SAT II Literature : Effect of Specified Text: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #8 : Excerpt Connotation And Implication In Context

Adapted from Walt Whitman's "Crossing Brooklyn Ferry" in Leaves of Grass (1855)

1

Flood-tide below me! I see you face to face!
Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high—I see you also face to face.

Crowds of men and women attired in the usual costumes, how curious you are to me!
On the ferry-boats the hundreds and hundreds that cross, returning home, are more curious to me than you suppose,
And you that shall cross from shore to shore years hence are more to me, and more in my meditations, than you might suppose.



2

The impalpable sustenance of me from all things at all hours of the day,
The simple, compact, well-join’d scheme, myself disintegrated, every one disintegrated yet part of the scheme,
The similitudes of the past and those of the future,
The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings, on the walk in the street and the passage over the river,
The current rushing so swiftly and swimming with me far away,
The others that are to follow me, the ties between me and them,
The certainty of others, the life, love, sight, hearing of others. 

Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore,
Others will watch the run of the flood-tide,
Others will see the shipping of Manhattan north and west, and the heights of Brooklyn to the south and east,
Others will see the islands large and small;
Fifty years hence, others will see them as they cross, the sun half an hour high,
A hundred years hence, or ever so many hundred years hence, others will see them,
Will enjoy the sunset, the pouring-in of the flood-tide, the falling-back to the sea of the ebb-tide.
 

3

It avails not, time nor place—distance avails not,
I am with you, you men and women of a generation, or ever so many generations hence,
Just as you feel when you look on the river and sky, so I felt,
Just as any of you is one of a living crowd, I was one of a crowd,
Just as you are refresh’d by the gladness of the river and the bright flow, I was refresh’d,
Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood yet was hurried,
Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d.

I too many and many a time cross’d the river of old,
Watched the Twelfth-month sea-gulls, saw them high in the air floating with motionless wings, oscillating their bodies,
Saw how the glistening yellow lit up parts of their bodies and left the rest in strong shadow,
Saw the slow-wheeling circles and the gradual edging toward the south,
Saw the reflection of the summer sky in the water,
Had my eyes dazzled by the shimmering track of beams . . .

Which of the following images serves as the closest metaphor for the speaker’s overall conception of time?

Possible Answers:

"Just as you look on the numberless masts of ships and the thick-stemm’d pipes of steamboats, I look’d."

"The glories strung like beads on my smallest sights and hearings."

"Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried."

"Others will enter the gates of the ferry and cross from shore to shore"

"Clouds of the west—sun there half an hour high."

Correct answer:

"Just as you stand and lean on the rail, yet hurry with the swift current, I stood, yet was hurried."

Explanation:

The speaker conceives of time in a way that seems contradictory; it is something that clearly exists but "avails not" (it moves on, but people can still be connected across it). The image of simultaneously standing and hurrying creates a similarly complex and paradoxical notion of time, allowing one to function in two different senses of time at once.

Example Question #375 : Sat Subject Test In Literature

Adapted from "Old Man Traveling" by William Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798 ed.)

          The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought—He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.
—I asked him whither he was bound, and what
The object of his journey; he replied
"Sir! I am going many miles to take
"A last leave of my son, a mariner,
"Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth,
And there is dying in an hospital."

The author begins the poem with, “The little hedge-row birds, / That peck along the road, regard him not.” This allows him to __________.

Possible Answers:

draw the reader's attention to the man in spite of the birds

draw the reader's attention to the man through the birds

draw the reader's attention to the birds as the poem's main subject

draw attention away from nature

highlight the man's inability to scare the birds

Correct answer:

draw the reader's attention to the man through the birds

Explanation:

The author wants the reader to focus in on the man as the subject of the poem but also wants to use the birds to focus the reader's attention, as they highlight an essential feature of the man, namely his ability to pass by without disturbing the birds. The author does not want to highlight the man's inability to scare the birds, as the man is not attempting to do so. The birds are essential to the introduction of the man, so nothing is done “in spite of” them.

