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MEG-01: British Poetry

MEG-01: British Poetry

IGNOU Solved Assignment Solution for 2021-22

If you are looking for MEG-01 IGNOU Solved Assignment solution for the subject British Poetry, you have come to the right place. MEG-01 solution on this page applies to 2021-22 session students studying in MEG, PGDBLT courses of IGNOU.

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Assignment Code: MEG 01/TMA 01/ 2021-22

Course Code: MEG 01

Assignment Name: British Poetry

Year: 2021-2022 (July 2021 and January 2022 Sessions)

Verification Status: Verified by Professor

Q1. Explain with critical comments any two of the following passages with reference to their contexts:

(a) Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!


Where was heard the mingled measure

From the fountain and the caves.

Now we rise up and zoom out, looking across the "dome of pleasure" and the shadow it is casting on the ocean. Coleridge is starting to have fun here, taking all the elements he has introduced so far and scrambling them together. In just four lines we get the waves, the caves, the fountain, the dome. Everything is mixed up, including the different sounds of the river, which make a "mingled measure." All this mingling shows up in the rhyme and the meter of the poem too. These lines make a good example. Now, they do have an even rhyme scheme. Just look at the last words in each line: pleasure, waves, measure, caves – ABAB. But this is different from most of the rest of the poem, which uses all kinds of other rhyme schemes. Plus these four lines have a varying number of syllables. There really is a kind of music in this poem, but it is strange and irregular, basically, a "mingled measure." We'll be the first to admit that Coleridge seems to be taking himself pretty seriously here, but if you look around the edges, he's playing around a little bit too.

It was a miracle of rare device,

A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!

These two quick lines bring up that same obsession with contrasts that we saw with the palace and the river. In the opening lines, the speaker never said anything about the caves being cold, or the dome being hot, but he goes out of his way to makes these points here. Actually there's a whole world of contrasts between the dome and the caverns: Natural vs. man-made, above ground and below ground, symmetrical and irregular, sunny and frozen. This is what gives the poem a lot of its energy: opposites clashing together and then making a weird kind of harmony.

(b) We sat grown quiet at the name of love; We saw the last embers of daylight die,

And in the trembling blue-green of the sky, A moon, worn as if it had been a shell

Washed by time's waters as they rose and fell, About the stars and broke in days and years.

Ans) The poem takes place on a summer’s day, awards the end of the season. Three friends, including the speaker, are outside talking about poetry, hard work, and beauty. The speaker describes how as a poet no one understands how hard it is to write. He thinks that it would actually be easier to be a laborer. Then, at least, he wouldn’t have to be called “idle” by schoolmasters and bankers.

As the poem continues one of the speaker’s companions adds that it is also very hard work to be a woman and be beautiful. This leads the speaker to consider love and the way love has transformed over the centuries. The poem ends on a solemn note as the speaker reveals his love for the intended listener of the poem.

The above lines are taken from the third and final stanza of ‘Adam’s Curse,’ the speaker zooms back and describes the scene in full. He describes how they all sat quietly “at the name of love”. After the speaker described love in this way they were stunned into silence for a time while they contemplated it. They watched the “embers of daylight die” and the sky change colors. The moon came out “as if it had been a shell / Washed by time’s waters”. This is a great example of a simile. Here, he is comparing it to a shell that’s been worn smooth by the waters of the ocean.

The imagery continues as he describes the moon. It has been washed smooth not by the water but rather by time itself. Love led the speaker down a thoughtful path. Now, as he considers time, the poem comes to a conclusion (along with the end of the day and the end of summer).

The last lines reveal why everyone got so quiet at the end of the poem. He’s in love with a woman to whom he has been speaking. When he spoke, he spoke for her “ears”. He thought about her beauty and sought to love her as lovers did in the past. The speaker wants to find that old way of loving that took time and effort. But, it might be beyond him. They are as the moon is, “weary-hearted” and rubbed smooth by time.

Q2. Write a critical note on Chancer's art of portraiture in The General Prologue.

Ans) Geoffrey Chaucer was an excellent observer of human behaviour. Before it became a scientific area, he was intimate with the human mind. In "The Prologue to the Canterbury Tales," it is exemplified. He creates a wide cast of characters in this book. Chaucer's talent of characterisation may be seen in every character. He creates realistic characters and paints each one with great detail. In actuality, he is well-known for two reasons: first, he is a realist, and second, his ability to create memorable characters. He employs both of these elements in order to build believable characters.

