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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In To Kill a Mockingbird, what does "let the dead bury the dead" mean?

In the ending chapter of "To Kill a Mockingbird", Atticus and Mr Heck Tate (the Sheriff) are deciding who is responsible for the death of Mr Ewell. Atticus thinks Jem killed Mr Ewell but Heck knows it ...
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7 votes
1 answer
138 views

In the song "Ja is Playing Jazz" (Джа играет джаз), who is Ja?

While listening to Splean's last album Ключ к шифру (The Key to the Cipher) again, I've wondered about a particular line from the song "Джа играет джаз" ("Ja is Playing Jazz"): Сегодня Джа играет ...
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4 votes
1 answer
201 views

What is the meaning of the second line of this sher?

asar bhī le rahā huuñ terī chup kā tujhe qaa.il bhī kartā jā rahā huuñ I'm researching on Urdu shayars and it's a part of my assignment to collect 500 urdu shers with their meaning. The original ...
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5 votes
1 answer
270 views

What's the meaning of "a knife in your throat held after dark" in the Silly Walk Song?

The so-called Silly Walk Song by the Monty Python troupe (lyrics and video here, lyrics in text form here) is mostly a lament of the tedium and futility of a life of money-induced drudgery. But there ...
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13 votes
3 answers
325 views

What is a bootless oath?

In Book X (10) of The Illiad Hector (edition: Britannica Great Books of the Western World (The Illiad and The Odessey together), rendered into English prose by Samuel Butler) swears the following oath ...
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6 votes
3 answers
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The meaning of the line "and from your lips she drew the Hallelujah" in "Hallelujah"

"Hallelujah" contains a mix of Biblical themes. The first stanza mentions (King) David by name, and the first three lines of the second seem to refer to one of King David's stories (II Samuel 11). The ...
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9 votes
2 answers
328 views

Why is the future "a safe, sterile laboratory"?

In an interview with Smithsonian Magazine, Ursula K. Le Guin describes the future as "a safe, sterile laboratory": But the task of science fiction is not to predict the future. Rather, it ...
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8 votes
1 answer
105 views

What does the narrator really mean by the following quote from the novel Cranford?

In the novel Cranford, there's a particular line that I'm having trouble understanding: If a married couple come to settle in town, somehow the gentleman disappears. I thought about it, and I came ...
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11 votes
1 answer
215 views

What specifically is being described as stupid and old-fashioned in this passage on arranged marriage?

I'm trying to rhetorically analyze a passage in Amy Tan's novel titled The Joy Luck Club, where a character, Lindo Jong, describes her experience with the arranged marriage process. I've included the ...
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15 votes
4 answers
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Explanation of the line 'But you don't really care for music, do you' in "Hallelujah"

In the first verse of Leonard Cohen's "Hallelujah", there are these lines: Now, I've heard there was a secret chord That David played and it pleased the Lord But you don't really care for music,...
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10 votes
1 answer
199 views

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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8 votes
1 answer
165 views

What could be the possible reason behind "live in fear" and "move at liberty" in the fourth stanza of "A German Requiem"?

The fourth stanza of the poem "A German Requiem" indicates that the widow lived in fear and the young man could not move at liberty between the armchairs. I cannot figure out why. What does the widow ...
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8 votes
2 answers
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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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7 votes
2 answers
1k views

Meaning of "shade to shade" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"

In "Ode on Melancholy," Keats writes For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul What is meant by "shade to shade will come too drowsily"?
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12 votes
1 answer
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Meaning of this William Faulkner quote

In a specific scene of Requiem for a Nun by William Faulkner, Temple Drake states that Temple Drake is dead. In response, Gavin, Nancy's lawyer, responds: The past is never dead. It's not ...
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11 votes
1 answer
386 views

Who are the Mephistophelians?

In Mark Dunn's "progressively lipogrammatic epistolary fable" Ella Minnow Pea, the populace of a small island are forbidden the use of certain letters of the English alphabet in speech and writing as ...
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8 votes
3 answers
190 views

What does Father Gur mean by "And then you'll be given back!"?

During the dinner at the king's palace, Rumata has a conversation with Father Gur, the poet. Rumata offers him a copy of the poets work, in exchange for a promise to write something new: “Very well ...
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8 votes
1 answer
562 views

Do the poisons in "Ode on Melancholy" have deeper meaning?

In "Ode on Melancholy", Keats uses the images of three poisons in the first stanza: Wolf's bane, nightshade, and yew-berries. Are these poisons simply meant to connote death/suicide, or might they ...
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3 votes
2 answers
300 views

Why is wolf's bane "tight-rooted" in Keats' "Ode on Melancholy"?

In Keats's 'Ode on Melancholy', he writes neither twist Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Why did Keats choose to describe Wolf's-bane as "tight-rooted"?
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3 votes
4 answers
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Interpretation of a Churchill quote

This isn't quite literature, but a quote from Winston Churchill: History will be kind to me for I intend to write it. Is he referring to the fact that he will be writing a history of the time he ...
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12 votes
1 answer
254 views

Why did Martin Eden live at night with the gods in a colossal nightmare?

Re-reading Jack London's Martin Eden for my project, I've come across this passage: Martin had ascended from pitch to pitch of intellectual living, and here he was at a higher pitch than ever.  ...
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8 votes
1 answer
196 views

Why is "waistcoat" modified by "leering" in the poem “A German Requiem"?

