GED Language Arts (RLA) : Other Main Idea Concepts

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GED Language Arts (RLA)

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Example Questions

Example Question #10 : Theme: Poetry

Adapted from “Solitary Death, make me thine own” in Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses by Michael Field (pseudonym of Katherine Bradley and Edith Cooper) (1893)


Solitary Death, make me thine own,

And let us wander the bare fields together;

          Yea, thou and I alone

Roving in unembittered unison forever.


I will not harry thy treasure-graves,

I do not ask thy still hands a lover;

            My heart within me craves

To travel till we twain Time’s wilderness discover.


To sojourn with thee my soul was bred,

And I, the courtly sights of life refusing,

            To the wide shadows fled,

And mused upon thee often as I fell a-musing.


Escaped from chaos, thy mother Night,

In her maiden breast a burthen that awed her,

           By cavern waters white

Drew thee her first-born, her unfathered off-spring toward her.


On dewey plats, near twilight dingle,

She oft, to still thee from men’s sobs and curses

           In thine ears a-tingle,

Pours her cool charms, her weird, reviving chaunt rehearses.


Though mortals menace thee or elude,

And from thy confines break in swift transgression.

            Thou for thyself art sued

Of me, I claim thy cloudy purlieus my possession.


To a long freshwater, where the sea

Stirs the silver flux of the reeds and willows,

            Come thou, and beckon me

To lie in the lull of the sand-sequestered billows:


Then take the life I have called my own

And to the liquid universe deliver;

            Loosening my spirit’s zone,

Wrap round me as thy limbs the wind, the light, the river.

Which of the following is NOT a subject treated in the poem?

Possible Answers:

The nature of loyal companionship

The origin of death

Solitary, internal philosophical reflection

Fear of death

The unjustness of early death

Correct answer:

The unjustness of early death


The only subject listed that is not treated in the poem is the unjustness of early death. While death is covered extensively, the idea of “fairness” or justice with relation to death is directly at odds with the poem's treatment of death not as an exchange or an intrusion, but a natural and philosophically fruitful part of life.

Fear of death (in others) is alluded to by “men’s sobs and curses.” The nature of loyal companionship is alluded to throughout, but especially in the second stanza. The metaphysical origin of death is said to be “mother night” (who herself “escaped from chaos”), and the poem itself functions as a philosophical reflection, in addition to referencing the speaker taking this action (“And I, the courtly sights of life refusing, / To the wide shadows fled, / And mused upon thee often as I fell a-musing.”)

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