The GRE Subject Test is tomorrow, and I know some of my readers are in the same boat of worried anticipation as I. As I hope to one day achieve a Doctorate in English, I will be taking the Literature test tomorrow. I've been "studying" for it for the past month, though, sadly for me, I just fell into my groove this past weekend. Be that as it may, I'm feeling strangely confident. I think I've studied as much as I'm going to, and now I just have to trust my capacity for recall to bring me safely through this trial by fire.
As taxing as it's been, trying to compress centuries of literary history into a week of study, I've found this process to be oddly energizing. I've actually learned a lot I didn't know about English literature, and I'm excited by my discoveries; among them, Thomas Gray's "Ode on the Death of a Favourite Cat, Drowned in a Tub of Gold Fishes," from whence is derived the famous line "Nor all that glisters, gold" and In Memorium A.H.H., in which Tennyson famously remarked "'Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all." I've also read parts of Elizabeth Barrett Browning's Sonnets From the Portuguese, which, though now somewhat hackneyed, are really beautiful meditations on the growth of love and reread Elizabeth Bishop's "One Art," which is a short but very moving villanelle on the "art of losing."
I could go on, but I wish not to bore my non-English major readers. I suppose my point is that this experience has reminded me, once again, of my calling and my sincere enjoyment of literature. I hope that you, too, experience these moments sometimes, when you realize that the work you're doing is exactly what you wish to do and that really, it's not work at all.