GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Identification of British Poetry 1660–1925

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Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

Glory be to God for dappled things –
   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow;
      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim;
Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings;
   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough;
      And all trades, their gear and tackle and trim.
 
All things counter, original, spare, strange;
   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?)
      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim;
He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change:
                                Praise him.

The form of the poem is that of __________.

Possible Answers:

a Spenserian sonnet

a curtal sonnet

a villanelle

an Elizabethan sonnet

a roundel

Correct answer:

a curtal sonnet

Explanation:

The poem is an example of a curtal sonnet, which consists of 3/4 the number of lines in a standard Petrarchan sonnet. This form was developed by Gerard Manley Hopkins. It is worth knowing, but it is a somewhat obscure form, so the best approach is to use process of elimination. You absolutely have to know that the Spenserian sonnet and the Elizabethan sonnet are each 14 lines, so you can rule those out right away. You also need to know that the villanelle is a 19 line form in which the first and third lines function as refrains that repeat throughout the poem. The roundel is more obscure, but it is also features a refrain at the end of every other three-line stanza.

Passage adapted from "Pied Beauty" by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1918)

Example Question #72 : Identification Of Poetry

In the seventeenth century a dissociation of sensibility set in, from which we have never recovered; and this dissociation, as is natural, was aggravated by the influence of the two most powerful poets of the century, Milton and Dryden. Each of these men performed certain poetic functions so magnificently well that the magnitude of the effect concealed the absence of others. The language went on and in some respects improved; the best verse of Collins, Gray, Johnson, and even Goldsmith satisfies some of our fastidious demands better than that of Donne or Marvell or King. But while the language became more refined, the feeling became more crude. The feeling, the sensibility, expressed in the "Country Churchyard" (to say nothing of Tennyson and Browning) is cruder than that in the "Coy Mistress."

The title of a work by which of the following poets is specifically referenced in the passage?

Possible Answers:

Samuel Johnson

John Donne

Robert Browning

Thomas Gray

George Herbert

Correct answer:

Thomas Gray

Explanation:

Two poems are referenced by title in this passage: Andrew Marvell's "To His Coy Mistress" and Thomas Gray's "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard." Marvell is not one of the answer choices, so the only possible answer is Thomas Gray.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats,
And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief,
And the dry stone no sound of water. Only
There is shadow under this red rock,
(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),
And I will show you something different from either
Your shadow at morning striding behind you
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

Identify the poet of the following lines based on the content and style of the selection.

Possible Answers:

Walt Whitman

John Keats

William Wordsworth

Ezra Pound

T. S. Eliot

Correct answer:

T. S. Eliot

Explanation:

The lines are from T. S. Eliot's 1922 poem, "The Waste Land." It is widely regarded as one of the most important poems of the twentieth century.

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

Should God create another Eve, and I
Another Rib afford, yet loss of thee
Would never from my heart; no no, I feel
The Link of Nature draw me: Flesh of Flesh,
Bone of my Bone thou art, and from thy State
Mine never shall be parted, bliss or woe.

Which of the following poets wrote the excerpted lines?

Possible Answers:

John Milton

William Shakespeare

Anne Bradstreet

Edward Taylor

John Dryden

Correct answer:

John Milton

Explanation:

This is an excerpt from John Milton's epic poem, "Paradise Lost." The first version was published in 1667 and consisted of ten books with over ten thousand lines of verse.

Passage adapted from Paradise Lost by John Milton, l.911-916 (1667)

Example Question #77 : Identification Of Poetry

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some hidden Spirit shall inquire thy Fate,
Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the Peep of Dawn
Brushing with hasty Steps the Dews away
To meet the Sun upon the upland Lawn.
There at the Foot of yonder nodding Beech
That wreathes its old fantastic Roots so high,
His listless Length at Noontide wou'd he stretch,
And pore upon the Brook that babbles by."

Who wrote this poem?

Possible Answers:

John Dryden

Thomas Gray

William Cowper

Thomas Merton

Joseph Addison

Correct answer:

Thomas Gray

Explanation:

These are some of the final lines of Thomas Gray’s famous Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard.

Passage adapted from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, ln.95-104 (1751)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some hidden Spirit shall inquire thy Fate,
Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the Peep of Dawn
Brushing with hasty Steps the Dews away
To meet the Sun upon the upland Lawn.
There at the Foot of yonder nodding Beech
That wreathes its old fantastic Roots so high,
His listless Length at Noontide wou'd he stretch,
And pore upon the Brook that babbles by."

