Imagery: possible exam questions


Be sure you have checked out the imagery pages:
  1. Basic definitions with examples of metaphors and similes, followed by analysis.
  2. Samples to test your ability to recognize images, followed by answers so you can see how you're doing
  3. A page about what I call "explicit images", i.e. images in which the thing named is named clearly and explicitly.
  4. Implicit imagery, in which the "thing named" is only hinted at or named indirectly.


For each of the following, first identify the image -- that is, say exactly what the thing being named is. Second, make a brief comment on the effectiveness or meaning of the image -- what it contributes to rendering the thoughts or feelings of the speaker.

(I am also assuming that you can identify the speaker and source, but those are separate questions for the moment.)




  1. . . . Great God! I'd rather be
    A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn . . .

  2. . . . The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune . . .

  3. For murder, though it have no tongue, will speak
    With most miraculous organ.

  4. . . . her garments, heavy with their drink,
    Pull'd the poor wretch from her melodious lay
    To muddy death.

  5. Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
    Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards
    But on the viewless wings of poesy . . .

  6. And realization of it rages out
    In furnace-fear . . .

  7. No hungry generations tread thee down

  8. It sits looking
    over harbor and city
    on silent haunches . . .

  9. . . . the very houses seem asleep
    And all that mighty heart is lying still!

  10. Now, at the last gasp of Love's latest breath
    When, his pulse failing, Passion speechless lies . . .

  11. I have measured out my life with coffee-spoons.

  12. . . . her terrified hands will lie
    Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.

  13. . . . an erring lace . . .

  14. With a leap and a bound the swift Anapests throng.

  15. In every voice, in every ban
    The mind-forged manacles I hear.

  16. Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls . . .

  17. . . . I fell into the State
    And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.

  18. . . . among the idiot pumps --
    Five on a side, the old bubble-head style,
    Their rubber elbows hanging loose and low.

  19. Time . . . shakes this fragile frame at eve
    With throbbings of noontide.

  20. Was this that mercy from above
    did open violets in the spring --
    and made my own worn self to sing?

  21. And then the clock collected in the tower
    Its strength, and struck.

  22. Frost drops even the spider.

  23. Thrift, thrift, Horatio! the funeral-baked meats
    Did coldly furnish forth the marriage tables.