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

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

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

1 Diagnostic Test 158 Practice Tests Question of the Day Flashcards Learn by Concept

Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Tone, Style, And Mood: Twentieth Century Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

The tone of the poem can best be described as                      .

Possible Answers:

lighthearted

optimistic

cavalier

irreverant

nostalgic

Correct answer:

nostalgic

Explanation:

The elegiac style of the poem, as it is literally about the passing of a growing season and the coming of winter, depicts nostalgia.

Example Question #1 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry Before 1925

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

The speaker in the poem is very probably addressing                      .

Possible Answers:

a stranger

a loved one

an acquaintance

a legal adviser

a fellow veteran

Correct answer:

a loved one

Explanation:

The speaker in the poem is very probably addressing a loved one as he picks "again" for him or her, in the last stanza, the last remaining aster flower.

Example Question #1 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

The following is an example of alliteration:

Possible Answers:

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

"lingered brown" (line 10)

"withered weeds" (line 7)

"sadder than any words" (line 8)

"sober birds" (line 6)

Correct answer:

"withered weeds" (line 7)

Explanation:

"Withered weeds" (line 7) is an example of alliteration. Alliteration is the repetition of the same sounds at the beginning of words.

Example Question #1 : Word Choice And Connotation

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

The following connotes the imagery of warfare:

Possible Answers:

"the last remaining aster flower" (line 15)

"The whir of sober birds" (line 6)

"headless aftermath" (line 2)

"Comes softly rattling down." (line 12)

"Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought," (line 11)

Correct answer:

"headless aftermath" (line 2)

Explanation:

An aftermath is the consequence of a disaster, like a war. The imagery of "headless aftermath" implies a farmer who has, in some way, defeated the fields.

Example Question #1 : Word Choice And Connotation: Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

The phrase "sober birds" (line 6) implies that even the birds are                      .

Possible Answers:

irresponsible about foraging

not intoxicated on drink

serious and sad about the changing season

delusional about the encroaching severe weather

playful to a fault

Correct answer:

serious and sad about the changing season

Explanation:

The "sober birds" (line 6) are serious and sad. The poet, Robert Frost, even calls their busy "whir" (line 6) "sadder than any words" (line 8). Their sobriety indicates a clarity of vision and purpose in the face of winter.

Example Question #1 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry Before 1925

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

If the speaker feels that his life is nearing an end, what most strongly makes that argument?

Possible Answers:

The speaker's coming "to the garden ground" (line 5)

The leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12)

The speaker's going up "through the mowing field" (line 1)

"the tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

"The whir of sober birds" (line 6)

Correct answer:

The leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12)

Explanation:

The lingering brown leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12) from the bare standing tree connotes more than the other choices that the speaker might believe his life is nearing an end (i.e., it is falling like the last leaf of Autumn).

Example Question #1 : Other Content Analysis Questions: Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

What does the speaker believe caused the "leaf that lingered brown" (line 10) to come "softly rattling down" (line 12)?

Possible Answers:

The leaf's own wishes

The shivering tree

The wind

His thoughts

A squirrel

Correct answer:

His thoughts

Explanation:

In line 11, the speaker expresses the belief that it fell as a result of his thoughts: "Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought."

Example Question #1 : Figurative Language: Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

Which of the following is a simile?

Possible Answers:

"The headless aftermath," (line 2)

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

"the tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

"the wall stands bare," (line 9)

"sadder than any words" (line 8)

Correct answer:

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

Explanation:

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3) is the simile; a simile is a figure pf speech in which two seemingly unlike things are compared using "like" or "as." Usually the words indicate two things that have some similar quality, however, although this may not be immediately evident. In this instance, the "mowing field" (line 1) is like "thatch" (line 3).

Example Question #1 : Word Choice And Connotation: Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

In line 14, the adjective "faded" contributes to what?

Possible Answers:

The lightheartedness of the poem

The speaker's symbolic rebirth

The pastoral character of the poem

The abundance of nature imagery in the poem

The elegiac style of the poem

Correct answer:

The elegiac style of the poem

Explanation:

The "faded blue" of line 14 contributes to the poems overall elegiac style (that is, its mournful design). For the speaker, even the blue of the aster flower has been dulled.

Example Question #2 : Literary Analysis Of American Poetry Before 1925

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

One theme of the poem is                   .

Possible Answers:

human beings are the only creatures burdened by time

spring will always return

the life of the farmer is better than the urbanite's

romantic habits are pointless

the passing of time is something sorrowful

Correct answer:

the passing of time is something sorrowful

Explanation:

One theme of the poem is the passing of time is something sorrwoful, as the poem treats the arrival of winter with weighty vocabulary ("withered weeds"), despondent imagery (such as a falling leaf), and straight-forwardly states that the business of "sober birds" is "sadder than any words."

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All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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