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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6
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2answers
597 views

Meaning and addressees of Hector's threats

The scene: Zeus and Apollo have just revived Hector who received a near-fatal blow from a boulder thrown by Ajax. Apollo and Hector then lead a refreshed Trojan onslaught on the Greeks, compelling ...
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1answer
46 views

What does this quatrain of Goethe's (“Gesang der Geister über den Wassern”) mean?

What does this quatrain of Goethe's ("Gesang der Geister über den Wassern") mean? Seele des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wasser Schicksal des Menschen Wie gleichst du dem Wind Translation: ...
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1answer
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How does “the socket drop them through” in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Sir Blaise claims that in former days men chose their wives for their virtue and not for their décolletage: “My dear young friend, if ...
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1answer
54 views

What does “men in us” refer to in “Aurora Leigh”?

In book VI of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the heroine collides with a man in the streets of Paris: A gentleman abstracted as myself Came full against me, then resolved the ...
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1answer
60 views

What did Conan Doyle mean by saying the butler would adorn a bench of bishops?

I’d like to ask about the following sentence from "The Illustrious Client" by Conan Doyle. A butler, who would have adorned a bench of bishops, showed me in and… I wanted to know what ...
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3answers
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How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to?

How do these lines in Shakespeare's Sonnet 151 mean what they're supposed to? Here's the sonnet: Love is too young to know what conscience is, Yet who knows not conscience is born of love? Then, ...
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2answers
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What's the significance of “at least” here?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, Yates is flirting with a rural Canadian girl in her kitchen. “No such motive drew me into the kitchen. But I will tell you. You shall have ...
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1answer
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Meaning of this William Cowper quote about admirals?

When admirals, extoll’d for standing still, Or doing nothing with a deal of skill I read this quote on a loading screen in Empire: Total War (a video game), and after searching I found that it's from ...
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1answer
360 views

What is the “starry pole” in Blake's “Songs of Experience”?

Here's the beginning of "Introduction" from William Blake's Songs of Experience: Hear the voice of the Bard, Who present, past, and future, sees; Whose ears have heard The Holy Word That ...
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1answer
512 views

Vultures and wives? What does this expression mean?

Extract from Pope's translation of the Iliad, Book XI, describing Agamemnon's rampage during the third battle: Wide o’er the field with guideless fury rolls, Breaking their ranks, and crushing out ...
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1answer
730 views

The grammatical function of “Nor” without “Neither” or “Not” in poetry

I've seen a number of examples of poetry, where "nor" appears without a preceding negative. In these examples, I'm unsure of whether I'm meant to understand the sentence as: "neither&...
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1answer
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What does it mean for George Washington to be “a Fabius and Camillus”?

On page 324 of David Hackett Fischer's book Washington's Crossing, there is an epigraph (quotation at the beginning of the chapter "The Battle at Princeton") by Horace Walpole on George ...
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How could “chaperonage” be the right of a girl?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, Miss Kitty was a rural Canadian carefree girl, Renmark was a professor, and Yates was that young man from New York: Miss Kitty Bartlett ...
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1answer
428 views

Which does this part refer to, a pencil or the words?

I’d like to ask about the sentence in The Red Circle by Conan Doyle. The words are written with a broad-pointed, violet-tinted pencil of a not unusual pattern. This is uttered by Holmes when he saw ...
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1answer
62 views

What did Tara Westover mean by comparing her childhood family accident with “choices coalescing into sediment”?

What was Tara Westover trying to imply when she compared the accident her family suffered in her childhood with this? Choices, numberless as grains of sand, had layered and compressed, coalescing ...
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1answer
28 views

Meaning of “much less regard” in Justice by Michael Sandel

This is from the book named Justice by Michael Sandel. I would like to know the meaning of "much less regard" and the meaning of the sentence (the second part of the sentence). How can we ...
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1answer
40 views

“How say you then? Would heart of man once think it?” Hamlet Act 1 Scene 5

After Hamlet returns from speaking with the Ghost, he initially resists questioning about it, then suggests he will reveal what it said if the others can keep a secret, How say you then? Would heart ...
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3answers
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“promising with” meaning

I am translating the book Missing Out: In Praise of the Unlived Life by Adam Phillips. It has this passage: But what might we find ourselves doing if not getting it was the project, not the problem? ...
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1answer
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Who is “they” that “rake him in” or “gather him in” in this passage from In the Midst of Alarms?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, someone was talking about a man who doesn't like attending protracted meetings for converting the sinners: He never wants to go to a protracted ...
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1answer
272 views

What is the meaning of “They talked of love and preached of love, But did not act so lovingly” in 'Childhood'?

