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 #31 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

In which of the following lines might it be said that the speaker speaks favorably about his son's death?

Possible Answers:

Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay, (Line 3)

Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy; (Line 1)

My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy. (Line 2)

As what he loves may never like too much." (Line 12)

Will man lament the state he should envy? (Line 6)

Correct answer:

Will man lament the state he should envy? (Line 6)

Explanation:

"Will man lament the state he should envy?" (Line 6) indicates that the speaker trying to cast in a favorable light his son's death; after all, in death man escapes the "flesh's rage" (Line 7).

Example Question #1 : Literary Terminology And Devices

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

In lines 9–10, "Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, 'Here doth lie/Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,'" the speaker refers to his dead son as a "piece of poetry."  This is an example of __________.

Possible Answers:

simile

metaphor

caesura

spondee

personification

Correct answer:

metaphor

Explanation:

When the speaker refers to his dead son as a "piece of poetry," (Line 10), this is an example of metaphor, a comparison made between two essentially unlike things.

Example Question #1 : Meaning Of Specified Text: Poetry

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

In lines 11–12, "For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such / As what he loves may never like too much," what is the speaker saying about his future vows?

Possible Answers:

The speaker will love more fully having loved his son.

The speaker will never like another thing.

The speaker will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

The speaker will learn to love again.

The speaker will be very careful about what he chooses to love as deeply as he has loved his son.

Correct answer:

The speaker will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

Explanation:

In lines 11–12, "For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such / As what he loves may never like too much," the speaker is saying that he will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

Example Question #1 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

1          Farewell, thou child of my right hand, and joy;
2          My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy.
3          Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay,
4          Exacted by thy fate, on the just day.
5          Oh, could I lose all father now! For why
6          Will man lament the state he should envy?
7          To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage,
8          And if no other misery, yet age!
9          Rest in soft peace, and, asked, say, "Here doth lie
10        Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry,
11        For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such
12        As what he loves may never like too much."

Which line seems to link the speaker's love for his son with the boy's death?

Possible Answers:

My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy. (Line 2)

Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay, (Line 3)

Ben Jonson his best piece of poetry, (Line 10)

Oh, could I lose all father now! For why (Line 5)

Exacted by thy fate, on the just day. (Line 4)

Correct answer:

My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy. (Line 2)

Explanation:

"My sin was too much hope of thee, loved boy," (Line 2), superstitiously links the speaker's love for his son with the boy's death, as if it were a punishment from Heaven.

Example Question #1 : Meaning Of Specified Text

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear

1   Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,

2   Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;

3   The vacant leaves thy mind’s impr'nt will bear,

4   And of this book this learning mayst thou taste:

5   The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show

6   Of mouthèd graves will give thee memory;

Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know

8   Time’s thievish progress to eternity.

Look what thy memory cannot contain,

10 Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find

11 Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,

12 To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.

13 These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

14 Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.

                                                         (1609)

To what does “mouthèd graves” (line 6) refer? 

Possible Answers:

Wrinkles

The past 

A dial 

A cemetery 

Blank pages

Correct answer:

Wrinkles

Explanation:

“Mouthèd graves” (line 6) refers to the wrinkles mentioned in line 5. The glass (line 5) shows the wrinkles, which look like open graves because wrinkles look like deep cuts into our skin and graves are deep “cuts” into the earth. “Time’s thievish progress to eternity” (line 8) suggests that time goes by and then you die; wrinkles, being a sign of old age, bring you closer to death, so also remind you of death as “mouthèd graves.” 

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 77" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #41 : Content

Not marble nor the gilded Monuments

1   Not marble nor the gilded monuments

2   Of princes shall outlive this pow'rful rhyme,

3   But you shall shine more bright in these conténts

4   Than unswept stone, besmeared with sluttish time.

5  When wasteful war shall statues overturn,

6   And broils root out the work of masonry,

7   Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire, shall burn

8   The living record of your memory.

9   'Gainst death and all oblivious enmity

10  Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room

11  Even in the eyes of all posterity

12  That wear this world out to the ending doom.

13  So till the judgment that yourself arise,

14  You live in this, and dwell in lovers' eyes.                                                    

                                                       (1609)

From “You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes” (line 14), who are most likely the lovers? 

Possible Answers:

Princes 

Mars and other gods or goddesses 

Anyone who also loved the speaker’s beloved

Those who read the poem

Anyone who ever saw the speaker’s beloved 

Correct answer:

Those who read the poem

Explanation:

The “lovers” from “dwell in lovers’ eyes” (line 14) are those who read the poem. In line 14, the speaker claims that his beloved will “live in this” after their death. “This” (line 14) refers to the poem, as is suggested in “this pow’rful rhyme” (line 2) and “the living record of your memory / ’Gainst death and all oblivious enmity / Shall you pace forth; . . .” (lines 8-10). If the speaker’s beloved lives in the poem, she must also dwell in the eyes of those who read the poem because eyes must be used to read.

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 55" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #41 : Literary Analysis Of British Poetry

O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem

1  O, how much more doth beauty beauteous seem, 


2  By that sweet ornament which truth doth give.


3   The rose looks fair, but fairer we it deem 


4  For that sweet odour which doth in it live. 


5   The canker-blooms have full as deep a dye 


6   As the perfumed tincture of the roses, 


7   Hang on such thorns and play as wantonly,

8   When summer's breath their masked buds discloses;

9   But, for their virtue only is their show, 


10 They live unwoo'd and unrespected fade, 


11 Die to themselves. Sweet roses do not so; 


12 Of their sweet deaths are sweetest odours made.  

13 And so of you, beauteous and lovely youth,
   

14 When that shall fade, my verse distills your truth.

                                                                  (1609)

“When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses” (line 8) is an example of ___________.

