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Assignment Questions

Essay Questions on Coleridge and Clare

You are to write a 2-page paper. Each question is to be answered separately. State the question first and continue to answer. Do Not Use Outside Sources, Only Use the Website that is listed!

Read through Coleridge’s “Kubla Kahn” and “The Pains of Sleep” and briefly answer the following questions:
1. The prefatory statements on this poem seem just as important as the poem itself in establishing a mood and tone of suspense and uncertainty. In fact, if we were to remove the prose portion of the poem there really wouldn’t be that much there at all! Diving in to the poem, however, what key phrases or even single words work to create the dark mood of the gothic? List at least five phrases or single words.
2. This poem has been interpreted and reinterpreted countless times with countless variations, but the one thing most interpretations share is a focus on the psychology of the Author (Coleridge himself or a persona he adopts). If a male friend of yours retold this dream and asked for an interpretation what would you say? Feel welcome to be creative–there’s no wrong answer here!
3. Rather than look at other drug-influenced poetry as referents, let’s instead look at how the form and mood of Coleridge’s poem have influenced others. Remember the Eurythmics song “Sweet Dreams”? Check out the lyrics (www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/toadies/possumkingdom.html) and then write a few sentences about the correspondences you observe between the lyrics and the poem. Are these lyrics as, or even more, dependent on a drug-induced hallucination? Are they just as dark?
4. The “The Pains of Sleep” seems a more straightforward poem: the speaker is not over-identified, the theme seems more focused, and the poem actually ends. But is it so simple? What, ultimately, does the poem leave unresolved? What questions remain unanswered?
5. How does the psychology of the dreamer in “The Pains of Sleep” differ from “Kubla Kahn”? Conversely, how is the psychology similar?

Read John Clare’s “A Vision,” “I Am” and “An Invite to Eternity”. Briefly answer the following questions:

1. How is “A Vision” similar to “Kubla Kahn” in mood and tone? What specific word choices lead to this similarity?
2. How do you interpret the last stanza of “A Vision”? How does it relate to the prior stanza?
3. “I Am” like “The Pains of Sleep” is an ode of sorts to sleeping and dreaming of a better place. How does Clare take the idea of peaceful rest further than Coleridge? What does he add?
4. “An Invite to Eternity” is not an often studied poem, though for those interested in vampires and vampire lore it probably should be because the tropes of the vampirelegend are all there without explicitly stating that this is a vampire story. As with the Eurythmics, this poem, too, has a contemporary correspondence in song. Read through the lyrics to the Toadies “Possum Kingdom” (www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/toadies/possumkingdom.html) and then write just a few sentences about what they share, noting in particular the role of the speaker.

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