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Poets

A poet is someone who writes poetry. Poetry is a type of literature that uses some kind of meter. Even poetry which doesn't have a regular meter or beat, has certain rhythmic or schematic qualities which define it as 'poetry'. Normally, poets compose poetry under specific categories, like lyrical, epic, dramatic, and narrative, and use various poetic forms such as the sonnet, organic form, and villanelles.

A History of Poets

Poets are found in cultures around the world and throughout history. The author James Baldwin said that 'The poet or the revolutionary is there to articulate the necessity', meaning that poets were culturally important as they reflect truths about, and to, society.

Poets are culturally important, and many historic religions had a god of poetry, such as the ancient Greek god Apollo or the Celtic goddess Brigit. During prehistoric times poets were part of an oral tradition. They didn't write their poems down but memorised them and then recited them to others, who memorised them in turn. These poets were held in high esteem.

In the English language, poets have been an important part of society for many years, sometimes even shaping and influencing the world around them. British poets have exerted political influence, sometimes as supporters and sometimes as opponents of government. In 1668 the position of Poet Laureate (a national poet appointed by the monarch) was created with the appointment of John Dryden.

In the USA poets are held in similar esteem and are often invited to give readings at important events. In 2021 Amanda Gorman recited a poem at the inauguration of Joe Biden. American poets were influenced by movements in countries such as the UK. Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost (two American Romantic poets) were influenced by other Romantics living in the UK, such as William Wordsworth.

The table below charts the history of poets from the 11th to the 21st century. It divides the poets up by literary movement and also details some of the key features of their work.

Literary Movement

Key Characteristics

Key Poets

Middle English

(1066-1500)

Religious poetry, Satire, Lyric poetry.

Geoffrey Chaucer.

Elizabethan

(1558-1603)

Strict forms such as the Shakespearean sonnet, classical allusions, Spenserian Stanza, and Allegorical Epic.

William Shakespeare, Philip Sydney, Edmund Spenser.

Metaphysical Poets (1600-1690)

Conceits, the quality of the spoken verse.

John Donne, George Herbet, Henry Vaughan.

Restoration Poets(1660-1700) The English Epic, the Mock Heroic Couplet, Pastoral. John Milton, Alexander Pope.

The Romantics

(1785-1832)

Focus on nature, emotive language, the sublime, individualism, and responses to the French Revolution.

First Generation: William Blake, Samuel Taylor-Coleridge, William Wordsworth.

Second Generation: Percy Bysshe-Shelley, Lord Byron, John Keats.

American Romanticism (circa 1820-1860)

Focused on Transcendentalism, reform, individuality, and spirituality.

Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost.

Victorian poetry (1832-1901)

Religious skepticism, mysticism, and sensory imagery.

Elizabeth Barret Browning, Robert Browing, Alfred Lord Tennyson, Gerard Manley Hopkins.

World War I poetry

Violent imagery, themes of conflict.

Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon.

Modernism

(1914-1945)

Experimentation of poetic form, structure and devices. Emphasis on Imagism, Free Verse, subversion and modern technology.

TS Eliott, Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and WH Auden.

Harlem Renaissance (1920-1930s)

Political and social writing that tended to focus on racism and class in America.

Claude McKay, Langston Hughes.

Confessional Poets

(late 1950s-1960s)

First-hand point of view, individualism, themes of mental illness and trauma.

Sylvia Plath, Robert Lowell.

Contemporary

(post-1945 to present)

Wide movement reflecting the cultural ideas and political events of the 20th and 21st centuries.

Ted Hughes, Simon Armitage, Adrienne Rich, John Ashberry.

Irish

Natural imagery, identity, historical allusions.

Louis MacNeice, Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland.

Scottish

National Identity, nature.

Robert Burns, Carol Ann Duffy.

Concerning where to place poets in certain literary movements, there are a number of overlaps and retrospective decisions which has led to a lot of debate. For example, the themes and subject matter of John Milton's 'Paradise Lost' (1667) place him as a Restoration Poet instead of a Metaphysical Poet.

A List of Famous Poets

Early Poets

Geoffrey Chaucer (1340s-1400)

"For May will have no sluggardry at night,

Season that pricks in every gentle heart,

Awakening it from sleep, and bids it start"

Geoffrey Chaucer was an English poet most famous for writing 'The Canterbury Tales' (1387-1400). He was a key figure in Middle Ages English literature and is sometimes referred to as the 'father of English poetry'. His epic poem tells the story of a group of pilgrims journeying from London to Canterbury. The poem discusses themes of religion, social class and convention.


Notable Poems: 'The Canterbury Tales' (1387-1400)

Related Poets: Thomas Malory (1415-1471), Edmund Spenser (1553-1599)


William Shakespeare (1564-1616)

"If this be error and upon me prov'd,

I never write, nor no man ever loved."

