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JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
There's a fir-wood here, and a dog-rose
there, And a note of the mating dove; And a glimpse, maybe, of the warm blue
sea, And the warm white clouds above; And warm to your breast in a tenderer nest
Your sweetheart's little glove. There's not much better to win, my lad,
There's not much better to win! You have lived, you have loved, you have
fought, you have proved The worth of folly and sin; So now come out of the city's rout,
Come out of the dust and the din.
You'll need to carry along,
And your lips can carry a song;
grave, If your lips can carry a song! Come, choose your road and away, my lad,
Come, choose your road and away! We'll out of the town by the road's bright
crown, As it dips to the sapphire day! All roads may meet at the world's end,
But, hey for the heart of the May! Come, choose your road and away, dear lad,
Come, choose your road and away.
God sends his teachers unto every age,
swayed The life of man, and given it to grasp The master-key of knowledge, reverence, Enfolds some germs of goodness and of
right; Else never had the eager soul, which
loathes The slothful down of pampered ignorance, Found in it even a moment's fitful rest.
There is an instinct in the human heart Which makes that all the fables it hath
coined, To justify the reign of its belief And strengthen it by beauty's right divine, Veil in their inner cells a mystic gift, Which, like the hazel twig, in faithful
hands, Points surely to the hidden springs of truth. For, as in Nature naught is made in vain, 20 But all things have within their hull of
A wisdom and a meaning which may speak
wring Its needful food of truth, there ever is A sympathy with Nature, which reveals, Not less than her own works, pure gleams of light
30 And earnest parables of inward lore. Hear now this fairy legend of old Greece, As full of gracious youth and beauty still As the immortal freshness of that grace Carved for all ages on some Attic frieze. 35 But the green glooms beneath the shadowy oak,
63. lave, rest.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS 1. What is there about a spring day that gives you an impulse to follow a road out to the sunshine and the air? Do you like this comparison of the choosing of a life work with the choosing of a road in springtime?
2. What is 'suggested by the fact that the road "rolls through the heart of May”? What is meant by “the year's green fire"? What details does the poet bring in to show how wholly delightful the road is? Explain line 36.
3. What effect has the repetition in the last stanza of the first lines of the poem? Notice the use of color words, such as "sapphire day," "warm blue sea," "long white road"; find others.
4. Do you enjoy a poem that has a hidden meaning underneath the surface? Name some other poem you have read that is similar in this respect.
18. hazel twig, a reference to the belief that a hazel branch carried in the hand will indicate, by a downward twitch, the presence of water underground. hull of use, rough outside which covers and protects the important part. 85. Attic, here, Grecian; Attica was a division of ancient Greece.
75 And not a sound came to his straining ears But the low trickling rustle of the leaves, And far away upon an emerald slope The falter of an idle shepherd's pipe.
A youth named Rhæcus, wandering in
the wood, Saw an old oak just trembling to its fall, And, feeling pity of so fair a tree, He propped its gray trunk with admiring
care, And with a thoughtless footstep loitered
on. But, as he turned, he heard a voice behind That murmured "Rhæcus!" 'Twas as if
the leaves, Stirred by a passing breath, had murmured
it, And, while he paused bewildered, yet again It murmured "Rhæcus!" softer than a
breeze. He started, and beheld with dizzy eyes What seemed the substance of a happy
dream Stand there before him, spreading a warm
glow Within the green glooms of the shadowy
oak. It seemed a woman's shape, yet far too fair To be a woman, and with eyes too meek For any that were wont to mate with gods. All naked like a goddess stood she there, And like a goddess all too beautiful To feel the guilt-born earthliness of shame. “Rhæcus, I am the Dryad of this tree,” 56 Thus she began, dropping her low-toned
words Serene, and full, and clear, as drops of dew, “And with it I am doomed to live and die; The rain and sunshine are my caterers, Nor have I other bliss than simple life; Now ask me what thou wilt, that I can
give, And with a thankful joy it shall be thine."
Now, in those days of simpleness and faith,
80 Men did not think that happy things were
dreams Because they overstepped the narrow
bourne Of likelihood, but reverently deemed Nothing too wondrous or too beautiful To be the guerdon of a daring heart. So Rhæcus made no doubt that he was
blest, And all along unto the city's gate Earth seemed to spring beneath him as he
walked, The clear, broad sky looked bluer than its
wont, And he could scarce believe he had not
wings, Such sunshine seemed to glitter through his
veins Instead of blood, so light he felt and
Young Rhæcus had a faithful heart
enough, But one that in the present dwelt too much, And, taking with blithe welcome whatso
e'er Chance gave of joy, was wholly bound in
that, Like the contented peasant of a vale, Deemed it the world, and never looked be
yond. So, haply meeting in the afternoon Some comrades who were playing at the
dice, He joined them and forgot all else beside.
Answered: “What is there that can satisfy The endless craving of the soul but love? Give me thy love, or but the hope of that Which must be evermore my spirit's goal.” After a little pause she said again, 70 But with a glimpse of sadness in her tone, "I give it, Rhæcus, though a perilous gift; An hour before the sunset meet me here. And straightway there was nothing he
As if to light. And Rhæcus laughed and And he who scorns the least of Nature's said,
works Feeling how red and flushed he was with Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from all. loss,
Farewell! for thou canst never see me “By Venus! does he take me for a rose?”
more.” And brushed him off with rough, impatient hand.
Then Rhæcus beat his breast, and But still the bee came back, and thrice groaned aloud, again
And cried, “Be pitiful! forgive me yet Rhæcus did beat him off with growing This once, and I shall never need it more!” wrath.
“Alas!” the voice returned, “'tis thou art Then through the window flew the
blind, wounded bee,
Not I unmerciful; I can forgive, And Rhæcus, tracking him with angry But have no skill to heal thy spirit's eyes; eyes,
Only the soul hath power o'er itself.” Saw a sharp mountain-peak of Thessaly 115 With that again there murmured “NeverAgainst the red disk of the setting sun
more!" And instantly the blood sank from his And Rhæcus after heard no other sound heart,
Except the rattling of the oak's crisp As if its very walls had caved away.
150 Without a word he turned, and, rushing Like the long surf upon a distant shore, forth,
Raking the sea-worn pebbles up and down. Ran madly through the city and the gate, The night had gathered round him; o'er And o'er the plain, which now the wood's
the plain long shade,
The city sparkled with its thousand lights, By the low sun thrown forward broad and And sounds of revel fell upon his ear dim,
Harshly and like a curse; above, the sky, Darkened well-nigh unto the city's wall. With all its bright sublimity of stars,
Deepened, and on his forehead smote the
breeze; Quite spent and out of breath he reached
Beauty was all around him and delight, the tree,
But from that eve he was alone on earth. And, listening fearfully, he heard once
138-9. Compare with “The Ancient Mariner," stanza more The low voice murmur“Rhæcus!" close at hand;
NOTES AND QUESTIONS Whereat he looked around him, but could
1. Judging from the first line of the poem, see Naught but the deepening glooms beneath
what is the nature of the story following the
introduction? Why is ignorance represented as the oak.
resting upon “slothful down"? What does the Then sighed the voice: “Oh, Rhæcus!
poet say of each form of worship adopted by nevermore
men? How much of truth does he say is shown Shalt thou behold me or by day or night, 130 to the minds of all races? Me, who would fain have blessed thee with 2. What poems have you studied in which a love
something in Nature brings home a great truth More ripe and bounteous than ever yet -in which trees or flowers direct the thoughts Filled up with nectar any mortal heart;
to higher things? But thou didst scorn my humble messenger,
3. What does the first act of Rhæcus tell And sent'st him back to me with bruiséd
you as to the kind of young man he was?
Describe what he saw as he turned to answer wings.
the voice. Why was his wish a natural one? We spirits only show to gentle eyes, Read aloud the lines that tell of Rhæcus's We ever ask an undivided love,
4. What does the striking of the bee tell Thessaly, one of the divisions of ancient Greece. you about Rhæcus? How is his apparent for.
getfulness explained? Read aloud the Dryad's reproach. What meaning do you see for others besides Rhæcus in the lines "And he who scorns the least of Nature's works Is thenceforth exiled and shut out from all”?