Possible Answers:

hyperbole

satire 

personification

alliteration 

a pun

Correct answer:

personification

Explanation:

“When summer’s breath their masked buds discloses;” (line 8) is an example of personification, as personification is a figure of speech where an inanimate object or idea possesses human attributes or abilities. Here, "summer" (an inanimate idea) has a "breath" (humans breathe).    

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 54" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #1 : Other Content Analysis Questions: Poetry

1   Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense

2   Weigh thy Opinion against Providence;

3   Call Imperfection what thou fancy'st such,

4   Say, here he gives too little, there too much;

5   Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,

6   Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust;

7   If Man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,

8   Alone made perfect here, immortal there:

9   Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,

10 Re-judge his justice, be the GOD of GOD!

11 In Pride, in reasoning Pride, our error lies;

12 All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.

13 Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,

14 Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods.

15 Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,

16 Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel;

17  And who but wishes to invert the laws

18 Of ORDER, sins against th' Eternal Cause.

                                                       (1734)

According to the speaker, what is man’s greatest sin? 

Possible Answers:

Attempting to be immortal 

Pride

Rebellion 

Attempting to be perfect 

Destruction of God's creatures 

Correct answer:

Pride

Explanation:

Pride is man’s greatest sin because “In Pride, in reasoning Pride, our error lies” (line 11).  Lines 1-8 show man judging and questioning the opinion of “Providence” (line 2). Lines 9-10 show that man tries to "Snatch from His hand the balance and the rod” (line 9) as well as “re-judge His justice, be the God of God.” Line 11 suggests that it is "pride, . . . reasoning pride," that causes man to try and take God’s place, and lines 17-18 claim that whoever tries to do so, “sins against the Eternal Cause.”

(Passage adapted from "An Essay on Man" by Alexander Pope, I.IV.1-18)

Example Question #11 : Literary Terminology And Devices

1   Go, wiser thou! and in thy scale of sense

2   Weigh thy Opinion against Providence;

3   Call Imperfection what thou fancy'st such,

4   Say, here he gives too little, there too much;

5   Destroy all creatures for thy sport or gust,

6   Yet cry, If Man's unhappy, God's unjust;

7   If Man alone engross not Heav'n's high care,

8   Alone made perfect here, immortal there:

9   Snatch from his hand the balance and the rod,

10 Re-judge his justice, be the GOD of GOD!

11 In Pride, in reasoning Pride, our error lies;

12 All quit their sphere, and rush into the skies.

13 Pride still is aiming at the blest abodes,

14 Men would be Angels, Angels would be Gods.

15 Aspiring to be Gods, if Angels fell,

16 Aspiring to be Angels, Men rebel;

17  And who but wishes to invert the laws

18 Of ORDER, sins against th' Eternal Cause.

                                                       (1734)

Which of the following is an example of a slant rhyme (also called "half rhyme")? 

Possible Answers:

"rod" / "God" (lines 9/10) 

"abodes" / "gods" (lines 13/14) 

 

"lies" / "skies" (lines 11/12) 

"such" / "much" (lines 3/4) 

"rebel" / "fell" (lines 15/16) 

Correct answer:

"abodes" / "gods" (lines 13/14) 

 

Explanation:

"Abodes" / "gods" (lines 13/14) is an example of a slant rhyme. Slant rhymes are words that come close to rhyming, but are not full rhymes. 

(Passage adapted from "An Essay on Man" by Alexander Pope, I.IV.1-18)

Example Question #41 : Content

1    'So careful of the type?' but no.


2    From scarped cliff and quarried stone


3    She cries, `A thousand types are gone:


4    I care for nothing, all shall go.




 

5   'Thou makest thine appeal to me:


6    I bring to life, I bring to death:


7    The spirit does but mean the breath:


8    I know no more.' And he, shall he,




 

9    Man, her last work, who seem'd so fair,


10  Such splendid purpose in his eyes,


11  Who roll'd the psalm to wintry skies,


12  Who built him fanes of fruitless prayer,




 

13  Who trusted God was love indeed


14  And love Creation's final law—


15  Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw


16 With ravine, shriek'd against his creed—




 

17 Who loved, who suffer'd countless ills,


18  Who battled for the True, the Just,


19 Be blown about the desert dust,


20  Or seal'd within the iron hills?




 

21  No more? A monster then, a dream,


22 A discord. Dragons of the prime,


23  That tare each other in their slime,


24 Were mellow music match'd with him.




 

25  O life as futile, then, as frail!


26  O for thy voice to soothe and bless!


27  What hope of answer, or redress?


28  Behind the veil, behind the veil.

                                         (1849)

In “I bring to life, I bring to death” (line 6), who is “I”? 

Possible Answers:

God 

Nature

The poet 

The poet's friend 

The poet's beloved 

Correct answer:

Nature

Explanation:

In “I bring to life, I bring to death” (line 6), the "I" is Nature. Various lines in the poem support that the "I" is Nature. From line 3, the poet writes that "she cries" (line three), and the following six lines (lines 3-8) are in quotations, showing that "she" (line 3) says, "A thousand types are gone: / I care for nothing, all shall go. / 'Thou makest thine appeal to me: / I bring to life, I bring to death: / The spirit does but mean the breath: / I know no more.'" (lines 3-8). Line 15 also supports that Nature is the "she" from line 3. "Tho' Nature, red in tooth and claw" (line 15) shows Nature as ruthless, as did lines 3-8 when Nature proclaims to not care about the types, or species, that are gone. 


(Passage adapted from "In Memorium A. H. H." by Alfred Lord Tennyson, LVI.1-28)

All GRE Subject Test: Literature in English Resources

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