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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16 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 ...
B. Clay Shannon-B. Crow Raven's user avatar
19 votes
2 answers
11k 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 ...
Keshav Srinivasan's user avatar
9 votes
2 answers
863 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 ...
Nikki's user avatar
  • 199
11 votes
1 answer
864 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, ...
Teddy's user avatar
  • 353
16 votes
2 answers
3k views

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 &...
foggy's user avatar
  • 411
14 votes
2 answers
23k views

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 ...
Torisuda's user avatar
  • 2,053
19 votes
1 answer
4k views

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 ...
Tom's user avatar
  • 704
32 votes
1 answer
4k views

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.&...
B. Clay Shannon-B. Crow Raven's user avatar
4 votes
3 answers
2k views

Meaning of "Old deeds for old people, and new deeds for new" in "Walden"

In the first chapter of Walden; or Life in the Woods, Thoreau says: What everybody echoes or in silence passes by as true to-day may turn out to be falsehood tomorrow, mere smoke of opinion, which ...
Benjamin's user avatar
  • 6,083
11 votes
2 answers
880 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 ...
Airdish's user avatar
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9 votes
1 answer
1k views

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 ...
user avatar
13 votes
3 answers
9k 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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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14 votes
4 answers
7k 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 ...
David542's user avatar
  • 467
18 votes
2 answers
7k views

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 ...
Rand al'Thor's user avatar
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9 votes
4 answers
24k 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 ...
James Jenkins's user avatar
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'...
fi12's user avatar
  • 4,535
13 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
muru's user avatar
  • 6,910
4 votes
1 answer
692 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 ...
bleh's user avatar
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