GRE Subject Test: Literature in English : Literary Analysis of 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

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

Example Questions

Example Question #21 : Literary Analysis

Of Man's first disobedience, and the fruit

Of that forbidden tree, whose mortal taste

Brought death into the world, and all our woe,

With loss of Eden, till one greater Man

Restore us, and regain the blissful seat,

Sing, heavenly Muse, that on the secret top

Of Oreb, or of Sinai, didst inspire

That Shepherd, who first taught the chosen seed,

In the beginning, how the Heavens and Earth

Rose out of Chaos: or if Sion hill

Delight thee more, and Siloa's brook that flow'd

Fast by the oracle of God: I thence

Invoke thy aid to my adventrous song,

That with no middle flight intends to soar

Above the Aonian mount, while it pursues

Things unattempted yet in prose or rhyme.

 

(John Milton, Paradise Lost, Book I.)

Which of the following terms best describes the style of verse in which the above excerpt was written?

Possible Answers:

Free Verse

Blank Verse

Sprung Rhythm

Sonnet

Terza rima

Correct answer:

Blank Verse

Explanation:

Milton's Paradise Lost (the source of the above quotation) is entirely in blank verse: a form with a fixed meter (usually iambic pentameter) but without a prescribed rhyme structure.

 

This should not be confused with free verse, which has neither a regular meter nor a pattern of end-stopped rhymes.

Terza rima is a form written in three-line stanzas composed of three interlocking ending rhymes.

Sprung rhythm is a pattern of verse in which only stressed syllables are counted, but the number of stresses is consistent from line to line.

A sonnet is a poem of fourteen lines of consistent length and one of several conventional rhyming patterns.

 

Adapted from Paradise Lost: A Poem, in Twelve Books (London: J. & H. Richter, 1794): 1-2 by John Milton

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

nostalgic

irreverant

cavalier

optimistic

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 #2 : Context, Speaker, And Addressee

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:

an acquaintance

a stranger

a legal adviser

a loved one

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 #11 : Literary Terminology And Devices

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:

"sadder than any words" (line 8)

"withered weeds" (line 7)

"lingered brown" (line 10)

"sober birds" (line 6)

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

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 : 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 following connotes the imagery of warfare:

Possible Answers:

"headless aftermath" (line 2)

"Comes softly rattling down." (line 12)

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

"the last remaining aster flower" (line 15)

"The whir of sober birds" (line 6)

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

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:

playful to a fault

delusional about the encroaching severe weather

irresponsible about foraging

not intoxicated on drink

serious and sad about the changing season

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 : Support And Evidence

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 tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

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

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

"The whir of sober birds" (line 6)

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

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 : 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.

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

Possible Answers:

His thoughts

The wind

The shivering tree

The leaf's own wishes

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

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:

"sadder than any words" (line 8)

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

"the wall stands bare," (line 9)

"the tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

"The headless aftermath," (line 2)

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 pastoral character of the poem

The speaker's symbolic rebirth

The lightheartedness 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.

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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