GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of British Poetry to 1660

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

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Example Question #1 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

If all the world and love were young,
And truth in every Shepherd’s tongue,
These pretty pleasures might me move,
To live with thee, and be thy love.
 
Time drives the flocks from field to fold,
When Rivers rage and Rocks grow cold,
And Philomel becometh dumb,
The rest complains of cares to come.
 
The flowers do fade, and wanton fields,
To wayward winter reckoning yields,
A honey tongue, a heart of gall,
Is fancy’s spring, but sorrow’s fall.
 
Thy gowns, thy shoes, thy beds of Roses,
Thy cap, thy kirtle, and thy posies
Soon break, soon wither, soon forgotten:
In folly ripe, in reason rotten.
 
Thy belt of straw and Ivy buds,
The Coral clasps and amber studs,
All these in me no means can move
To come to thee and be thy love.

But could youth last, and love still breed,
Had joys no date, nor age no need,
Then these delights my mind might move
To live with thee, and be thy love.

The author of this poem was a contemporary of which of the following poets?

Possible Answers:

Algernon Charles Swinburne

Robert Burns

Thomas Gray

John Donne

William Shakespeare

Correct answer:

William Shakespeare

Explanation:

The author of this poem, Sir Walter Raleigh, was active during the Elizabethan Era and was a contemporary of William Shakespeare. He was imprisoned in the Tower of London by both Queen Elizabeth and King James I. He was eventually beheaded.

Passage adapted from "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd" by Sir Walter Raleigh (1596)

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:

His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,

As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Edmund Spenser

William Shakespeare

Geoffrey Chaucer

Caedmon of Whitby

John Dryden

Correct answer:

Edmund Spenser

Explanation:

This is English poet Edward Spenser’s unfinished epic The Faerie Queene (1590). It retells the Arthurian legend of the Redcrosse Knight and examines Christian virtues through allegory and conceit. The poem is distinguishable by its nine-line Spenserian stanzas, which follow an ABABBCBCC rhyme scheme, and by its incredible length – more than 2,000 stanzas.

Passage adapted from Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590)

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:

His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,

As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

When was this poem published?

Possible Answers:

1640s

1540s

1690s

1590s

1490s

Correct answer:

1590s

Explanation:

This poem was published in two installments in 1590 and in 1596. Even if you didn’t know this, Edmund Spenser only lived from the early 1550s to 1599, so there is only one tenable answer choice.

Passage adapted from Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590)

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:

His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,

As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

Which of the following was the closest contemporary of this author?

Possible Answers:

Christopher Marlowe

Samuel Pepys

John Dryden

John Wilmot, the 2nd Earl of Rochester

Ben Jonson

Correct answer:

Christopher Marlowe

Explanation:

Christopher Marlowe (c. 1564-1593) is a closer contemporary to Spenser (c. 1552-1599) than Jonson (1572-1637), Pepys (1633-1703), Dryden (1631-1700), or John Wilmot (1647-1680).

Passage adapted from Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590)

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

A gentle Knight was pricking on the plaine,

Ycladd in mightie armes and silver shielde,

Wherein old dints of deepe wounds did remaine,

The cruel markes of many'a bloudy fielde;

Yet armes till that time did he never wield:

His angry steede did chide his foming bitt,

As much disdayning to the curbe to yield:

Full jolly knight he seemd, and faire did sitt,

As one for knightly giusts and fierce encounters fitt.

This poem praises which of the following monarchs?

Possible Answers:

Henry IV

Elizabeth I

Marie Antoinette

Henry VIII

Mary, Queen of Scots

Correct answer:

Elizabeth I

Explanation:

The Faerie Queene praises the Tudors in general and Queen Elizabeth specifically (although by the end of its composition, Spenser was notably disillusioned with the monarchy), doing so through the form of a Christian allegory. Spenser received a substantial annual stipend from the queen as a result of this poem.

Passage adapted from Book I of Edmund Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590)

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote       

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,        

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,         

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;           

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth             

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth  

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne       

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,       

And smale fowles maken melodye,     

That slepen al the night with open ye,         

(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages...

Who is the author of this work?

Possible Answers:

Bede

Boethius

Chaucer

Unknown/anonymous

Langland

Correct answer:

Chaucer

Explanation:

These are the famous opening lines of Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1475). The Middle English work takes the form of more than 20 narratives (most written in verse) told by the main characters as they complete a pilgrimage to the Canterbury Cathedral. Some of these main characters include the Wife of Bath, the Miller, the Knight, the Pardoner, and the Reeve.

Passage adapted from Geoffrey Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales (1475)

Example Question #7 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote       

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,        

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,         

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;           

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth             

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth  

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne       

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,       

And smale fowles maken melodye,     

That slepen al the night with open ye,         

(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…

What important event was occurring at the time of this work’s publication?

Possible Answers:

the peak of the Black Death

the invention of the printing press

Henry I becomes King of England

the Hundred Years’ War

the Italian Renaissance

Correct answer:

the Hundred Years’ War

Explanation:

The poem was written during the Hundred Years’ War (1337-1453) between the kingdoms of England (specifically, the House of Plantagenet) and France (specifically, the House of Valois). The Black Death peaked earlier in the century (1340s and 1350s), Henry I was crowned at the very beginning of the century (1300), and the Italian Renaissance and the invention of the printing press began later (1500s and 1440, respectively).

Passage adapted from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (1475)

Example Question #8 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote       

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,        

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,         

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;           

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth             

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth  

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne       

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,       

And smale fowles maken melodye,     

That slepen al the night with open ye,         

(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…

When was this poem written?

Possible Answers:

1500s

1300s

1100s

1200s

1400s

Correct answer:

1300s

Explanation:

Chaucer lived from approximately 1340 to 1400, and The Canterbury Tales (1475) is thought to have been written in the late 1300s.

Passage adapted from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (1475)

Example Question #9 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

Whan that Aprille with his shoures soote       

The droghte of Marche hath perced to the roote,        

And bathed every veyne in swich licour,         

Of which vertu engendred is the flour;           

Whan Zephirus eek with his swete breeth             

Inspired hath in every holt and heeth  

The tendre croppes, and the yonge sonne       

Hath in the Ram his halfe cours y-ronne,       

And smale fowles maken melodye,     

That slepen al the night with open ye,         

(So priketh hem nature in hir corages:

Than longen folk to goon on pilgrimages…

Which of the following is not a feature of the language of this poem?

Possible Answers:

gendered nouns

few inflectional endings

fixed word order

the “great vowel shift”

the incorporation of Norman-French words

Correct answer:

gendered nouns

Explanation:

This poem is written in Middle English, which featured major changes in pronunciation, new vocabulary resulting from increased interaction with the French, the adoption of a fixed word order, and a marked decrease in inflectional endings. Middle English does not feature gendered grammar, however.

Passage adapted from Geoffrey Chaucer's The Canterbury Tales (1475)

Example Question #10 : Contexts Of British Poetry To 1660

In a somer seson,

Whan softe was the sonne,

I shoop me into shroudes

As I a sheep weere,

In habite as an heremite

Unholy of werkes,

Wente wide in this world

Wondres to here;

Ac on a May morwenynge

On Malverne hilles

Me bifel a ferly,

Of fairye me thoghte.

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Piers Plowman

John Donne

Geoffrey Chaucer

the Pearl Poet

William Langland

Correct answer:

William Langland

Explanation:

These are the first lines of William Langland’s Middle English classic Piers Plowman.

Passage adapted from William Langland's Piers Plowman (1370-90?)

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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