GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Contexts of World Poetry 1660–1925

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

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.)

What other work did the author of this poem write?

Possible Answers:

Les Illuminations

Hombres (Hommes)

Poèmes saturniens

La bonne chanson

Sagesse

Correct answer:

Les Illuminations

Explanation:

Les Illuminations (1886) is an unfinished series of prose poems by Rimbaud. Poèmes saturniens (1866), Sagesse (1880), Hombres (Hommes) (1891), and La bonne chanson (1870) are all works by Paul Verlaine.

Passage adapted from Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau Ivre" ("The Drunken Boat") (1871)

Example Question #2 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

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.)

What country was the author of this poem from?

Possible Answers:

Abyssinia

France

Prussia

Wales

Austria-Hungary

Correct answer:

France

Explanation:

Arthur Rimbaud was born in Charleville, France, in 1854, although he would later abandon poetry and move to Abyssinia to work. Rimbaud died in Marseilles in 1891.

Passage adapted from Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau Ivre" ("The Drunken Boat") (1871)

Example Question #3 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

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.)

Which of the following is a contemporary and confidant of this author?

Possible Answers:

André Breton

Paul Verlaine

Paul Valéry

Jean Racine

Guillaume Apollinaire

Correct answer:

Paul Verlaine

Explanation:

All of the poets on this list are French, but not all lived at the same time as Rimbaud. Not only was Paul Verlaine a contemporary of Rimbaud’s, the French poet was also Rimbaud’s lover and partner for a brief, tumultuous period.

Passage adapted from Arthur Rimbaud's "Le Bateau Ivre" ("The Drunken Boat") (1871)

Example Question #4 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

His weary glance, from passing by the bars,

Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;

It seems to him there are a thousand bars

And out beyond those bars the empty air.

The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound

Of supple tread behind the iron bands,

Is like a dance of strength circling around,

While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

But there are times the pupils of his eyes

Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,

Tense with the flood of visions that arise

Only to sink and die within his heart.

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Friedrich Hölderlin

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Hermann Hesse

Rainer Maria Rilke

Heinrich Heine

Correct answer:

Rainer Maria Rilke

Explanation:

This is Rainer Maria Rilke’s poem “The Panther.”

Passage adapted from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Poems, transl. Jessie Lamont (1918)

Example Question #5 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

His weary glance, from passing by the bars,

Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;

It seems to him there are a thousand bars

And out beyond those bars the empty air.

The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound

Of supple tread behind the iron bands,

Is like a dance of strength circling around,

While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

But there are times the pupils of his eyes

Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,

Tense with the flood of visions that arise

Only to sink and die within his heart.

Besides German, which of the following languages did this author most frequently write in?

Possible Answers:

English

Russian

French

Czech

Hungarian

Correct answer:

French

Explanation:

Rilke was known for his writings in not only German but also in French. More than 400 of his poems were originally written in his second language.

Passage adapted from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Poems, transl. Jessie Lamont (1918)

Example Question #6 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

His weary glance, from passing by the bars,

Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;

It seems to him there are a thousand bars

And out beyond those bars the empty air.

The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound

Of supple tread behind the iron bands,

Is like a dance of strength circling around,

While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

But there are times the pupils of his eyes

Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,

Tense with the flood of visions that arise

Only to sink and die within his heart.

What other work did the author of this poem write?

Possible Answers:

Theory of Colours

Roman Elegies

Letters to a Young Poet

The Sorrows of Young Werther

Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship

Correct answer:

Letters to a Young Poet

Explanation:

Letters to a Young Poet is a 1929 collection of letters that Rilke wrote to a young aspiring poet. The Sorrows of Young Werther (1774), Theory of Colours (1810), Roman Elegies (1795), and Wilhelm Meister’s Apprenticeship (1795) are by Johann Von Goethe.

Passage adapted from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Poems, transl. Jessie Lamont (1918)

Example Question #7 : Contexts Of World Poetry 1660–1925

His weary glance, from passing by the bars,

Has grown into a dazed and vacant stare;

It seems to him there are a thousand bars

And out beyond those bars the empty air.

The pad of his strong feet, that ceaseless sound

Of supple tread behind the iron bands,

Is like a dance of strength circling around,

While in the circle, stunned, a great will stands.

But there are times the pupils of his eyes

Dilate, the strong limbs stand alert, apart,

Tense with the flood of visions that arise

Only to sink and die within his heart.

What country is this author from?

Possible Answers:

Belgium

Prussia

Serbia

Austria-Hungary

Saxony

Correct answer:

Austria-Hungary

Explanation:

Rilke was born in Prague, Austria-Hungary, which is now a part of the Czech Republic.

Passage adapted from Rainer Maria Rilke’s Poems, transl. Jessie Lamont (1918)

Example Question #8 : 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.

Who is the author of this poem?

Possible Answers:

Paul Valéry

Osip Mandelstam

Alexander Pushkin

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Vladimir Nabokov

Correct answer:

Alexander Pushkin

Explanation:

These are the opening lines of Alexander Puskin’s The Bakchesarian Fountain.

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

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

Egipetskaya marka (The Egyptian Stamp)

Dubrovsky

The Gypsies

Ruslan and Ludmila

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:

Russia

Lithuania

Slovakia

Latvia

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)

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