SAT II Literature : Meaning 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 : Meaning Of Specified Text

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 lines 11–12, "For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such / As what he loves may never like too much," what is the speaker saying about his future vows?

Possible Answers:

The speaker will learn to love again.

The speaker will love more fully having loved his son.

The speaker will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

The speaker will be very careful about what he chooses to love as deeply as he has loved his son.

The speaker will never like another thing.

Correct answer:

The speaker will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

Explanation:

In lines 11–12, "For whose sake, henceforth, all his vows be such / As what he loves may never like too much," the speaker is saying that he will never love as much as he has loved his dead son.

Example Question #1 : Meaning 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.

"Eternal lines to time" (line 12) very probably refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the maturation of the speaker's beloved

the seasonal cycle

the burial of the speaker's beloved

the bible

poetry

Correct answer:

poetry

Explanation:

"Eternal lines to time" (line 12) refers to poetry, as poetry is lines of words often set to meter, (to the measure of time).

Example Question #2 : Meaning 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.

"Thy eternal summer" (line 9) probably refers to __________.

Possible Answers:

the loveliness and temperance of the speaker's beloved

"the eye of heaven" (line 5)

the summer season

the "gold complexion" (line 6) of the speaker's beloved

"the darling buds of May" (line 3)

Correct answer:

the loveliness and temperance of the speaker's beloved

Explanation:

"Thy eternal summer" probably refers to the loveliness and temperance of the speaker's beloved, mentioned in line 2 ("Thou art more lovely and more temperate"). It is that loveliness the speaker's poetry will guard from fading: "thy eternal summer shall not fade" (line 9).

Example Question #3 : Meaning Of Specified Text: Poetry

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.

How does the poet view "Reason' in line 7?

Possible Answers:

As a sovereign representative who has been weakend or unfaithful

As an inconsequential government official

As the constant scourge of faith

As the administrator of the devil

As an unfailing defender of the poet's faith

Correct answer:

As a sovereign representative who has been weakend or unfaithful

Explanation:

The poet views "Reason' in line 7 as a sovereign representative who has been weakend or unfaithful, as a viceroy who has proven "weak or untrue" (line 8).

Example Question #4 : Meaning Of Specified Text: Poetry

Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear

1   Thy glass will show thee how thy beauties wear,

2   Thy dial how thy precious minutes waste;

3   The vacant leaves thy mind’s impr'nt will bear,

4   And of this book this learning mayst thou taste:

5   The wrinkles which thy glass will truly show

6   Of mouthèd graves will give thee memory;

Thou by thy dial’s shady stealth mayst know

8   Time’s thievish progress to eternity.

Look what thy memory cannot contain,

10 Commit to these waste blanks, and thou shalt find

11 Those children nursed, delivered from thy brain,

12 To take a new acquaintance of thy mind.

13 These offices, so oft as thou wilt look,

14 Shall profit thee and much enrich thy book.

                                                         (1609)

To what does “mouthèd graves” (line 6) refer? 

Possible Answers:

Blank pages

Wrinkles

The past 

A cemetery 

A dial 

Correct answer:

Wrinkles

Explanation:

“Mouthèd graves” (line 6) refers to the wrinkles mentioned in line 5. The glass (line 5) shows the wrinkles, which look like open graves because wrinkles look like deep cuts into our skin and graves are deep “cuts” into the earth. “Time’s thievish progress to eternity” (line 8) suggests that time goes by and then you die; wrinkles, being a sign of old age, bring you closer to death, so also remind you of death as “mouthèd graves.” 

(Passage adapted from "Sonnet 77" by William Shakespeare)

Example Question #56 : 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 underlined lines "And for thy mother, she alas is poor, / Which caused her thus to send thee out of door" could be interpreted in but which of the following ways?

Possible Answers:

All three of the answer choices beginning "Bradstreet . . . " are correct.

Bradstreet is ashamed of the appearance of her "child."

Bradstreet is to be pitied for sending such a faulty example of her work into the world.

Bradstreet is only allowing publication of the book because she requires money.

None of the other answers are correct.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet is ashamed of the appearance of her "child."

Explanation:

Nothing in the lines indicates anything about Bradstreet's disappointment at the book's appearance, though some might believe her to be pitiable and in need of money to have allowed such a flawed book (in her eyes) to be published.

Example Question #23 : Drawing Inferences From 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.

Which of the following is the most likely meaning of the underlined fifth and sixth lines of the poem?

Possible Answers:

None of the other answers are correct.

Bradsteet did not care for the typeface the book was printed in.

Bradstreet's friends printed the book with a lesser publisher than it deserved.

Bradstreet's manuscript was printed in its rough draft form, without editing.

Bradstreet's book was printed on lower quality paper.

Correct answer:

Bradstreet's manuscript was printed in its rough draft form, without editing.

Explanation:

Bradstreet's book was published using an uncorrected rough draft of her poems, since she herself did not know it was being published, and thus she feels its "errors were not lessened" by editing.

Example Question #5 : Meaning 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)

The "Viceroy" (line 6) is the ____________

Possible Answers:

poet 

poet's lover's soul 

poet's beloved 

poem 

wreath of hair 

Correct answer:

wreath of hair 

Explanation:

 "Viceroy" means person governing a colony and representing the monarch of the nation to which the colony belongs. In the poem, the "viceroy" (line 6) is the wreath of hair from line 3. Line 1 says to not harm that wreath of hair. Line 4 goes on to further say "you must not touch". Lines 5-6 explain why: the wreath is the poet's  "outward soul" (line 5) and his viceroy (line 6).

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

Example Question #6 : Meaning 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.

Which of the following could be substituted for "'tis morn" (line 13) without changing the meaning? 

Possible Answers:

It is morning

I was mourning 

Until the morning 

Is it morning 

It was morning 

Correct answer:

It is morning

Explanation:

In classical literature "tis" is a substitute for "it is" while "morn" is a substitute for "morning." "Mourning"  or to "mourn" will always include a "u" in their spelling, and should not be confused with the time of day.

Example Question #7 : Meaning 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.

What is the author attempting to convey in stanzas 5 and 6?

Possible Answers:

His contemplation of his own fragility in the face of wilderness

His appreciation of his love's gift of a seashell

His distaste for religious influences in poetry

His mental connection between love and nature

His fascination with fantastical creatures

Correct answer:

His appreciation of his love's gift of a seashell

Explanation:

The author talks about his love getting him a keep sake from the sea in stanza 4, and then goes on to explain that even if he was given a gift from a heavenly being, it would not be as treasured by him as this simple seashell. 

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