SAT II Literature : Genre: Seventeenth-Century Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Genre: Seventeenth Century Poetry

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:




epic poem

pastoral poem

Correct answer:



This early-seventeenth-century poem, "On my First Son," by the Englishman, Ben Jonson, is an elegy, as it commemorates a dead person.

Example Question #2 : Genre, Style, Tone, Mood, And Other Literary Features

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



This poem is a sonnet. Specifically, it is a Shakespearean or an English sonnet, characterized by 14 lines written in iambic pentameter, concluding with a rhyming couplet.

Example Question #1 : Genre, Style, Tone, Mood, And Other Literary Features

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear

1   Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,

2   Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;

3   The vacant leaves thy mind’s impr'nt will bear,

4   And of this book this learning mayst thou taste:

5   The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show

6   Of mouthèd graves will give thee memory;

7  Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know

8   Time’s thievish progress to eternity.

9  Look what thy memory cannot contain,

10 Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find

11 Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,

12 To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.

13 These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

14 Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.


This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:


Petrarchan Sonnet



English (Shakespearean) Sonnet

Correct answer:

English (Shakespearean) Sonnet


This poem is an English (Shakespearean) Sonnet, which has 14 lines written in iambic pentameter and has the rhyme scheme a-b-a-b, c-d-c-d, e-f-e-f, g-g. 

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 77" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #4 : Genre: Seventeenth Century 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)


What genre of poem is this?

Possible Answers:



Comedy of errors



Correct answer:



Satire is a genre in which irony, sarcasm, humor, and parody are used to make a broader social or political point, and this is the genre we have here. The author’s use of irony and exaggeration of the benefits of polygamy are used later in the poem to make a broader point about the author’s current political climate. Bildungsromans are coming-of-age stories (e.g. J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye or Charles Dickens’ Great Expectations). Similarly, Kunstlerromans are coming-of-age stories specifically about artists or young people with artistic sensibilities (e.g. James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man). A comedy of errors is a lighthearted and often satirical work of literature that usually involves farcical situations and cases of mistaken identity or similar misunderstanding (e.g. Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream).

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

Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors