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Selections From American Poetry by Margeret Sprague Carhart

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Come, my tan-faced children,
Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
Have you your pistols? have you your sharp-edged axes?
Pioneers! O pioneers!

For we cannot tarry here;
We must march, my darlings, we must bear the brunt of
We the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend,
Pioneers! O pioneers

O you youths, Western youths,
So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and
Plain I see you, Western youths, see you tramping with the
Pioneers! O pioneers

Have the elder races halted?
Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied over there
beyond the seas?
We take up the task eternal, and the burden and the
Pioneers! O pioneers!

All the past we leave behind,
We debouch upon a newer mightier world, varied world;
Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and
the march,
Pioneers! O pioneers

We detachments steady throwing,
Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains
Conquering, holding, daring, venturing as we go the
unknown ways,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

We primeval forests felling,
We the rivers stemming, vexing and piercing deep the mines
We the surface broad surveying, we the virgin soil
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Colorado men are we;
From the peaks gigantic, from the great Sierras and the
high plateaus,
From the mine and from the gully, from the hunting trail,
we come,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

From Nebraska, from Arkansas,
Central inland race are we, from Missouri, with the
continental blood intervein'd;
All the hands of comrades clasping, all the Southern, all
the Northern,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

O resistless restless race!
O beloved race in all! O my-breast aches with tender love
for all!
O I mourn and yet exult, I am rapt with love for all,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Raise the mighty mother mistress,
Waving high the delicate mistress, over all the starry
mistress (bend your heads all),
Raise the fang'd and warlike mistress, stern, impassive,
weapon'd mistress,
Pioneers! O pioneers!

See, my children, resolute children,
By those swarms upon our rear we must never yield or
Ages back in ghostly millions frowning there behind us
Pioneers! O pioneers!

On and on the compact ranks,
With accessions ever waiting, with the places of the dead
quickly fill'd,
Through the battle, through defeat, moving yet and never
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Minstrels latent on the prairies
(Shrouded bards of other lands, you may rest, you have
done your work),
Soon I hear you coming warbling, soon you rise and tramp
amid us,
Pioneers! 0 pioneers!

Not for delectations sweet,
Not the cushion and the slipper, not the peaceful, and the
Not the riches safe and palling, not for us the tame
Pioneers! O Pioneers!

Do the feasters gluttonous feast?
Do the corpulent sleepers sleep? have they lock'd and
bolted doors?
Still be ours the diet hard, and the blanket on the
Pioneers! O pioneers!

Has the night descended?
Was the road of late so toilsome? did we stop discouraged
nodding on our way?
Yet a passing hour I yield you in your tracks to pause
Pioneers! 0 pioneers

Till with sound of trumpet,
Far, far off the daybreak call--hark! how loud and clear I
hear it wind!
Swift! to the head of the army!--swift! Spring to your
Pioneers! O pioneers!



O Captain! My Captain! our fearful trip is done
The ship has weather'd every rack; the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring.
But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the bells;
Rise up--for you the flag is flung--for you the bugle trills--
For you bouquets and ribbon'd wreaths--for you the shores a-crowding
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning.
Here, Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head!
It is some dream that on the deck
You've fallen cold and dead.

My Captain does not answer, his lips are pale and still;
My father does not feel my arm, he has no pulse nor will.
The ship is anchor'd safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip the victor ship comes in with object won.
Exult, O shores! and ring, O bells!
But I with mournful tread
Walk the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead.



"One wishes she were more winning: yet there is no gainsaying that she
was clever; wonderfully well instructed for those days; a keen and close
observer; often dexterous in her verse--catching betimes upon epithets
that are very picturesque: But--the Tenth Muse is too rash."


Born in England, she married at sixteen and came to Boston, where she
always considered herself an exile. In 1644 her husband moved deeper
into the wilderness and there "the first professional poet of New
England" wrote her poems and brought up a family of eight children.
Her English publisher called her the "Tenth Muse, lately sprung up
in America."


2. Phoebus: Apollo, the Greek sun god, hence in poetry the sun.
7. delectable giving pleasure.
13. Dight: adorned.


"He was, himself, in nearly all respects, the embodiment of what was
great earnest, and sad, in Colonial New England.... In spite, however,
of all offences, of all defects, there are in his poetry an irresistible
sincerity, a reality, a vividness, reminding one of similar qualities in
the prose of John Bunyan."