In his writings, Chaucer uses gorgeous colours and depicts numerous characters from his day with painstaking attention to detail. He is, in fact, a wonderful painter who uses words instead of colours. He has The Seeing Eye, a retentive memory, the power to choose, and the ability to expound without a doubt. His thorough attention to his characters' attire, appearance, and demeanour helps him to portray them as actual humans rather than bloodless abstractions.

His Prologue is a genuine photo gallery, with thirty photographs on the wall, each with its own peculiarities and traits. It's more akin to a large parade, with all the life and movement, colour, and music. Indeed, his characters are morally and socially representative of English society in authentic and identifiable ways, and much more so of humanity as a whole. As a result, Chaucer's "The Prologue" characters are appropriate for individuals of all ages and walks of life. Despite the fact that the Canterbury Tales' theme was based on Giovanni, an Italian poet, Chaucer's manner of characterisation is distinct and distinctive. As a result, his characters are not only from his generation, but also from around the world. They are individuals, not types. The pilgrims are the epitome of mankind. The complexities of their physical appearance, social position, and temperament are so masterfully shown that the entire man or woman comes alive in front of our eyes, making it a true 14th-century picture gallery.

Chaucer would be the first excellent character painter in English literature. Chaucer's thirty portraits are a fantastic representation of society at the time. The numerous pilgrims represent diverse vocations. For example, the doctor, soldier, Oxford Clerk, and Friar all represent particular attributes that identify their respective occupations. The warlike aspects are symbolised by the Knight, Squire, and Yeoman. Ploughmen, Millers, Reeves, and Franklins are all symbols of agriculture. The Sergeant of Law, the Doctor, the Oxford Clerk, and the Poet himself represent the liberal professions. Industry and trade are represented by the Wife of Bath, the Weaver, and the Merchant and Shipman, respectively. A Cook and a Host represent provisional transactions. The Poor Person and the Summoner symbolise the secular clergy, while the Monk, the Prioress, and the Pardoner represent the monastic communities. As a result, the characters in the Canterbury Tales are both types and individuals, as each represents an unique profession or social class and shows distinct individual features, complete with attire and linguistic quirks.

Chaucer's description of each man's horse, possessions, and array reads like a memoir page. He explains everything in the most natural, kind, and entertaining manner imaginable. Although Chaucer's characters are typical of their profession, they also have unique features. His personalities, as a result, stand out among their counterparts. Because he imbues them with distinct personality traits. Individuals are distinguished by these qualities. For example, the Shipman has a beard; the Wife of Bath is 'Som-del deef' and 'gat-toothed;' the Reeve has long and thin legs; the Miller has "a wart topped with a tuft of hair" on his nose; the Summoner's face is full of pimples; and the Squire is "as fresshe as the monthe of May."

In actuality, almost every pilgrim has his or her own method of approaching the journey. Although Chaucer varies between full-length portraits and thumb-nail sketches, even in the sketches, he conveys a strong sense of personality and portraiture depth. Chaucer does not use a theatrical approach; rather, he uses a descriptive and narrative style that is fitting for The Canterbury Tales' theme. Unlike Wycliffe and Langland, he feels compassion for all of the characters, good and bad. We have a sense of brotherhood with Chaucer. They have been shown to share the same traits, humours, and behaviours as men and women of varying ages all around the world. Their features are universal, and while some have changed locations, their essence has not. Chaucer employed the contrast method to illustrate the travellers' portraits. Both the good and the bad brush shoulders with each other. The Reeve, the Miller, and the Summoner are monsters of vice, whereas the Parson and the Ploughman are paragons of virtue. Characters in Chaucer's works, like those in Shakespeare's, have three dimensions: length, width, and depth. Characters like the Wife of Bath and the Monk, for example, are complex. Chaucer has been termed an exceptional representational poet of his day because of the characteristic component in his portrayal.

Q3. Consider Herbert as a religious poet.

