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Question 19 of 23

beginning of content:


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

Which of the following best describes the change in the outlook of the speaker during the course of this excerpt?

Naïveté to cynicism

Correct Answer: 

Bravery to cowardice

Correct Answer: 

Hope to despair

Correct Answer: 

Daring to uncertainty

Correct Answer: 

Eagerness to sloth

Correct Answer: 

Choice (D) is correct. The outlook of the speaker at the beginning of the excerpt would best be described as "daring," or bold and adventurous. Having boldly taken a small boat out on the lake for an evening adventure, the speaker describes himself or herself as "like one who rows,/Proud of his skill"; the speaker even uses the adverb "lustily" to convey the confidence with which he or she piloted the boat. But the speaker’s outlook shifts dramatically when he or she speaks of seeing the "huge peak, black and huge": the speaker turned back to the shore "With trembling oars . . . And through the meadows homeward went, in grave/And serious mood." The speaker reveals that in the days that followed, he or she was profoundly shaken and confused by the experience: "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." During the course of the excerpt, the speaker clearly passes from a daring outlook to one of "uncertainty," or one lacking conviction and confidence.

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