Sample Exam Questions on Yeats’ poems

REVISION QUESTION ONE 

‘The innocent and the beautiful / Have no enemy but time’

 Discuss ways in which Yeats presents ideas about aging and death in ‘In Memory of Eva Gore-Booth and Con Markiewicz’.

In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

REVISION QUESTION TWO

‘The broken wall, the burning roof and tower / And Agamemnon dead.’

 Discuss Yeats’ presentation of violence in ‘Leda and the Swan.’

In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

REVISION QUESTION THREE

‘Did that play of mine send out / Certain men the English shot?’

 Discuss ways in which Yeats presents past regrets in ‘Man and the Echo’.

In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

REVISION QUESTION FOUR

‘Romantic Ireland’s dead and gone / It’s with O’Leary in the grave’

 Discuss Yeats’ presentation of how Ireland has changed in ‘September 1913’

 In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

REVISION QUESTION FIVE

‘Turning and turning in the widening gyre / The falcon cannot hear the falconer;’

 Discuss ways in which Yeats presents ideas his vision of the future in ‘The Second Coming.’

 In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

REVISION QUESTION SIX

‘The pure cold light in the sky / troubled his animal blood.’

Discuss Yeats’ presentation of troubled relationships in ‘The Cat and the Moon.’

In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

21 thoughts on “Sample Exam Questions on Yeats’ poems

  1. Do you have any questions relating to an Irish Airman? Definitely the one I understand the least… :/

    • Try this:

      ‘Those that I fight I do not hate / Those that I guard I do not love’

      Discuss ways in which Yeats presents Patriotism and heroism in ‘An Irish Airman Foresees His Death’.

      In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

      • Thank you so much!! Definitely feeling alot more confident about the exam having read your students notes and doing the study questions. Absolute life saver :D :D

  2. I really don’t understand Man and the Echo!!
    What would you say to answer that question (3 or 4 points/what could you cross reference with)!

    • -Yeats’ feeling of guilt and regret with reagrds to his play ‘Cathleen ni Houlihan’, which he believed may have sparked rebellion in some people, who were then executed as a result of their uprising. Compare to Easter 1916, and also Sailing to Byzantium, with the tone of regret and disillusionment
      -Yeats’ questioning of the issue of life after death, wanting to reconcile his life etc. Regrets not fulfilling his romatic life (Maud Gonne and all the other, frankly creepy stuff he did :P). Link to WSAC, and his resentful attitude towars the swans who have a fulfilled life. Also Broken Dreams, where he wants to mee MG in the afterlife etc.
      -Man and the Echo can be see as him wanting a release from his life, link to Sailing to Byzantium, where he want to be “gathered into the artifice of eternity”. Link to Irish Airman and how death is seen as a release in that poem, but how in this it is not a viable release as the questions still haunt him “No release in bodkin or disease”
      -Then just random points about form, language etc that you could integrate into above paragraphs…signifantly, Man and The Echo has an addition poetic voice, which interrupts his thought, never allows him to finish. contrast to AIAFHD, where it is a stream of conciousness…

      Sorry for the long-ness, kinda got carried away :/
      Got any other ideas?

      • Thank you!!! SO helpful :D good luck tomorrow if you’re sitting the exam

      • No problem :)
        Good luck to you too, hopefully the questions are easy and it’s 10/30 for an A :D

    • Try:

      1)

      ‘…the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand

      Discuss ways in which Yeats presents ideas on innocence in ‘The Stolen Child.’

      In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

      AND

      2)

      ‘…cold and rook-delighting heaven.’

      How does Yeats show things to be strange and unexpected in ‘The Cold Heaven.’

      In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

      I hope that helps!

      Charlotte

  3. Found this site by chance when looking Cat &Moon but extremely useful given lack of past papers on Yeats. Find it extraordinary that OCR never told me about it in spite of my repeated requests for help on possible questions. Does anyone know if there is a similar site dealing with A2 -specifically White Devil and Paradise Lost 9?

  4. is there only one question on each poem or can it differ?
    if so, can you give me a question on “in memory of eva gore booth and con markievicz” apart from the one you have already published?