5. Read the description given each time the Dryad disappeared. Does the poet make you feel sorry for Rhæcus? Does he make you feel that Rhæcus's punishment was deserved? Why could he not be given another chance?
TREES AND THE MASTER
Master came, Forspent with love and shame. But the olives they were not blind to Him, The little gray leaves were kind to Him; The thorn-tree had a mind to Him When into the woods He came.
Make thee to shudder and grow sick at
heartGo forth, under the open sky, and list To Nature's teachings, while from all
around Earth and her waters, and the depths of
airComes a still voice
Yet a few days, and thee The all-beholding sun shall see no more In all his course; nor yet in the cold ground, Where thy pale form was laid with many
tears, Nor in the embrace of ocean shall exist Thy image. Earth, that nourished thee,
shall claim Thy growth, to be resolved to earth again, And, lost each human trace, surrendering
up Thine individual being, shalt thou go To mix forever with the elements, To be a brother to the insensible rock And to the sluggish clod which the rude
swain Turns with his share and treads upon. The
oak Shall send his roots abroad and pierce thy
mold. Yet not to thine eternal resting-place Shalt thou retire alone; nor couldst thou
wish Couch more magnificent. Thou shalt lie
down With patriarchs of the infant world—with
kings, The powerful of the earth—the wise, the
good, Fair forms, and hoary seers of ages past, All in one mighty sepulcher. The hills Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun; the
vales Stretching in pensive quietness between; The venerable woods; rivers that move In majesty; and the complaining brooks That make the meadows green; and, poured
round all, Old Ocean's gray and melancholy wasteAre but the solemn decorations all Of the great tomb of man. The golden
sun, The planets, all the infinite host of heaven, Are shining on the sad abodes of death Through the still lapse of ages. All that
Out of the woods my Master went,
last, From under the trees they drew Him last, 'Twas on a tree they slew him-last, When out of the woods He came.
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT To him who in the love of Nature holds Communion with her visible forms, she
speaks A various language; for his gayer hours She has a voice of gladness, and a smile And eloquence of beauty; and she glides 5 Into his darker musings, with a mild And healing sympathy that steals away Their sharpness ere he is aware. When
thoughts Of the last bitter hour come like a blight Over thy spirit, and sad images Of the stern agony, and shroud, and pall, And breathless darkness, and the narrow
Like one who wraps the drapery of his
couch About him, and lies down to pleasant
The globe are but a handful to the tribes That slumber in its bosom. Take the
wings Of morning, pierce the Barcan wilderness, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon, and hears no
sound Save his own dashings—yet the dead are
there; And millions in those solitudes, since first The flight of years began, have laid them
down In their last sleep—the dead reign there
alone. So shalt thou rest, and what if thou with
draw In silence from the living, and no friend Take note of thy departure? All that
breathe Will share thy destiny. The gay will
laugh When thou art gone, the solemn brood of
NOTES AND QUESTIONS 1. Name some of the “visible forms" of Nature. What does Bryant say Nature does for those who love her? What does he mean?
2. What is meant by “the last bitter hour,” line 9? To what does the poet advise us to listen when the thought of death seems terrible? Who will be able to hear this still voice?
3. In the twelfth chapter of Ecclesiastes we read, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was, and the spirit shall return unto God Who gave it.” Read lines from “Thanatopsis" which show that the poet was thinking of the first part of this quotation. What lines tell of those lying in that "mighty sepulcher"?.
4. To make us understand that death is everywhere, the poet says that the earth is a tomb; what things are the decorations of this tomb? What comparison does the poet make between the number of the living and the number of the dead? Why does he mention the Barcan wilderness and the region of the Oregon River as having their dead?
5. In what lines does the call to action come? To what kind of life does the poet urge us? Why? What kind of action will make such a life?
Class Reading. Bring to class and read “Crossing the Bar," Tennyson; “Requiem," Stevenson.
UNDER THE GREENWOOD TREE
(A Song from As You Like It)
Unto the sweet bird's throat,
Here shall he see
Who doth ambition shun
10 Seeking the food he eats
And pleased with what he gets,
Here shall he see
15 But winter and rough weather.
81. Barcan, along the river Barca in Africa. son, the river now called the Columbia