William Shakespeare was a playwright and poet and one of the best writers in the English language. He is sometimes referred to as The Bard. He composed 39 plays, 154 sonnets and 3 narrative poems. His sonnets discuss themes of love and youth and his longer narrative poems are retellings of Classical myths.


Notable Poems: ' Sonnet 116' (1609)

Related Poets: John Milton (1608-1674),


John Milton (1608-1674)

"The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a Heav'n of Hell, a Hell of Heav'n"

John Milton wrote during the Commonwealth of England (when Oliver Cromwell controlled England), a period of political upheaval. His writing reflects this and is best seen in his most famous work, the epic poem 'Paradise Lost'. Milton was an inspiration for later poets such as William Wordsworth, Thomas Hardy, and William Blake.


Notable Poems: 'Paradise Lost' (1667)

Related Poets : William Shakespeare (1564-1616),

The Metaphysical Poets

The metaphysical poets were active in the 17th century and used poetry to explore ideas outside time and space. Their work is characterized by the use of
conceits and an emphasis on the spoken word as a poetic form.

John Donne (1572-1631)

" And in this flea our two bloods be mingled;"

John Donne was an English poet who is perhaps best known for his metaphysical poems. These poems engaged in a metaphorical and sensual style and discuss themes of love and religion. His poems use satire, paradox, and irony. During his life he composed sonnets, elegies and sermons.


Notable Poems: 'The Flea' (1633), 'The Good Morrow' (1633), 'Elegy: To His Mistress Going to Bed' (1633), 'Death Be Not Proud' (1633), 'The Ecstasy' (1633 ), 'A Valediction Forbidding Mourning' (1633), 'Holy Sonnet VII' (1633)

Related Poets : George Herbert (1593-1633), Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)

The Romantic Poets

Romantic poetry arose in the 18th century as a reaction to the Age of Enlightenment. It was characterised by a focus on emotions, individualism, nature and aesthetics.

William Blake (1757-1827)

"I wander thro' each charter'd street,

Near where the charter'd Thames does flow."

William Blake was a visual artist and poet who is regarded as one of the most important figures in English literature and the Romantic movement. He was a devout Christian (although he did not agree with the Church of England) and this is reflected in his work. Blake mixed poetry with visual prints in order to discuss themes of religion, nationalism, and imagination. Due to Blake's mixed-media approach to poetry, he is seen as unconventional when compared to his contemporaries.


Notable Poems: 'The Garden of Love' (1794), 'The Tyger' (1794), 'London' (1794), 'Songs of Innocence' (1789) Collection, 'Songs of Experience' (1794) Collection.

Related Poets: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), William Wordsworth (1770-1850)


Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)

"Until my ghastly tale is told,

This heart within me burns"

Samuel Taylor Coleridge was a founding figure of the Romantic movement, and along with his friend William Wordsworth, was a member of the Lake Poets. Many of Coleridge's poems establish key themes within Romanticism such as the importance of nature, and themes of solitude. Coleridge wrote many of his poems in blank verse.


Notable Poems: 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' (1797-98), 'Kubla Khan' (1816), 'Frost at Midnight' (1798)

Related Poets: William Blake (1757-1827), William Wordsworth (1770-1850)


Fun fact - One of the first readings of Rime of the Ancient Mariner was attended by a young Mary Shelley!

William Wordsworth (1770-1850)

"Nature never did betray the heart that loved her."

William Wordsworth was a founding figure of Romanticism and the Poet Laureate from 1843 until his death in 1850. Wordsworth's poems feature key Romantic themes, vivid sensory descriptions, a celebration of the imagination, and a love of nature. Wordsworth was heavily influenced by the Lake District, and many of his poems are inspired by this area.


Notable Poems: 'I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud' (1807), 'Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey' (1798).

Related Poets: Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), William Blake (1757-1827)


Romantic poets can be divided into an older generation (Blake, Coleridge and Wordsworth) and a younger generation (Byron, Shelley and Keats). Ironically, the older generation of poets outlived the younger generation.


Lord Byron (1788-1824)

"She walks in beauty, like the night

Of cloudless climes and starry skies;"

Lord George Gordon Byron was an English peer, soldier and poet, and was a notable figure in the Romantic movement. Byron composed sonnets such as She Walks in Beauty (1814), and longer narrative poems such as Don Juan (1818-1824). Along with his friend Percy Bysshe Shelley, he traveled frequently across Europe. Many of Byron's poems discuss themes of love, war, and aesthetic beauty.


Notable Poems: 'She Walks in Beauty' (1814), 'So We'll Go No More A Roving' (1830)

Related Poets: Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822), John Keats (1795-1821)


Percy Bysshe Shelley (1792-1822)

"O wild west wind, thou breathe of Autumn's being,

Thou, from whose unseen presence the leaves dead

Are driven, like ghosts from an enchanter fleeing,"

Percy Bysshe Shelley was a major English Romantic poet who was famous for his lyric poems as well as verse drama. Shelley represented a more political version of Romanticism as he held radical political and social beliefs which are reflected in his poetry. His poetry included themes of nature, and emphasised the importance of history. Shelley's work influenced poets such as Robert Browning, Thomas Hardy and WB Yeats.


Notable Poems: 'Ozymandias' (1818), 'Ode to the West Wind' (1820)

Related Poets : Lord Byron (1788-1824), John Keats (1795-1821)

The Victorian Poets

Poets active during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901) are typically referred to as Victorian poets. They built on the themes of Romanticism through their religious scepticism, however, they also focused on mysticism and sensory imagery.


Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861)

".. Deep-hearted man, express

Grief for thy dead in silence like to death—"

Elizabeth Barrett Browning was a prolific poet who wrote during the Victorian era. Many of Browning's poems were political. She campaigned for the abolition of slavery as well as for the introduction of child labor legislation. During the 1840s these poems made her an extremely popular poet in both the UK and America, and she was a rival to Alfred Lord Tennyson for the position of Poet Laureate. She also wrote poems discussing the theme of love, such as How Do I Love Thee? (1845). Her work was an influence on American poets such as Emily Dickinson and Edgar Allen Poe.


Notable Poems: 'Grief' (1844) from Sonnets from the Portuguese XXIV

'Let the world's sharpness, like a closing knife' (1850)

Related Poets: Robert Browning (1812-1889), Charlotte Mew (1869-1928)


Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892)

"But the tender grace of a day that is dead

Will never come back to me."

Tennyson was a poet during the Victorian era and served as Poet Laureate following William Wordsworth's death. Many of these poems centered around classical myths and medievalism. His poetry featured vivid imagery and themes of death, grief, and spirituality. Tennyson was a lyric poet and also wrote in blank verse.


The phrase "'Tis better to have loved and lost / Than never to have loved at all", comes from the Tennyson poem 'In Memorium AHH'!

The Modernist Poets

Modernism was an early 20th century movement which attempted to break away from the traditional forms and structures of established, especially Victorian, literature. Modernist poems are characterized by experimentation with form, structure, and technique.


TS Eliott (1888-1965)

"April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land,"

Thomas Stearns Eliott was a poet, playwright and publisher, and an important figure in Modernist poetry. Eliott was born in America, but at the age of 39 became a British citizen and rejected his American citizenship. His poems include The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock (1915) and The Wasteland (1922), and are considered key works in Modernism. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1948 for his contributions to poetry.


Notable Poems: 'The Wasteland' (1922), 'The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock' (1915), 'The Hollow Men' (1925)

Related Poets: Charlotte Mew (1869-1928), Ezra Pound (1885-1972), WB Yeats (1865-1939)


The movie musical 'Cats' is based on a poetry collection by TS Eliot!


The World War One Poets

The term 'war poet' is used to refer to any poet writing about war, especially the first World War; typically these poets were combatants, but war poems were also written by civilians. War poets were especially popular during and following the First World War.


Wilfred Owen (1893-1918)

" The old Lie: Dulce et decorum est

Pro patria mori. "

Wilfred Owen was a poet and soldier, best known for the poems he wrote during the First World War. Owen's poetry was influenced by his mentor Seigfried Sassoon. Many of Owen's poems describe the brutality of trench life and gas warfare. His poems contrasted the patriotic poetry which had been popular at the start of the War. Owen's poems contain themes of war, violence and death. Wilfred Owen was killed exactly one week before the Armistice that ended the war. His poems were published posthumously.


Notable Poems: 'Dulce et Decorum Est' (1920)

Related Poets: Seigfried Sassoon (1886-1967)


The Modern Poets

'Modern Poets' refers to the group of poets who composed poems during the 20th and 21st centuries.


WH Auden (1907-1973)

"He was my North, my South, my East and West,

My working week and my Sunday rest,"

WH Auden was an English poet best known for his poems on love and social issues. During his life, Auden traveled to China, America and across Europe, and his travels are reflected in his poetry. His poetry discussed themes of love, religion, psychology and politics. Auden is frequently placed together with poets Louis MacNeice, Cecil Day-Lewis, and Stephen Spender, in a group known as MacSpaunday .


Notable Poems: 'Stop All the Clocks' (1938), 'Mussee des Beaux-Arts' (1939)

Related Poets: Louis MacNeice (1907-1963), Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972), Stephenspender (1909-1995)


Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

" The window is starless still; the clock ticks,

The page is printed."