    • An idea maybe when doing essay plans make sure each main point is clear, then when writing make these points into paragraphs but remember to PEEL. Point, Evidence,Explain,Link. For your introduction make sure it is clear and concise BUT don’t repeat the question in your answer, think about writing the context and linking your named poem in the introduction.
      Then your paragraphs; make sure they flow into one another and dont suddenly start off on a whole different section. if you link the paragraphs to the question they are more likely to make sense and contiously keep to the point rather then going off on a tangent. In your paragraphs embed your evidence Example : Yeats uses the fisherman to show that the romantic Ireland is ‘dead and gone’ and instead shows his idealistic ireland one that is simple and innocent as a ‘freckled man’.
      Ideally use around three other poems to link to to help you get as many marks as possible.
      Then write a conclusion that sums up the points and make sure you refer to the question in this as well!!!

  5. Hi, thank you all so much for this website it has been such a help :) I have my Yeats exam next Friday and was wondering if you have any questions relating to ‘The Fisherman’ as I’m not quite sure what kind of question would come up for that. Thank you!

  6. thank you for the website, could I send in the answers to the sample questions and possibly receive feedback?

    • Post your entire essay, using copy and paste functions, into the comments section below the poem it focuses on. submit. You will them receive feedback and a mark /30 with A0s noted.

    • ‘The living men that I hate / The dead man that I love’

      Discuss ways in which Yeats presents ideas about disillusionment and discontent in ‘The Fisherman’.

      In your answer explore the effects of language, imagery and verse form and consider how this poem relates to other poems by Yeats that you have studied.

  7. Hi, excellent revision resource! Just wondering if you have any exam questions on Easter 1916. Any key themes for this too would be greatly appreciated. :)

  8. I don’t really understand the Cold Heaven!! :(
    ‘…cold and rook-delighting heaven.’
    How does Yeats show things to be strange and unexpected in ‘The Cold Heaven.’

    Could you possibly help me on what to say for this question?

    • this poem confuses me too. however using all my notes from school and my notes on here i have kinda tried to come up with something. hope it helps a little at least……..

      The Cold Heaven is about remorse over failure at love and fear that this remorse will continue after death as purgatorial punishment. This unfulfilled yearning for his love is a similar theme to his later poem ‘Broken Dreams’.
      Several commentators have noted that the failed love was for Maud Gonne. The rhyme scheme is obsessive which reflects the poets thoughts that this belief will never end.
      By starting with the word ‘suddenly’ the poet sets up a sense of urgency and allows the poem to begin at a fast pace.
      The speaker looks up into the sky and is come over by warmth and by the use of ‘memories’ we immediately think of ‘the man and the echo’ and the sense of regret and remorse over youth and aging. He feels he must remember the happy memories of Maud since he has come to the realisation that she will never love him back. The use of ‘memories’ and ‘out of season’ suggests a hint at trouble over aging and thus links this poem to ‘the wild swans at coole’.
      Another subtle effect of the grieving is the sense of rocking back and forth, much as one would do when in grief. This is even stated directly when the poet said he ‘rocked to and fro’ and additionally the Line length, number of stresses and the number of characters also rock back and forth a bit.
      The poem is divided in half and this dividing sets up another reciprocating motion between the first half of the poem which contemplates the lost love today with death ahead and the second half which asks whether the intolerable grief will go on after death.
      The sense of rocking and the obsessiveness of the poem adds to the fear that the cycle of remorse might continue after death.
      The two most mysterious images are of the grief-stricken poet being riddled by light and the ghost of the poet being stricken by the injustice of the skies. The phrase riddled by light can have two readings: one is to be filled with small holes by the light and the other is to be puzzled by the light. Putting ‘confusion’ directly below ‘riddled’ that the latter reading—being puzzled—is the intended one. However, the later phrase ‘stricken by the injustice of the skies’ makes us think it’s the former—being filled with small holes adding the sense of mystery to the poem.
      The poem shows things to be strange and unexpected by the ‘confusion of the death bed’ as here we see how the afterlife may be not as most expect. Here Yeats worries whether the souls journey after death still suffers for the sins and remorse over love he has suffered in his life.
      Contributing to the mystery is the linear juxtaposition of ‘quicken, confusion’: This pair hints that the confusion arising from remorse is growing. Moreover, any injustice the sky could impose would seem to be physical
      The dichotomy of meanings and the question mark at the end of the poem makes the poem invite us to decide outcomes for ourselves. Ending in a question and thus not providing full answers links with ‘leda and the Swan’ and ‘Among school children’.

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