SAT II Literature : Figurative Language: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Figurative Language: 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 line is there a strong lending metaphor?

Possible Answers:

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

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

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

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

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

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

"Seven years thou wert lent to me, and I thee pay," (Line 3), is a strong metaphor in which the speaker seems to believe he has entered into a contract with God, and God has come to collect his payment. The metaphor is the son being compared to a loan.

Example Question #2 : Figurative Language: 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.

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

Possible Answers:

the eye of God

the sun

a comet

the moon

the North Star

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 #3 : Figurative Language: 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 can be described as a spatial metaphor:

Possible Answers:

"I love thee with a love I seemed to lose / With my lost saints" (lines 11–12)

"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 passion put to use / In my old griefs," (lines 9–10)

"I love thee freely, as men strive for Right;" (line 7)

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

"I love thee to the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach," (lines 2–3) can be described as a spatial metaphor, as the speaker depicts his or her love occupying the same 3-dimensional space as his or her soul's reach.

Example Question #4 : Figurative Language: 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 concrete metaphor "by sun and candle-light" (line 6) very likely represents                .  

Possible Answers:

left and right

reason and faith

day and night

knowledge and ignorance

good and bad

Correct answer:

day and night

Explanation:

The concrete metaphor "by sun and candle-light" (line 6) very likely represents day and night, as the speaker loves ceaselessly throughout the day and night.

Example Question #5 : 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 only simile throughout this sonnet is                        .

Possible Answers:

"Reason, your viceroy in me," (line 7)

"betroth'd unto your enemy;" (line 10)

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

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

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

Correct answer:

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

Explanation:

"like an usurp'd town" (line 5) is the only simile throughout this sonnet, as it makes a direct comparison between two apparently unlike things—the poet and an usurp'd town—with the word "like." When constructing similes, the word "as" is also used.

Example Question #6 : 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:

a captured city

an unwilling bride

an exhausted laborer

a prisoner

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 #5 : Figurative Language: Poetry

A Late Walk

1          When I go up through the mowing field,
2          The headless aftermath,
3          Smooth-laid like thatch with the heavy dew,
4          Half closes the garden path.

5          And when I come to the garden ground,
6          The whir of sober birds
7          Up from the tangle of withered weeds
8          Is sadder than any words

9          A tree beside the wall stands bare,
10        But a leaf that lingered brown,
11        Disturbed, I doubt not, by my thought,
12        Comes softly rattling down.

13        I end not far from my going forth
14        By picking the faded blue
15        Of the last remaining aster flower
16        To carry again to you.

Which of the following is a simile?

Possible Answers:

"sadder than any words" (line 8)

"the tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

"the wall stands bare," (line 9)

"The headless aftermath," (line 2)

Correct answer:

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3)

Explanation:

"Smooth-laid like thatch" (line 3) is the simile; a simile is a figure pf speech in which two seemingly unlike things are compared using "like" or "as." Usually the words indicate two things that have some similar quality, however, although this may not be immediately evident. In this instance, the "mowing field" (line 1) is like "thatch" (line 3).

Example Question #7 : Figurative Language

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:

a pun

personification

satire 

hyperbole

alliteration 

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 #6 : Figurative Language: Poetry

1 Those lines that I before have writ do lie,

  Even those that said I could not love you dearer;

  Yet then my judgment knew no reason why

  My most full flame should afterwards burn clearer.

5 But reckoning Time, whose million'd accidents 

  Creep in 'twixt vows and change decrees of kings, 

  Tan sacred beauty, blunt the sharp'st intents, 

  Divert strong minds to the course of altering things;

9 Alas, why, fearing of Time's tyranny, 

  Might I not then say 'Now I love you best,' 

  When I was certain o'er incertainty, 

  Crowning the present, doubting of the rest?

13 Love is a babe; then might I not say so,

   To give full growth to that which still doth grow? 

(1609)

Which of the following phrases from the poem is the best example of a metaphor?

Possible Answers:

"Time's tyranny" (line 9)

"My most full flame" (line 4)

"certain o'er incertainty" (line 11)

"Love is a babe" (line 13)

"my judgment knew" (line 3)

Correct answer:

"Love is a babe" (line 13)

Explanation:

A metaphor is a direct comparison or identification of two things that are not literally the same. It is similar to another literary device, the simile, but unlike the simile does not use the comparing words "like" or "as."

"Love is a babe" is the only answer that directly compares two things. "Love" is compared to "a babe."  

"Time's tyranny" (line 9) is an example of personification.  

"My most full flame" (line 4) is a figurative way of describing love, but does not contain a direct comparison of two things and so is not the best example of a metaphor. ("My love is a flame" would be a good example of a metaphor. "My love is like a flame" would be a good example of a simile.)

Passage adapted from Shakespeare's "Sonnet 115" (1609)   

Example Question #7 : Figurative Language: Poetry

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.

(1847)

What type of imagery is most pervasive in this passage?

Possible Answers:

Olfactory

Auditory

None of these

Visual

Tactile

Correct answer:

Auditory

Explanation:

The poem includes many descriptions of sounds in its opening lines: “murmuring,” “voices sad and prophetic,” “loud,” “deep-voiced,” “accents disconsolate,” and “wail.” Although there are also examples of visual imagery here, auditory descriptions comprise the majority of the imagery in this passage.

Passage adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Evangeline.” (1847)

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