2008 AP® ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION FREE-RESPONSE QUESTIONS
ENGLISH LITERATURE AND COMPOSITION
Total time—2 hours
In the two poems below, Keats and Longfellow reflect on similar concerns. Read the poems carefully. Then write an essay in which you compare and contrast the two poems, analyzing the poetic techniques each writer uses to explore his particular situation.
When I Have Fears
When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain;
5 When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
10 That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
1818 —John Keats (1795-1821)
Just Before Leaving for Home
Half of my life is gone, and I have let
The years slip from me and have not fulfilled
The aspiration of my youth, to build
Some tower of song with lofty parapet.
5 Not indolence, nor pleasure, nor the fret
Of restless passions that would not be stilled,
But sorrow, and a care that almost killed,
Kept me from what I may accomplish yet;
Though, half-way up the hill, I see the Past
10 Lying beneath me with its sounds and sights,—
A city in the twilight dim and vast,
With smoking roofs, soft bells, and gleaming lights,—
And hear above me on the autumnal blast
The cataract2 of Death far thundering from the heights.
1842 —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882)
Written at Boppard on the Rhine August 25, 1842,
1 The title is from the first line of Dante’s Divine Comedy: “Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita” (“Midway upon the journey of...
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