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The following is a part of the SAT sample questions (questions 5-8 of Passage-Based Reading section)

After the intervention of six or seven years I again entered the doors of a theater. That old Artaxerxes evening had never done ringing in my fancy. I expected the same feelings to come again with the same occasion.

At the age of six the author visited a theater for the first time. He was strongly impressed by the theater itself and Artaxerxes which was performed there. The quoted sentences above describes his second visit to a theater six or seven years later. In the rest of the passage he recounts how he was disappointed with the second visit. In the end he concluded that this change was caused by his growth.

I cannot understand the second sentence in bold type. I would be grateful if someone could help me understand it.

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  • I can guess what it means but it's certainly not an idiomatic phrase I've ever heard. – Catija Aug 22 '15 at 7:21
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    As a note, the use of "ringing" is a pretty central part of the story that this is excerpted from. The writer describes hearing the ring signaling the start of the play... and at the end of the excerpt, he again mentions ringing but it no longer has the same feeling as it had when he'd been at the theater the first time. – Catija Aug 22 '15 at 7:40
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Something is done when it is finished, over with, stopped; the usage in this case, with "had never", is quite unusual and old-fashioned, and it took me a while to make it out. Fancy has a somewhat archaic sense of "imagination". And ringing is a metaphorical way to refer to a strong impression, as though an event or experience hit someone so hard they ring like a bell. So the bolded sentence basically means "The evening I spent watching Artaxerxes was so remarkable an experience it never left my mind."

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  • That's about what I'd guess... but it's certainly something that would likely confuse even a native speaker... particularly a 17-18 year old one. – Catija Aug 22 '15 at 7:22
  • @Catija: Oh aye. That's not a trivial question by any means; almost no one alive today would, I think, consider that idiomatic or even be able to understand it without a stop to think about it. It's like running into a description of "arrassed" walls in Tolkien's old notes. What walls? (Tapestried, it turns out.) – Nathan Tuggy Aug 22 '15 at 7:36

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