Skip to Main Content

Source: Official Guide Revised GRE 1st Ed. Part 4; Set 5; #4


No other contemporary poet’s work has such

No other contemporary poet’s work has such a well-earned reputation for (i), and there are few whose moral vision is so imperiously unsparing. Of late, however, the almost belligerent demands of his severe and densely forbidding poetry have taken an improbable turn. This new collection is the poet’s fourth book in six years—an ample output even for poets of sunny disposition, let alone for one of such (ii) over the previous 50 years. Yet for all his newfound (iii), his poetry is as thorny as ever. Blank (i): patent accessibility, intrinsic frivolity, near impenetrability Blank (ii): penitential austerity, intractable prolixity, impetuous prodigality Blank (iii): taciturnity, volubility, pellucidity

4 Explanations


Omair Mirza

The clues to help fill the first blank are: 1) something took an improbable turn and 2) 4th book in 6 years which is an ample output. The 'and' in the first sentence doesn't expand upon the word in the blank, rather, it describes a different characteristic of the poet that helps us with the second blank.

Clues for 2nd blank: All the adjectives that describe him and his poetry as harsh: imperiously unsparing, sever and densely forbidding poetry, poetry as thorny as ever.

Clues for the 3rd blank: "improbable turn," and that he's writing more books recently clue us into him being different from before, different from being so closed off.

Feb 6, 2019 • Comment

David Recine

I agree with your reasoning for the most part. However, I would also say that the "and" in the first sentence is a clue to both the first and second blank. "And" indicates that a similar idea is being added t what's already been said. So you can know that both the first and second blank will contain ideas that are similar in some way.

Feb 6, 2019 • Reply

Omair Mirza

"And" can be a curveball at times but I see what you mean. Thanks for the clarification.

Feb 7, 2019 • Reply


How can we get choice D,are there any clues show that the poet was austere or penitent?

Dec 10, 2017 • Comment

Cydney Seigerman, Magoosh Tutor

Happy to help! In the third sentence, the idea of an "ample output" is contrasted to the nature of the poet. According to the prompt, the author's rate of publication is very high, especially considering the character of the poet himself, which is contrasted to someone with a "sunny" personality. Austerity, which refers to a severe sternness or self-denial, contrasts the idea of prolifically publishing books of poetry and is the best option among the different answer choices.

I hope this helps! :)

Dec 25, 2017 • Reply

Thi Kim Cuc Duong

Hi Cydney, could you also explain the meaning of "penitential" please?
From what i know, "penitential" has the meaning of "voluntary self-punishment in order to atone for some wrongdoing" (from However, from the passage how could you tell that the author has done something wrong and is punishing himself? Thanks.

Aug 17, 2018 • Reply

David Recine

I can take this, Cydney! :) Actually, the term "penitential" cal also mean "willfully suffering or limiting one's self." And this meaning can hold true even if the self-inflected suffering or limitation is not being done because of specific guilt or wrongdoing. Then we have the word "austerity," which means "use of or creation of fewer resources." Together, in this context where th poet hasn't clearly done something wrong, but has until recently produced very little poetry, "penitential austerity" refers to the author willfully limiting the amount of poetry they created over the last 50 years.

Aug 21, 2018 • Reply


Wenqing Qu
Here is where it is from!
I think the original word "difficulty" could make sense to the "as thorny as always"

Aug 23, 2015 • Comment

Jonathan , Magoosh Tutor

I think you're right :) Yes, his poetry is "thorny;" it is difficult to penetrate.

Aug 31, 2015 • Reply

Prashant Jha

Wow!! That is a great find.

Jul 14, 2016 • Reply


would pellucid be not a good fit for contrasting Thorny?why volubility (writing/reading fluently)

Jul 13, 2017 • Reply


We are not looking for a word that contrasts with "thorny" in the third blank. The previous sentence says that the author has recently begun to produce a lot of books. Therefore, he is newly "voluble." The final sentence states that the writing remains thorny (=difficult), so we don't want to say that it is pellucid.

Jul 13, 2017 • Reply


Chris Lele

Oct 6, 2012 • Comment

I have two questions confused. First, in the first blank, why can not choose B.intrinsic frivolity because I see the conjunction "and." Another one is why Blank(iii) volubility works. I see "Yet" so I assume it should be opposite. Thank you.

May 3, 2017 • Reply


Hi Weiping,

For the first blank, the conjunction "and" doesn't really give us any clues. We need to look to the second sentence, where we see "severe and densely forbidding poetry", which points us to "near impenetrability" for the first blank. Nothing in the sentence implies that his work is frivolous.

In the third blank, we're not looking for the opposite of "thorny." This is tricky. The sentence before tells us that author has recently begun to write a lot of new books. This is the support for "volubility." Even though he is writing many new books, the books are still very difficult to read.

We couldn't choose "pellucid" because it wouldn't make sense to say that the books are BOTH pellucid and unclear.

May 4, 2017 • Reply

Zhenghui Li

I'm confused with the second sentence. Could you explain what this sentence means, and what it implies? " Of late, however, the almost belligerent demands of …… have taken an improbable turn"
Does it mean the poet has become popular recently? Does this have something to do with his ample output? Thank you!

Jun 21, 2018 • Reply

David Recine

Hi Zhenghui-- your educated guess about output is correct. the "improbable" event is the poet publsihing books at a faster than usual pace, "an ample output...for...a poet of such... austerity." "Austerity" means minimal production or output, which makes the publication of several books in a short time something improbably an surprising. The second sentence isn't really connected to popularity, since the poet's popularity is never discussed. (It does say the poet's writing is "thorny," but this doesn't necessarily mean that people would dislike reading it.)

Jun 26, 2018 • Reply

Add Your Explanation

You must have a Magoosh account in order to leave an explanation.

Learn More About Magoosh