Texts in Time – Answers

Texts in Time – The Solutions

Here are the answers to the Texts in Time game on the Converse brochure.

‘Yet Chloe…’

This extract is by Alexander Pope, from his ‘Epistle II: To a Lady – Of the Characters of Women’, and was written in 1735.

It’s a classic bit of eighteenth century satire from one of the masters of the art – misogynist, but funny!
Notice how Pope is writing in iambic couplets, and the way in which he often balances one idea with another, usually opposing, one –
for example, in lines 3 and 4. The poem is called an ‘epistle’, which means a letter, but in fact, the poem is written as a conversation between
two people – one who begins the extract with the words “Yet Chloe sure was form’d without a spot”, and one who replies.

‘Marry, and love thy Flavia’

This extract is by John Donne, from his ‘Elegy II: The Anagram’, and was written in the early 17th century.

Donne is parodying traditional love poetry by first saying that Flavia has everything that would make a woman beautiful – but
then telling us that it’s all mixed up. For example, the poem says that Flavia has pale eyes and dark teeth – but to be beautiful
in Elizabethan society, a woman should have dark eyes and white teeth. Like Pope, around a hundred years later, Donne is writing
in iambic couplets.

‘she steps out’
This extract is by a contemporary poet, Clive Wilmer, from his poem ‘Artemis’, written in 2000.

You can see immediately how different the vocabulary and verse forms are from those used by Donne and Pope.
The poem even looks different on the page! Perhaps it’s also significant that this poem seems more celebratory of the woman it describes
than the other extracts are.

‘Fair was this young wife’
This is the oldest of the extracts, and is from ‘The Miller’s Tale’ by Geoffrey Chaucer, who was writing at some point before 1400.

Again, Chaucer is using iambic pentameter couplets, though some of the lines seem to have a syllable missing (only 9 syllables in the line
instead of 10). The last two lines don’t sound as though they rhyme, either. This is because, over the 600 years since Chaucer
was writing, words have changed pronounciation, and some words have changed their meaning as well. For example,
Chaucer describes the woman’s body as being ‘gent and small’. ‘Gent’ means ‘beautiful’, ‘graceful’, or ‘attractive’. ‘Small’ can
mean ‘small’, but it can also mean ‘slim’ or ‘slender’.

‘A daughter of our meadows’
This extract is by Alfred Tennyson, from his peom ‘The Brook’, written in 1855.

Once again, he’s using pentameters, but unlike Chaucer, Pope and Donne, Tennyson’s lines do not rhyme. His vocabulary is much closer
to the words we would use today – there are probably very few words that you don’t understand in the extract.

How many of the dates did you guess correctly? Has this game given you some ideas about how English poetry has changed over
the last 600 years?