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SAT reading comprehension practice test 06

The extract is taken from an article written in the 1930s by a well-known poet.

    I have yet to meet a poetry-lover under thirty who was
    not an introvert, or an introvert who was not unhappy in
    adolescence. At school, particularly, maybe, if, as in my own
    case, it is a boarding school, he sees the extrovert successful,
5   happy, and good and himself unpopular or neglected; and what is
    hardest to bear is not unpopularity, but the consciousness that it
    is deserved, that he is grubby and inferior and frightened and
    dull. Knowing no other kind of society than the contingent, he
    imagines that this arrangement is part of the eternal scheme of
10  things, that he is doomed to a life of failure and envy. It is not till
    he grows up, till years later he runs across the heroes of his
    school days and finds them grown commonplace and sterile, that
    he realizes that the introvert is the lucky one, the best adapted to
    an industrial civilization the collective values of which are so
15  infantile that he alone can grow, who has educated his fantasies
    and learned how to draw upon the resources of his inner life. At
    the time, however, his adolescence is unpleasant enough. Unable
    to imagine a society in which he would feel at home, he turns
    away from the human to the nonhuman: homesick he will seek,
20  not his mother, but mountains or autumn woods, and the
    growing life within him will express itself in a devotion to music
    and thoughts upon mutability and death. Art for him will be
    something infinitely precious, pessimistic, and hostile to life. If it
    speaks of love it must be love frustrated, for all success seems to
25  him noisy and vulgar; if it moralizes, it must counsel a stoic
    resignation, for the world he knows is well content with itself and
    will not change.

Deep as first love and wild with all regret,
O death in life, the days that are no more.

Now more than ever seems it sweet to die
To cease upon the midnight with no pain.

35  That to the adolescent is the authentic poetic note and whoever is
    the first in his life to strike it, whether Tennyson, Keats,
    Swinburne, Housman or another, awakens a passion of imitation
    and an affectation which no subsequent refinement or
    sophistication of his taste can entirely destroy. In my own case it
40  was Hardy in the summer of 1923; for more than a year I read no
    one else and I do not think that I was ever without one volume or
    another or the beautifully produced Wessex edition in my hands:
    I smuggled them into class, carried them about on Sunday walks,
    and took them up to the dormitory to read in the early morning,
45  though they were far too unwieldy to be read in bed with
    comfort. In the autumn of 1924 there was a palace revolution
    after which he had to share his kingdom with Edward Thomas,
    until finally they were both defeated by Elliot at the battle of
    Oxford in 1926.
50  Besides serving as the archetype of the Poetic, Hardy was
    also an expression of the contemporary scene. He was both my
    Keats and my Sandburg.
    To begin with, he looked like my father: that broad
    unpampered moustache, bald forehead, and deeply lined
55  sympathetic face belonged to that other world of feeling and
    sensation. Here was a writer whose emotions, if sometimes
    monotonous and sentimental in expression, would be deeper and
    more faithful than my own, and whose attachment to the earth
    would be more secure and observant.

Adapted from an article written by W H Auden

1. According to the author, poetry lovers under thirty generally

A. have a strong sense of their own inferiority during school years
B. are always products of boarding schools
C. have an unhappy home life
D. are outgoing as adolescents
E. long to return to early childhood

2. The author’s main purpose is apparently to

A. describe what lead to his being an introvert
B. explore the reasons for his early taste in poetry
C. explain what lead to his becoming a poet
D. account for the unhappy adolescent’s aesthetic sense
E. criticize a system that makes young people feel unhappy and neglected

3. The word ‘contingent’ (line 8) most nearly means

A. juvenile
B. scholarly
C. competitive
D. immediate
E. intelligent

4. The author regards the introverted adolescent as ultimately lucky because he has

A. become financially successful in an industrialized society
B. ceased to envy others
C. cultivated inner resources that he will need in modern society
D. a better general education than those who were envied in school
E. learned to appreciate nature

5. To the adolescent the ‘authentic poetic note’ is one of

A. pain and affirmation
B. hostility and vulgarity
C. contentment and peace
D. purity and love
E. melancholy and acceptance

6. It can be inferred that, for the author, the poetry of Hardy is

A. something with which he is not entirely comfortable
B. a temporary interest soon supplanted by other poetry
C. a secret obsession that he is reluctant to confess
D. his first poetic love that time has not entirely erased
E. a childlike passion

7. The author uses all of the following to make his point except

A. metaphor
B. personal experience
C. generalization
D. classical allusions
E. comparison

8. The poetry quoted (lines 28-34) is most likely included as

A. extracts from the author’s own poetry
B. extracts from Hardy’s poetry
C. examples of poetry that appeals to the unhappy adolescent
D. the type of poetry much admired by all poetry lovers
E. examples of schoolboy poetry

9. It can be inferred that Edward Thomas

A. was once held in high esteem by the author
B. was a better poet than Hardy
C. was writing in 1924
D. had views opposed to Eliot
E. wrote poetry similar to that of Hardy

10. The author mentions Carl Sandburg (line 52) as

A. an example of a modern poet
B. an example of a traditional figure
C. having a poetic appearance
D. a poet to appeal to young people
E. resembling his father

11. The author qualifies his appreciation of Hardy by pointing out that Hardy’s poetic techniques were

A. sometimes unmoving
B. not always deeply felt
C. occasionally lacking in variety
D. always emotional
E. irrelevant to certain readers

12. The author feels that Hardy’s physical appearance suggested

A. deep and lasting feelings
B. paternal values
C. careworn old age
D. a contemporary writer
E. fatherly concern

Test information

Q 12 questions

Time 15 minutes

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