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

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Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Oh, weep for Adonais! The quick Dreams,
       The passion-winged Ministers of thought,
       Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams
       Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught
       The love which was its music, wander not—
       Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain,
       But droop there, whence they sprung; and mourn their lot
       Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain,
They ne'er will gather strength, or find a home again.

The author of this poem was __________.

Possible Answers:

Lord Byron

Robert Browning

John Keats

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Dante Gabriel Rosetti

Correct answer:

Percy Bysshe Shelley

Explanation:

Shelley wrote this elegy memorializing John Keats, who had died of tuberculosis in Rome.

Passage adapted from Adonais: An Elegy on the Death of John Keats by Percy Bysshe Shelley, I.1-9 (1821)

Example Question #2 : Identification 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.

This poem is a response to a poem by __________.

Possible Answers:

Christopher Marlowe

Andrew Marvell

William Shakespeare

Sir Walter Raleigh

Philip Sidney

Correct answer:

Christopher Marlowe

Explanation:

Sir Walter Raleigh wrote this poem, "The Nymph's Reply to the Shepherd," in 1596 as a response to, and a parody of, Christopher Marlowe's famous pastoral poem "The Passionate Shepherd to His Love." Marlowe's original is one of the best examples of the type of poem that is known as "Pastoral."

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

Example Question #3 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

The knight of the Redcrosse when him he spide,

Spurring so hote with rage dispiteous,

Gan fairely couch his speare, and towards ride:

Soone meete they both, both fell and furious,

That daunted with their forces hideous,

Their steeds do stagger, and amazed stand,

And eke themselves, too rudely rigorous,

Astonied with the stroke of their owne hand

Doe backe rebut, and each to other yeeldeth land.

From which poem is this passage excerpted?

Possible Answers:

Piers Plowman

The Faerie Queene

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Seafarer

Beowulf

Correct answer:

The Faerie Queene

Explanation:

This is The Faerie Queene, written by Edward Spenser in the late sixteenth century. The poem is distinguishable by its nine-line Spenserian stanzas, which follows an ABABBCBCC rhyme scheme, with the first eight lines in iambic pentameter and the last in iambic hexameter. This stanza also mentions one of the poem’s main characters, the Redcrosse Knight.

Passage adapted from The Faerie Queene by Edmund Spenser, I.ii.15.1-9 (1590)

Example Question #4 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Which of the following works features the characters Grendel, Wiglaf, Hrothgar, and Breca?

Possible Answers:

Paradiso

Beowulf

The Reeve’s Tale

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Piers Plowman

Correct answer:

Beowulf

Explanation:

These characters are from Beowulf. Grendel is the monster that Beowulf fights to avenge the destruction of Heorot; Wiglaf is a young warrior and follower of Beowulf; Hrothgar is the king of the Danes and lord of Heorot; and Breca is a childhood friend of Beowulf.

Example Question #5 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

The “Pearl Poet” is responsible for which medieval work of literature?

Possible Answers:

City of God

Troilus and Cressida

Purgatorio

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Piers Plowman

Correct answer:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Explanation:

The Pearl Poet is another name for the Gawain Poet, an anonymous author who is thought to have written the fourteenth-century poems Sir Gawain and the Green Knight and Pearl. A classic Arthurian narrative, this poem is a chivalric romance that follows the adventures of Sir Gawain.

Example Question #6 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Which early English manuscript is known for its comical and often obscene riddles?

Possible Answers:

Pearl

The Book of Kells

The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle

Beowulf

The Exeter Book

Correct answer:

The Exeter Book

Explanation:

The Exeter Book, a tenth-century codex of Anglo-Saxon poetry, contains nearly a hundred riddles on various subjects. While the Exeter Book is also known for its lyric elegies, it is important to remember that the manuscript contains an important variety of secular writings and is one of the best known sources of extant early English poetry. 