Which of the following poems could not be described as a reaction to this work?

Possible Answers:

Oliver Goldsmith’s “The Deserted Village”

John Cunningham’s “An Elegy on a Pile of Ruins”

Alfred, Lord Tennyson’s In Memoriam

Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “A Summer Evening Churchyard, Lechlade, Gloucestershire”

John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud”

Correct answer:

John Donne’s “Death Be Not Proud”

Explanation:

All of the poems are arguably inspired by or draw elements from Gray’s poem except for John Donne’s famous sonnet, which was published in 1633.

Passage adapted from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, ln.95-104 (1751)

Example Question #2 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some hidden Spirit shall inquire thy Fate,
Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the Peep of Dawn
Brushing with hasty Steps the Dews away
To meet the Sun upon the upland Lawn.
There at the Foot of yonder nodding Beech
That wreathes its old fantastic Roots so high,
His listless Length at Noontide wou'd he stretch,
And pore upon the Brook that babbles by."

Which of the following is not a prevalent theme in the poem?

Possible Answers:

Christian faith

Agrarian reform

Human accomplishment

Mortality

Human obscurity

Correct answer:

Agrarian reform

Explanation:

Although the poem is set in a country churchyard, it does not discuss rural problems, including agrarian reform. Rather, the setting provides an idyllic backdrop for the deeper existential musings of the poem.

Passage adapted from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, ln.95-104 (1751)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some hidden Spirit shall inquire thy Fate,
Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the Peep of Dawn
Brushing with hasty Steps the Dews away
To meet the Sun upon the upland Lawn.
There at the Foot of yonder nodding Beech
That wreathes its old fantastic Roots so high,
His listless Length at Noontide wou'd he stretch,
And pore upon the Brook that babbles by."

Which of the following is a line from the poem that later became the title for an 1874 English novel?

Possible Answers:

“The rude Forefathers of the Hamlet sleep”

“Far from the madding Crowd's ignoble Strife”

“Can Honour's Voice provoke the silent Dust”

“'One Morn I miss'd him on the custom'd Hill”

“Ev'n from the Tomb the Voice of Nature cries”

Correct answer:

“Far from the madding Crowd's ignoble Strife”

Explanation:

The novel in question is Thomas Hardy’s Far From the Madding Crowd, which concerns a love triangle between a shepherd, a wealthy farmer, and a young woman named Bathsheba.

Passage adapted from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, ln.95-104 (1751)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

If chance, by lonely Contemplation led,
Some hidden Spirit shall inquire thy Fate,
Haply some hoary-headed Swain may say,
"Oft have we seen him at the Peep of Dawn
Brushing with hasty Steps the Dews away
To meet the Sun upon the upland Lawn.
There at the Foot of yonder nodding Beech
That wreathes its old fantastic Roots so high,
His listless Length at Noontide wou'd he stretch,
And pore upon the Brook that babbles by."

The poem from which this passage is excerpted ends with which of the following?

Possible Answers:

An epistle

An epigram

An epitaph

An epigraph

An epicure

Correct answer:

An epitaph

Explanation:

An "epitaph" is a written commemoration of a person’s life, often on a gravestone. Even if you didn’t know how the poem ended, an epitaph would be the most logical choice to end this poem. An "epigraph" is a short quotation (usually presented at the beginning of a novel or other published work), an "epigram" is a short or witty saying, an "epistle" is a letter, and an "epicure" is someone who appreciates fine food and beverages. The particular epitaph at the end of this poem memorializes a poet who died with his work unknown, an insight into Gray’s own views of his work.

Passage adapted from "Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard" by Thomas Gray, ln.95-104 (1751)

Example Question #1 : Identification Of British Poetry 1660–1925

What dire offence from am'rous causes springs,
What mighty contests rise from trivial things,
I sing — This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:
This, ev'n Belinda may vouchsafe to view:
Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,
If She inspire, and He approve my lays.

Say what strange motive, Goddess! could compel
A well-bred Lord t' assault a gentle Belle?
O say what stranger cause, yet unexplor'd,
Could make a gentle Belle reject a Lord?
In tasks so bold, can little men engage,
And in soft bosoms dwells such mighty Rage?

Who wrote this poem?

Possible Answers:

John Donne

Joseph Addison

Alexander Pope

William Cowper

John Dryden

Correct answer:

Alexander Pope

Explanation:

This is Alexander Pope’s poem The Rape of the Lock. Belinda is one of the main characters of this work.

Passage adapted from Alexander Pope’s The Rape of the Lock, I.1-12 (1712; ed. 1906)

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