SAT II Literature : Support and Evidence: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

varsity tutors app store varsity tutors android store

Example Questions

← Previous 1

Example Question #1 : Support And Evidence: 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.

If the speaker feels that his life is nearing an end, what most strongly makes that argument?

Possible Answers:

The speaker's coming "to the garden ground" (line 5)

The leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12)

The speaker's going up "through the mowing field" (line 1)

"the tangle of withered weeds" (line 7)

"The whir of sober birds" (line 6)

Correct answer:

The leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12)

Explanation:

The lingering brown leaf that "Comes softly rattling down" (line 12) from the bare standing tree connotes more than the other choices that the speaker might believe his life is nearing an end (i.e., it is falling like the last leaf of Autumn).

Example Question #2 : Support And Evidence: 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 line most acutely reveals the speaker's feeling of frustration?

Possible Answers:

"Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you" (line 22)

 "Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews" (line 8)

"Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?" (line 9)

"'Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping" (line 13)

" And blissful is he who such happiness finds" (line 26)

Correct answer:

"Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?" (line 9)

Explanation:

While the author's overall tone can be described as adoration or love, there are hints that his love is not fully reciprocated, or that he is separated from his love in some way. He alludes to this in several places (ex. "mazy footsteps," line 2) but most openly belies these feelings with his mention of a labyrinth in line 9.

Example Question #3 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

Of arms I sing, and of the man, whom Fate

First drove from Troy to the Lavinian shore.

Full many an evil, through the mindful hate

Of cruel Juno, from the gods he bore,

Much tost on earth and ocean, yea, and more   (5)

In war enduring, ere he built a home,

And his loved household-deities brought o’er

To Latium, whence the Latin people come,

Whence rose the Alban sires, and walls of lofty Rome.

How could the narrator’s journey from Troy best be described?

Possible Answers:

Gelid

Bellicose

Exuberant

Laconic

Tumultuous

Correct answer:

Tumultuous

Explanation:

Based on line 5, “Much tost on earth and ocean,” we can infer that the journey was not a smooth or gentle one. Tumultuous, or turbulent and tempestuous, is the best synonym. Although line 6 does mention war, it does not state that the narrator’s journey itself was warlike or bellicose. Similarly, there is no textual support for exuberant (joyful), laconic (terse), or gelid (frigid).

Passage adapted from Virgil’s Aeneid, trans. E. Fairfax Taylor. (1907)

Example Question #4 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

Of arms I sing, and of the man, whom Fate

First drove from Troy to the Lavinian shore.

Full many an evil, through the mindful hate

Of cruel Juno, from the gods he bore,

Much tost on earth and ocean, yea, and more   (5)

In war enduring, ere he built a home,

And his loved household-deities brought o’er

To Latium, whence the Latin people come,

Whence rose the Alban sires, and walls of lofty Rome.

After the narrator’s journey, what does the passage indicate happens to him?

Possible Answers:

He encounters more strife

He begins to compose the story of his life

He is reconciled with his household deities

He returns to Troy with the Latin people

The Latin people are expelled from Italy

Correct answer:

He encounters more strife

Explanation:

Lines 5-6 note that the character bears first the wrath of the gods and the tumultuous journey and then “more / In war enduring.” In other words, he continues to face difficulties and hardship. All the other choices employ words or phrases mentioned in the passage, but none of them correctly capture the meaning of the passage.

Passage adapted from Virgil’s Aeneid, trans. E. Fairfax Taylor. (1907)

Example Question #5 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

1 Why did I laugh tonight? No voice will tell: 
  No god, no demon of severe response, 
  Deigns to reply from heaven or from hell. 
  Then to my human heart I turn at once--
5 Heart! Thou and I are here sad and alone; 
  Say, wherefore did I laugh? O mortal pain! 
  O darkness! darkness! ever must I moan, 
  To question heaven and hell and heart in vain! 
9 Why did I laugh? I know this being's lease--
  My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads: 
  Yet could I on this very midnight cease, 
  And the world's gaudy ensigns see in shreds.
13  Verse, fame, and beauty are intense indeed, 
      But death intenser--death is life's high meed.

(1819)

If the speaker perceives that there is something genuinely joyful in his laughter, which of the following best supports this?  

Possible Answers:

"I know this being's lease--" (line 9)

"Verse, fame, and beauty are intense indeed" (line 13)

"My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads" (line 10)

"Then to my human heart I turn at once--" (line 4)

"Why did I laugh tonight?" (line 1)

Correct answer:

"My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads" (line 10)

Explanation:

"My fancy to its utmost blisses spreads" (line 10) signals that the speaker felt his laughter to be genuinely joyful. The rest of the poem emphasizes the speaker's perplexity at how a person can be happy even though they are going to die someday. This line (line 10), however, is evidence that the laughter in question was not insincere or bitter, but genuine.

Passage adapted from "Why did I laugh tonight?" by John Keats (1819)

Example Question #6 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

… Sir, ’twas not

Her husband’s presence only, called that spot

Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek… She had

A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,

Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er    (5)

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,

The dropping of the daylight in the West,

The bough of cherries some officious fool

Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule    (10)

She rode with round the terrace—all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked

Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name    (15)

With anybody’s gift.

Based on the tone of the passage, what is the narrator’s attitude toward the Duchess?

Possible Answers:

Envious

Crestfallen

Wry

Joyful

Spiteful

Correct answer:

Wry

Explanation:

The speaker’s tone is at times humorous, at times irritated, and this is the very definition of “wry.” He is not, however, outright spiteful toward her; the passage lacks malice. He is certainly not joyful about his former wife’s lack of good judgment, but neither is he envious or crestfallen because of it.

Passage adapted from Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” (1842) 

Example Question #7 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

… Sir, ’twas not

Her husband’s presence only, called that spot

Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek… She had

A heart—how shall I say?— too soon made glad,

Too easily impressed; she liked whate’er    (5)

She looked on, and her looks went everywhere.

Sir, ’twas all one! My favour at her breast,

The dropping of the daylight in the West,

The bough of cherries some officious fool

Broke in the orchard for her, the white mule    (10)

She rode with round the terrace—all and each

Would draw from her alike the approving speech,

Or blush, at least. She thanked men—good! but thanked

Somehow—I know not how—as if she ranked

My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name    (15)

With anybody’s gift.

(1842)

Which of the following excerpts provides the best example of the Duchess’s ostensibly poor judgment?

Possible Answers:

“Her husband’s presence only, called that spot / Of joy into the Duchess’ cheek”

“the white mule / She rode with round the terrace”

“My favour at her breast”

“Some officious fool”

“My gift of a nine-hundred-years-old name”

Correct answer:

“the white mule / She rode with round the terrace”

Explanation:

In lines 10-11, we see the clearest example of something worthless that the Duchess values: a simple white mule. We’re told around these lines that the Duchess counts the sunset, a branch of cherry blossoms, and this mule as equals. Because the mule is the last and most ridiculous item listed, we can infer that it’s also the item that the speaker thinks is most telling.

Passage adapted from Robert Browning’s “My Last Duchess” (1842) 

Example Question #8 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

I met a traveller from an antique land

  Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

  Stand in the desert. Near them, on the sand,

  Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

  And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,(5)

  Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

  Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

  The hand that mocked them and the heart that fed:

  And on the pedestal these words appear:

  "My name is Ozymandias, king of kings;(10)

  Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"

  Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

  Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

  The lone and level sands stretch far away.

According to the passage, which parts of the statue remain?

Possible Answers:

Its legs and its hands

Its legs and its face

Its torso and its neck

Its hand and its heart

Its face and its hands

Correct answer:

Its legs and its face

Explanation:

According to line 2, the statue’s “vast and trunkless legs of stone” (i.e. its legs but not its torso) remain. According to line 4, the statue’s “visage” (i.e. its face) also remains. The reference to hand and heart in line 8 refer to the sculpture’s commissioner (i.e. the king) and not the sculpture itself.

Passage adapted from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s “Ozymandias” (1818)

Example Question #9 : Support And Evidence: Poetry

So live, that when thy summons comes to join   

The innumerable caravan, which moves   

To that mysterious realm, where each shall take   

His chamber in the silent halls of death,   

Thou go not, like the quarry-slave at night,     (5)

Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed   

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave,   

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch   

About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams.

(1817)

This poem’s advice to the reader could best be summed up by which saying?

Possible Answers:

Caveat emptor

None of these

Quid pro quo

Carpe diem

Sic semper tyrannis

Correct answer:

Carpe diem

Explanation:

The poem warns the reader to prepare to meet death – not reluctantly, “like the quarry-slave at night,” but rather confidently and calmly (“sustained and soothed / By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave, / Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch / About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams”). Implicit in this advice is the advice to live one’s life fully. In other words: carpe diem.

Passage adapted from William Cullen Bryant’s “Thanatopsis” (1817)

Example Question #246 : Interpreting The Passage

Adapted from "The Mouse’s Petition" in Poems by Anna Letitia Barbauld (1773)


Found in the trap where he had been confined all night by Dr. Priestley, for the sake of making experiments with different kinds of air

“To spare the humbled, and to tame in war the proud.” - Virgil

 

OH! hear a pensive captive's prayer,
For liberty that sighs;
And never let thine heart be shut
Against the prisoner's cries.

For here forlorn and sad I sit,

Within the wiry grate;
And tremble at th' approaching morn,

Which brings impending fate.

If e'er thy breast with freedom glow'd,
And spurn'd a tyrant's chain,
Let not thy strong oppressive force
A free-born mouse detain.

Oh! do not stain with guiltless blood
Thy hospitable hearth;
Nor triumph that thy wiles betray'd
A prize so little worth.

The scatter'd gleanings of a feast
My scanty meals supply;
But if thine unrelenting heart
That slender boon deny,

The cheerful light, the vital air,
Are blessings widely given;
Let nature's commoners enjoy
The common gifts of heaven.

The well-taught philosophic mind
To all compassion gives;
Casts round the world an equal eye,
And feels for all that lives.

If mind, as ancient sages taught,
A never dying flame,
Still shifts thro' matter's varying forms,
In every form the same,

Beware, lest in the worm you crush
A brother's soul you find;
And tremble lest thy luckless hand
Dislodge a kindred mind.

Or, if this transient gleam of day
Be all of life we share,
Let pity plead within thy breast,
That little all to spare.

So may thy hospitable board
With health and peace be crown'd;
And every charm of heartfelt ease
Beneath thy roof be found.

So when unseen destruction lurks,
Which men like mice may share,
May some kind angel clear thy path,
And break the hidden snare.

Which of the following issues is most relevant to the poem's overall argument?

Possible Answers:

The minimum standard of ethical care and consideration owed to all prisoners of war and religious dissenters

The necessity of scientific experimentation for the greater good of humanity

The necessity of hospitality and generosity in an increasingly fragmented and dangerous world

The minimum standard of ethical care and consideration owed to all animal companions and work animals

The minimum standard of ethical care and consideration owed to all sentient beings

Correct answer:

The minimum standard of ethical care and consideration owed to all sentient beings

Explanation:

This poem discusses and advocates for a minimum standard of ethical care and consideration for all sentient beings. This standard of care extends to basic freedoms of movement and access to "the common gifts of heaven" by all of "nature's commoners." The poem also asserts the consideration and importance of all "pensive," conscious beings, not just humans.

While the poem is, by virtue of being concerned with all sentient beings, concerned with the treatment of animal companions and work animals, it also extends this concern to all sentient creatures, even a random "worm" which one might "crush" while walking, the worm in that example being neither a work animal nor a companion, but still a creature worthy of consideration. 

While hospitality and generosity are a key aspect of the ethical care and consideration advocated in this poem, the reasoning behind this lies in the inherent rights of sentient creatures, not an increasingly dangerous and fractured world. 

Prisoners of war and religious dissenters are not specifically mentioned.

← Previous 1
Learning Tools by Varsity Tutors

Incompatible Browser

Please upgrade or download one of the following browsers to use Instant Tutoring: