GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of World Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for GRE Subject Test: Literature in English

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #9 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye,

  As though some spell in sorrow bound him,

His slavish courtiers thronging nigh,

  In sad expectance stood around him.

The lips of all had silence sealed,

  Whilst, bent on him, each look observant,

  Saw grief's deep trace and passion fervent

Upon his gloomy brow revealed.

Which of the following is not another work by this poet?

Possible Answers:

Eugene Onegin

Ruslan and Ludmila

Dubrovsky

Egipetskaya marka (The Egyptian Stamp)

The Gypsies

Correct answer:

Egipetskaya marka (The Egyptian Stamp)

Explanation:

Pushkin wrote Eugene Onegin (1925), Ruslan and Ludmila (1820), The Gypsies (1827), and Dubrovsky (1841). Egipetskaya marka (The Egyptian Stamp) is by Osip Mandelstam.

Passage adapted from Alexander Pushkin’s The Bakchesarian Fountain, transl. William D. Lewis (1849)

Example Question #1 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye,

  As though some spell in sorrow bound him,

His slavish courtiers thronging nigh,

  In sad expectance stood around him.

The lips of all had silence sealed,

  Whilst, bent on him, each look observant,

  Saw grief's deep trace and passion fervent

Upon his gloomy brow revealed.

What country is the author of this poem from?

Possible Answers:

Lithuania

Slovakia

Latvia

Russia

Serbia

Correct answer:

Russia

Explanation:

Alexander Pushkin was born in Moscow, Russia, in 1799 and died in St. Petersburg, Russia, in 1837.

Passage adapted from Alexander Pushkin’s The Bakchesarian Fountain, transl. William D. Lewis (1849)

Example Question #21 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Mute sat Giray, with downcast eye,

  As though some spell in sorrow bound him,

His slavish courtiers thronging nigh,

  In sad expectance stood around him.

The lips of all had silence sealed,

  Whilst, bent on him, each look observant,

  Saw grief's deep trace and passion fervent

Upon his gloomy brow revealed.

Which of the following is not a genre that this author wrote in?

Possible Answers:

Play

Novel

Short story

Fairytale

Autobiography

Correct answer:

Autobiography

Explanation:

Pushkin was a multifaceted writer who wrote novels, short stories, dramas, and fairytales in addition to poems. He did not, however, write autobiographies.

Passage adapted from Alexander Pushkin’s The Bakchesarian Fountain, transl. William D. Lewis (1849)

Example Question #23 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Le Bateau Ivre

Comme je descendais des Fleuves impassibles

Je ne me sentis plus guidé par les haleurs;

Des Peaux-Rouges criards les avaient pris pour cibles,

Les ayant cloués nus aux poteaux de couleurs.

(As I floated the impassible rivers

I no longer felt myself guided by the haulers;

The gaudy Redskins had taken them for targets,

And had nailed them naked to totem poles.)

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Rainer Maria Rilke

Paul Valéry

Paul Verlaine

Arthur Rimbaud

Correct answer:

Arthur Rimbaud

Explanation:

This is Arthur Rimbaud’s 1871 poem “Le Bateau Ivre” (“The Drunken Boat”). Comprising 25 alexandrine quatrains, the poem is one of Rimbaud’s best-known works and includes vivid sensory details narrated from the point of view of the boat itself.

Example Question #22 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Although born in Lithuania, the author of Unattainable Earth is usually considered to be from which Eastern European country?

Possible Answers:

Poland

Romania

Hungary

Russia

Latvia

Correct answer:

Poland

Explanation:

Czesław Miłosz is known first and foremost to critics as a Polish writer and spent World War II in Warsaw, although he has notably refused to identify either as a Lithuanian or as a Pole. He has won a number of prizes from other nations, though, including the Prix Littéraire Européen and the U.S. National Medal of Arts.

Example Question #21 : Contexts Of World Poetry

What is the real (birth) name of the author of Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair?

Possible Answers:

Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

Remigio Crespo Toral

José Ignacio de Sanjinés

Tomás Carrasquilla

Abraham Valdelomar

Correct answer:

Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto

Explanation:

Pablo Neruda was born Neftalí Ricardo Reyes Basoalto, but he wrote under his pen name (and later formally adopted it) because his working-class parents disapproved of his poetry. He based the pen name on the Czech Realist poet Jan Neruda (1834-1891) and the French Symbolist poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896). The rest of the names listed here are real (albeit more obscure) Latin American writers.

Example Question #22 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Who is the author of Omeros?

Possible Answers:

Kamau Brathwaite

Derek Walcott 

Aimé Césaire

Jean Rhys

Jamaica Kincaid

Correct answer:

Derek Walcott 

Explanation:

This is the St. Lucian poet Derek Walcott, an important post-colonial writer and 1992 Nobel Prize laureate, is the author of Omeros (1990). In addition to poetry, Walcott writes plays and essays and has received an Obie Award, a MacArthur Foundation Genius Grant, a Royal Society of Literature Award, and a T.S. Eliot Prize. He is also a painter.

Example Question #21 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Omeros is a poem that reimagines which famous work of literature?

Possible Answers:

The Aeneid 

The Iliad

Paradise Lost

The Tempest

The Divine Comedy

Correct answer:

The Iliad

Explanation:

Omeros (1990) is a contemporary Caribbean re-envisioning Homer’s Iliad. Omeros is set in modern-day St. Lucia but includes contemporary versions of Iliad characters such as Achilles and Hector (fishermen in this work), Philoctete and Helen, and a blind seer. It also includes characters that are not taken from Homer, such as Sergeant Major Plunkett.

John Milton's Paradise Lost (1674), William Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611), Virgil's The Aeneid, and Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy (1472) were all used as alternative answer choices.

Example Question #25 : Contexts Of World Poetry

What genre of poem is Omeros?

Possible Answers:

epic

performance poetry

epistolary

confessional

elegiac

Correct answer:

epic

Explanation:

Walcott's Omeros (1990) is a contemporary epic, spanning several hundred pages and divided into seven “books” and more than 60 chapters. In this way it echoes its inspiration, The Iliad, which is also an epic poem.

Example Question #23 : Contexts Of World Poetry

Where is the author of Omeros from?

Possible Answers:

St. Lucia

the Dominican Republic

Jamaica

Haiti

Martinique

Correct answer:

St. Lucia

Explanation:

Derek Walcott was born in the same place that he sets Omeros (1990): St. Lucia.

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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