SAT II Literature : Inferences: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

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Example Question #1 : Inferences: 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.

In line 13, the "eyes" that "can see" are very likely envisioned by the speaker to be used for __________.

Possible Answers:

fumbling in the dark of death's shade

enjoying the summer sun, however brief

admiring his or her beloved's beauty

watching the changing seasons

reading his or her poetry

Correct answer:

reading his or her poetry

Explanation:

In line 13, the "eyes" that "can see" are very likely envisioned by the speaker to be used for reading his or her poetry, as it is the speaker's poetry (his or her "eternal lines to time" (line 12)), which are the source of the beloved's immortality.

Example Question #6 : 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.

The "enemy" of line 10 is very probably                      .

Possible Answers:

the church

reason

the devil

the government

chastity

Correct answer:

the devil

Explanation:

As the poet is addressing the Christians' God, the "three-person'd God" (line 1), the "enemy" of line 10 is very likely the devil who would be, according to Christians, the enemy of God.

Example Question #2 : Inferences: Poetry

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:

Mars and other gods or goddesses 

Anyone who ever saw the speaker’s beloved 

Those who read the poem

Anyone who also loved the speaker’s beloved

Princes 

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 #3 : Inferences: Poetry

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:

The poet's friend 

The poet's beloved 

The poet 

God 

Nature

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)

Example Question #51 : Identifying And Analyzing Important Details In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

The first two lines of this poem imply all but which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Bradstreet kept her book from being seen by most.

None of the other answers are correct.

Bradstreet felt that her book was somehow inferior.

Bradstreet intended to publish her book immediately after writing it.

Bradstreet felt that her writing was not strong.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet intended to publish her book immediately after writing it.

Explanation:

The first two lines imply that Bradstreet feels her book (the "offspring") is "ill-formed" and the product of a "feeble mind," which indicates she did not think her writing was strong and did not want it seen by anyone else. The fact that it remained "by her side" after she wrote it indicates that she had no plans to publish it.

Example Question #111 : Act Reading

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

The third and fourth lines of the poem imply all but which of the following?

Possible Answers:

The book was published with Bradstreet's knowledge.

The book was published overseas and not in her own country.

Bradstreet felt that her friends had erred in publishing the book.

The book was published by friends of Bradstreet.

None of the other answers are correct.

Correct answer:

The book was published with Bradstreet's knowledge.

Explanation:

Nothing in these lines indicates that Bradstreet had any knowledge that her friends were publishing her book "abroad," and the fact that she charaterizes them as "less wise than true" indicates that she found their actions unwise and deceitful.

Example Question #4 : Inferences: Poetry

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

Lines 11–14 imply all but which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Bradstreet felt her revisions created new problems in addition to solving old ones.

Bradstreet felt the need to revise the book since it bore her name.

Bradstreet felt she corrected the errors in the original book.

The more Bradstreet revised the book, the more new errors she saw.

None of the other answers are correct.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet felt she corrected the errors in the original book.

Explanation:

These lines indicate that Bradstreet did not feel her revisions improved the book, which she saw as hers and therefore necessary to revise.  The fact that she says she saw more "spots" after "wash[ing its] face" indicates that she both found more errors and that she felt her revisions made the poems worse somehow.

Example Question #54 : Identifying And Analyzing Important Details In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

In the lines "In better dress to trim thee was my mind, / But nought save homespun cloth i' th' house I find," Bradstreet is using the image of dressing a child in better clothes to symbolize __________.

Possible Answers:

her sense of betrayal by her friends in their publishing her book

her dislike for the appearance of the book

her inability to improve the poems in her rough draft

her desire to have herself represented by her best possible work

None of the other answers are correct.

Correct answer:

her inability to improve the poems in her rough draft

Explanation:

Given the context of these lines and the double-meaning of trim, meaning both "to dress" and "to cut in length," the image of dressing a child in better clothes probably refers to her desire to revise the poems into better forms and her inability to do so (because she has only "homespun cloth").

Example Question #55 : Identifying And Analyzing Important Details In Humanities Passages

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

The lines "In critic's hands beware thou dost not come, / And take thy way where yet thou art not known" implies all but which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Bradstreet is concerned about the reception of her book by critics

Bradstreet wants her book to be seen by new readers

Bradstreet is concerned about the reception of the book in an unfamiliar country

Bradstreet is concerned about what new readers will think of the book

None of the other answers are correct.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet wants her book to be seen by new readers

Explanation:

"Take thy way" is an older way of saying "be careful," so in essence Bradstreet is warning her book to be careful with strangers (i.e., new readers in places where her work is not known) and critics.

Example Question #5 : Inferences: Poetry

Adapted from "The Author to Her Book" by Anne Bradstreet (1678)

Thou ill-form’d offspring of my feeble brain,
Who after birth didst by my side remain,
Till snatched from thence by friends, less wise than true,
Who thee abroad, expos’d to public view,
Made thee in rags, halting to th’ press to trudge,
Where errors were not lessened (all may judge).
At thy return my blushing was not small,
My rambling brat (in print) should mother call,
I cast thee by as one unfit for light,
Thy visage was so irksome in my sight;
Yet being mine own, at length affection would
Thy blemishes amend, if so I could:
I wash’d thy face, but more defects I saw,
And rubbing off a spot, still made a flaw.
I stretched thy joints to make thee even feet,
Yet still thou run’st more hobling then is meet;
In better dress to trim thee was my mind,
But nought save home-spun cloth, i’ th’ house I find.
In this array ’mongst vulgars mayst thou roam.
In critics' hands, beware thou dost not come;
And take thy way where yet thou art not known,
If for thy father askt, say, thou hadst none:
And for thy mother, she alas is poor,
Which caus’d her thus to send thee out of door.

Lines 7-10 imply all but which of the following?

Possible Answers:

Bradstreet did not feel the poems should have been read by the public.

None of the other answers is correct.

Bradstreet felt the poems needed tighter editing.

Bradstreet immediately acknowledged she was the author of the book.

Bradstreet was embarassed by the book's publication.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet immediately acknowledged she was the author of the book.

Explanation:

There's nothing in these lines to indicate that Bradstreet immediately acknowledged authorship of the book, given that she finds it "rambling" and in need of tighter editing, and the fact that she "blushes" at its publication implies she does not feel the book was ready to be seen by the public.

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