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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32 views

What do these lines mean in Ivor Gurney's “Laventie”?

Could you please help me understand the meaning of a poem by Ivor Gurney, an Englishman who fought in the First World War. From his "Laventie": Of Maconachie, Paxton, Tickler, and ...
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Translating into English two French phrases from “After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie”

I am trying to understand, in English, two French phrases from the Jean Rhys book After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie. I am reading this novel within the Jean Rhys: The Complete Novels. The quote below is ...
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What is a “kick of the heels”?

This is from the beginning of the third chapter of After Leaving Mr. Mackenzie by Jean Rhys. THE NAME of the dark young man was George Horsfield. Half an hour afterwards he came out of the Restaurant ...
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What does Smash Mouth mean when he writes “fed to the rules” in All-Star?

So the first two lines of the pre-chorus of All-Star by Smash Mouth the song goes: Well, the years start coming and they don't stop coming Fed to the rules and I hit the ground running What does ...
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What does the sentence “We call people things” mean?

I am to translate an extract from John M. Ford's novel The Last Hot Time. It begins with this passage: "Her name is Norma Jean?" "Around here," the small man said, "names are ...
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Meaning of “They wanted to know each other less than they wanted to agree. Harmony! To be each other”

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner. In the street there was a dusty summer wind, a morning not quite hot enough. If they walked shoulder to shoulder, if they sat side by side, it ...
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What does “the one man on earth to her” in “In the Midst of the Alarms”?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates went to propose a girl who wasn't in love with him, but he thought she loved him. He went to her home's garden in the darkness to talk to her: “...
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Meaning of “she felt him give” in “The Children's Bach” by Helen Garner

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner. He would have liked to move around her house and examine all its icons, or to hang over the front windowsill with her and make remarks about the ...
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The first line of “God's Grandeur”

The first line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet "God's Grandeur" is: The world is charged with the grandeur of god. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was ...
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What does “if the court knows herself” mean?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates was camping with his unkind friend in Canada, when the police issued a warrant against Yates. “Stilly,” cried the reporter cheerily, “there’s a ...
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What does “withal” mean in a line in Romeo and Juliet?

In Act 3, scene 1 of Romeo and Juliet, Mercutio speaks the following words: Good King of Cats, nothing but one of your nine lives, that I mean to make bold withal, and, as you shall use me hereafter, ...
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What would it mean for a 19th-century German soldier to “wear the cross”?

In the first chapter of Theodor Fontane's Effi Briest, which I've started reading online, we are introduced to the character of Baron Geert von Innstetten as follows (emphasis mine): "Yes, ...
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What is the “color of boom”?

In Imagine Dragon's song Polaroid, there's a certain line that gets repeated throughout the song: I am the color of boom What is the meaning of this line? Does it mean like an explosion of color, or ...
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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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Meaning of “Air rushed over the ground like a flood of water at blood temperature”

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner She made him, and dragged him away across the grass. They turned a corner, rounded a thick hedge, and the wind hit them. He stopped struggling. ...
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Meaning of “He went ‘Eeeeee!’ high up in his skull”

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner: Billy drew a breath and started to scream in short, sharp cries. He flung himself back on Dexter’s lap; he clapped his left hand over his ear, ...
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What is the “manhood of a Roman recovery” in John Milton's Areopagitica?

This sentence appears in Milton's "Areopagitica": To which if I now manifest by the very sound of this which I shall utter, that we are already in good part arrived, and yet from such a ...
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Meaning of “daring it to tackle her. It paid her no attention”

This text is from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner They laughed. Vicki watched them closely, ready to be included in their amusement, to roll her shoulders in scepticism as they did, but they ...
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“Cease, cows, life is short” - what does it mean?

"Cease, cows, life is short" is a quote from One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez. It is a phrase that Aureliano Segundo says in Chapter 17, and is later written on his ...
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Meaning of “seldom anything but”

These old folks, you must know, were quite poor, and had to work pretty hard for a living. Old Philemon toiled diligently in his garden, while Baucis was always busy with her distaff, or making a ...
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What does “draw on” mean in "In the Midst of Alarms?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates, who was a reporter for Argus newspaper in US and was camping in Canada, was negotiating with a telegraph boy who demanded one ...
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Meaning of “Where the return stands by disdain” in a poem by Thomas Wyatt

From "Who list his wealth and ease retain", by Thomas Wyatt: Who list his wealth and ease retain, Himself let him unknown contain. Press not too fast in at that gate Where the return stands ...
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Iron bars and iron fence - literal or metaphorical?

This passage from The Children's Bach by Helen Garner: ‘At night, because of the noise of people laughing, they turned up the treble on the jukebox. But in the early mornings, in the peaceful shift ...
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What is the meaning of “broads” in Hemingway's short story Fifty Grand?

What is the meaning of "broads" in Hemingway's short story Fifty Grand? Here's the context: The three of us, Jack Brennan, Soldier Bartlett, and I were in Hanley’s. There were a couple of ...
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What’s the meaning of these lines spoken by Bluntschli?

In Act III of G. B. Shaw's play Arms and the Man everyone gets to know each other’s doings. Louka got engaged to Sergius, and Catherine agreed with Bluntschli’s and Raina’s relationship. But then ...
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Meaning of “a very splendid specimen of the wife of a mountain farmer”

George Bernard Shaw, in Act I of his play Arms and the Man, gives this introduction of Catherine: Catherine Petkoff, a woman over forty, imperiously energetic with magnificent black hair and eyes, ...
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What does “who allows his honesty the benefit of the doubt” mean?

I was reading A.G. Gardiner’s On Umbrella Morals and in the second paragraph occurs these lines In fact he is a thoroughly honest man who allows his honesty the benefit of the doubt. I want an ...
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Who is “close bosom-friend of the maturing sun”?

John Keats, in his ode "To Autumn", writes Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun. Who is the close bosom-friend of the maturing sun?
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Comprehending “how but in custom and ceremony are innocence and beauty born”

“A Prayer for My Daughter” is a poem written by W.B. Yeats on the birth of his daughter. One of the themes of the poem is contrasting the future he desires for his daughter with the life of Maud Gonne,...
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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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Meaning of some phrases in The Grapes of Wrath

I've started reading The Grapes of Wrath and I've run into some old-time phrases that I'm not sure of the meaning. I suppose these must date from the 1920s-1940s. My dogs was pooped out. From ...
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What does “A stone will not need you to guess if, / You’re still going to drown.” mean?

The song “Illusion and Dreams” (lyrics), by Poets of the Fall, has these lines: A stone will not need you to guess if, You’re still going to drown. What is the meaning of the above lines in the ...
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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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What is the meaning of these opening lines of Poets of the Fall’s song “Moonlight Kissed”?

Poets of the Fall released their charismatic song “Moonlight Kissed” on 22nd September 2017 along with a video. The voice of Marko was angelic and the lyrics surpassed every lyrics of lyricists. ...
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What does “inward eye” mean?

William Wordsworth’s poem "The Daffodils" contains the following lines: For oft, when on my couch I lie, In vacant or in pensive mood, They flash upon that inward eye which is bliss of ...
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Meaning and source of this quote by Ezra Pound

I was reading a book and there appears something like this A reader or auditor is at liberty to remain passive. — Ezra Pound I want to understand the full meaning of this quote and want to know its ...
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Meaning of “apparel oft proclaims the man” in Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”?

Here is a speech of Polonius from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, act 1, scene 3: Give every man thine ear; but very few thy voice: Take each man’s censure: but reserve thy judgement: Costly thy habits as thy ...
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What does “Honor the Light Brigade” mean?

Alfred Lord Tennyson’s poem “The Charge of the Light Brigade”'s last stanza is When can their glory fade? Oh, the wild charge they made! All the world wondered. Honor the charge they made! Honor the ...
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What does “out of the room like a streak” mean?

In the novel Thank You, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse, Bertie was telling Jeeves that he saw J. Washburn Stoker and his daughter Pauline along with Sir Roderick Glossop. To this Jeeves asked him if he ...
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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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What's the source of this E.M. Forster quote, and what did he mean by a “chance word”?

I was reading a book on advanced English Grammar and among the various quotes this one caught my eye: A chance word or sigh are just as much evidence as a speech or a murder. — E.M. Forster What ...
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Meaning of “Life is a prism of my light” in Sarojini Naidu’s poem “The Soul’s Prayer”

Sarojini Naidu was an Indian poetess and by chance I came upon one of her poems which was titled “The Soul’s Prayer”. The last stanza of the poem goes like this: I, bending from sevenfold height Will ...
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Meaning of “But mercy is above this sceptred sway” from Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice

In Act IV, Scene I of The Merchant of Venice, Portia says to Shylock these lines (rendered in blank verses) The quality of mercy is not strained It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the ...
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Who and for what called Shelley “beautiful and ineffectual angel”?

I was reading a blog, which was shared to me on a virtual platform, where it was written that “XYZ called Shelley as ‘beautiful and ineffectual angel’”. I don’t remember who was that XYZ but that blog ...
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What does the expression “Hang it” mean? [closed]

The play The Dear Departed (1908) by William Stanley Houghton is about the essencelessness of love by the daughters for their old father. In the play, there is an old man named Abel who one day slept ...
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What did the convict mean by “I’m a number: number 15,729” in “The Bishop's Candlesticks”?

Norman McKinnel’s play The Bishop’s Candlesticks is an adaptation of volume one, book second, of Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables. The play is based on the concept that no man is a born offender. It ...
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Understanding the last lines from Oscar Wilde’s The Model Millionaire

The Model Millionaire is a short story about a young man, named Hughie Erskin, who although does not have much money himself, is moved to pity by the sight of an elderly beggar who is posing as model ...
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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 “and light shows between his tightly buttoned torso and his father’s leg.”

It is a photo of a family. The wind puffs out the huge stiff curved sleeve of the woman’s dress, and brushes back off his forehead the long hair of the father’s boy who is turned towards the drama of ...
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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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