GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of American Poetry Before 1925

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Example Question #1 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

During what decade was this poem first published?

Possible Answers:

1840s

1890s

1910s

1860s

1810s

Correct answer:

1840s

Explanation:

The poem was first published in 1847. Even if you didn’t know this, the dates of Longfellow’s life (1807 to 1882) could have helped you narrow down the answer choices.

Passage adapted from Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1847)

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

What type of poem is this?

Possible Answers:

Melodrama

Southern Gothic

Epic

Sestina

Sonnet

Correct answer:

Epic

Explanation:

Longfellow’s Evangeline is an epic poem, spanning dozens of long stanzas and concerning a young woman’s search for her lover, Gabriel Lajeunesse. It is set during the Great Deportation of the Acadians in Canada, a period of time during the French and Indian War.

Passage adapted from Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1847)

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

The author of this poem also wrote which of the following works?

Possible Answers:

Walden

The Red Badge of Courage

Leaves of Grass

Voices of the Night

The Last of the Mohicans

Correct answer:

Voices of the Night

Explanation:

In addition to Evangeline and translations of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Longfellow was known for several early collections of poetry, including Voices of the Night.

Passage adapted from Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1847)

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"’t is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Edgar Allan Poe

Stephen Crane

Anne Bradstreet

Robert Frost

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Correct answer:

Edgar Allan Poe

Explanation:

These are the opening lines of Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven," which follows the story of a lovelorn man who is possibly slowly driven mad by grief for a woman named Lenore.

Passage adapted from “The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe (1884)

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"’t is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."

During what era was this poem first published?

Possible Answers:

Colonial

Fin de Siècle

Reconstruction

Revolutionary War

Antebellum

Correct answer:

Antebellum

Explanation:

The poem was first published in 1845, which falls in the Antebellum Period (spanning from the War of 1812 to the Civil War). You could have eliminated several of these answers based on Poe’s short life: He was only alive between 1809 and 1849.

Passage adapted from “The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe (1884)

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"’t is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."

The author of this poem also wrote all but which one of the following works?

Possible Answers:

“The Cask of Amontillado”

“The Fall of the House of Usher”

“The Murders in the Rue Morgue”

“Young Goodman Brown”

“The Mask of the Red Death”

Correct answer:

“Young Goodman Brown”

Explanation:

“Young Goodman Brown” is a short story by Nathaniel Hawthorne. The rest of the titles are all short stories by Poe.

Passage adapted from “The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe (1884)

Example Question #7 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"’t is some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door—
Only this, and nothing more."

Which of the following poets would be least likely to employ a meter similar to the one in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Walt Whitman

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Anne Bradstreet

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Correct answer:

Walt Whitman

Explanation:

“The Raven” is written in trochaic octameter. Whitman’s major work, Leaves of Grass, was written in free verse and is an important early example of this form. The other poets here all tended to write in strict meter. For example, Longfellow’s Evangeline is written in unrhymed dactylic hexameter, Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Oh could I raise the darken’d veil” is in iambic tetrameter, and Anne Bradstreet’s “Verses upon the Burning of our House, July 10th, 1666” is in rhyming couplets of iambic tetrameter.

Passage adapted from “The Raven" by Edgar Allan Poe (1884)

Example Question #8 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,
  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,
  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,
  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.
  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean
  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Robert Frost

Stephen Crane

Walt Whitman

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Correct answer:

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Explanation:

This is the prologue to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s Evangeline: A Tale of Arcadie. It is known for being written in dactylic hexameter, a meter that many classical writers used.

Passage adapted from Evangeline, A Tale of Arcadie by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1847)

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree

    Toward heaven still,

    And there's a barrel that I didn't fill

    Beside it, and there may be two or three

    Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.

    But I am done with apple-picking now.

    Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

    The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

When was this poem published?

Possible Answers:

1885

1895

1925

1905

1915

Correct answer:

1915

Explanation:

The poem was first published in Frost’s second collection in 1915.

Passage adapted from Robert Frost’s poem "After Apple-picking" published in his collection North of Boston (1915).

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of American Poetry Before 1925

My long two-pointed ladder's sticking through a tree

    Toward heaven still,

    And there's a barrel that I didn't fill

    Beside it, and there may be two or three

    Apples I didn't pick upon some bough.

    But I am done with apple-picking now.

    Essence of winter sleep is on the night,

    The scent of apples: I am drowsing off.

In what collection was this poem first published?

Possible Answers:

North of Boston

Meditations in an Emergency

The Cantos

Harmonium

The Pangolin and Other Verse

Correct answer:

North of Boston

Explanation:

The poem appeared in North of Boston, Frost’s second collection.

Harmonium (1923) is a collection by Wallace Stevens, Meditations in an Emergency (1957) is a collection by Frank O’Hara, The Pangolin and Other Verse (1936) is a collection by Marianne Moore, and The Cantos (1948) is a collection by Ezra Pound.

Passage adapted from Robert Frost’s poem "After Apple-picking" published in his collection North of Boston (1915).

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