Ans) George Herbert is considered as a religious poet because of the subject matter of his poetry which is fully devotional and religious in nature. By his poetry, he completely surrenders himself to God and his master, Jesus. Although he was associated with the metaphysical group, he was exceptional for his treatment towards religion in his poetry. For his devotion to God, he is known as the saint of the metaphysical group. And his religious thought afterward influenced other metaphysical poets. However, his devotion to God reflects in his poems, and we find a great touch of religion in almost all of his poems.


He was a Churchman of the Anglican Church. And his religious faith had grown and developed in this Church. He was influenced by it right from his childhood under the benign guidance of his pious mother and seasoned family chaplains. And long after the complication of his University graduation, he was ordained and placed over the little church of Bemarton.

Herbert's mind was moulded by religion and by the Anglican Church. As he was brought up in religious atmosphere and his religious faith is shaped by his pious mother, we see that his poems are the representations of his sacred mind and thought. His poems are nothing but the true expression of love towards God and Jesus. As Rose Macaulay says, "Herbert is, in a sense, the first of the Anglican poets; the first Anglican poet, that is, whose whole expression and art was coloured by and confined within the walls of his Church."

His poems:

Herbert finds and gets satisfaction writing religious poems. Even the two sonnets that he sent to his mother when he was only seventeen year's old are the symbol of what kind of poet he wanted to be. In his after years, he writes divine poems and sees beauty only in God. He is all for God, his king, whose praise he will sing in a plain, homely language. Even just before his death he gave a manuscript to one of his friends and the message that he gave is worthy. He said, "Deliver this little book to my dear brother Ferrar, and tell him he shall find in it a picture of the many spiritual conflicts that have passed betwixt God and my soul before I could subject mine to the will of Jesus, my master, in whose service I have now found perfect freedom."

However, Herbert is called the devotional or the religious poet because he deals with such subjects. The theme of most of his poems is religion. He deals with the soul, God, life after death, the relation between human spirits and senses and so on. He talks of man's relation to God, of body to the soul, of the life here and to the life hereafter. In this relation, he often shows rebellion, reconciliation and the final submission.

Moreover, his poetry is a sequence of religious poems. His motive is always to make the divine seem original, the secular imitation. He sees the things of daily life in direct relation to a supernatural order. Heavenly truths are indeed what he looks for in all his poems. There are many poems in which Herbert devoutly offers his homage to God or Christ, and make surrender of himself to the Almighty. These are poems of untroubled faith in which the tone is throughly one of affirmation. "Easter-Wings" is one of such poems. The theme of his poems is that Paradise was lost through Adam's sin but was regained by Christ's sacrifice. The underlining idea is that the fall of man is the essential basis of his rise, or in other words if there is no fall, there can be no flight. Here he says,

"Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,

Though foolishly he lost the same,

Decaying more and more,

Till he became

Most poore."

From the above discussions, it can be said that George Herbert devoted his poetic genius for the praise of God and the theme of most of his poems is religion that leads us towards spiritual and moral ideas. And his poems find expressions only in God's praise. So undoubtedly we can consider George Herbert is a devotional or religious poet.

Q4. Comment on the opposition of art and life and youth and old age in 'Sailing to Byzantium'.

Ans) “Sailing to Byzantium,” by the Irish poet W.B. Yeats (1865-1939), is essentially about the difficulty of keeping one’s soul alive in a fragile, failing human body. The speaker, an old man, leaves behind the country of the young for a visionary quest to Byzantium, the ancient city that was a major seat of early Christianity. There, he hopes to learn how to move past his mortality and become something more like an immortal work of art.

The speaker introduces readers to a world that has no room in it for the elderly. It's a world in which young lovers embrace under trees full of singing birds (who seem unaware of their own mortality), the waters swarm with fish, and every living thing—whether human, fish, or bird—is born and then dies. Everything in that country is so caught up in the moment that it can pay no attention to the things that might outlive the flesh.

An old man in this world is nothing but a skinny, ratty old scarecrow, unless he can keep his soul alive, vital, and singing within his failing, worn out body. No one can teach the soul to do this: the person who wants to keep their soul alive has to figure it out through their own study. For this reason, the speaker has taken a voyage across the ocean to the ancient holy city of Byzantium.

The speaker addresses Byzantium's long-dead wise men and saints, who are now caught up in the glorious fire of God, which is like the beautiful golden tiling that decorates Byzantine churches. He asks them to emerge from this fire, whirling in spirals like the bobbin of a spinning-wheel, and to teach his soul to sing. He wants them to burn up his mortal, fleshly heart, which is tethered to his failing body and can't fathom or accept its own mortality, and to take him up into their everlasting world of art.