Example Question #27 : Comparisons And Contrasts

Adapted from Life and Remains of John Clare "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet" by John Clare (1872, ed. J. L. Cherry)

I am! Yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise.
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem
And all that's dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.

Which of the following is true of the last line?

Possible Answers:

The author belittles the joy of sleeping outside

The author criticizes those who flock to cities

The author commits themselves to eternal solitude

The author bids us to question our treatment of the natural world

The author draws a parallel between a place of worship and the wilderness

Correct answer:

The author draws a parallel between a place of worship and the wilderness

Explanation:

The author states in the last line: “So let me lie, The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.” Here there is an obvious parallel drawn between the wilderness of “scenes where man has never trod” and the place of worship belonging to the place where the author may “abide with [his or her] Creator, God.” The “vaulted sky” is a reference to the “vaulted ceilings” often found in churches or other places of worship. The other answers are either not present in the last line or are incorrect in their wording: “The author belittles the joy of sleeping outside,” for instance, is completely contradictory of the last stanza.

Example Question #376 : Sat Subject Test In Literature

Adapted from Life and Remains of John Clare "The Northamptonshire Peasant Poet" by John Clare (1872, ed. J. L. Cherry)

I am! Yet what I am who cares, or knows?
My friends forsake me, like a memory lost.
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish, an oblivious host,
Shadows of life, whose very soul is lost.
And yet I am—I live—though I am toss'd

Into the nothingness of scorn and noise.
Into the living sea of waking dream,
Where there is neither sense of life, nor joys,
But the huge shipwreck of my own esteem
And all that's dear. Even those I loved the best
Are strange—nay, they are stranger than the rest.

I long for scenes where man has never trod—
For scenes where woman never smiled or wept—
There to abide with my Creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept,
Full of high thoughts, unborn. So let me lie,
The grass below; above, the vaulted sky.

The author begins the passage with the exclamation “I am” this allows him to _________.

Possible Answers:

turn the reader's attention to the reader's own being

lead in to a questioning of existence

question this statement and his or her own mentality

frame the poem in the first-person plural

show that he is conceited

Correct answer:

lead in to a questioning of existence

Explanation:

The first stanza rests on the first exclamation of “I am!” to the extent that it needs the assertion of being to question that being itself. We can tell that the exclamation leads into questioning as the next sentence is itself a question: “Yet what I am who cares, or knows?” We can also say it is a questioning of existence and not mentality as the stanza is questioning who the narrator is without his or her friends, confined with his or her woes.

Example Question #11 : Effect Of Specified Text

1 Suddenly I saw the cold and rook-delighting Heaven

2 That seemed as though ice burned and was but the more ice,

3 And thereupon imagination and heart were driven

4 So wild that every casual thought of that and this

5 Vanished, and left but memories, that should be out of season

6 With the hot blood of youth, of love crossed long ago;

7 And I took all the blame out of all sense and reason,

8 Until I cried and trembled and rocked to and fro,

9 Riddled with light. Ah! when the ghost begins to quicken,

10 Confusion of the death-bed over, is it sent

11 Out naked on the roads, as the books say, and stricken

12 By the injustice of the skies for punishment?

(1916)

If the speaker conveys that there is something good about the sky even though he finds it terrifying, what word or phrase most contributes to this?

Possible Answers:

"cold" (line 1)

"rook-delighting" (line 1)

"riddled with light" (line 9)

"memories" (line 5)

"ice burned" (line 2)

Correct answer:

"rook-delighting" (line 1)

Explanation:

In the first line of the poem, the descriptor "rook-delighting" conveys that the speaker recognizes something about the sky that is good rather than cold or harsh. A "rook" is a type of bird. The fact that the sky delights the rooks means that the sky is not cruel and cold to the rooks; it is their home, their habitat. This reveals, therefore, that even though the speaker finds the sky cold and harsh with respect to himself, he recognizes that there is something about it that could even "delight" a different kind of creature.

