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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93 views

What does “a star” symbolize here?

Each morning gives thee wings to flee from hell, Each night a star to guide thy feet to heaven. This verse has been taken from the poem "Opportunity" by Walter Malone. What does "a ...
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“You have to take pains so the goods won't go off” from The Witcher

I am reading The Witcher - The Tower of Swallow in English and I would like to know what the following phrase means: He ordered the people who had gathered to bring him a sack of salt and a keg of ...
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What is the meaning of “the drumstick” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the 20th century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across this peculiar use of the word “drumstick”: ...
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1answer
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How was the free-born Englishman prevented from taking his ease in his inn in 1922?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Blick, a detective who had booked rooms at "Sceptre Inn", which belonged to Grimsdale, was cheerful after reaching an important conclusion....
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1answer
55 views

What is the meaning of the sentence “You are--aren't you?” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
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What is the meaning of “your first interest” in this novel by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
30 views

Meaning of “Low down on the sky was a narrow band of apricot, all that was left of the daylight.”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner The hostess at the open door showed her teeth. Vicki came out into the world. She saw the man beside Elizabeth and slowed down. That couldn’t ...
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What is the meaning of “the least bit” in these affirmative clauses by John Galsworthy?

I'm translating a novel by John Galsworthy, A Stoic, written at the beginning of the XX century (full text on Project Gutenberg), and I've come across a sentence I’m finding quite tricky to understand:...
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1answer
59 views

Can “access and excess” be antonyms in this context?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, Blick, a detective-sergeant, was thinking about the way by which someone had entered and left Markenmore district. Firstly he studied the railways ...
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What is the figure of speech used in this part of “Cataract Operation”?

What is the figure of speech used in these lines taken from the Simon Armitage poem "Cataract Operation"? the olé of a crimson towel. the cancan of a ra ra skirt, the monkey business of a ...
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Meaning of “he’d go down between sets and find her”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner They stopped at the gate lounge. The door opened. ‘Here she comes,’ said Elizabeth. ‘Which one is she?’ said Dexter. The man walking behind ...
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What does “the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and definitiveness of syllogisms carved in porphyry” mean?

This is a paragraph in Huxley's novel Ape and Essence, talking about a painting by Piero Della Francesca: For all their silken softness, the folds of every garment would have the inevitability and ...
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What does “mirror in my bathroom” mean?

In the following passage from Lonely Man Full of Love by Mauro Mevlud Martino, what does "mirror in my bathroom" mean? A: ‘’Are you quieter and lonelier than me, Rachel?’’ B: ‘’Perhaps, ...
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In what way can a utility coat be a mockery in a Ted Hughes' “Crow” poem?

In Ted Hughes' Examination at the Womb-door (of the Crow collection), Crow's organs are listed with certain kinds of descriptions (bold is mine): Examination at the Womb-door Who owns these scrawny ...
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1answer
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What does “Might be a good deal in that” mean in “The Markenmore Mystery”?

In The Markenmore Mystery (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the chief constable was talking to two lawyers about a stranger man who had gone to "Sceptre Inn" and booked a room there, but he never ...
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What is the meaning of these lines about love from “Desiderata”?

What is the message being delivered through these lines in "Desiderata" by the poet Max Ehrmann? Especially do not feign affection Neither be cynical about love; for in the face of all aridity ...
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What does “His business here that night might have been just as much with those two men as with his brother and sister” mean here?

In "The Markenmore Mystery" (1922) by J. S. Fletcher, the chief constable was talking to two lawyers about Guy Markenmore who had been murdered two days ago after his meeting with two men at ...
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What does Neruda mean when he says ‘Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray.’?

I’ve been a fan of Neruda for a while now. In his Sonnet LXVI: I Do Not Love You Except Because I Love You, he says: Maybe January light will consume My heart with its cruel Ray, stealing my ...
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Which of these sources is right about “The Tempest”?

This is part of a quote by Ferdinand in the beginning of scene 1 of act 3 of "The Tempest": But these sweet thoughts do even refresh my labours, Most busy, least when I do it. According to ...
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Meaning of “So can you name your demon? Understanding its scheming”

Poets of the Fall have this wonderful song named “Illusion and dreams” and in the last verse they sing So can you name your demon? Understanding its scheming I raise my glass and say “Here’s to you” ...
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Meaning of “the kind of woman who’d throw round terms like the orthodox feminist position. ”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Doctor Fox looked at Elizabeth as he chewed, and nodded and smiled. She must be nearly forty now, like Dex. Thank God they were never foolish ...
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What did Melville mean by the “Pythagorean Maxim” in “Moby Dick”?

From Herman Melville's Moby Dick. For as in this world, head winds are far more prevalent than winds from astern (that is, if you never violate the Pythagorean maxim), so for the most part the ...
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Understanding two lines from “The Wound-Dresser” by Walt Whitman

Among the hospital poems, "The Wound-Dresser" by Walt Whitman is one of the best and finest. I wonder if anybody here can help me to understand two lines of this piece. But in silence, in dreams’ ...
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What does “vamos the ranch” mean in this Mark Twain short story?

What does this sentence from "Double Barrelled Detective Story" by Mark Twain mean? "If I was running this shop I'd make him say something, some time or other, or vamos the ranch."...
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What is the “Isle of the Blessed” and why should a girl see it before marriage?

In Chapter 3 of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, which I've recently started reading online, Effi and her mother are spending some days in Berlin before her marriage, accompanied by her cousin ...
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1answer
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What is this passage saying about Precentor Jahnke?

In Chapter 1 of Theodor Fontane's novel Effi Briest, which I've just started reading online, two friends of Effi are introduced as follows: Two of the young girls, plump little creatures, whose ...
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What is the meaning of the Gaelic lines in the song “Tír na nÓg”?

The song "Tír na nÓg", like many of the Celtic Woman songs, is partly in English and partly in Irish Gaelic. Unlike many of those Celtic Woman songs, this one doesn't seem to be based on a ...
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What does “branch of Ares” mean in book II of “The Iliad”?

I have been reading the Iliad in the Penguin Classics edition (translated by Emile Victor Rieu and Martin Hammond), and in the second book, when Homer is naming the groups of Achaeans and Trojans, the ...
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Meaning of “dawning way” and the use of “altogether” in the context below

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Philip did not turn up with the car. This did not surprise Elizabeth. She took the bus to the airport. Vicki’s plane was late. Elizabeth ...
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Clarifying a line from “The Shadow Over Innsmouth”

I’m having a lot of trouble comprehending one particular line from The Shadow Over Innsmouth: But at last I am going to defy the ban on speech about this thing. Results, I am certain, are so thorough ...
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What is meant by “strength” in Anathema's “One Last Goodbye”?

The second stanza of Anathema's "One Last Goodbye" goes as follows: I know you didn't want to leave Your heart yearned to stay But the strength I always loved in you Finally gave way ...
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What does “hawk” mean in the context below?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner Over the back fence, nearer the creek, lived an old couple whom Dexter and Athena had never seen but whom they referred to as Mister and ...
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Meaning of “shade perturbed” in “Thank You, Jeeves” by P. G. Wodehouse?

I’m a big fan of P.G. Wodehouse, his novels have a very different way of humoring the readers and the narrative style is almost awesome. But his vocabulary and especially the conversational part of ...
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Explanation of a line from the poem “I do not love you ” by Pablo Neruda

I loved her like certain dark things are to be loved, in between shadow and soul. Can someone explain this? What dark things are being talked about? Full text in Spanish and English Alternate ...
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What does “Let nothing unite us, so that nothing can separate us” mean?

Let nothing unite us, so that nothing can separate us. This quote is from the second stanza of the poem "Farewell" (English translation) — the original Spanish text is Para que nada nos amarre que ...
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1answer
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Meaning of “Like half the rest of the world, if more than half there be that are clever and good, Marianne … was neither reasonable nor candid.”

This passage is from Chapter 31 of Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility, where Elinor contemplates the deficiency of sense and sensibility in Marianne, made evident by Elinor had not needed this to be ...
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What does “card” in the title “Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie” mean?

Robert Greene's novel Gwydonius; The Card of Fancie was first published in 1584. The novel's main character, Gwydonius, is the only son of the the duke of Mettelyne (presumably Mytilene). He travels ...
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Meaning of “he used it to knit meaning into the mess of everything”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by by Helen Garner Had Dexter and Elizabeth thought of each other during this time? Of course they had, Dexter more than Elizabeth, not because of any ...
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What is meant by “present tense whatever” here, exactly?

This is excerpted from the forewords of the English translation by John E. Woods of The Magic Mountain (Der Zauberberg in German) by Thomas Mann: It takes place, or, to avoid any present tense ...
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What does “rushy bed” mean in this context?

The poem 'The Song of the Reed' by Rumi includes the lines: Hearken to this Reed forlorn, Breathing, even since 'twas torn From its rushy bed, a strain Of impassioned love and pain. (From ...
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What is a “three-part moon”?

This is from Book 2, Chapter 23 of Salamandastron. Samkin, Arula, and Spriggat are sneaking at night into a vermin camp, planning to steal back the sword of Martin the Warrior. Under a burgeoning ...
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1answer
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What do “Háni" and “Sons éso tse-ná” mean in Brave New World?

What do “Háni" and “Sons éso tse-ná” mean in Brave New World? I know they sound unreal, but I was curious if there is an actual meaning behind these two phrases.
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Is “I'm glad you think it's funny” meant sarcastically or literally?

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner. At night, when they had put the children to bed, Athena and Dexter walked. They were ruthless about going, and would barely even check that ...
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1answer
131 views

A confusing conversation between Anne and Mrs. Smith

I am not able to comprehend this paragraph. But Mr. Elliot was not done with. Mrs. Smith had been carried away from her first direction, and Anne had forgotten, in the interest of her own family ...
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Meaning of “And do not drop in for an after-loss” in Shakespeare's sonnet 90

Sonnet 90 by Shakespeare: Then hate me when thou wilt; if ever, now; Now, while the world is bent my deeds to cross, Join with the spite of fortune, make me bow, And do not drop in for an ...
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Meaning of “to conduct the ordinary business of their lives”

This passage is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner How strange it is that in a city the size of Melbourne it is possible for two people who have lived almost as sister and brother for five ...
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1answer
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Where does Tomyris promise to retreat?

I'm trying to understand this passage in Herodotus's Histories (Book 1 chapter 208): So these opinions contended; and Cyrus set aside his former plan and chose that of Croesus; wherefore he bade ...
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1answer
131 views

Equestrian statues and wooden logs, what's the connection?

Here's a quote from Tomas de Quincey's "Confessions of an English Opium-Eater": Turkish opium-eaters, it seems, are absurd enough to sit, like so many equestrian statues, on logs of wood as stupid ...
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287 views

What are nuts and super-nuts in Saki's “Beasts and Super-Beasts”?

In Saki's Beasts and Super-Beasts (http://www.gutenberg.org/files/269/269-h/269-h.htm) he refers to "Nuts" and "Super-Nuts". For example, we have “You are not going to be what ...
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In “Passing by” by Robert Herrick, how does Cupid “range her country” and change the narrator's heart?

I'm looking for an explanation of the first two lines of the third verse (see below) of the poem "Passing by" by Robert Herrick. I assume that "Cupid is winged" means that Cupid ...

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