Mary Wroth (1587-1651/3), from "Pamphilia to Amphilanthus"

  1. In what context was this poem published and who is its speaker? What is added to the poem by the use of classical names?
  2. Why does Pamphilia welcome the night?
  3. What are features of the poem's form? rhythm? Imagery and word choices?
  4. How do these aid in conveying the speaker's anxieties and passions?
  5. What happens in the poem's conclusion? Does it resolve the speaker's problems?
  6. How would you compare this poem to other love sequences you have read--for example, to Sir Philip Sidney's "Astrophel and Stella"?

Margaret Cavendish, Duchess of Newcastle (1661-1717), "An Apology for Writing So Much upon This Book"

  1. What are the poem's rhythm and stanza form? Do these fit the subject?
  2. This is one of several apologies or explanations with which Cavendish prefaced her poems. Why do you think she added these?
  3. What is the poem's tone and subject? Why do you thnk the author fears censure for her revisions?
  4. What are the poem's basic metpahors, and what emotions are they designed to evoke? What do they reveal about the writer's preoccupations?
  5. What are some reasons Cavendish may be particularly anxious about the publicaton of her book?
  6. Would you describe this as an effective poem? What does it reveal about the audience for women's poetry at the time?

Katherine Philips (1632-64), "Epitaph"

  1. Describe the poem's form. Do you think this effectively complements its subject?
  2. What conclusion does the speaker profess to draw from the death of her only child?
  3. What aspects of her child's existence does she remember? To what does she ascribe his death? How might this be called a "conceit"?
  4. Does the poem contain metaphors, and if so, how are these arranged to reinforce the meaning?
  5. Can you explain the poem's ending?
  6. Is the poem effective in presenting its subject?

Philips, "To My Excellent Lucrasia, On Our Friendship"

  1. How is the form of this poem designed to complement its subject?
  2. How are the poem's metaphors arranged to describe the speaker's friendship with Lucrasia?
  3. Why do you think the poet used a literary name or pseudonym to address her friend?
  4. On what basis does the poet claim that her friendship with Lucrasia is superior to marriage? Why does she assert that their design is "innocent"?
  5. Philips wrote what seem to be sincere love poems to her husband; in this context what may be meant by her praise of an "innocent" relationship? Might this be read as a homoerotic poem?