Born in England, he was brought to America at the age of seven. He
graduated from Harvard College and then became a preacher. He later
added the profession of medicine and practiced both professions.


There seems to be no doubt that this poem was the most popular piece of
literature, aside from the Bible, in the New England Puritan colonies.
Children memorized it, and its considerable length made it sufficient for
many Sunday afternoons. Notice the double attempt at rhyme; the first,
third, fifth, and seventh lines rhyme within themselves; the second line
rhymes with the fourth, the sixth with the eighth. The pronunciation in
such lines as 35, 77, 79, 93, 99, 105, and 107 requires adaptation to
rhyme, as does the grammar in line 81, for example.

3. carnal: belonging merely to this world as opposed to spiritual.

11-15. See Matthew 25: 1-13.

40. wonted steads: customary places

PHILIP FRENEAU (1752-1832)

"The greatest poet born in America before the Revolutionary War.... His
best poems are a few short lyrics, remarkable for their simplicity,
sincerity, and love of nature."


Born in New York, he graduated from Princeton at the age of nineteen and
became school teacher, sea captain, interpreter, editor, and poet. He
lost his way in a severe storm and was found dead the next day.


29-30. Pharaoh: King of Egypt in the time of Joseph, who perished in the
Red Sea. See Exodus, Chapter xiv.

34. epitaph: an inscription in memory of the dead.

36. Charon: the Greek mythical boatman on the River Styx.


Eutaw Springs. Sept. 8th 1781, the Americans under General Greene fought
a battle which was successful for the Americans, since Georgia and the
Carolinas were freed from English invasion.

21. Greene: Nathanael Greene of Rhode Island was one of the men who
became a leader early in the war and who in spite of opposition and
failure stood by the American cause through all the hard days of the war.

25. Parthian: the soldiers of Parthia were celebrated as horse-archers.
Their mail-clad horseman spread like a cloud round the hostile army and
poured in a shower of darts. Then they evaded any closer conflict by a
rapid flight, during which they still shot their arrows backwards upon
the enemy. See Smith, Classical Dictionary.


He was "a mathematician, a chemist, a physicist, a mechanician, an
inventor, a musician and a composer of music, a man of literary knowledge
and practice, a writer of airy and dainty songs, a clever artist with
pencil and brush, and a humorist of unmistakable power."


Born in Philadelphia, he graduated from the College of Philadelphia and
began the practice of law. He signed the Declaration of Independence and
held various offices under the federal government. "The Battle of the
Kegs" is his best-known production.


59. Stomach: courage.


"His legal essays and decisions were long accepted as authoritative; but
he will be longest remembered for his national song, `Hail Columbia,'
written in 1798, which attained immediate popularity and did much to
fortify wavering patriotism."



For the story of Nathan Hale see any good history of the American
Revolution. He is honored by the students of Yale as one of its noblest
graduates, and the building in which he lived has been remodeled and
marked with a memorial tablet, while a bronze statue stands before it.
This is the last of Yale's old buildings and will now remain for many

31. minions: servile favorites.

48. presage: foretell.

TIMOTHY DWIGHT (1752-1817)

"He was in many ways the first of the great modern college presidents; if
his was the day of small things, he nevertheless did so many of them and
did them so well that he deserves admiration."

Born in Northampton, Mass., he graduated from Yale and was then made a
tutor there. He became an army chaplain in 1777, but his father's death
made his return home necessary. He became a preacher later and finally
president of Yale. His hymn, "Love to the Church," is the one thing we
most want to keep of all his several volumes.


"Our best patriotic ballads and popular lyrics are, of course, based upon
sentiment, aptly expressed by the poet and instinctively felt by the
reader. Hence just is the fame and true is the love bestowed upon the
choicest songs of our 'single-poem poets': upon Samuel Woodworth's `Old
OakenBucket,' etc."

Born at Scituate, Mass., he had very little education. His father
apprenticed him to a Boston printer while he was a young boy. He
remained in the newspaper business all his life, and wrote numerous
poems, and several operas which were produced.


"A moralist, dealing chiefly with death and the more sombre phases of
life, a lover and interpreter of nature, a champion of democracy and
human freedom, in each of these capacities he was destined to do
effective service for his countrymen, and this work was, as it were, cut
out for him in his youth, when he was laboring in the fields, attending
corn-huskings and cabin-raisings, or musing beside forest streams."


Born in a mill-town village in western Massachusetts, he passed his
boyhood on the farm. Unable to complete his college course, he practiced
law until 1824, when he became editor of the New York Review. He
continued all his life to be a man of letters.

The poems by Bryant are used by permission of D. Appleton and Company,
authorized publishers of his works.


34. patriarchs of the infant world: the leaders of the Hebrews before
the days of history.

61. Barcan wilderness: waste of North Africa.

54. Why does Bryant suggest "the wings of the morning" to begin such a
survey of the world? Would he choose the Oregon now?

28. ape: mimic.

This poem is very simple in its form and is typical of Bryant's nature
poems. First, is his observation of the waterfowl's flight and his
question about it. Secondly, the answer is given. Thirdly, the
application is made to human nature. Do you find such a comparison of
nature and human nature in any other poems by Bryant?

9. plashy: swampy.

l5. illimitable: boundless.


Green River, flows near Great Barrington where Bryant practised law.

33. simpler: a collector of herbs for medicinal use.

58. This reference to Bryant's profession is noteworthy. His ambition
for a thorough literary training was abandoned on account of poverty. He
then took up the study of law and practiced it in Great Barrington,
Mass., for nine years. His dislike of this profession is here very
plainly shown. He abandoned it entirely in 1824 and gave himself to
literature. "I Broke the Spell That Held Me Long" also throws a light on
his choice of a life work.


With this may be compared with profit Shelley's "Ode to the West Wind"
and Kingsley's "Ode to the Northeast Wind." State the contrast between
the ideas of the west wind held by Shelley and by Bryant.


2. architrave: the beam resting on the top of the column and supporting
the frieze.

5. From these details can you form a picture of this temple in its
exterior and interior? Is it like a modern church?

darkling: dimly seen; a poetic word. Do you find any other adjectives in
this poem which are poetic words?

23. Why is the poem divided here? Is the thought divided? Connected?
Can you account in the same way for the divisions at lines 68 and 89?

34. vaults: arched ceilings.

44. instinct: alive, animated by.

66. emanation: that which proceeds from a source, as fragrance is an
emanation from flowers.

89. This idea that death is the source of other life everywhere in
nature is a favorite one with Bryant. It is the fundamental thought in
his first poem, "Thanatopsis" (A View of Death), which may be read in
connection with "The Forest Hymn."

96. Emerson discusses this question in "The Problem," See selections
from Emerson.


26. Bryant's favorite sister, Mrs. Sarah Bryant 8hav, died shortly
after her marriage, of tuberculosis. This poem alludes to her and is in
its early lines the saddest poem Bryant ever wrote. Notice the change of
tone near the end.

29. unmeet: unsuitable.


b. hang-bird: the American oriole, which hangs its nest from a branch.

8. wilding: the wild bee which belongs to no hive.


No description of this flower can give an adequate idea of its beauty.
The following account, from Reed's " Flower Guide, East of the Rockies,"
expresses the charm of the flower well: "Fringed Gentian because of its
exquisite beauty and comparative rarity is one of the most highly prized
of our wild flowers." "During September and October we may find these
blossoms fully expanded, delicate, vase-shaped creations with four
spreading deeply fringed lobes bearing no resemblance in shape or form to
any other American species. The color is a violet-blue, the color that
is most attractive to bumblebees, and it is to these insects that the
flower is indebted for the setting of its seed.... The flowers are wide
open only during sunshine, furling in their peculiar twisted manner on
cloudy days and at night. In moist woods from Maine to Minnesota and

This guide gives a good colored picture of the flower as do Matthews'
"Field Guide to American Wildflowers" and many other flower books.

8. ground-bird: the vesper sparrow, so called because of its habit of
singing in the late evening. Its nest is made of grass and placed in a
depression on the ground.

11. portend: indicate by a sign that some event, usually evil, is about
to happen.

16. cerulean: deep, clear blue.


