Reply to "tense in answering a question about prose or poetry"

subhajit123 posted:

Hi there, can anyone please tell me if I am asked questions in present tense from a prose and poem, should I give answers in present tense or in past tense? [. . .] My question is should I answer in present tense as the question is in present tense or in past tense. As the poem was written in the past and everything happened in the past, does the present sound appropriate there?

Hi, Subhajit: When we speak about events in novels and poems and films, we generally do so in the present tense. No matter when the novel or poem or film was created, its events will continue to take place forever; they never move into the past. So, yes, it is perfectly fine for the question about the poem to use the present tense, and it is also perfectly fine for you to use the present tense in your response.

subhajit123 posted:
Please notice in the last sentence of the answer to the first question I have used past tense. Is that grammatical? **"His food appeared to be tasteless to him."**

Yes, it is OK to use the past tense there. Here you are adopting the perspective of the poet, who is (present tense) describing something, real or imagined, that occurred (past tense). However, it would also be OK to use the present tense. If you did, you would be representing that particular event within the past-tense poetic narrative as something that continues to take place within the "world" of that poem.

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