Ted Hughes was an English poet who served as Poet Laureate from 1984 until his death in 1998. His poetry covers themes of family relationships, mortality and nature. Much of his later poetry is influenced by the bardic tradition, which he reworks from a modernist viewpoint. Hughes was married to the American poet Sylvia Plath until her death in 1963, and his final collection Birthday Letters (1998) explores their relationship.


Notable Poems: 'Birthday Letters' (1998) Collection.

Related Poets : Sylvia Plath (1932-1963), Philip Larkin (1922-1985), Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)


Simon Armitage (1963-Present)

"punching the palm of your hand all winter,

you baby, now I'm the real boy wonder."

Simon Armitage is an English poet and writer. He was appointed Poet Laureate in 2019. Armitage spent time as a probation officer, a job which heavily influenced his work, in which he explores themes of family relationships and violence. Armitage has lived much of his life in Yorkshire, which is reflected in the colloquialisms in his poetry. In 2008 he released a collection of poems based on the testimonials of soldiers.

Notable Poems: 'Poem' (1992), 'Kid' (1992), 'Homecoming' (1993)

Related Poets: Carol Ann Duffy (1955-present), Wilfred Owen (1918), Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

The Scottish Poets

Robert Burns (1759-1796)

"Ae fond kiss, and then we sever;

Ae farewell, and then forever!"

Robert Burns was a Scottish poet and lyrist who is widely regarded as the national poet of Scotland. He was a prominent figure in the Romantic movement in Scotland and is known for his use of the Scots dialect in his poetry. Much of his poetry features political themes that were important to the socialist and liberal movements.


Notable Poems: ' Ae Fond Kiss' (1791), 'A Red, Red Rose' (1794), 'Auld Lang Syne' (1796).

Related Poets : David Mallet (1705-1765)


Carol Ann Duffy (1955-present)

" It will make your reflection

a wobbling photo of grief. "

Carol Ann Duffy is a Scottish poet and playwright who served as Poet Laureate from 2009 to 2019. She is the first woman and first known LGBTQ+ person to hold this position. Duffy's poems center on themes of gender, opposition and violence. Many of her poems examine British politics, such as the MP expenses scandal in 2009.


Notable Poems: 'The Love Poem' (2005), 'Valentine' (1993), 'Hour' (2005), 'Mean Time' (1993)

Related Poets: Simon Armitage (1963-present), Ted Hughes (1930-1998)

Irish Poets

Louis MacNeice (1907-1963)

"Time was away and she was here

And live no longer what it was,"

Louis MacNeice was a Northern Irish poet known for his relaxed tone and depiction of Irish landscapes. MacNeice was associated with a group of left-wing poets and writers known as MacSpaunday, although he himself was never a member of any political party. While he lived most of his life in England, MacNeice returned to Ireland frequently and the country is a regular feature of his poetry. His poetry often appeared on radio and was known for its humorous tone.


Notable Poems: 'Meeting Point' (1939)

Related Poets : WH Auden, Cecil Day-Lewis (1904-1972), Stephenspender (1909-1995)


Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

" A four-foot box, a foot for every year."

Seamus Heaney was an Irish poet known for his depictions of Irish life and landscapes. He was widely regarded as the major Irish poet of his generation for his portrayal of 'Irishness'. Heaney's work discussed themes of history, mythology, landscape and tradition. His work also examined the importance of place and identity. In 1995 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature due to his “works of lyrical beauty”.


Notable Poems: 'Punishment' (1975), 'Out of the Bag' (2001), 'The Tollund Man' (1972)

Related Poets: Ted Hughes (1930-1998), Philip Larkin (1922-1985)


Eavan Boland (1944-2020)

"We march the corn to the ships in peace. This Tuesday I saw bones

out of my carriage window. Your servant Jones."

Eavan Boland was an Irish poet and professor known for her depictions of women. She is one of the most important female figures in modern Irish poetry. Much of Boland's poetry centered on themes of Irish national identity, as well as on the role that women played in Irish society and history.

Notable Poems: 'Woman in Kitchen' (1995), 'The Famine Road' (1975), 'A Woman Without a Country' (2014) Collection.

Related Poets : Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), Adrienne Rich (1929-2012)

American Poets

American Romantic Poets

American Romanticism was a literary movement formed as an American response to the Romantic movement in Europe. Both emphasised similar ideas and techniques; however, the American movement focused on reform, individuality, and spirituality. Transcendentalism emerged from European Romanticism through its focus on self-reliance and subjectivism.


Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)

"Because I couldn't stop for Death -

He kindly stopped for me—"

Emily Dickinson is known for her unconventional use of grammar. She was a recluse for much of her life and so not much is known about her. Dickinson published only ten poems during her lifetime; however, when she died, her family discovered a further 1,800 poems. Many of Dickinson's poems centre on themes of death, religion, mortality and anxiety.


Notable Works: ' A Bird, came down the Walk' (1891), 'I felt a Funeral, in my Brain' (1896), 'It was not Death, for I stood up,' (1891), 'Hope' is the thing with feathers-' (1891), 'A narrow Fellow in the Grass' (1866)

Related Poets: Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)


Robert Frost (1874-1963)

"Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference."

Robert Frost based much of his work on his New England home. He lived in rural New England and used this setting as a way to discuss philosophical questions. Frost's poetry discusses themes of farming, rural life, and the relationship between people and nature.

Notable Works: 'Love and a Question' (1915), 'The Road Not Taken' (1916), 'Out, Out' (1916), 'Mending Wall' (1914)

Related Poets: Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Walt Whitman (1819-1892)


Robert Frost was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature 31 times - but never won!

American Modernist Poets

American modernism was a literary and philosophical movement that was created as a response to the modernist movement in Europe. It featured a rejection of traditional poetic forms and instead emphasised innovation and experimentation.


William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

"I have eaten

the plums

that were in

the ice box"

William Carlos Williams was an American physician and poet known for his contribution to the Imagism and Modernism movements. He worked as a doctor for 40 years and used the people around him in this job as inspiration for his poems. Many of his poems examined themes of American life and the commonplace events that occurred within it. He also discussed themes of ambiguity. Williams' work was an inspiration for the Beat Poetry movement of the 1950s and 1960s.


Notable Works: ' The Red Wheelbarrow' (1923), 'This is Just to Say' (1934), 'Landscape with the Fall of Icarus' (1960)

Related Poets: Robert Frost (1874-1963), Ezra Pound (1885-1972), Marianne Moore (1887-1972)


Harlem Renaissance Poets

The Harlem Renaissance was a movement that occurred in 1920s America but was localized specifically in Harlem, New York City. The movement formed after many African American people fled the racist environment of the Jim Crow Deep South and moved to Harlem. This movement can be characterized by its political and social poems.


Claude McKay (1889-1948)

"Like men we'll face the murderous, cowardly pack,

Pressed to the wall, dying, but fighting back!"

Claude McKay was a Jamaican-American poet who was a central figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Many of McKay's poems examined racism in America and were inspired by real events. His poem, If We Must Die (1919) discussed the lynchings of black people that occurred following the First World War. McKay briefly lived in Soviet Russia but returned to Harlem after he grew disillusioned with Stalinism. His poetry centers on themes of politics and life in America.

Notable Works: ' If We Must Die' (1919), 'America' (1921)

Related Poets: Langston Hughes (1902-1967), Zora Neale Huston (1891-1960)


Confessional Poets

Also known as 'poetry of the I', confessional poetry was a movement of the 1950s and 1960s in America that focused on personal, first-hand poetry. Many poems in this genre discussed individual experiences, mental health, and personal trauma.


Sylvia Plath (1932-1963)

"Daddy, I had to kill you.

You died before I had time——"

Sylvia Plath was a poet and author who pioneered the genre. Her poems are regarded as partially autobiographical, discussing themes of death, patriarchy, mental illness, and the self. Plath married Ted Hughes in 1956; however, their relationship was unstable and they divorced in 1962. She was clinically depressed for most of her life and had undergone electroshock therapy. She killed herself in 1963.


Notable Works: 'Ariel' (1965) Collection, 'Daddy' (1965)

Related Poets: Ted Hughes (1930-1998), Edna St Vincent Millay (1892-1950)


Poets - Key takeaways

  • Poets have existed for centuries across many different cultures.
  • There are three broad categories of poem: lyrical, narrative, and dramatic.
  • Poets who lived at the same time often influenced each other.
  • Poets who lived geographically close to one another may discuss similar themes.



Frequently Asked Questions about Poets

The 3 types of poetry are narrative, dramatic, and lyrical.

Some of the most famous poets include, William Shakespeare, Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou and Edgar Allen Poe. 

Major modern poets include E.E Cummings, W.H Auden, and William Carlos Williams. 

Some of the best modern poets include Elizabeth Bishop, Charles Baudelaire, Allen Ginsburg, and Frank O'Hara. 

Final Poets Quiz

Question

What is a poet?

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Answer

A poet is someone who writes poetry. 

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Question

 Who was the Greek God of poetry?

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Answer

Apollo

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Question

The Celtic Goddess Brigit was the goddess of what?


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Answer

Farming

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Question

When was the position of Poet Laureate created? 

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Answer

1915

Show question

Question

Who was the first Poet Laureate? 


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Answer

John Dryden was the first appointed Poet Laureate.

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Question

What political event in the U.S.A do poets often speak at?


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Answer

 Poets often speak at the Presidential Inauguration. 

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Question

Who wrote The Canterbury Tales? 


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Answer

Geoffrey Chuacer wrote The Canterbury Tales. 

