Digital SAT Poetry Practice Reading Questions

1. A student claims that Will Carleton’s Poem “Autumn Days” contrasts the sweetness of some autumn days in the first stanza with a far different type of autumn days in the second stanza. What pair of lines from the first and second stanzas respectively best illustrate this claim?


A. O’er the dreamy, listless haze/O’er the cheerless, withered plain.
B. Yellow, mellow, ripened days/ Shivering, quivering, tearful days.
C. And the sombre, furrowed fallow/ Woefully and hoarsely calling.
D. Winking at the blushing trees/On thy scanty vestments falling.

2. The following is an excerpt from the poem “We Wait” by Will M. Carleton

Or if upon the field of war we stand,
And sword with sword for mastery we mate,
Grim Death, and radiant Glory, hand in hand,
Approaching us with silent step we see;
And one of them, we vow, for us must be;
Bravely we strive to win renown’s estate,
And still we wait.

And when we grope within the gloom of age,
When our few steps grow feeble and sedate,
We cast our eyes back o’er a blotted page;
We peer among the pictures of the past,
We gaze upon the future, overcast;
Our musings all with hopes and fears we freight;
And still we wait.

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?


A. To illustrate the abeyancy of life, even as death approaches.
B. To force the reader to consider his own fate.
C. To illustrate the futility of war.
D. To explain the purposelessness of life.

3. The following is an excerpt from the poem “We Hope” by Will M. Carleton


Then we yearn and call for comfort; but no comfort comes unto us,
And we wrap ourselves in sadness, and Despair goes thrilling thou’ us;
And the darkness gathers round us, with its horrors, half-unspoken,
And we pray again for succor: that the fearful spell be broken,
With the light of something shining, be it only but a ray.

Then within our hearts a blossom, from the dreary mould is springing,
Then the birds of Hope make music, with their sweet and cheerful singing;
Then, upon the great clouds gazing, we discern their silver lining,
And at last, through veils of blackness, bursts the sunbeam’s glorious shining,
And upon our raptured vision beams the light of perfect day

Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?


A. It minimizes the role of hope to “but a ray”.
B. It firmly emphasizes the despair of the writer.
C. It clarifies the despair that was described earlier in the passage.
D. It introduces a visual for hope that will be further built upon in the poem.

4. The following is an excerpt from the poem “The House Where We Were Wed” by Will M. Carleton

I’ve been to the old farm-house, good-wife,
Where you and I were wed;
Where the love was born to our two hearts
That now lies cold and dead.
Where a long-kept secret to you I told,
In the yellow beams of the moon,
And we forged our vows out of love’s own gold,
To be broken so soon, so soon!

Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?


A. To tell someone of a trip made, in the light of a broken relationship.
B. To set the stage for a future argument.
C. To argue that marriage is a fruitless endeavor.
D. To help the reader feel the author’s pain after the death of his wife.

5. The following is an excerpt from the poem “Apple Blossoms” by Will M. Carleton


Naught within her eyes he read
That would tell her mind unto him;
Though their light, he after said,
Quivered swiftly through and through him;
Till at last his heart burst free
From the prayer with which ‘twas laden,

And he said, “When wilt thou be
Mine for evermore, fair maiden?”


Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?


A. To clarify the emotional source of the following quotation.
B. To explain a medical condition from which he is suffering.
C. To show the religious fervor with which he lives his life.
D. To build on the previous description of her eyes.

6. An instructor claims that “Lines Written in Early Spring” contains the introspective thoughts of the author. Which quotation from the poem best supports this claim?


A. “And ‘tis my faith that every flower/Enjoys the air it breathes.”
B. “The birds around me hopp’d and play’d/ Their thoughts I cannot measure”
C. “In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts/ Bring sad thoughts to the mind.”
D. “I heard a thousand blended notes/While in a grove I sat reclined.”

7. The following is an excerpt from “The Dungeon” as published in Lyrical Ballads With a Few Other Poems.


And this place our forefathers made for man!
This is the process of our love and wisdom,
To each poor brother who offends against us—
Most innocent, perhaps—and what if guilty?
Is this the only cure? Merciful God?
Each pore and natural outlet shrivell’d up
By ignorance and parching poverty,
His energies roll back upon his heart,
And stagnate and corrupt; till changed to poison,
They break out on him, like a loathsome plague-spot;
Then we call in our pamper’d mountebanks—
And this is their best cure! uncomforted
And friendless solitude, groaning and tears,
And savage faces, at the clanking hour,
Seen through the steams and vapour of his dungeon,
By the lamp’s dismal twilight! So he lies
Circled with evil, till his very soul
Unmoulds its essence, hopelessly deformed
By sights of ever more deformity!


Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?


A. It examines the purpose of a dungeon form the point of view of a jailor.
B. It critiques a solution that society has found to a common issue.
C. It asks a question about the worth of humanity.
D. It sheds a negative light on how humanity handles a problem.

8. The following is an excerpt from the poem “Expostulation and Reply”. The author speaks to his friend, Matthew:

“The eye it cannot chuse but see,
“We cannot bid the ear be still;
“Our bodies feel, where’er they be,
“Against, or with our will.

“Nor less I deem that there are powers,
“Which of themselves our minds impress,
“That we can feed this mind of ours,
“In a wise passiveness.

“Think you, mid all this mighty sum
“Of things for ever speaking,
“That nothing of itself will come,
“But we must still be seeking?

“—Then ask not wherefore, here, alone,
“Conversing as I may,
“I sit upon this old grey stone,
“And dream my time away.”


Which choice best describes the function of the underlined portion in the text as a whole?


A. It questions the author’s purpose.
B. It asks Matthew a philosophical question.
C. It highlights a subject for which the author is passionate.
D. It explains an earlier statement.