Passage adapted from William Butler Yeats' "The Cold Heaven" (1916)

Example Question #52 : Interpreting Excerpts

Adapted from "Old Man Traveling" by William Wordsworth in Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1798 ed.)

          The little hedge-row birds,
That peck along the road, regard him not.
He travels on, and in his face, his step,
His gait, is one expression; every limb,
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A man who does not move with pain, but moves
With thought—He is insensibly subdued
To settled quiet: he is one by whom
All effort seems forgotten, one to whom
Long patience has such mild composure given,
That patience now doth seem a thing, of which
He hath no need. He is by nature led
To peace so perfect, that the young behold
With envy, what the old man hardly feels.
—I asked him whither he was bound, and what
The object of his journey; he replied
"Sir! I am going many miles to take
"A last leave of my son, a mariner,
"Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth,
And there is dying in an hospital."

Which of the following can be inferred from the underlined text?

Possible Answers:

The man is monotonous

The man is duplicitous in his nature

The man is composed and focused

The man is omnipotent

The man is lost in thought and emotionally turbulent

Correct answer:

The man is composed and focused

Explanation:

We can rule out “duplicitous,” “monotonous," and “omnipotent,” as none of them suit the passage or the characterization of the man: “duplicitous” means that he is false in his actions as they do not match his words; “monotonous” would suggest he is droning or boring; and "omnipotent" suggests the man has great power like a god. We could say the man is lost in thought, as the latter line suggests he “moves with thought,” but this does not necessarily mean he is “lost” in thought; he could instead be focused on his movements. Furthermore, the answer choice "The man is lost in thought and emotionally turbulent" cannot be correct because the man seems to be at peace, not subject to strong emotions. Therefore, we can assume the man is composed in that he shows discipline in his “face, step and gait” in that they all bespeak one frame of mind or one “expression.”

Example Question #12 : Effect Of Specified Text

1 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days!
2 Come near me, while I sing the ancient ways:
3 Cuchulain battling with the bitter tide;
4 The Druid, grey, wood-nurtured, quiet-eyed,
5 Who cast round Fergus dreams, and ruin untold;
6 And thine own sadness, whereof stars, grown old
7 In dancing silver-sandalled on the sea,
8 Sing in their high and lonely melody.
9 Come near, that no more blinded by man's fate,
10 I find under the boughs of love and hate,
11 In all poor foolish things that live a day,
12 Eternal beauty wandering on her way.
 
13 Come near, come near, come near—Ah, leave me still
14 A little space for the rose-breath to fill!
15 Lest I no more hear common things that crave;
16 The weak worm hiding down in its small cave,
17 The field-mouse running by me in the grass,
18 And heavy mortal hopes that toil and pass;
19 But seek alone to hear the strange things said
20 By God to the bright hearts of those long dead,
21 And learn to chaunt a tongue men do not know.
22 Come near; I would, before my time to go,
23 Sing of old Eire and the ancient ways:
24 Red Rose, proud Rose, sad Rose of all my days.
 
(1893)

The descriptor "poor" in line 11 suggests that the "foolish things that live a day" ________________.

Possible Answers:

are to blame for their foolishness

have impoverished intellects

should be pitied

have little money

are pure of heart

Correct answer:

should be pitied

Explanation:

In line 11 the "foolish things that live a day" are also described as "poor." The descriptor "poor" suggests that it is to some extent not the fault of these "foolish" things that they are foolish and short-lived. "Poor" suggests that they simply do not have what it would take for them to be otherwise. Since this is the case, the descriptor "poor" suggests that these things deserve pity, even if they are not the lofty, eternal things the poet really desires to write about.