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Question

True or False - Geoffrey Chaucer is considered the 'father of English drama'


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Answer

True! He is called the 'father of English drama'

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Question

Who is nicknamed The Bard?


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Answer

Jonathon Swift

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Question

Who was a metaphysical poet?


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Answer

John Donne was a metaphysical poet.

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 Who mixed poetry with engraved prints? 


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Answer

William Blake

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Question

True or False - The first generation of Romantic poets outlived the second generation.


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Answer

True! The first generation of Romantic poets outlived the second generation. 

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Question

Name two Lake Poets


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Answer

 William Wordsworth

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Question

What two social issues did Elizabeth Barrett Browning campaign for in her poetry? 


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Answer

LGBTQ+ rights

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Who were rivals to take over the position of Poet Laureate from William Wordsworth? 


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Answer

Alfred Lord Tennyson

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Question

Which Irish poet won the Nobel Prize for Literature?


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Answer

Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature. 

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Who is called the 'National Poet of Scotland'?


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Answer

Robert Burns is considered to be the 'National Poet of Scotland'

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Question

 Which poet spent time in Soviet Russia? 


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Answer

John Milton

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Question

 Name the poet credited with pioneering the confessional poetry movement?


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Answer

Sylvia Plath is credited with pioneering the confessional poetry movement.

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Who is the current Poet Laureate (2019-2029)?


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Answer

The current Poet Laureate is Simon Armitage. 

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When was William Carlos Williams born?

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Answer

September 17, 1883

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What was the name and in which state was William Carlos Williams' hometown?

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Answer

Rutherford, New Jersey

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What did William Carlos Williams study at the University of Pennsylvania?

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Answer

Medicine

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What was William Carlos Williams' primary profession throughout his life?

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Answer

Doctor

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Question

What was the name of the poetic movement that Williams' became a part of?

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Answer

The Imagist movement

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Question

When was Williams' first poetry collection, Poems, published?

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Answer

1909

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Which of Williams' poetry collections was literarily overshadowed by T.S. Eliot's "The Waste Land"?

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Answer

1923's Spring and All

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When did William Carlos Williams die?

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Answer

March 4, 1963

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How many poetry collections did Williams publish?

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21

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Question

In which year did Williams win Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, and for which collection?

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Answer

1963, for Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems, published in 1962

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Question

Which type of British accent does Sam-La Rose reference in his poem, 'Talk this Way'?

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Answer

Received Pronunciation.

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Question

When was 'Daddy' published?

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Answer

1965, in the collection Ariel.

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Question

When was 'Daddy' written?

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1962

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What was the name of Sylvia Plath's father?

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Answer

Otto Plath

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Who was Sylvia Plath's husband?

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Answer

Ted Hughes

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Question

What is a confessional poem?

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Answer

Confessional poetry is a poetic style in which the writer focuses on personal experience, particularly in moments of intense individual realisation, or personal trauma. 

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Question

What is the controversial metaphor that Plath uses in 'Daddy'?

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Answer

The suffering and plight of the Jews during the Holocaust of WWII.

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What is the final line of 'Daddy'?

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Daddy, daddy, you bastard, I'm through.

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Who is the dictator figure that Plath compares 'Daddy' to?

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Hitler, or a Nazi fascist leader

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What are the main themes present in 'Daddy'?

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Oppression, captivity, freedom and death.

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What is the final tone of the poem?

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Empowering or triumphant.

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Who wrote 'Punishment'?

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Seamus Heaney.

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Which collection was 'Punishment' published in?

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North (1975).

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What is the poem 'Punishment' about?

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It is about the punishment that tribes or societies enact on women who break unwritten rules.

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What country does Heaney refer to in the second half of the poem, 'Punishment?'

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Ireland.

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What is the name of the bog body thought to have been a girl who was ritualistically murdered?

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Windeby Girl or later, Windeby 1 when it was later discovered that the body was a teenage boy.

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Which languages influenced Heaney's use of English?

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Latin

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What meter or rhyme scheme is 'Punishment' written in?

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None, it has no fixed meter or rhyme scheme.

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What technique does Heaney use to create immediacy in the opening lines of 'Punishment'?

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He uses 'I' statements by an unnamed narrator and the present tense.

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Which simple example of punctuation links the past and the present in the poem, 'Punishment'?

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The colon.

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What are some of the themes in the poem 'Punishment'?

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Punishment, duality and misogyny.

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Who wrote 'To a Snail'?

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Marianne Moore.

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What is 'To a Snail' about?

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It is about a snail and poetic aesthetic values.

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What movements does 'To a Snail' belong to?

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Answer

Modernism.

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What is a characteristic of the Imagists?

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Answer

Poems about the mundane.

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What is a characteristic of Modernism?

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Move away from tradition.