The second stanza of the poem Childhood, written by Markus Natten: When did my childhood go? Was it the time I realised that adults were not all they seemed to be, They talked of love and preached of ...
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2answers
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What does this comparison between “Chekhovian” and “Hitchcockian” lines mean?

Perpendicular lines are Chekhovian; the introduced gun goes off. Parallel lines are Hitchcockian; the present bomb is enough. I'm reading Heather Christle's The Crying Book. I do not know much about ...
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2answers
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“otherwise” in Mary Shelley's Frankenstein

In Chapter Seven of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein (published 1816), I saw the following sentence: I remembered also the nervous fever with which I had been seized just at the time that I dated my ...
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1answer
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What is it time for in Paul Celan's “Corona”?

From Paul Celan's poem "Corona", available e.g. here in both the original German and an English translation: It is time that the stone took the trouble to bloom That an unrest’s heart ...
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1answer
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“What the Turk do it matter to us”?

In the opening chapter of Thomas Hardy's "The Withered Arm", the following passage is found (emphasis mine): The discussion waxed so warm that the purr of the milk streams became jerky, ...
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1answer
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What does “hard pushed in argument” mean in this context?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, a blacksmith, Macdonald, did an embarrassing trick to break the conceit of his New Yorker client in front of the crowd in his smithy, but ...
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2answers
210 views

What does “Dirt is matter out of place” mean in this situation?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was afraid of riding a horse for the first time in his life, but he was eventually convinced to do that with some worry. Yates mounted with some ...
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1answer
28 views

What does “There’s some fighting in that, if it is a history” mean here?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about the library of a Canadian rural township: “Well, the township can select the books if it likes, or it can send a committee to ...
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2answers
99 views

What does “soul” mean in “My Face for the World to See”?

From My Face for the World to See (1958) by Alfred Hayes: Ah! she said, triumphantly: the little boy hurts, doesn't it? I said, stonily, it might be a good idea if, instead of a psychiatrist, she ...
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1answer
45 views

What is the correspondence of flowers with the spirit-world in Elizabeth Browning’s “Aurora Leigh”?

In book V of Aurora Leigh (1856) by Elizabeth Barrett Browning, the narrator says:                 there’s not a flower of spring, That dies ere June, but vaunts itself allied By issue and symbol, by ...
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0answers
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What is the underlying message of the first story of 听你的 (“Up To You”)?

I read an (untitled) short story: the first chapter of 《听你的》 (full text is here), and I don't feel I fully understand the plot. Here's my summarization: The main character "you" (unnamed) ...
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1answer
66 views

Does “if” here mean “although”?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about some of dime novels, saying: The young man went into the tent, and shortly returned with an armful of yellow-covered, paper-...
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1answer
44 views

Meaning of phrase/word in History of England by G.M. Trevelyan

I am currently reading "A Shortened History of England" by G.M. Trevelyan. There are some words/phrases I do not understand. If anyone can explain them to me, I would highly appreciate it. ...
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1answer
46 views

What does “keep happiness away with a shotgun” mean here in this context?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, a man was talking about a self-sufficient people in a Canadian village, saying: “Why, that this is the proper way to live. Old Hiram has an anvil and ...
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1answer
455 views

What does “it never takes the poignancy of the sting away from a beating received” mean?

In In the Midst of Alarms (1894) by Robert Barr, the author is describing a journalist at the Argus newspaper, who used to read the opposition sheets in a feverish way, saying: He had feared that he ...
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0answers
36 views

What does Hemingway mean by “things of the night cannot be explained in the day”?

