Poetry Questions (Day Two)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
1850 (Victorian poetry; incorporates the sensory language, sentimentality, tenderness, and passion of Victorian poetry)
1. What type of sonnet is this, and how can one tell?
2. How do these lines seem to equate her soul with her love? I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight / For the ends of Being and ideal Grace (2-4).
3. What does this line suggest about how the speaker wants her intentions in writing the poem to be understood? I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise (8).
4. What interesting connotations enter the poem when the speaker states, I love thee with the passion put to use / In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith (9-10).
5. In lines 12 and 13, the speaker says she loves her beloved with her breath, smiles, tears, and all of her life; these are all elements of earthly life; how does the final couplet nicely expand from that idea to something larger?
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
1833/1842 (Victorian poetry; demonstrates a Victorian admiration of heroism, courage, and persistence)
1. The poem is a dramatic monologue, a long speech by a single character (clearly separate from the poet), which is clearly addressed to an audience (or more than one audience). To whom does Ulysses (Odysseus) speak in the different stanzas?
7. How does Ulysses feel about being home, back in the domestic sphere, in Ithaca?
8. What is it that motivates Ulysses? What is it that he wants/desires most?
9. How does the iambic pentameter and use of enjambment throughout the poem fit well with Ulysses feelings displayed throughout the poem, but especially in its final lines?
10. Is Ulysses abdicating his responsibilities as king, father, and husband?
My Last Duchess
1842 (Victorian poetry; Victorians were extremely uptight about sexuality, and there was an interest at the time in the rights and welfare of women and the issue of spousal abuse; also shows Victorian interest in the Italian Renaissance, a time they felt people moved away from God and toward science)
1. This poem is also a dramatic monologue; who is the Duke addressing (who is his audience)?
12. What upset the Duke so much about his former wife (who has passed away)?
13. What do these lines show about the way the Duke thinks of himself and of his former wife?
She thanked men,good! but thanked
SomehowI know not howas if she ranked
My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name
With anybodys gift. (31-4)
14. Why does he hide her portrait, even now, behind a curtain (10)?
15. What is the significance of the Duke pointing out the other picture, at the end, and especially that it is Neptune taming a seahorse?