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What verse is 'To a Snail' written in?

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Free verse.

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What rhyme scheme and meter does 'To a Snail' use?

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Answer

It has no rhyme scheme or meter.

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What poetic devices does 'To a Snail' use?

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Answer

Repetition.

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How many stanzas are there in 'To a Snail'?

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Answer

One.

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What portmanteau does Marianne Moore create in 'To a Snail'?

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Answer

'Occipital horn'.

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Where did Marianne Moore study for her BA?

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Answer

Bryn Mawr College.

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Where were Marianne Moore's works first published?

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At Bryn Mawr.

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What movement did Marianne Moore support while studying and later in her career?

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The Suffragette Movement.

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What professions did Marianne Moore work in before becoming a poet?

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Teaching.

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Question

When was Andrew Marvell born?

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March 13, 1621

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What was the political upheaval in England between 1642 and 1651 called?

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Answer

The English Civil War

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Where was Marvell the MP for?

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Answer

Hull

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When was the Restoration of the monarchy in England?

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Answer

1660

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What was the title of Marvell's longest poetic satire?

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'Last Instructions to a Painter' (1667)

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When did Andrew Marvell die?

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16 August 1678

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When was Marvell's posthumous collection of poetry published?

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Answer

1681

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What was the title of Marvell's most famous poem?

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'To His Coy Mistress'

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What kind of prose did Marvell write?

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Political satire

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What does carpe diem mean in Latin?

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Answer

'Seize the day'

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Where was Jacob Sam-La Rose born?

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London.

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What dual heritage does Jacob Sam-La Rose have?

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Answer

British-Guyanese.

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What music genre influenced Jacob Sam-La Rose?

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Answer

Hip hop.

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Which country outside of his dual heritage influenced Jacob Sam-la Rose the most?

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Answer

North America.

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What industry did Jacob Sam-La Rose work in before he became a poet?

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Technology and web design.

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What is the name of Jacob Sam-La Rose's debut pamphlet?

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Answer

Communion, 2006.

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What is the name of Jacob Sam-La Rose's full collection?

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Answer

Breaking Silence, 2012.

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Which bands collaborated on 'Walk This Way'?

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Answer

Run-D.M.C. and Aerosmith.

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What type of verse does Jacob Sam-La Rose use?

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Answer

Free verse.

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Question

Who wrote 'The Darkling Thrush'?

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Answer

Thomas Hardy.

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What does the word 'darkling' mean?

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Answer

To grow dark or become night.

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How does Hardy reference poets and poetic traditions of the past?

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Answer

By using poetic words with a long heritage.

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What kind of poem is 'The Darkling Thrush'?

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Answer

An informal ode.

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How many stanzas does 'The Darkling Thrush' have?

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4

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What kind of stanzas does Hardy use in 'The Darkling Thrush'?

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Octave.

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What are some literary devices used in 'The Darkling Thrush'?

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Personification.

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What does Hardy personify in 'The Darkling Thrush'?

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The landscape.

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How does Hardy describe the landscape in the first two stanzas?

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Desolate.

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Does Hardy give a reason for the thrush's singing?

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No, he only considers that the bird might know something he does not.

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Who wrote 'At the Inn'?

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Answer

Thomas Hardy.

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Who is 'At the Inn' considered to be addressed to?

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Answer

The poem is thought to be addressed to Florence Henniker, an author who Hardy had a long term friendship with.

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What rhyme scheme does 'At the Inn' have?

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Answer

ababcdcd.

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What types of rhyme does 'At the Inn' make use of?

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Answer

Slant rhyme.

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What meter does the poem 'At the Inn' make use of?

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Answer

Alternating Iambic tetrameter and Iambic diameter.

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What themes exist in the poem 'At the Inn'?

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Answer

Confined or forbidden love and separation are key themes in the poem.

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What are two literary or poetic devices used in 'At the Inn'?

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Answer

Alliteration, enjambment.

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What are some examples of imagery used in 'At the Inn'?

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Answer

Celestial bodies.

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What type of author is Thomas Hardy considered to be?

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Answer

Victorian Realist.

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What famous poem does 'At the Inn' reference?

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Answer

'Mariana' (1830) by Lord Alfred Tennyson.

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Who wrote 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

John Donne.

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What kind of poem is 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

A Metaphysical poem.

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What religion was John Donne born into?

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Answer

Roman Catholicism.

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What religion did John Donne convert to?

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Answer

Anglicanism.

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What other works did John Donne create?

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Answer

Prose.

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Who is  John Donne considered to have written 'The Sun Rising' about?

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Answer

His wife, Anne.

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What type of poetic device is a key characteristic of Metaphysical poetry?

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Answer

Conceits.

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What kind of poem does 'The Rising Sun' subvert?

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Answer

An aubade.

