Foreign Literature essay questions

1.  Write a short essay:  What is the mood or feeling of the “The Husband’s Message?”  How do the imagery, figurative language, and poetic devices work together to achieve this mood or feeling?  Write a brief paragraph in which you describe the mood of the poem and identify the mechanisms used by the poet to achieve this mood.  Your response should identify at least two examples of a poetic device (alliteration, assonance, etc.), one image, and one example of figurative language from the poem.

2.  Write a paragraph addressing the question of whether or not “The Husband’s Message” is an epic poem.  Consider the hero, the events, and the setting in your answer.

The Husband’s Message 

translated by Kevin Crossley- Holland 

Now that we’re alone I can explain
The secret meaning of this stave. I was once a child. 

But now one of the sons of men, living far from here, 

Sends me on errands over the salt-streams, 

5 Commands me to carry a cunningly-carved letter.
At my master’s command I have often crossed the sea, 

Sailed in the ship’s hold to strange destinations.
And this time I have come especially
To sow assurance in your mind 

10 About my lord’s great love for you.
I swear that you will find in him
Great faith to you, great loyalty.
O lady adorned with such lovely ornaments, 

He who carved the words in this wood 

15 Bids me ask you to remember
The oaths you swore so long ago together;
In those distant days you lived in the same country, 

Lived in love together,
Sharing one estate in the beautiful city. 

20 Then a feud, a cruel vendetta, forced him to leave 

This land of happy people; I was told to tell you, 

Joyfully, that you should undertake a journey 

Just as soon as you hear the cuckoo’s sad song, 

That mournful sound in the mountain woods. 

25 After that, let no man delay you
Or stop you from sailing over the waves.
Go down to the sea, the home of the gull;
Sail south from here over the salt-streams
To the land where land waits in high expectations. 

30 He nurses no greater wish in the world
(With his own words he told me),
Than that both of you together, by the grace of God, 

May give rings once again to men in the mead-hall; 

Bestow gifts as before on companions 35 And warriors. 

He has won 

Wealth enough, though he lives
Far away amongst a foreign people
In a beautiful land.
Forced by the feud to launch his boat from here, 

40 He went over the waves alone in his youth,
Set forth on the way of the flood, eager to
Depart and divide the quiet waters. Now at last your lord 

Leaves his sorrows behind him. He will lack nothing, 

Neither horses, nor treasure, nor joy in the mead-hall, 

45 O daughter of the prince,
He will want nothing else in the world 

If only he may have you for his own, 

Fulfilling the former vow between you. 

I hear the runes S. and R., 

50 EA., W. and M. join in an oath
That he will wait for you in that country,
And will always love you for as long as he lives, 

Faithful and true to your vows to each other, 

The oaths you swore so long ago together. 

3.  Identify two examples of irony in Sonnet 57.  Explain why each example is ironic and what effect the irony achieves in the poem.

Sonnet 57

Being your slave what should I do but tend

Upon the hours, and times of your desire?

I have no precious time at all to spend;

Nor services to do, till you require.

Nor dare I chide the world without end hour,

Whilst I, my sovereign, watch the clock for you,

Nor think the bitterness of absence sour,

When you have bid your servant once adieu;

Nor dare I question with my jealous thought

Where you may be, or your affairs suppose,

But, like a sad slave, stay and think of nought

Save, where you are, how happy you make those.

So true a fool is love, that in your will,

Though you do anything, he thinks no ill.

–William Shakespeare