Passage adapted from "To the Rose Upon the Rood of Time" by William Butler Yeats (1893)

Example Question #13 : Effect Of Specified Text

To the Dead in the Grave-Yard Under My Window
by Adelaide Crapsey (1878 - 1915)

  1. How can you lie so still? All day I watch
  2. And never a blade of all the green sod moves
  3. To show where restlessly you toss and turn,
  4. And fling a desperate arm or draw up knees
  5. Stiffened and aching from their long disuse;
  6. I watch all night and not one ghost comes forth
  7. To take its freedom of the midnight hour.
  8. Oh, have you no rebellion in your bones?
  9. The very worms must scorn you where you lie,
  10. A pallid mouldering acquiescent folk,
  11. Meek habitants of unresented graves.
  12. Why are you there in your straight row on row
  13. Where I must ever see you from my bed
  14. That in your mere dumb presence iterate
  15. The text so weary in my ears: “Lie still
  16. And rest; be patient and lie still and rest.”
  17. I’ll not be patient! I will not lie still!

The word “Oh” (line 8) serves mainly to express __________________.

Possible Answers:

grief

rapture

awe

impatience

surprise

Correct answer:

impatience

Explanation:

Looking at the lines around line 8 (lines 6-10), we see that the speaker is exclaiming over the stillness and acquiescence of the dead. She says, "the very worms must scorn you..." and calls them "pallid mouldering...folk". Clearly the question in line 8 is intended not as a genuine request for information, but as an exclamation of impatience at the behavior (or lack of it) that she observes.

Example Question #14 : Effect Of Specified Text

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright, 

In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Could frame thy fearful symmetry? 

In what distant deeps or skies 
Burnt the fire of thine eyes? 
On what wings dare he aspire? 
What the hand dare seize the fire? 

And what shoulder, & what art, 
Could twist the sinews of thy heart? 
And when thy heart began to beat, 
What dread hand? & what dread feet? 

What the hammer? what the chain? 
In what furnace was thy brain? 
What the anvil? what dread grasp 
Dare its deadly terrors clasp? 

When the stars threw down their spears, 
And water'd heaven with their tears, 
Did he smile his work to see? 
Did he who made the Lamb make thee? 

Tyger! Tyger! burning bright 
In the forests of the night, 
What immortal hand or eye 
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

(1794)

Why does the author include hammers, chains, furnaces, and anvils in stanza 4?

Possible Answers:

They show man's humanity to contrast a beast's

They fit the intellectual tone of the poem

They express God's anger

He is showing how the Tyger devoured them

These are tools used to create objects

Correct answer:

These are tools used to create objects

Explanation:

Blake wonders about God's motivations in creating a terrible tiger and includes descriptions of these tools to emphasize how God might create it. The terror of these tools might reveal some information on how a terrible creature was formed.

Passage adapted from William Blake's "The Tyger" (1794)

Example Question #15 : Effect Of Specified Text

I wonder, by my troth, what thou and I 

Did, till we loved? Were we not weaned till then? 
But sucked on country pleasures, childishly? 
Or snorted we in the Seven Sleepers’ den
’Twas so; but this, all pleasures fancies be. 
If ever any beauty I did see, 
Which I desired, and got, ’twas but a dream of thee.  

And now good-morrow to our waking souls, 
Which watch not one another out of fear; 
For love, all love of other sights controls, 
And makes one little room an everywhere. 
Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone,
Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown, 
Let us possess one world, each hath one, and is one. 

My face in thine eye, thine in mine appears, 
And true plain hearts do in the faces rest; 
Where can we find two better hemispheres, 
Without sharp north, without declining west? 
Whatever dies, was not mixed equally; 
If our two loves be one, or, thou and I 
Love so alike, that none do slacken, none can die.

(1633)

The allusion to the “Seven Sleepers’ den” in line four serves to __________.

Possible Answers:

Emphasize the relationship between sleep and love

Establish the setting

Evoke religious connotations

Establish the author as a contemporary of the Brothers Grimm

None of these

Correct answer:

None of these

Explanation:

None of these goals is achieved by the allusion. In order to definitively choose one of the answers, the allusion would have to be direct and provable. Since none of these answers is accurate, there is no textual evidence to support this allusion.

Passage adapted from John Donne's "The Good Morrow" (1633).

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