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Question 16 of 23

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One summer evening (led by her)1 I found

A little boat tied to a willow tree

Within a rocky cave, its usual home.

Straight I unloosed her chain, and stepping in

Pushed from the shore. It was an act of stealth

And troubled pleasure, nor without the voice

Of mountain-echoes did my boat move on;

Leaving behind her still, on either side,

Small circles glittering idly in the moon,

Until they melted all into one track

Of sparkling light. But now, like one who rows,

Proud of his skill, to reach a chosen point

With an unswerving line, I fixed my view

Upon the summit of a craggy ridge,

The horizon’s utmost boundary; for above

Was nothing but the stars and the grey sky.

She was an elfin pinnance;2 lustily

I dipped my oars into the silent lake,

And, as I rose upon the stroke, my boat

Went heaving through the water like a swan;

When, from behind that craggy steep till then

The horizon’s bound, a huge peak, black and huge,

As if with voluntary power instinct

Upreared its head. I struck and struck again,

And growing still in stature the grim shape

Towered up between me and the stars, and still,

For so it seemed, with purpose of its own

And measured motion like a living thing,

Strode after me. With trembling oars I turned,

And through the silent water stole my way

Back to the covert of the willow tree;

There in her mooring-place I left my bark, —

And through the meadows homeward went, in grave

And serious mood; but after I had seen

That spectacle, for many days, my brain

Worked with a dim and undetermined sense

Of unknown modes of being; o’er my thoughts

There hung a darkness, call it solitude

Or blank desertion. No familiar shapes

Remained, no pleasant images of trees,

Of sea or sky, no colours of green fields;

But huge and mighty forms, that do not live

Like living men, moved slowly through the mind

By day, and were a trouble to my dreams.



1. Nature.

2. A boat.


Select an Answer

In lines 1-7, which of the following devices is used to present nature, the boat, and the mountain echoes?


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Choice (A) is correct. “Personification” is the attribution of human qualities to an object or abstraction. Nature, the boat, and the mountain echoes are all personified to some degree in lines 1-7. The speaker first refers to nature as “her” (“led by her”), then calls the cave the boat’s “home” and refers to the boat as “her” (“unloosed her chain”), and finally refers to “the voice/Of mountain echoes.” The speaker’s words subtly convey the impression that nature, the boat, and the mountain echoes are like human characters in the episode and are not merely things.

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