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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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"Her voice just one half-note too high" in H. G. Wells' "The Cone"

From 'The Cone' by H. G. Wells: There was another pause. Did the man mean to take the thing coolly? Did he after all know? How long had he been in the room? Yet even at the moment when they heard the ...
user58207's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
870 views

"Four or six times", where is five?

This question arose from the reading of (a spanish edition) of The First Voyage around the World (1519-1522): An Account of Magellan's Expedition by Pigafetta, where at some point he writes "they ...
augustoperez's user avatar
11 votes
1 answer
942 views

"A set of Guatemalas" in Forster's Maurice?

What does Forster mean by a "set of Guatemalas"? (From Chapter 1 of Maurice.) "Well, Hall, expecting a pi-jaw, eh?" "I don't know, sir—Mr Abrahams' given me one with 'Those ...
oaklight37's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
194 views

What does "Nor our strong sorrow, upon the foot of motion" mean?

After the murder of Duncan in Macbeth, his two sons, Malcolm and Donalbain, have this discussion after being informed of the murder of their father: Malcolm [Aside to Donalbain] Why do we hold our ...
Mithical's user avatar
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5 votes
1 answer
141 views

Meaning of "S. Epiph. her. 78" in the Douay-Rheims Bible (1635)

I’m currently trying to transcribe some notes from the 1635 Douay-Rheims Bible. I have a printed Facsimile I am working with at home, so far I have been able to understand most of the footnotes ...
awholegnuworld's user avatar
3 votes
0 answers
21 views

Understanding a sentence in The Church of Dead Girls

The following is from Stephen Dobyns' The Church of Dead Girls: In any text there is both overt and covert material that accesses different cognitive levels within a reader. That is one of those ...
verbose's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
56 views

“It’s fast holding by the rings in front” in Browning’s ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’

In ‘Fra Lippo Lippi’ (1855) by Robert Browning, the speaker, the painter Filippo Lippi, says: I’m grown a man no doubt, I’ve broken bounds: You should not take a fellow eight years old And make him ...
Gareth Rees's user avatar
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6 votes
2 answers
838 views

What does "..and make joyful the hearing of my wife with your approach" mean?

In Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 4, Duncan, the king, announces that Malcolm will be the Prince of Cumberland (and not Macbeth). Macbeth says that he'll go forward as a harbinger: Duncan [...] We will ...
Mithical's user avatar
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12 votes
2 answers
3k views

What does "I'll do, I'll do, and I'll do" mean?

In Macbeth, while the witches are having their little meeting before going to meet Macbeth and tell him that he's going to be king, one of the witches details her plan of revenge against a greedy &...
Mithical's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
139 views

"Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!" in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning of the following passage from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here): "Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man! Turn them aside, wretch! or the ...
balteo's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
161 views

"Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine." in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning of a verse from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here): [...] Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed, And every soul from human trammels freed, No more so ...
balteo's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
769 views

What does "master o' the Tiger" mean?

In Macbeth, before the witches go to speak to Macbeth, they have a little meeting where they discuss what they've been up to. That includes this bit about a greedy sailor's wife who won't share her ...
Mithical's user avatar
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3 votes
1 answer
53 views

"Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see" in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning to the following excerpt from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here): "Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee! ...
balteo's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
70 views

"His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,..." in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning to the following excerpt from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here): Thoughtless at first, but ere eve's star appeared His phantasy was lost, where reason fades, ...
balteo's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
173 views

"More beautiful than ever twisted braid..." in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning to the following couplets from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here): Ah, happy Lycius!—for she was a maid More beautiful than ever twisted braid, Or sigh'd, or ...
balteo's user avatar
  • 1,003
7 votes
1 answer
261 views

"Though Fancy's casket were unlock'd to choose" in John Keats's "Lamia"

I am trying to understand the meaning to the following excerpt from John Keats's Lamia (full poem here), and especially the fourth line below: Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont, And in ...
balteo's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
93 views

What's the meaning of this sentence from "L'enfant noir" by Camera Laye?

I'm reading Camara Laye's novel L'enfant noir, translated in English as The African Child or The Dark Child. At the end of chapter 5, one can read: Mais le monde bouge, le monde change, et le mien ...
Charo's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
4k views

What is meant by "I was blue ribbon" and "I broke my blue ribbon"?

In The Adventure of the Cardboard Box (a Sherlock Holmes short story): "'I was blue ribbon at that time, and we were putting a little money by, and all was as bright as a new dollar. My God, ...
Allure's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
728 views

What does Athena mean in this passage of book 3 of the Odyssey?

In book 3 of The Odyssey, Athena says this to Telemachus after he says that he will never gain her favor (in Robert Fagles' translation): “Telemachus!” Pallas Athena broke in sharply, her eyes afire— ...
Vihaan Kaustuv's user avatar
3 votes
1 answer
294 views

What does Athena mean by 'slaughtering his droves of sheep and cattle'?

In book 1 of The Odyssey, Athena says to Zeus (in Robert Fagles' translation): While I myself go down to Ithaca, rouse his son to a braver pitch, inspire his heart with courage to summon the flowing-...
Vihaan Kaustuv's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
576 views

What does Athena mean by "suave, seductive words" in the Odyssey?

In book 1 of The Odyssey, Athena says to Zeus (in Robert Fagles' translation): "Atlas’ daughter it is who holds Odysseus captive, luckless man—despite his tears, forever trying to spellbind his ...
Vihaan Kaustuv's user avatar
4 votes
2 answers
105 views

What are the satellites in R. S. Thomas's poem "Here"?

R. S. Thomas (1913–2000) was a Welsh poet and priest. His poem "Here" appears to express feelings of guilt and doubt. The penultimate stanza goes as follows: I have no where to go The swift ...
Tsundoku's user avatar
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6 votes
1 answer
778 views

What does 'bean honey' refer to, in Dorothy L. Sayers' 1928 story

In Dorothy L. Sayers' story, The Bibulous Business of a Matter of Taste we find this phrase: "‘No?’ said Bredon. His voice was like bean-honey now, sweet and harsh together." This story ...
Barnaby's user avatar
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7 votes
2 answers
3k views

In "Romeo and Juliet", why is Juliet the "sun"?

From William Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Act II, Scene II: Romeo But soft, what light through yonder window breaks? It is the east, and Juliet is the sun! Why does Romeo say that "Juliet is ...
user66697's user avatar
  • 186
10 votes
1 answer
1k views

What does "crammle aboon the grees" mean?

At some point in Bram Stoker's Dracula, Mina - Jonathan Harker's fiancée/wife - encounters an old man, and strikes up a conversation. The old man is depicted as speaking a rustic dialect, with that ...
Mithical's user avatar
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4 votes
2 answers
135 views

Which saying or proverb is Stendhal referring to in this passage from "Le rouge et le noir"?

The following passage from chapter XVI of Book I of the novel Le rouge et le noir (The Red and the Black) by Stendhal refers to "un dicton de province", that is, at some kind of saying or ...
Charo's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
88 views

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
89 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
36 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
680 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
141 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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4 votes
3 answers
644 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
158 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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6 votes
1 answer
373 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
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7 votes
1 answer
112 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
79 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
113 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
162 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
436 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
154 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
633 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
135 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
  • 647
3 votes
1 answer
77 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
925 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
2 votes
1 answer
54 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
319 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
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