SAT II Literature : Other Questions About Language: Poetry

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for SAT II Literature

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Example Questions

Example Question #1 : Other Questions About Language: Poetry

This is the forest primeval. The murmuring pines and the hemlocks,

  Bearded with moss, and in garments green, indistinct in the twilight,

  Stand like Druids of eld, with voices sad and prophetic,

  Stand like harpers hoar, with beards that rest on their bosoms.

  Loud from its rocky caverns, the deep-voiced neighboring ocean

  Speaks, and in accents disconsolate answers the wail of the forest.


What word could be substituted for “primeval” without disrupting the meaning of line 1?

Possible Answers:






Correct answer:



Based on the references to “bearded” trees, “Druids of eld,” and “harpers hoar,” we can infer that the author is trying to convey the impression of great age. While “prophetic” appears elsewhere in the poem, it’s not the best substitute for “primeval.” Intimidating, primitive, and superstitious don’t have any contextual support.

Passage adapted from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Evangeline.” (1847)

Example Question #1 : Other Questions About Language: Poetry

1. Better to see your cheek grown hollow,
2. Better to see your temple worn,
3. Than to forget to follow, follow,
4. After the sound of a silver horn.

5. Better to bind your brow with willow
6. And follow, follow until you die,
7. Than to sleep with your head on a golden pillow,
8. Nor lift it up when the hunt goes by.

9. Better to see your cheek grow sallow
10. And your hair grown gray, so soon, so soon,
11. Than to forget to hallo, hallo,
12. After the milk-white hounds of the moon.

Repetition in the poem achieves all of the following EXCEPT _____________.

I   It emphasizes the poem’s main theme
II  It creates a mood of urgency
III It expresses the narrator’s anger at the person addressed

Possible Answers:

II only

I only

III only

I and II

I and III

Correct answer:

III only


Here we’re looking for the one answer that is NOT correct. The poet does not express anger toward the reader.

The repetition creates an urgent, galloping rhythm that suggests the surging “hunt”. It also emphasizes the poem’s theme: the value of living life energetically, no matter the cost (“follow, follow . . .”.)

Passage adapted from Eleanor Wylie's "A Madman's Song" (1921)

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