4. Marion, Francis (1732-1795), in 1750 took command of the militia of
South Carolina and carried on a vigorous partisan warfare against the
English. Colonel Tarleton failed o find "the old swamp fox," as he named
him, because the swamp paths of South Carolina were well known to him.
See McCrady, "South Carolina in the Revolution," for full particulars of
his life.

21. deem: expect.

30. up: over, as in the current expression, "the time is up."

41. barb: a horse of the breed introduced by the Moors From Barbary into
Spain and noted for speed and endurance.

49. Santee: a river in South Carolina.

32. throes: agony.

44. Compare this final thought with the solution in "To a "Waterfowl."


32. throes: agony

44. Compare this final thought with the solution in "To a Waterfowl."


All the New England poets felt the charm of falling snow, and several
have written on the theme. In connection with this poem read Emerson's
"Snow-Storm" and Whittier's "The Frost Spirit." The best known of all is
Whittier's "Snow-Bound "; the first hundred and fifty lines may well be
read here.

9. living swarm: like a swarm of bees from the hidden chambers of the

12. prone: straight down.

17. snow-stars: what are the shapes of snowflakes

20. Milky way: the white path which seems to lead acre. the sky at
night and which is composed of millions of stars.

21. burlier: larger and stronger.

35. myriads: vast, indefinite number.

37. middle: as the cloud seems to be between us and the blue sky, so the
snowflakes before they fell occupied a middle position.


"Robert of Lincoln" is the happiest, merriest poem written by Bryant. It
is characteristic of the man that it should deal with a nature topic. In
what ways does he secure the merriment?

Analyze each stanza as to structure. Does the punctuation help to
indicate the speaker?

Look up the Bobolink in the Bird Guide or some similar book. How much
actual information did Bryant have about the bird? Compare the amount of
bird-lore given here with that of Shelley's or Wordsworth's "To a
Skylark." Which is more poetic? Which interests you more?


5. deem: consider. Compare with the use in the "Song of Marion's Men,"

8. wreak: carry them out in your verse. The word usually has an angry
idea associated with it. The suggestion may be here of the frenzy of a

26. unaptly: not suitable to the occasion.

30. Only in a moment of great emotion (rapture) should the poet revise a
poem which was penned when his heart was on fire with the idea of the

38. limn: describe vividly.

54. By this test where would you place Bryant himself? Did he do what
he here advises? In what poems do you see evidences of such a method?
Compare your idea of him with Lowell's estimate in "A Fable for Critics,"
ll. 35-56.


In connection with this poem the following stanza from "The Battle-Field"
seems very appropriate:

"Truth, crushed to Earth, shill rise again;
The eternal years of God are hers;
But Error, wounded, writhes with pain,
And dies among his worshippers."

The American people certainly felt that Truth was Brushed to Earth with
Lincoln's death, but believed that it would triumph.


Born in Maryland, he graduated from St. John's College, Md., and
practiced law in Frederick City, Md. He was district attorney for the
District of Columbia during the War of 1812 and while imprisoned by the
British on board the ship Minden, Sept. 13, 1814, he witnessed the
British attack on Fort McHenry and wrote this national anthem.


30. Why is this mentioned as our motto?


The "Culprit Fay" is so much better than American poetry had previously
been that one is at first disposed to speak of it enthusiastically. An
obvious comparison puts it in true perspective. Drake's life happened
nearly to coincide with that of Keats.... Amid the full fervor of
European experience Keats produced immortal work; Drake, whose whole life
was passed amid the national inexperience of New York, produced only
pretty fancies."


Born in New York, he practiced medicine there. He died of tuberculosis
at the age of twenty-five, and left behind him manuscript verses which
were later published by his daughter. "The Culprit Fay," from which
selections are here given, is generally considered one of the best
productions of early American literature.


6. milky baldric: the white band supposed by the ancients to circle the
earth and called the zodiac. He may here mean the Milky Way as part of
this band.

46. careering: rushing swiftly.

47. bellied: rounded, filled out by the gale.

56. welkin: sky.


25. ising-stars: particles of mica.

30. minim: smallest. What objection may be made to this word?

37. Ouphe: elf or goblin.

45. behest: command.

78. shandy: resembling a shell or a scale.