9. A student reads “Old Man Travelling; Animal Tranquility and Decay, A Sketch” and observes that the old man in the poem seems at great peace with his life. Which of the following excerpts from the poem best supports this claim?

A.”Sir! I am going many miles to take/A last leave of my son, a mariner,/ Who from a sea-fight has been brought to Falmouth/ And there is dying in an hospital.”
B. “He travels on, and in his face, his step,/ His gait, is one expression;/ every limb,/ His look and bending figure, all bespeak/ A man who does not move with pain.”
C. “He is one by whom/ All effort seems forgotten, one to whom/ Long patience has such mild composure given/ That patience now doth seem a thin, of which/He hath no need. He is by nature led.”
D. “The young behold/ With envy, what the old man hardly feels./ I asked him whither he was bound, and what/ The object of his journey.”

10. The following is the poem “Why Do Ye Call The Poet Lonely?” By Archibald Lampman

Why do ye call the poet lonely,
Because he dreams in lonely places?
He is not desolate, but only
Sees, where ye cannot, hidden faces.


Which choice best states the main purpose of the text?

A. It asks and answers a question about those who write poetry.
B. It hypothesizes as to what makes people want to write poetry.
C. It gives an explanation as to why much poetry is sad.
D. It opens up the reader to ask questions of poets.

Answer Explanations

  1. B. The question asks for evidence to show a contrast between two different types of autumn days. Answer option B shows two types of days in the fall, one that is yellow (leaf color), mellow (meaning calm), and ripened (as the harvest on the vine). The other is shivering and quivering (cold) as well as tearful (raining). This makes option (B) the best answer. (A) and (C) are incorrect as they only describe one setting, not two. Option (D) is incorrect as it does not describe a day at all, but rather leaves falling.
  2. A. In this poem we see at the end of both stanzas “And still we wait”. The author describes this waiting even when death is near and in every situation. He seems to be telling the reader that life is just a game of waiting. This purpose is best described in answer option (A) since the word abeyancy describes a situation of disuse, suspension, or waiting. Answer option (B) is incorrect for, while a reader may consider his own fate, this does not seem to be the main purpose of the poem. Answer (C) is incorrect as the author seems to be describing the futility of all things, not just war. Answer (D) is incorrect as the poem gives no explanation as to the purposelessness of life that the author sees.
  3. D. In the underlined section the author introduces the idea of visual light. In the second stanza he builds on this image of a single ray of light by describing the emerging “sunbeam’s glorious shining” and “the light of perfect day.” In this way, the light represents a visual image of the hope bursting through dark clouds of sadness. This makes option (D) the best answer. The other answer options do not appropriately understand that the visual light represents hope and that it grows to a sunburst in stanza 2.
  4. A. The opening lines of this poem tells the author’s “good-wife” that he has “been to the old farm house… where you and I were wed”. He is telling her he has gone back to where their marriage started. The end of this first stanza sheds light on the current status of their relationship “we forged our vows… to be broken soon.” Their marriage vows, and thus their relationship, are broken. This makes option (A) the best answer. We have no evidence of a future argument, so option (B) is incorrect. The author knows that his marriage is over, but does not try to say that all marriages are pointless, making option (C) incorrect. There is no evidence that the wife is dead, just that they are separated, making option (D) incorrect.
  5. A. The underlined portion describes his heart “bursting free” from “the prayer with which ‘twas laden” thereafter the man spills his heart to the girl and asks her to stay with him forever. These words of his are from his heart. This makes (A) the best option. The underlined portion explains the source of his ardent outburst. Option (B) is incorrect as his heart is not literally bursting, but figuratively bursting. Option (C) is incorrect as there is no religious undertones to the underlined section. Option (D) is incorrect as the underlined portion describes the source of his words, not her eyes.
  6. C. To be introspective is to think about one’s self and one’s own thoughts and emotions. Answer option (C) is the only answer that gives us a glimpse into the author’s mind to support the teacher’s claim that the author is “introspective”. Answer (A) describes the author’s belief about flowers. Answer (B) and (D) simply describe events that happen.
  7. D. This poem describes what happens to men thrown into a dungeon. The author describes the mental effects of being imprisoned in a very negative way saying things like that the prisoner’s soul is “hopelessly deformed” and that his energy turns inward “till changed to poison”. This makes option (D) the best answer. The author is shedding negative light on how the world deals with the problem of crime. Answer option (A) is incorrect as the poem is not from the point of view of a jailor. Answer (B) is incorrect as a dungeon is not a solution to but rather a punishment for crime. Answer (C) is incorrect as the author does not question the worth of humanity in general, but rather the worth of the dungeon itself.
  8. B. The underlined section, when paraphrased in modern English, would be something like “do you ever think in the middle of all this craziness that we just have to keep going and going even though we’re not going to get anywhere?” This is equivalent to asking if life has any meaning, a deeply philosophical question. This makes answer (B) the best option. This questions the purpose of “seeking”, not of the author, so answer option (A) is incorrect. Answer option (C) is incorrect as we have no evidence that the author is particularly passionate about this topic. Answer option (D) is incorrect as the underlined passage may build on a previous statement, but it does not explain it.
  9. C. The question is asking for evidence that the man feels great peace. Answer option (A) describes a situation in which it would make sense to have little or no peace. Answer option (B) describes the man as having no pain, which is not the same as being at great peace. Answer option (D) says that the young envy him, but that does not necessarily mean they envy any great peace he might have. This leaves option (C) in which the man is described as having forgotten any and all effort, who has so mild a personality that he needs no patience, and who is led by nature. This gives the best evidence that the man is at peace.
  10. A. The first two lines of this short poem ask why the reader calls poets lonely. The second two lines responds to the question, explaining that poets are not lonely, but rather see hidden faces where we cannot. This makes answer option (A) the best solution.