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Which Modernist poet admired John Donne and used his approach to metaphysical imagery?

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Answer

T.S. Eliot.

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What is a dizain?

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Answer

A ten line stanza.

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What is the rhyme scheme in 'The Sun Rising.'

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Answer

ABBACDCDEE

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What imagery is used in 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

Sun, valuable spices and metals.

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What themes exist in 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

Love as a microcosm and philosophical unitity or Neoplatonism.

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Question

What kinds of meter exist in 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

Lines 1, 5, and 6 are Iambic tetrameters while line 2 is a dimeter. Lines 3, 4 and 7 -1 0 are Iambic pentameter.

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Question

What does John Donne compare his lover to in 'The Sun Rising'?

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Answer

Precious metals and spices.

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Question

Who wrote 'To His Mistress on Going to Bed?'

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Answer

John Donne.

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Question

What collection was 'To His Mistress Going to Bed' published in?

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Answer

The Harmony of the Muses (1654).

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Why was John Donne denied his degree at Oxford?

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Answer

He was Roman Catholic at the time.

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Question

What kind of poem is 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

Metaphysical blason.

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Question

What meter is 'To His Mistress Going to Bed' written in?

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Answer

Iambic Pentameter.

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Question

What literary devices does John Donne use in 'To His Mistress Going to Bed?'

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Answer

Conceits and word play.

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Question

What rhyme scheme is used in 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

Rhyming Couplets.

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Question

What is the tone of 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

Humorous and light.

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Question

What is one of the conceits used in the poem 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

Labour as sexual tension and also sexual release.

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Which conceit alludes to the battle of the sexes?

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Answer

Sexual tension as pre-battle tension, men and women as foes, women in armour.

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Question

What legend is inverted by John Donne in his poem 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

The ancient Greek legend of Atalanta's golden apple is inverted as Atalanta's golden balls.

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What symbols of status does John Donne want his lover to remove in 'To His Mistress Going to Bed'?

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Answer

A coronet and a diadem.

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Question

What is the literary device, a conceit?

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Answer

A conceit is an extended metaphor critical to the meaning of a poem. It often last for the duration of the poem and features the comparison of seemingly dissimilar things.

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Question

What are regular themes in John Donne's poems?

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Answer

Lust, love, religion, metaphysics.

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What is the Neoplatonic ideal referenced in the poem, 'To His Mistress Going to Bed?'

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Answer

The human microcosm viewed as a replica of the universal macrocosm.

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Question

Who wrote 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

John Donne.

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Question

What kind of poem is 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

It is a metaphysical poem.

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Question

What type of sonnet is 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

Petrarchan Sonnet.

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Question

What is the rhyme scheme in 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

ABBAABBA CDDCEE.

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What religions was John Donne associated with?

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Answer

Roman Catholicism and Anglicanism.

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When was 'Death Be Not Proud' published?

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Answer

1633.

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Question

What literary device is a defining characteristic of the metaphysical poets?

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Answer

The conceit.

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Question

What is the main conceit used in 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

Death as a person, or Death personified.

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What other literary devices are central to the poem 'Death Be Not Proud?'

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Answer

Personification and apostrophe.

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Question

What is an apostrophe in poetry?

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Answer

A poem addressed to a personification or an absent person who can not respond.

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What does the speaker compare Death to in 'Death Be Not Proud'?

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Answer

Sleep.

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Who does the speaker suggest are the earthly masters of Death?

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Answer

Chance, fate, Kings, murders and the suicidal.

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Which unsavoury companions does the speaker suggest Death hangs out with?

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Answer

Sickness, war and poison.

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How does the speaker diminish Death's power?

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Answer

By personifying Death, the speaker brings the abstract and the feared into the tangible realm of humanity.

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Question

What is the final conclusion about Death in the poem, 'Death Be Not Proud?'

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Answer

'And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.'


This lines infers that when people are awakened to eternal life, they kill Death.

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Question

When was 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' written?

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Answer

1804

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When was 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' published?

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Answer

1807

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Question

What was the name of the collection in which the poem was published?

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Answer

Poems, in Two Volumes

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What is the title that the poem is sometimes called?

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Answer

'Daffodils'

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What was the artistic movement that Wordsworth's poetry belonged to?

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Answer

Romanticism

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What is an example of a figure of speech used in the poem?

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Answer

Personification, metaphor, and alliteration

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What is the key example of personification in the poem?

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Answer

The daffodils dancing

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Question

What does the 'inward eye' (l. 21) refer to?

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Answer

Memory

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What are some of the themes of the poem?

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Answer

The individual's relationship with nature, spirituality and memory

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Question

What is the poetic structure of the poem?

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Answer

Iambic tetrameter

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Question

What is the rhyme scheme of the poem?

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Answer

ABABCC

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