From A Farewell to Arms: Important Quotations Explained, page 4 | SparkNotes. Sparknotes doesn't actually explain what are these "things". But we were never lonely and never afraid when we ...
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1answer
95 views

Why does George Eliot call night “bright” and “radiant”?

"The Radiant Dark" by George Eliot - Hello Poetry Should I long that dark were fair? Say, O song. Lacks my love aught that I should long? Dark the night with breath all flow'rs And tender ...
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1answer
123 views

Why did Victor Hugo write that “the interior of the soul” is “grander than the sky”?

“There is one spectacle grander than the sea, that is the sky; there is one spectacle grander than the sky, that is the interior of the soul.” ― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables Whether "the interior ...
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1answer
213 views

What does Norman Maclean mean : “Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it.”?

The quote "Eventually all things merge into one and a river runs through it" is found in the final passage of Norman Maclean's autobiographical novella A River Runs Through It: Like many ...
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1answer
67 views

What did Goethe mean by “each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth”?

Each situation, each moment, is of infinite worth; for each represents a whole eternity. ~Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. I lit upon this on p. 395 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs. I can't ...
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1answer
63 views

How does “every branch of human knowledge, if traced up to its source and final principles, vanish into mystery”?

"Every branch of human knowledge, if traced up to its source and final principles, vanishes into mystery.” - Arthur Machen When I lit upon this on p. 23 of National Geographic Stunning ...
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1answer
55 views

What does James Thurber mean by “Humor is emotional chaos remembered in tranquility”?

I came upon this on p. 167 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs. I quote Mystery Scene, because G.M. Malliet has a B.A. in journalism and an M.A. in psychology; she also received an M.Phil. ...
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1answer
85 views

What does Rainer Maria Rilke mean by “the small things hardly noticeable”?

I lit upon this quote on p. 108 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature. Goodreads has it. “If you will stay close to nature, to its simplicity, to the small things hardly noticeable, ...
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2answers
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How do you become aware “of the earth as poetry”?

From p. 105 of National Geographic Stunning Photographs “It is only when we are aware of the earth and of the earth as poetry that we truly live.” ― Henry Beston How do you become aware "of ...
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2answers
177 views

What does Heraclitus mean by “if you do not expect the unexpected”?

I lit upon this quote on p. 177 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature, that I riffled through based on recent posts. Goodreads has it. I don't know any philosophy, and don't understand ...
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2answers
2k views

What does “nature” mean in “One touch of nature makes the whole world kin”?

When I first saw this quote on p. 139 in National Geographic's photo book Sublime Nature: Photographs That Awe and Inspire, I interpreted "nature" to mean flora and fauna. I interpreted ...
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2answers
657 views

What is Litigious Little Bow in the Welsh poem “The Wind”?

The poem "The Wind" by 14th-century Welsh poet Dafydd ap Gwilym, which can be read online in an English translation by Gwyneth Lewis, mostly consists of an ode to the wind, described ...
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4answers
1k views

Did “equator” have a different meaning from its common one in 19th-century English literature?

In "In the Midst of Alarms" (1894) by Robert Barr, the author is describing a man who was trying to make a friendly conversation with a rural young woman: “Yes,” Yates laughed uneasily. He ...
3
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1answer
513 views

When Hassan was around, ‘the oxygen seeped out of the room.’ What is happening here?

I am looking for an explanation as to what the phrase "oxygen seeped out of the room" means, in The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini in the following passage. For example, I can write that it ...
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1answer
221 views

The second line of “God's Grandeur”

The second line of Gerard Manley Hopkins's sonnet God's Grandeur is: It will flame out, like shining from shook foil. What I found on the Internet regarding the analysis of this line was rather ...
7
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1answer
391 views

What is the pun in Fowles' The Magus?

Google has not helped me figure this out. This is from the first or second page of the book (I'm not sure exactly since my electronic copy of the book doesn't seem to have page numbers): I saw very ...

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