GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Literary Analysis of American Poetry After 1925

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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Example Questions

Example Question #31 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question . . .
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”

In which line of the poem is there a radical shift in tone?

Possible Answers:

Line 8

Line 2

Line 3

Line 10

Line 6

Correct answer:

Line 3


This excerpt, from T. S. Eliot's much longer "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," begins with two rhyming lines that truly do read like a love song, but the third line of the poem "Like a patient etherized upon a table" introduces themes of complacency, impotence, paralysis, and sickness.

Passage adapted from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T. S. Elliot, 1-11 (1915)

Example Question #51 : Literary Analysis


It is the thirty-first of March,
A gusty evening—half-past seven;
The moon is shining o’er the larch,
A simple shape—a cock’d-up arch,
Rising bigger than a star,
Though the stars are thick in Heaven.

Gentle moon! how canst thou shine
Over graves and over trees,
With as innocent a look
As my own grey eyeball sees,
When I gaze upon a brook?


O intellectual ingurtilations of creeds!
To such I am antiseptic.
I met a man.
In a gutter.  We were at once friends.
O homogeneities of contemporaneous antiloxodromachy!


When hope, love, life itself, are only
Dust - spectral memories - dead and cold -
The unfed fire burns bright and lonely,
Like that undying lamp of old:
And by that drear illumination,
Till time its clay-built home has rent,
Thought broods on feeling's desolation -
The soul is its own monument.


Once upon a midnight chilling, as I held my feet unwilling
O'er a tub of scalding water, at a heat of ninety-four;
Nervously a toe in dipping, dripping, slipping, then out-skipping
Suddenly there came a ripping whipping, at my chamber's door.
"'Tis the second-floor," I muttered, "flipping at my chamber's door—
Wants a light—and nothing more!"

Which is a parody written in the style of William Wordsworth?


Possible Answers:





Correct answer:



A is a parody of the kinds of poems Wordsworth wrote and included in Lyrical Ballads (1798).

The ballad-like form, the apostrophe to nature (moon and brook), the serene scene (the moon shining over the larch) and the idolization of innocence are all features found in many of Wordsworth's poems.


A: Adapted from Peter Bell: A Tale in Verseby William Wordsworth (1819)

B: Adapted from a parody in Once a Week(London, December 12th, 1868). Can be found in Volume 5 of Parodies of the Works of English & American Authors (1888; ed. Reeves and Turner)

C: Adapted from Nightmare Abbey by Thomas Love Peacock (1818)

D: Adapted from "The Vulture: An Ornithological Study" in Graham's Magazine (1853)

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