In the fifth line from the third stanza of "A German Requiem", the word waistcoat is modified by leering. I can understand waistcoat is personified as a person here. Is this person the priest? And why ...
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7 votes
3 answers
624 views

Alternate meaning of "still" in 'Ode to a Nightingale'

This resource on 'Ode to a Nightingale' by Keats says that the word "still" in stanza 6 ("Still wouldst thou sing") might have more than one meaning. However, I can't see it meaning anything beyond '...
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8 votes
1 answer
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What is the meaning of this paragraph from Philip Lombard's introduction in "And Then There Were None"?

I was reading this paragraph in Agatha Christie's mystery novel And Then There Were None, from Chapter One and the character introduction of Philip Lombard: By Jove, he'd sailed pretty near the wind ...
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14 votes
2 answers
1k views

What does "halter" mean here?

The following sentence occurs in Mark Twain's sketch Private History of a Campaign that Failed: The drenching we were getting was misery enough, but a deeper misery still was the reflection that ...
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18 votes
2 answers
8k views

What are the "old euphemisms" in The Great Gatsby?

In chapter 6 of The Great Gatsby, Nick describes Daisy's reaction to the people of West Egg: But the rest offended her—and inarguably, because it wasn’t a gesture but an emotion. She was appalled ...
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9 votes
2 answers
840 views

Why is 'beer' used in ''a parson much bemus'd in beer"?

In 1735, Alexander Pope wrote Epistle to Dr. Arbuthnot. There is a line "a parson much bemus'd in beer." What has beer to do with it? I came across this in Merriam-Webster: In 1735, British poet ...
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11 votes
1 answer
586 views

Why is Rousseau saying that "[...] Russia was civilized too soon"?

In The Social Contract, Jean-Jacques Rousseau says [...] Russia will never be really civilized, because it was civilized too soon What is he referring to, when saying it was civilized too soon, ...
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15 votes
2 answers
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Is Deeper Magic something more than God (the Emperor beyond the Sea) in Narnia?

When Aslan is asked why he has to die in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, he answers something in the sense that there is a "deeper magic" that he has to obey. What exactly is this &...
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11 votes
1 answer
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Why did the stars throw down their spears?

William Blake's poem “The Tyger” from Songs of Experience contains one couplet whose meaning has always puzzled me, lines 17–18, the first two lines of the fifth stanza: When the stars threw ...
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19 votes
1 answer
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What do these espionage tradecraft phrases from Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy mean?

When Ricky Tarr is recounting his story to George Smiley, he speculates that Boris -- a Russian spy working undercover as a trade delegate -- was "waiting for a connect, working a letterbox, maybe, or ...
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31 votes
1 answer
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What does Mark Twain mean by "cheers and a tiger"?

I know about the big stripey cat, but what is "a tiger" in this context: ...finishing up with cheers and a tiger for "Hadleyburg purity and our eighteen immortal representatives of it.&...
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10 votes
2 answers
802 views

Meaning of this line in "On seeing the Elgin Marbles"

And each imagined pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die The "pinnacle and steep" represent the pillars of the Parthenon if I'm not mistaken. But the next line doesn't ...
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9 votes
1 answer
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What's the "Tower of Darkness" in the Rubaiyat referring to?

Stanza 26: (from the English version by FitzGerald) A Muezzin from the Tower of Darkness cries "Fools! Your reward is neither Here nor There!" What's the "Tower of Darkness" referred to? I'm ...
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12 votes
3 answers
8k views

What are the "dark Satanic mills" in Blake's Jerusalem?

The short poem Jerusalem by William Blake - not to be confused with his much longer epic poem of the same title; I'm talking about the "did those feet in ancient times" one - contains the following ...
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13 votes
4 answers
6k views

What does "The Edge of Doom" mean?

The following stanza is from Robert Frost's Into My Own: One of my wishes is that those dark trees, So old and firm they scarcely show the breeze, Were not, as ’twere, the merest mask ...
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17 votes
2 answers
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What does 'Gilead' mean in The Raven?

Poe's poem The Raven contains the following words in the fifteenth stanza: [...] tell me truly, I implore— Is there—is there balm in Gilead?—tell me—tell me, I implore!" What does 'Gilead' mean ...
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9 votes
3 answers
16k views

What is Jack's crown?

The English nursing rhyme "Jack and Jill" has several verses. The first verse is: Jack and Jill went up the hill To fetch a pail of water. Jack fell down and broke his crown, And ...
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20 votes
5 answers
3k views

What does it mean to laugh like the letter k?

In Abuelito Who by Sandra Cisneros, the symbolic meaning of one line is quite confusing. The narrator is referring to her grandfather (abuelo), and she says he: who used to laugh like the letter k I'...
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14 votes
2 answers
926 views

What does it mean to greet a guest with an unsheathed sword?

In A Game of Thrones, Chapter 24, when Tyrion Lannister visits Winterfell on the way back from the Wall: “Any man of the Night’s Watch is welcome here at Winterfell for as long as he wishes to ...
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3 votes
1 answer
614 views

What do these prophetic lines in The Hidden Oracle mean?

So there are 2 lines in The Hidden Oracle The fall of the Sun The final verse Well obviously, the fall of the Sun refers to Apollo becoming mortal. but what about the final verse? A theory; It ...
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