Section 1 – Epics

A. Answer each question as directed. Read each question and highlight the key words and phrases so you could stay focused when you answer them.

1. Read the opening lines (1-26) of the epic Gilgamesh, Tablet 1. In the first paragraph, address these points: Identify the speaker, the audience and the possible literary and social functions that they served. [Hint: remember these poems were recited primarily during religious ceremonies and festivals] do an analytical summary of the contents in the second paragraph. Comment on the organization of the topics, the allusions that are made to the myths, the ritual and the architectural details. Think of how all of the poetic devices together affect the audience. (200 words minimum) 10 points
2. The plotlines and the characters of an epic poem focus on describing the actions and speech of epic heroes. In the Iliad and Ramayana combined, we have studied the characters of Achilles, Ravana, Agamemnon, Hector, and Rama In my lectures, In these anicient times, a true hero was defined as one that upheld his duties and sacrificed their personal needs or rights for the greater good and honor. From the heroes listed above, choose one hero that truly lived by these honorable principles, and one that fell short. In your response first describe the most valued duties of an epic hero and how much value they placed upon duty and honoring their duty. Then discuss how your chosen character upholds or falls short of these values. [Note: In your choice, make sure that you do not choose both from the same epic; in other words, choose one hero from the Iliad and one from Ramayana] (minimum 250 words) 10 points

3. As you know the African epic Son-jara was composed around the thirteenth-century ACE and continues to be orally transmitted to date. Another interesting aspect of the poem is that it is an amalgamation of two traditions, African pantheism and Quoranic teachings. Nonetheless, the themes embedded in the poem are no different from the other epics, especially, in its definition of “human destiny”. In lines 46-130, on pages 535 -537, you will see the most simple and elegant way the source and the decree of ‘human destiny’ is caste by God. Three types of God’s creatures get their destinies allocated: Iblis gets immortality and wealth and freedom to do what he wants to and with human, the rest of the angels get morality, the Jinn get beauty, and Adam gets ‘dignity’ because Adam phrases his request thus:

Then Adam our forefather said, “O God,
“Whatever man may offer man, such will have an end.”
“Whatever God may offer man, no gift need follow that,
“Whatever you will give to me,
“That’s what I wish.” (lines 109-113, P. 536)

Upon granting of the grace of dignity as ‘human destiny” and informs him of the arrival of Prophet Muhammad, Adam replies thus:

Fillardi Samawaati [meaning on earth and in heaven in Arabic]
Paradise and earth were made according to His Love.
Where we have passed the day in Grace.
There may we also pass the night, Amen. (lines 121-124, P.537)

Discuss, how is it different from unlimited freedom that Iblis has, morality that the angels are given, or the beauty that Jinns have? Based on your study of all four epics, interpret how man’s best estimate envisions this path to dignity? What should human beings have to value and honor and what must they ignore or sacrifice in order to realize their gift of dignity? 10 points

Section II – Lyric, Ghazal and Sonnet

1. One of the hallmarks of a sonnet is its focus on the topic of love. The beauty of the poem exists in its play with imagery, metaphor and the conceits, which few might conceive of in any ordinary circumstances. Take Shakespeare’s sonnet # 116. Compose a sonnet of your own on love employing as many of the poetic devices as you can , and keeping to the traditional English Sonnet’s rhyme scheme.

Paraphrase the Sonnet’s contents in prose format. You may write it in the form of a vignette




10 points
2. Listen to the audio versions of the ghazals sung and made available in translation. Describe how your appreciation of the poem is enhanced by the audio recitation. Do you think Do you think the lyrical beauty of the language that got lost in translation from the original language is better experienced I the musical version? Do you think the translated poem might carry similar melody if set to music? Add anything else you want to if it helps explain the differences of your aesthetic response between reading the poem and listening to it. 10 points [A ghazal sung by jagjit Singh a twentieth-century Indian musician] [a musical rendering of Rumi’s Sufi Ghazal, probably by an Iranian singer]




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *