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Questions tagged [meaning]

Questions regarding the meaning of certain terms or phrases used in a work of literature. If your question concerns the symbolic significance of something whose surface meaning is clear, use the [symbolism] tag instead. Please add specific tags as well: for the author (if known), the language (if not English), and either the work itself (if long) or the [poetry] or [short-stories] tags for short works.

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Can infantry be the same as marines in 1809?

In THE ROLL-CALL OF THE REEF, by Arthur Quiller-Couch, the speaker, a cavalryman, is talking to a little Marine: "'And that was very well done, drummer of the Marines. What's your name?' "'...
Ahmed Samir's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
72 views

Meaning of "This clown of a wife"

The poem The Clown's Wife, by John Agard, shows the personal life of a clown at home is far cry from his professional life on stage as "a crowd entertainer" Seeing his off stage miserable ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
30 views

Meaning of a a phrase, “Not a one of us will not spend an hour or so making merit in a temple before the day is out.”

I am reading, Vulture Peak by John Burdett and came across this sentence on the second page… when the author is introducing a crime scene… and wonder what this means…
K J P Singh's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
668 views

What does the expression "Mignon country" refer to in Elsschot's "Cheese"?

I'm reading Willem Elsschot's novel Cheese in a French translation by Xavier Hanotte. In chapter 3, I have found an expression that I believe it can be translated as "Mignon country" (...
Charo's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
127 views

How can a "straight" (virtuous) man engage in "blackbirding"?

In The Heathen, by Jack London, the narrator speaks of some Kanaka man, Otoo, whom he had met on a schooner: And this I know: I lived a straighter and better man because of Otoo. I cared little for ...
Ahmed Samir's user avatar
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3 votes
3 answers
286 views

Meaning of the last stanza of "Haunted Houses" by Longfellow?

In the poem "Haunted Houses" by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the last two stanzas read: And as the moon from some dark gate of cloud Throws o'er the sea a floating bridge of light, Across ...
Saiyyad Fahad's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
145 views

"Wear the broom and climb the hedgerows" in Housman's "A Shropshire Lad"

Here’s poem XXXIX from A. E. Housman’s A Shropshire Lad (1896): ’Tis time, I think, by Wenlock town     The golden broom should blow; The hawthorn sprinkled up and down     Should charge the land ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
364 views

Difficulty understanding the meaning of a line in Paradise Regained

I'm having trouble understanding the phrase "For no allurement yields to appetite" in the following passage from Milton's Paradise Regained: "By hunger, that each other creature tames, ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 163
7 votes
1 answer
108 views

What is mispronounced as "kitten-muncher"?

In Henry Dunbar: The Story of an Outcast by Mary Elizabeth Braddon, set around 1850 and published 1864, we have the following: The footman made no response to his parting civility, but stood watching ...
mikado's user avatar
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1 vote
1 answer
33 views

Meaning of "they were nearly overwhelmed by the concussive stimuli"

From The Gate (1910) by Natsume Sōseki, translated by William F. Sibley (2013): For the first two or three weeks after their arrival in Tokyo the days went by in a dizzying blur. Along with the ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
69 views

"The Book of Disquiet" passage: "when affection can no longer compensate for the indifference that was the dead man’s lot in life"

A passage by Fernando Pessoa from The Book of Disquiet, translated by Richard Zenith (2001): It sometimes occurs to me, with sad delight, that if one day (in a future to which I won’t belong) the ...
Vihaan Kaustuv's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
112 views

Meaning of "deep body" in this context?

I'm currently reading a book of D. H. Lawrence, "The Princess and other stories", and I encountered an adjective in "Sun" that I can't figure out entirely. I'm not a native English ...
user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
121 views

Who is the poet persona from the third stanza of "The terrorist he is watching"

Though looking simple with short dialogues, the poem The Terrorist He Is Watching written by the nobel laureate Wisława Szymborska is not well understood by many, including me. Who actually is (are?) ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
421 views

How does ignorance make a barren waste in "To the Nile" by John Keats?

The sonnet "To the Nile" (1818) by John Keats reads as follows: Son of the old Moon-mountains African!     Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile!     We call thee fruitful, and that very while ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
150 views

Sparrows in "The Bear" by Anton Chekhov

The following dialogue spoken by the character Smirnov in the farce "The Bear" by Anton Chekhov reads as follows: [taps his forehead] Excuse my outspokenness, a sparrow can give ten points ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
611 views

To understand "silver dew" in William Blake's "To the Evening Star"

I find the words "silver dew" occuring in the poem "To the Evening Star" by William Blake, over which I'm confused a little: Thou fair-haired angel of the evening, Now, whilst the ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
98 views

What does "no shadow of another parting" mean?

In the last paragraph of Great Expectations: I took [Estella's] hand in mine, and we went out of the ruined place; and, as the morning mists had risen long ago when I first left the forge, so the ...
Allure's user avatar
  • 555
3 votes
1 answer
71 views

Connotative meaning of poetic lines:- "And We went without meat and cursed the bread"

In the famous poem Richard Cory by E.A. Robinson, given below are the lines of my interest So on we worked, and waited for the LIGHT, And went without the MEAT, and cursed the BREAD capitalisation ...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does "as a person in Bath who drinks the water" mean?

In Jane Austen's Persuasion, slightly after Anne first arrives at Camden Place (where her father and sister have moved to), Lady Russell comes to pay a visit as well, where she has to deal with people ...
Mithical's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
872 views

Meaning of "too silver for a seam" in "A Bird, came down the Walk"

The following lines appear in the Emily Dickinson's poem " A Bird, came down the Walk": And rowed him softer Home— Than Oars divide the Ocean, Too silver for a seam. What does the phrase &...
Selfie- grofie's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
50 views

Meaning of "As much as they came to revel in their pathos..." in "The Gate" by Natsume Sōseki

From The Gate (1910) by Natsume Sōseki, translated by William F. Sibley (2013): In any case, the two of them had come this far without either sitting in a church pew or passing through a temple gate. ...
Viser Hashemi's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
1k views

What is a Pillycoddian gesture?

From "Jo's Boys," by Louisa May Alcott... 'A true woman, and a born sailor's wife! You are a happy man, Emil, and I'm sure this trip will be a prosperous one,' cried Mrs Jo, delighted with ...
nuggethead's user avatar
7 votes
1 answer
315 views

Meaning of "ushel" in Willa Cather's short story "The Sculptor's Funeral"

Near the beginning of "The Sculptor's Funeral," a character says, "Jim's ez full ez a tick, ez ushel.” Indeed, Jim does habitually drink to excess. Does "ushel" mean "...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
2k views

What are "the feelings of an Emma towards her Henry"?

In Jane Austen's Persuasion, when Louisa has her accident, and her friends and family are figuring out who's going to stay with her, we have this quote from Anne: She endeavoured to be composed, and ...
Mithical's user avatar
  • 25.1k
2 votes
1 answer
99 views

What does this line from Frank Herbert's Dune mean?

In the last chapter of Dune, there's this paragraph: As Stilgar turned to obey, Paul heard the awed muttering of Fremen guards: 'You see? He knew! No one told him, but he knew!' What are the guards ...
archthegreat's user avatar
8 votes
1 answer
2k views

What does "Oddbins" mean?

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: “What section are you in, Mostyn?” Smiley asked him. “Oddbins, sir.” He crouched, level to the table, displaying an Asian suppleness. “Since your day, actually, ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
3 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does "in her November of life" mean in "Persuasion"?

In Jane Austen's Persuasion, Anne Elliot happens to overhear a conversation between Captain Wentworth and Louisa Musgrove, where they are discussing "firmness of mind". Captain Wentworth ...
Mithical's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
85 views

What does "counteracting the sweets of poetical despondence" mean in "Persuasion"?

In Jane Austen's Persuasion, when Anne and company are walking over to Winthrop, we are given this description along the way: Winthrop, however, or its environs—for young men are sometimes to be met ...
Mithical's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
790 views

Meaning of "It is the ego, demanding its feed" in "Smiley's People"

From John Le Carré's Smiley's People: I need you, thought Smiley, watching him gyrate. I love you, I hate you, I need you. Such apocalyptic statements reminded him of Ann when she had run out of ...
Silent Sojourner's user avatar
2 votes
2 answers
476 views

Difficulty understanding the meaning of the word "attitude" in Keats's "Ode on a Grecian Urn"

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede Of marble men and maidens overwrought I am having trouble understanding Keats's use of the word "attitude" in these lines, and the explanation given ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 163
5 votes
1 answer
43 views

Meaning of speech in Synge's "Deirdre of the Sorrows"

Near the beginning of J. M. Synge's play Deirdre of the Sorrows, Deirdre's nurse Lavarcham says: Who’d check her like was meant to have her pleasure only, the way if there were no warnings told about ...
Richard Hevener's user avatar
1 vote
1 answer
79 views

Meaning of description of Jim waking in "The Gift of the Magi"

What is the meaning of these lines from O. Henry's "The Gift of the Magi"? Out of his trance Jim seemed quickly to wake. He enfolded his Della. For ten seconds let us regard with discreet ...
Shaurya Kaushal's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
451 views

Are there crossword puzzle clues in Roy Fuller's "News of the World"?

I've been reading some of Roy Fuller's poetry, and was very puzzled by his "News of the World": The seaweed-eating sheep of Ronaldsay; Don Giovanni set for wind octet; New Zealand hedgehogs ...
Barnaby's user avatar
  • 953
2 votes
1 answer
95 views

What does "the heathen" have to do with "horseback riding" here?

In I Am Homeless if This Is Not My Home by Lorrie Moore, Eliz narrates a conversation between her and Jack: “God has gone horseback riding,” I say, “and we are left behind to tend to one another.” “...
Seulgi So's user avatar
  • 359
7 votes
1 answer
533 views

Trouble understanding two lines from John Donne's poem "The Good Morrow"

I cannot work out how to parse these two lines from "The Good-Morrow": Let sea-discoverers to new worlds have gone, Let maps to other, worlds on worlds have shown Here's the whole stanza, ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 163
9 votes
1 answer
812 views

What is a "sixpenny hop" in D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers"?

From chapter XII of Sons and Lovers: There was a long pause. Mrs. Radford readjusted the bacon in the Dutch oven. His heart beat fast, for fear he had offended her. “Me!” she exclaimed at last. “No, ...
Ethan's user avatar
  • 909
4 votes
1 answer
117 views

What is the "tin box" in D. H. Lawrence's "Sons and Lovers"?

In chapter VII of Sons and Lovers, the Morel family are about to go on holiday, and a tin box is mentioned: He [Paul Morel] was master of the party; his father was no good. And great tortures he ...
Ethan's user avatar
  • 909
8 votes
1 answer
510 views

Meaning of a passage in Milton's Sonnet 21

I'm reading Milton's Sonnet 21 and a couple of lines are unintelligible to me. Here is the full poem. The emboldened lines 5 and 6 are the ones I'm having trouble with: Cyriack, whose Grandsire on ...
Thomas's user avatar
  • 81
3 votes
1 answer
229 views

In Lord Byron's "Don Juan," what was the lead character "half-smother'd" by?

This would be the character's first adventure. Julia, a married woman, became his mistress. Her husband, Don Alfonso, was told that she was cheating on him and ran into the bedroom, accompanied by ...
Ricky's user avatar
  • 181
5 votes
2 answers
856 views

Francis Bacon's "The Advancement of Learning"

I'm trying to get a handle on a metaphor used by Francis Bacon in The Advancement of Learning, when expounding on the usefulness of Alchemy as a study. He writes: And yet surely to alchemy this right ...
user avatar
7 votes
0 answers
144 views

Meaning of "Ephete" in Seamus Heaney's "The Stations of the West"

So far, the only definition I've managed to get is "a member of an ancient Athenian court that tried certain murder cases" (Merriam-Webster), but since the poem is about traveling to the ...
user avatar
1 vote
0 answers
75 views

In An Inspector Calls, is there any deeper meaning attached to the name Birling?

Several of the characters in J. B. Priestley's play An Inspector Calls have names of symbolic significance. Most notably, Inspector Goole plays on his potential supernatural aspects: "spectre&...
Matt Thrower's user avatar
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10 votes
2 answers
213 views

Why is Gatsby's house described as "ancestral"?

In chapter 8 of The Great Gatsby, Nick says: His gorgeous pink rag of a suit made a bright spot of color against the white steps, and I thought of the night when I first came to his ancestral home, ...
CDR's user avatar
  • 3,228
2 votes
1 answer
59 views

What does "the last act of baseness- the tasting of joys that were wrung from crushed hearts" mean?

From The Mill on the Floss: Day break came and the reddening eastern light, while her past life was grasping her in this way, with that tightening clutch which comes in the last moments of possible ...
MT MTESK's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
98 views

Meaning of "Fifth Form at St Dominic's"

In James Hilton's Lost Horizon (1933), Rutherford says: I don't care much for Wyland. I can't stand his type—all that primness and mountainous self-importance. And the complete head-prefectorial mind—...
Olohigbe's user avatar
2 votes
1 answer
67 views

Meaning of "makes the margin of our deeper rest" in "The Mill on the Floss"?

From chapter XIV of The Mill on the Floss by George Eliot: When Maggie was gone to sleep, Stephen, weary too with his unaccustomed amount of rowing, and with the intense inward life of the last ...
MT MTESK's user avatar
7 votes
2 answers
2k views

What does it mean for a "bad eye" to "touch" something?

The poem Dance in Heytkah reads as follows, 12th September - Kurban Eid I saw the dance of Sama In the modern world Magic mirror on the wall My beloved hometown Kashgar From ancient history fill ...
EJoshuaS - Stand with Ukraine's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
2k views

What do "fünf Tage Dicken" and "fünf Tage Kahn" mean in All Quiet on the Western Front?

In Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front), Remarque uses the phrases "fünf Tage Dicken" and "fünf Tage Kahn." Can anyone explain those phrases?
Maria Tatar's user avatar
6 votes
1 answer
975 views

What does "well may" mean in "Bleak House" by Charles Dickens?

Well may the court be dim, with wasting candles here and there; well may the fog hang heavy in it, as if it would never get out; well may the stained-glass windows lose their colour and admit no light ...
user20437's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
36 views

How to parse "the release of the want of the want of release"?

In Justin Torres' Blackouts, which won the 2023 National Book Award for Fiction, the central character, Juan Gay, twice refers to "the release of the want of the want of release." In the ...
verbose's user avatar
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