Poetry Essay Prompt

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AP Literature Poetry Essay Prompts (1970–2011)

1970 Poem: “Elegy for Jane” (Theodore Roethke)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you describe the speaker's attitude toward his former student, Jane.

1971 Poem: “The Unknown Citizen” (W.H. Auden)
Prompt: In a brief essay, identify at least two of the implications implicit in the society reflected in the poem. Support your statements by specific references to the poem.

1972 NO POEM 1973 (exam not available)

1974 Poem: “I wonder whether one expects...” (No poet given) Prompt: Write a unified essay in which you relate the imagery of the last stanza to the speaker’s view of himself earlier in the poem and to his view of how others see poets.

1975 NO POEM

1976 Poem: “Poetry of Departures” (Philip Larkin)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you discuss how the poem's diction (choice of words) reveals his attitude toward the two ways of living mentioned in the poem.

1977 Poem: “Piano” [2 poems with the same name] (D. H. Lawrence) Prompt: Read both poems carefully and then write an essay in which you explain what characteristics of the second poem make it better than the first. Refer specifically to details of both poems.

1978 Poem: “Law Like Love” (W. H. Auden)
Prompt: Read the poem and the write an essay discussing the differences between the conceptions of 'law' in lines 1-34 and those in lines 35-60.

1979 Poems: “Spring And All” (William Carlos Williams) and “For Jane Meyers” (Louise Gluck) Prompt: Read the two poems carefully. Then write a well-organized essay in which you show how the attitudes towards the coming of spring implied in these two poems differ from each other. Support your statements with specific references to the texts.

1980 Poem: “One Art” (Elizabeth Bishop)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you describe how the speaker's attitude toward loss in lines 16-19 is related to her attitude toward loss in lines 1-15. Using specific references to the text, show how verse form and language contribute to the reader's understanding of these attitudes.

1981 Poem: “Storm Warnings” (Adrienne Rich)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you explain how the organization of the poem and the use of concrete details reveal both its literal and its metaphorical meanings. In your discussion, show how both of these meanings relate to the title.

1982 Poem: “The Groundhog” (Richard Eberhart)
Prompt: Write an essay in which you analyze how the language of the poem reflects the changing perceptions and emotions of the speaker as he considers the metamorphosis of the dead groundhog. Develop your essay with specific references to the text of the poem.

1983 Poem: “Clocks and Lovers” (W. H. Auden)
Prompt: Write a well-organized essay in which you contrast the attitude of the clocks with that of the lover. Through careful analysis of the language and imagery, show how this contrast is important to the meaning of the poem.

1984 NO POEM

1985 Poems: “There Was A Boy” (William Wordsworth) and “The Most of It” (Robert Frost) Prompt: These two poems present encounters with nature, but the two poets handle those encounters very differently. In a well-organized essay, distinguish between the attitudes (toward nature, toward the solitary individual, etc.) expressed in the poems and discuss the techniques that the poets use to present these attitudes. Be sure to support your statements with specific references.

1986 Poem: “Ogun” (E. K. Braithwaite)
Prompt: Read the poem. You will note that it has two major sections that are joined by another section lines 21-26. Write an essay in which you discuss how the diction, imagery, and movement of verse in the poem reflect differences in tone and content between the two larger sections.

1987 Poem: “Sow” (Sylvia Plath)
Prompt: Read the poem. Then write an essay in which you analyze the presentation of the sow. Consider particularly how the language of the poem reflects both the neighbor's and the narrator's...
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