GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of British Poetry After 1925

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Example Question #1 : Identification Of Poetry

This British poet began one of his best-known works, a highly allusive poem about the small inner torments of a modern man, with the lines “Let us go then, you and I.”

Possible Answers:

Ted Hughes

W. B. Yeats

Ezra Pound

T. S. Eliot

e. e. cummings

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

This poem is T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a modernist classic. The poem represented an important shift from older forms of verse to a looser, more imagistic modern form. Eliot, who lived from 1888 to 1965, is one of the best-known British poets of his times, although he was actually born in America. He is known for his critical work such as the essay “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” his plays, and his frequently anthologized poems, including “The Waste Land,” “The Hollow Men,” “Ash Wednesday,” and “Four Quartets.” He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

Line adapted from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Eliot, l.1 (1920)

Example Question #2 : Identification Of Poetry

This poet, who wrote vividly about his experiences at the Battles of the Somme and Ypres in poems concerning World War I, also wrote The Good Soldier and Parade’s End. Who is he?

Possible Answers:

Ford Madox Ford

Ernest Hemingway

William Carlos Williams

Hart Crane

Siegfried Sassoon

Correct answer:

Ford Madox Ford

Explanation:

Although Sassoon is one of the best known poets of the First World War, the poet in question is actually Ford Madox Ford, who was a novelist as well as an editor and a critic. Among Ford’s volumes of poetry is one he wrote as a soldier during the war: On Heaven, and Poems Written on Active Service.

Example Question #3 : Identification Of Poetry

This English-born poet and visual artist spent much of her life in Paris, where she wrote work distinguished by its feminist and Futurist influences and its avant-garde vocabulary and syntax. Some distinctive works include Songs to Joannes, Feminist Manifesto and “Aphorisms on Futurism.” Who is she?

Possible Answers:

Mina Loy

Virginia Woolf

Marie Laurencin

Gertrude Stein

Djuna Barnes

Correct answer:

Mina Loy

Explanation:

The poet described is Mina Loy. Djuna Barnes was the American-born poet, playwright, and fiction writer who wrote Nightwood; Gertrude Stein was the American-born poet and visual artist who hosted famous salons in Paris; Virginia Woolf was an English essayist and novelist who wrote such classics as the essay A Room of One’s Own and the novel Mrs. Dalloway; and Marie Laurencin was a French poet, printmaker, and painter who was often identified as Guillaume Apollinaire’s muse.

Example Question #4 : Identification Of Poetry

This English-American poet’s most famous poems include “Stop All the Clocks” (alternately titled “Funeral Blues”) and “Musée des Beaux Arts,” in which he uses Pieter Bruegel’s painting Landscape with the Fall of Icarus to examine human suffering and mundane daily life. Who is he?

Possible Answers:

Ted Hughes

T. S. Eliot

e. e. cummings

Wallace Stevens

W. H. Auden

Correct answer:

W. H. Auden

Explanation:

This poet is W. H. Auden, who wrote everything from limericks and haikus to ballads and villanelles. His work examined romantic relationships, politics, nature, religion, art, and ethics. He lived from 1907 to 1973.

Example Question #5 : Identification Of Poetry

This Irish Nobel Prize-winning poet is famous for works such as “Digging” and his or her modern translation of Beowulf.

Possible Answers:

Ted Hughes

Seamus Heaney

Lady Gregory Augusta

Robert Burns

W. B. Yeats

Correct answer:

Seamus Heaney

Explanation:

Heaney, born in Northern Ireland in 1939, published more than a dozen volumes of poetry and wrote or edited many more critical works, anthologies, and translations. He is considered one of Ireland’s greatest poets.

Example Question #6 : Identification Of Poetry

Which Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet wrote such works as “The Second Coming” and “The Lake Isle of Innisfree” and helped found the Abbey Theatre?

Possible Answers:

Robert Burns

Seamus Heaney

W. B. Yeats

Ted Hughes

Lady Gregory Augusta

Correct answer:

W. B. Yeats

Explanation:

This poet is William Butler Yeats, who, along with Seamus Heaney, is one of Ireland’s best known poets. Born in Dublin in 1865, Yeats was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 and was a major figure in the Irish Literary Revival movement. His work was preoccupied with themes of Irish mythology and transcendentalism, and the poems mentioned above are two of his most famous.

Example Question #7 : Identification Of Poetry

This modernist poet, famously married to Sylvia Plath, published poetry collections including The Hawk in the Rain, Lupercal, and Birthday Letters.

Possible Answers:

W. H. Auden

Wallace Stevens

Ted Hughes

John Ashbery

T. S. Eliot

Correct answer:

Ted Hughes

Explanation:

Born in Yorkshire, Ted Hughes became England's Poet Laureate in 1984 and was a translator and children’s book author in addition to a poet and a critic. Hughes is also known for co-editing the 1982 Rattle Bag and 1997 School Bag anthologies with Irish poet Seamus Heaney.

Example Question #8 : Identification Of Poetry

This post-war English poet and librarian was known for his obscenity and frank examination of modern life in poems such as “This Be the Verse,” “The Life with a Hole in It” and “Aubade.”

Possible Answers:

Ted Hughes

Philip Larkin

John Ashbery

Wallace Stevens

Conrad Aiken

Correct answer:

Philip Larkin

Explanation:

The poet described is Philip Larkin, who was born in Coventry in 1922. His poetry is distinguished by a cynical, forthright treatment of romance, children, sexuality, politics, and daily life.

Example Question #9 : Identification Of Poetry

Britain’s current (2015) Poet Laureate has published volumes including Standing Female Nude, Fleshweathercock and Other Poems, and The World’s Wife, the latter of which refigures classically male-centric myths and fairy tales to focus on the female characters. Who is she?

Possible Answers:

Anne Waldman

Mary Oliver

Marianne Moore

Carol Ann Duffy

Rita Dove

Correct answer:

Carol Ann Duffy

Explanation:

Britain’s current (2015) Poet Laureate is Carol Ann Duffy, a writer whose work is often rooted in fantasy, fairy tales, and feminism.

Example Question #10 : Identification Of Poetry

Which post-war British poet also published detective novels under the name Nicholas Blake and was an ardent supporter of communism in his youth?

Possible Answers:

T. S. Eliot

Conrad Aiken

W. H. Auden

Cecil Day-Lewis

Hart Crane

Correct answer:

Cecil Day-Lewis

Explanation:

Cecil Day-Lewis, father of the actor Daniel Day-Lewis, was known for publishing nearly two dozen detective novels in addition to many collections of poetry. These poetry volumes include titles such as From Feathers to Iron, Pegasus and Other Poems, and The Whispering Roots and Other Poems. Day-Lewis’s style was often conflicted—at times lyrical or romantic, at times aggressively Marxist.

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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