SAT II Literature : Effect of Specified Text: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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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."

"Seven years thou wert lent to me," (line 3), very likely tells the reader what?

Possible Answers:

The years the speaker was absent from the child's life

The age of the son at his death

The years since the child's death

The length of time the child suffered

The time period wherein the speaker will mourn

Correct answer:

The age of the son at his death

Explanation:

"Seven years thou wert lent to me," (line 3), very likely tells the reader the age of the son at his death. In the same line, "I thee pay" inclines the reader to believe that after seven years, the speaker had to relinquish his son.

Example Question #2 : 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."

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

Possible Answers:

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

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

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

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

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

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 #3 : 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 communicates the speaker's feelings about getting old?

Possible Answers:

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

To have so soon 'scaped world's and flesh's rage, (Line 7)

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

And if no other misery, yet age! (Line 8)

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

Correct answer:

And if no other misery, yet age! (Line 8)

Explanation:

"And if no other misery, yet age!" (Line 8) communicates the speaker's feeling that getting old is a "misery."

Example Question #4 : 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)

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

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

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

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

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 #5 : Effect Of Specified Text: 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:

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

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

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

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

"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.

Example Question #6 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

1          How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.
2          I love thee to the depth and breadth and height
3          My soul can reach, when feeling out of sight
4          For the ends of Being and ideal Grace.
5          I love thee to the level of everyday's
6          Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light.
7          I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;
8          I love thee purely, as they turn from Praise.
9          I love thee with the passion put to use
10        In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith.
11        I love thee with a love I seemed to lose
12        With my lost saints – I love thee with the breath,
13        Smiles, tears, of all my life! – and, if God choose,
14        I shall but love thee better after death.

The following excerpt seems to show that the speaker is mature:

Possible Answers:

"I love thee freely," (line 7).

"In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith," (line 10).

"I love thee to the level of everyday's / Most quiet need," (lines 5–6).

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height/My soul can reach," (lines 2–3).

"I love thee with the breath, / Smiles, tears, of all my life!" (lines 12–13).

Correct answer:

"In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith," (line 10).

Explanation:

"In my old griefs, and with my childhood's faith" (line 10), seems to show that the speaker is mature, as he or she has had to contend with old griefs and a faith distinct to children.

Example Question #3 : 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)

"o'erthrow me" (line 3)

"imprison me" (line 12)

"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)

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 #7 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

1    Whoever comes to shroud me, do not harm
2             Nor question much
3    That subtle wreath of hair, which crowns my arm;
4    The mystery, the sign, you must not touch,
5             For 'tis my outward soul,
6    Viceroy to that, which then to heaven being gone,
7             Will leave this to control
8    And keep these limbs, her provinces, from dissolution.
 
9    For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall
10           Through every part
11  Can tie those parts, and make me one of all,
12  Those hairs which upward grew, and strength and art
13           Have from a better brain,
14  Can better do'it; except she meant that I
15           By this should know my pain,
16  As prisoners then are manacled, when they'are condemn'd to die.
 
17  Whate'er she meant by'it, bury it with me,
18           For since I am
19  Love's martyr, it might breed idolatry,
20  If into other hands these relics came;
21           As 'twas humility
22  To afford to it all that a soul can do,
23           So, 'tis some bravery,
24  That since you would have none of me, I bury some of you.
 
(1633)

Which of the following best explains how the poet feels about "that subtle wreath of hair" (line 3)? 

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers

"For since I am / Love's martyr" (lines 18-19) 

"The mystery, the sign, you must not touch" (line 4)

"By this should know my pain, / As prisoners then are manacled, when they'are condemn'd to die" (lines 15-16)

"For 'tis my outward soul" (line 5) 

Correct answer:

"By this should know my pain, / As prisoners then are manacled, when they'are condemn'd to die" (lines 15-16)

Explanation:

"By this should know my pain, / As prisoners then are manacled, when they'are condemn'd to die" (lines 15-16) best explains how the poet feels about the "wreath of hair" (line 3). The poet allows us to understand that his love for his beloved caused him pain (line 15) and that he is one of love's martyrs (line 19). He also ends by saying "That since you would have none of me, I bury some of you" (line 24). This gives us the impression that she did not love him back, while he was truly in love with her. He was a prisoner of her love, and the wreath of hair that "crowns" his arm (line 3) is like a shackle that prisoners are manacled with.

(Passage adapted from "The Funeral" by John Donne)

Example Question #8 : Effect Of Specified Text: Poetry

Passage adapted from "To Some Ladies" (1817) by John Keats

What though while the wonders of nature exploring,
  I cannot your light, mazy footsteps attend;
Nor listen to accents, that almost adoring,
  Bless Cynthia's face, the enthusiast's friend:

(5) Yet over the steep, whence the mountain stream rushes,
  With you, kindest friends, in idea I rove;
Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,
  Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.

Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?
 (10) Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?
Ah! you list to the nightingale's tender condoling,
  Responsive to sylphs, in the moon beamy air.

'Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping,
  I see you are treading the verge of the sea:
(15) And now! ah, I see it—you just now are stooping
  To pick up the keep-sake intended for me.

If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,
  Had brought me a gem from the fret-work of heaven;
And smiles, with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,
  (20) The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;

It had not created a warmer emotion
  Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you,
Than the shell, from the bright golden sands of the ocean
  Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.

(25) For, indeed, 'tis a sweet and peculiar pleasure,
  (And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)
To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,
  In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.

Why does the author most likely reference celestial beings such as cherubs (line 17) and nymphs (line 22)?

Possible Answers:

To weave in elements of fantasy to engage younger audiences

To suggest that his prose is ordained by God

To lend an ethereal quality to his writing that belies his passion and romanticism

To explain the supernatural qualities present in nature

To combine elements of local folklore into a universal story of love

Correct answer:

To lend an ethereal quality to his writing that belies his passion and romanticism

Explanation:

The author's overall tone is one of heightened romanticism, and the supernatural elements referenced help him lend an ethereal feel to the piece, without explicitly moving the poem into the realm of fantasy or religion. The other answers are not supported by the overall tone of the piece. 

Example Question #4 : Excerpt Connotation And Implication In Context

Adapted from Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in Leaves of Grass (1855)

1

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.



2

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others. 

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
 

3

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams . . .

In line 7, the underlined phrase “myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated, yet part of the scheme,” most closely refers to which of the following?

Possible Answers:

a sense of innate interconnectedness

the status of the individual in modern society

the transience of the physical body

the desire to experience nothingness

a vision of apocalyptic doom

Correct answer:

a sense of innate interconnectedness

Explanation:

The image of disintegration undermines the common emphasis on discrete individuality. Instead, Whitman focuses on the importance of the communal; the disintegration is what allows for reintegration within the same shared scheme. One can see this in the phrase that begins the line and precedes the phrase in question: "The simple, compact, well-join'd scheme."

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