SAT II Literature : Other Literary Features: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Literary Features: Poetry

What dire offence from amorous causes springs,

What mighty contests rise from trivial things,

I sing — This verse to Caryl, Muse! is due:

This, even Belinda may vouchsafe to view:

Slight is the subject, but not so the praise,

If She inspire, and He approve my lays.


… Sol thro’ white curtains shot a tim’rous ray,        

And oped those eyes that must eclipse the day.       

Now lapdogs give themselves the rousing shake,      

And sleepless lovers just at twelve awake:   

Thrice rung the bell, the slipper knock’d the ground,

And the press’d watch return’d a silver sound.        

Belinda still her downy pillow prest,

Her guardian Sylph prolong’d the balmy rest.

What rhyme scheme is this?

Possible Answers:

Heroic verse

Free verse

Trochaic pentameter

Iambic tetrameter

Blank verse

Correct answer:

Heroic verse


This poem is in heroic verse: Rhyming couplets of iambic pentameter. (Iambic describes the use of alternating unstressed and stressed syllables, and pentameter signifies that there are five of these pairs in a line.) The poem is actually an excellent example of the mock heroic form, which involves the use of heroic verse to write a satirical epic lampooning modern society.

Passage adapted from The Rape of the Lock by Alexander Pope (1712)

Example Question #2 : Other Literary Features: Poetry

Passage adapted from Edna St. Vincent Millay's "Spring" (1921).

To what purpose, April, do you return again?

Beauty is not enough.

You can no longer quiet me with the redness 

Of leaves opening stickily.

I know what I know.  5

The sun is hot on my neck as I observe

The spikes of the crocus.

The smell of the earth is good.

It is apparent that there is no death.

But what does that signify?  10

Not only under the ground are the brains of men

Eaten by maggots.

Life in itself

Is nothing,

An empty cup, a flight of uncarpeted stairs.  15

It is not enough that yearly, down this hill, 


Comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers.

Lines 6-8 are developed through __________.

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



Lines 6-8 are developed through imagery. Imagery allows the reader to better envision a scene or setting in a piece of literature by providing descriptions that draw on the five senses (sight, smell, taste, touch, or hearing.) For example, the poet describes the smell of the earth and the warmth of the sun.

An allusion is an indirect reference to a person, place or thing of historical, cultural or literary importance. An allegory is a story that uses symbolic characters and events to convey a religious meaning. Hyperbole is the use of exaggeration for the sake of emphasis. A euphemism is a polite, subtle expression used to replace a word or phrase that is considered impolite or inappropriate. There are no examples of allusion, allegory, hyperbole, or euphemism in these lines.

Example Question #925 : Sat Subject Test In Literature

1                  In silent night when rest I took,

2                  For sorrow near I did not look,

3                  I wakened was with thund’ring noise

4                  And piteous shrieks of dreadful voice.

5                  That fearful sound of “fire” and “fire,”

6                  Let no man know is my Desire.

7                  I, starting up, the light did spy,

8                  And to my God my heart did cry

9                  To straighten me in my Distress

10               And not to leave me succourless.

11               Then, coming out, behold a space

12               The flame consume my dwelling place.

13               And when I could no longer look,

14               I blest His name that gave and took,

15               That laid my goods now in the dust.

16               Yea, so it was, and so ‘twas just.

17               It was his own, it was not mine,

18               Far be it that I should repine;

19               He might of all justly bereft

20               But yet sufficient for us left.

21               When by the ruins oft I past

22               My sorrowing eyes aside did cast

23               And here and there the places spy

24               Where oft I sate and long did lie.

25               Here stood that trunk, and there that chest,

26               There lay that store I counted best.

27               My pleasant things in ashes lie

28               And them behold no more shall I.

29               Under thy roof no guest shall sit,

30               Nor at thy Table eat a bit.

31               No pleasant talk shall ‘ere be told

32               Nor things recounted done of old.

33               No Candle e'er shall shine in Thee,

34               Nor bridegroom’s voice e'er heard shall be.

35               In silence ever shalt thou lie,

36               Adieu, Adieu, all’s vanity.

37               Then straight I ‘gin my heart to chide,

38               And did thy wealth on earth abide?

39               Didst fix thy hope on mould'ring dust?

40               The arm of flesh didst make thy trust?

41               Raise up thy thoughts above the sky

42               That dunghill mists away may fly.

43               Thou hast a house on high erect

44               Framed by that mighty Architect,

45               With glory richly furnished,

46               Stands permanent though this be fled.

47               It’s purchased and paid for too

48               By Him who hath enough to do.

49               A price so vast as is unknown,

50               Yet by His gift is made thine own;

51               There’s wealth enough, I need no more,

52               Farewell, my pelf, farewell, my store.

53               The world no longer let me love,

54               My hope and treasure lies above.



By the end of the poem, the author has created a contrast between _________________.

Possible Answers:

the civilization of colonial settlers and the savagery of the natives

material wealth which is fleeting and spiritual wealth which is permanent

righteous who are protected by God and the unrighteous who are punished

salvation through good deeds and salvation through faith

the importance of material possessions and the importance of family

Correct answer:

material wealth which is fleeting and spiritual wealth which is permanent


By comparing her earthly home to a heavenly one, the speaker shows the contrast between material possessions and the riches provided to the Elect in heaven.

Passage adapted from Anne Bradstreet's "Upon the Burning of our House" (1666)

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