When he's left his body behind, the speaker says, he won't take up a mortal physical form again. Instead, he'll be a beautiful piece of golden art, something that metal workers in ancient Greece might have made to hang in an emperor's bedroom. Or he'll be a golden bird placed in a golden tree, where he, like the sages, can teach people his eternal and otherworldly wisdom—his transcendent understanding of the past, present, and future.

The poem is, at least in part, about the difficulties of old age. To the speaker, the inevitable failure of the aging body presents a choice: the elderly can either fade into husks of their former selves, or learn to escape the physical limitations of old age by beautifying their souls—and, eventually, upon dying, becoming something that isn’t tied to the human body at all. The poem thus implies a separation between the body and soul, and presents old age as both a burden and an opportunity for a kind of spiritual transcendence—a chance to leave the earthly world, and all its limitations, behind.

Closely related to the poem's ideas about aging, mortality, and the soul is its treatment of art. In the second half of the poem, the speaker reaches out to the world of art—to Byzantine mosaics—for answers to the struggles of old age and death. Art, here, is presented as a pathway to immortality. Art, the poem argues, can represent and preserve bodies that never change, and point to a bigger, transcendent reality: not just the reality of lives now vanished, but the reality of some different world beyond our own.

The elderly speaker, having left behind the world of the young which no longer has room for him in his frailty, goes to seek spiritual rebirth in the ancient city of Byzantium—an ancient holy city that is now long-dead. He begins his third stanza by invoking “sages standing in God’s holy fire / As in the gold mosaic of a wall.” Byzantium was famous for its beautiful mosaic art, and the sages reach the immortality of “God’s holy fire” by being a part of these mosaics. That is, they are forever preserved via art, ageless and undying. Thus, the “artifice of eternity” suggests that art both has the power to give humans a glimpse of eternity, and is itself a way to reach that eternity for themselves.

Q5. Comment on the themes of death and suicide in the poetry of Sylvia Plath.

Ans) Death is without doubt one of the main themes within the poetry of Sylvia Plath. She has felt it intently when she tried suicide. She is aware of the fact that demise is a common reality accepted by everybody; subsequently, she conceptualizes it. She has the power to precise it in form of phrases.

One common theme is the void left by her father's death. In "Full Fathom Five," she speaks of his death and burial, mourning that she is forever exiled. In "The Colossus," she tries in vain to put him back together again and make him speak. In "Daddy," she goes further in claiming that she wants to kill him herself, finally exorcising his vicious hold over her mind and her work.

Death is also dealt with in terms of suicide, which eerily corresponds to her own suicide attempts and eventual death by suicide. In "Lady Lazarus," she claims that she has mastered the art of dying after trying to kill herself multiple times. She sneers that everyone is used to crowding in and watching her self-destruct. Suicide, though, is presented as a desirable alternative in many of these works. The poems suggest it would release her from the difficulties of life, and bring her transcendence wherein her mind could free itself from its corporeal cage. This desire is exhilaratingly expressed in "Ariel," and bleakly and resignedly expressed in "Edge." Death is an immensely vivid aspect of Plath's work, both in metaphorical and literal representations.

Plath felt like a victim to the men in her life, including her father, her husband, and the great male-dominated literary world. Her poetry can often be understood as response to these feelings of victimization, and many of the poems with a male figure can be interpreted as referring to any or all of these male forces in her life.

In regards to her father, she realized she could never escape his terrible hold over her; she expressed her sense of victimhood in "The Colossus" and "Daddy," using powerful metaphors and comparisons to limn a man who figured heavily in her psyche.

Her husband also victimized her through the power he exerted as a man, both by assuming he should have the literary career and through his infidelity. Plath felt relegated to a subordinate, "feminine" position which stripped from her any autonomy or power. Her poems from the "Colossus" era express her frustration over the strictures under which she operated. For instance, "A Life" evokes a menacing and bleak future for Plath. However, in her later poems, she seems finally able to transcend her status as victim by fully embracing her creative gifts ("Ariel"), metaphorically killing her father ("Daddy"), and committing suicide ("Lady Lazarus", "Edge").

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