Example Question #7 : Identification 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.
I was wery forwandred and wente me to reste
Under a brood bank by a bournes syde;
And as I lay and lenede and loked on the watres,
I slombred into a slepyng, it sweyed so murye.

What is the title of the poem from which these lines are taken?

Possible Answers:

Piers Plowman

Pyramus and Thisbe

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Troilus and Cressida

The General Prologue to The Canterbury Tales

Correct answer:

Piers Plowman

Explanation:

Written in the late 1300s, this poem is titled Piers Plowman and is widely considered one of the most important works of Middle English literature. Langland used unrhymed alliterative verse to develop his satirical religious allegory featuring three men, Dobest, Dobet, and Dowel.

Passage adapted from Piers Plowman, l.1-10

Example Question #8 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Lo! the Spear-Danes’ glory through splendid achievements
The folk-kings’ former fame we have heard of,
How princes displayed then their prowess-in-battle.
Oft Scyld the Scefing from scathers in numbers
From many a people their mead-benches tore.
Since first he found him friendless and wretched,
The earl had had terror: comfort he got for it,
Waxed ’neath the welkin, world-honor gained,
Till all his neighbors o’er sea were compelled to
Bow to his bidding and bring him their tribute:
An excellent atheling!

These lines begin which work of literature?

Possible Answers:

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

Grendel

Beowulf

Piers Plowman

The Faerie Queene

Correct answer:

Beowulf

Explanation:

Beowulf, one of the most important works of Old English literature, features the characters Scyld the Scefing, Hrothgar, Grendel, and the eponymous Beowulf of the Geats. The epic poem begins with the monster Grendel attacking Hrothgar’s mead-hall, Heorot, and follows Beowulf as he seeks vengeance.

Passage adapted from Beowulf l.1-11 (trans. Leslie Hall, 1892)

Example Question #9 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Lo I the man, whose Muse whilome did maske,
As time her taught, in lowly Shepheards weeds,
Am now enforst a far unfitter taske,
For trumpets sterne to chaunge mine Oaten reeds,
And sing of Knights and Ladies gentle deeds;
Whose prayses having slept in silence long,
Me, all too meane, the sacred Muse areeds
To blazon broade emongst her learned throng:
Fierce warres and faithfull loves shall moralize my song.

These lines begin which work of literature?

Possible Answers:

Beowulf

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight

The Exeter Book

The Faerie Queene

Piers Plowman

Correct answer:

The Faerie Queene

Explanation:

The Faerie Queene, published in the 1590s by Edward Spenser, includes an Arthurian plotline and various religious allegories. The poem is distinguishable by its nine-line Spenserian stanzas, which follows an ABABBCBCC rhyme scheme, with the first eight lines in iambic pentameter and the last in iambic hexameter.

Passage adapted from The Faerie Queene I.i.1.1-9 (1590)

Example Question #10 : Identification Of British Poetry To 1660

Thou lykenest wommanes love to helle,
To bareyne lond, ther water may not dwelle.
Thou lyknest it also to wilde fyr;
The more it brenneth, the more it hath desyr
To consume every thing that brent wol be.
Thou seyst, that right as wormes shende a tree,
Right so a wyf destroyeth hir housbonde;
This knowe they that been to wyves bonde.

The above lines are written by which of the following authors?

Possible Answers:

Bede

The author is anonymous.

Chaucer

Boethius

Dante

Correct answer:

Chaucer

Explanation:

This excerpt from Chaucer's Canterbury Tales is, like the rest of the work, unafraid to poke fun at idealized notions of romance. This particular passage is taken from the Wife of Bath's Tale. Chaucer’s poetry is distinguishable by its Middle English and The Canterbury Tales in particular can be identified by any mentions of its more famous characters, including the Wife of Bath, the Knight, the Miller, and the Reeve.

Passage adapted from the Prologue to "The Wife of Bath's Tale" l.371-378 in The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer (1475)

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