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 #1 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry To 1660

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Which of the following excerpts represents for the poet God's more gentle, yet insufficient, manifestations of love?

Possible Answers:

"Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new." (line 4)

"for you/As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;" (line 1 & 2)

"Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again," (line 11)

"imprison me" (line 12)

"o'erthrow me" (line 3)

Correct answer:

"for you/As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;" (line 1 & 2)

Explanation:

For the poet, God's "as yet" (line 2) knocking, shining, breathing, and mending are not sufficiently extreme to "Batter" (line 1) his heart, as a battering ram would.

Example Question #1 : Figurative Language

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The major extended metaphor of the sonnet is the poet representing himself as                .   

Possible Answers:

an unwilling bride

an exhausted laborer

a prisoner

a captured city

a viceroy

Correct answer:

a captured city

Explanation:

The major extended metaphor of the sonnet is the poet representing himself as a captured city, as he is "like an usurp'd town" (line 5), until the typical sonnet turn in line 9.

Example Question #1 : Content

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The metaphysical conceit of the "usurp'd town" (line 5) turns at line 9 to                    .

Possible Answers:

the metaphor of an already engaged lover

the metaphor of the "three-person'd God" (line 1)

the metaphor of the knot

the metaphor of the chaste lover

the metaphor of an imprisoned criminal

Correct answer:

the metaphor of an already engaged lover

Explanation:

The metaphysical conceit of the "usurp'd town" (line 5) turns at line 9 to the metaphor of an already engaged lover "betroth'd unto your enemy" (line 10). A metaphysical conceit is simply an extended metaphor with rather complex logic.  

Example Question #1 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry To 1660

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

Throughout the poem, the poet seemingly demonstrates his interest in combining __________.

Possible Answers:

spirituality with governance

his reason with his lack of sentiment

his fear of God with his love of God

love of the sacred and love of the earthly

violence with erotic love

Correct answer:

love of the sacred and love of the earthly

Explanation:

Throughout the poem, the poet seemingly demonstrates his interest in combining love of the sacred and love of the earthly, as he petitions God "Take me to you, imprison me, for I,/ Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,/ Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me" (line 12 - 14).

Example Question #851 : Gre Subject Test: Literature In English

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The only example of alliteration throughout this sonnet is                      .

Possible Answers:

"like an usurp'd town" (line 5)

"Batter my heart, three-person'd God;" (line 1)

"Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me." (line 14)

"Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again," (line 11)

"break, blow, burn," (line 4)

Correct answer:

"break, blow, burn," (line 4)

Explanation:

"break, blow, burn," (line 4) is the only example of alliteration throughout this sonnet, as each word has the same sound at its beginning.

Example Question #1 : Inferences: Poetry

Batter my heart (Holy Sonnet 14)

1          Batter my heart, three-person'd God; for you
2          As yet but knock, breathe, shine, and seek to mend;
3          That I may rise, and stand, o'erthrow me, and bend
4          Your force, to break, blow, burn, and make me new.
5          I, like an usurp'd town, to another due,
6          Labour to admit you, but O, to no end.
7          Reason, your viceroy in me, me should defend,
8          But is captived, and proves weak or untrue.
9          Yet dearly I love you, and would be loved fain,
10        But am betroth'd unto your enemy;
11        Divorce me, untie, or break that knot again,
12        Take me to you, imprison me, for I,
13        Except you enthrall me, never shall be free,
14        Nor ever chaste, except you ravish me.

The "enemy" of line 10 is very probably                      .

Possible Answers:

the church

chastity

the devil

the government

reason

Correct answer:

the devil

Explanation:

As the poet is addressing the Christians' God, the "three-person'd God" (line 1), the "enemy" of line 10 is very likely the devil who would be, according to Christians, the enemy of God.

Example Question #1 : Genre, Style, Tone, Mood, And Other Literary Features

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

This poem is a(n) __________.

Possible Answers:

epic

ballad

elegy

sonnet

pastoral

Correct answer:

sonnet

Explanation:

This poem is a sonnet. Specifically, it is a Shakespearean or an English sonnet, characterized by 14 lines written in iambic pentameter, concluding with a rhyming couplet.

Example Question #1 : Figurative Language

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

The "eye of heaven" in line 5 very likely represents __________.

Possible Answers:

a comet

the eye of God

the sun

the North Star

the moon

Correct answer:

the sun

Explanation:

The "eye of heaven" in line 5 very likely represents the sun, as it "shines" (line 5) with a "gold complexion" (line 6).

Example Question #1 : Form, Structure, Grammar, And Syntax

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

To what does "this" (line 14) refer?

Possible Answers:

The sun

The speaker's love for his or her beloved

The poem

The speaker's beloved

The speaker's heart

Correct answer:

The poem

Explanation:

"this" in line 14 refers to the poem: the "eternal lines," mentioned earlier in line 12.

Example Question #21 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry

1          Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?
2          Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
3          Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
4          And summer’s lease hath all too short a date:
5          Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines,
6          And often is his gold complexion dimm’d;
7          And every fair from fair sometime declines,
8          By chance, or nature’s changing course untrimm’d;
9          But thy eternal summer shall not fade,
10        Nor lose possession of that fair thou ow’st,
11        Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade,
12        When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st;
13        So long as men can breathe, or eyes can see,
14        So long lives this, and this gives life to thee.

Psalm 23:4 reads, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death."  The following plays upon this religious imagery:

Possible Answers:

"And often is his gold complexion dimm’d" (line 6)

"Sometime too hot the eye of heaven shines" (line 5)

"Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade" (line 11)

"And every fair from fair sometime declines" (line 7)

"When in eternal lines to time thou grow’st" (line 12)

Correct answer:

"Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade" (line 11)

Explanation:

"Nor shall death brag thou wander’st in his shade," (line 11) plays upon the imagery of Psalm 23:4, as it refers to death's shade.

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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