interrogates your basic understanding of the text, and your particular awareness of the artistic focus of the poem. 

The answer to this question is, essentially, to be found in the title. An "Urn" is a piece of pottery; the trick of this question was in the answer choices, which gave you opportunities to doubt yourself and become confused by the author's surrounding rhetoric.

The second stanza directly discusses music, BUT it does so in a general, hypothetical way. "Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard/ are sweeter," is a general statement that the author believes to be true in theory, he is not, at that time, listening to music. The area of discussion here is the nature of live music and interaction vs captured and reproduced art, like the ancient urn the author is looking at. 

While the author does discuss an image, extensively, the image is painted onto a piece of property. This key distinction is highlighted in the final stanza, when the author turns his attention to the permanence of the artistic object, referring to it as something that "when old age shall this generation waste, [...] shall remain." Pottery is a permanent artistic object (unless it breaks), it's solid, lasting nature is a key aspect, this is not true of paintings. The images are not merely painted, but forged into a solid, "cold" shape. "Painting" was a tempting choice, but one that excluded a key aspect of the poem's treatment of artistic permanence and the "cold pastoral."

All Common Core: 10th Grade English Language Arts Resources

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