94. oozy: muddy.

107. colen-bell: coined by Drake, probably the columbine.

114. nightshade: a flower also called henbane or belladonna. dern:

119. thrids: threads, makes his way through.

160. prong: probably a prawn; used in this sense only in this one

165. quarl: jelly fish.

178. wake-line: showing by a line of foam the course over which he has

193. amain: at full speed.

210. banned: cursed as by a supernatural power.

216. henbane: see note on line 114.

223. fatal: destined to determine his fate.

245. sculler's notch: depression in which the oar rested.

255. wimpled: undulated.

257. athwart: across.

306. glossed: having gloss, or brightness.

329. This is only the first of the exploits of the Culprit Fay.
The second quest is described by the monarch as follows

"If the spray-bead gem be won,
The stain of thy wing is washed away,
But another errand must be done
Ere thy crime be lost for aye;
Thy flame-wood lamp is quenched and dark,
Thou must re-illume its spark.
Mount thy steed and spur him high
To the heaven's blue canopy;
And when thou seest a shooting star,
Follow it fast, and follow it far
The last feint spark of its burning train
Shall light the elfin lamp again."


"The poems of Halleck are written with great care and finish, and
manifest the possession of a fine sense of harmony and of genial and
elevated sentiments."


Born in Guilford, Conn., he was the closest friend of Drake, at whose
death he wrote his best poem, which is given in this collection. "Marco
Bozzaris" aroused great enthusiasm, which has now waned in favor of his
simple lines, "On the Death of Joseph Rodman Drake."


Marco Bozzaris (c. 1790-1823) was a prominent leader in the struggle for
Greek liberty and won many victories from the Turks. During the night of
August 20, 1823, the Greeks won a complete victory which was saddened by
the loss of Bozzaris, who fell while leading his men to the final attack.

13. Suliote: a tribe of Turkish subjects of mixed Greek and Albanian
blood, who steadily opposed Turkish rule and won for themselves a
reputation for bravery. They fought for Grecian independence under Marco

16-22. These lines refer to the military history of Greece. See
Encyclopedia Britannica--article on Greece (Persian Wars subtitle) for
account of the Persian invasion and battle of Plataea.

79. What land did Columbus see first? Where did he from? Why then is
he called a Genoese?

107. pilgrim-circled: visited by pilgrims as are shrines.

JOHN HOWARD PAYNE (1791--1802)

Born in New York, he graduated from Union College and later went on the
stage. He was appointed U.S. Consul to Tunis, where he died. He is now
best remembered by "home Sweet Home" from one of his operas.

EDGAR ALLAN POE (1809-1849)

"Small as the quantity of his true verse is, it more sustains his
peculiar genius in American eyes than does his prose; and this is because
it is so unique. He stands absolutely alone as a poet, with none like

Born in Boston, he spent most of his literary years in New York. His
parents, both actors, died when he was still a little child, and he was
adopted by Mr. Allan, who educated him in Europe. He served as literary
editor and hack writer for several journals and finally died in poverty.


"To Helen" is said to have been written in 1823, when Poe was only
fourteen years old. It refers to Mrs. Jane Stith Stanard, the mother of
one of his school friends, whose death was a terrible blow to the
sensitive lad. This loss was the cause of numerous poems of sorrow for
death and permanently influenced his work.

2. Nicean: Nicaea, the modern Iznik in Turkey, was anciently a Greek

2. Nicean barks: the Greek ships that bore the wanderer, Ulysses, from
Phaeacia to his home. Read "The Wanderings of Ulysses" in Gayley's
Classic Myths, Chapter XXVII.

7. hyacinth: like Hyacinthus, the fabled favorite of Apollo; hence
lovely, beautiful.

8. Naiad: a nymph presiding over fountains, lakes, brooks, and wells.

14. Psyche, a beautiful maiden beloved of Cupid, whose adventure with
the lamp is told in all classical mythologies.


Israfel, according to the Koran, is the angel with the sweetest voice
among God's creatures. He will blow the trump on the day of

2. The idea that Israfel's lute was more than human is taken from
Moore's "Lalla Rookh," although these very words do not occur there. The
reference will be found in the last hundred lines of the poem.

12. levin: lightning.

26. Houri: one of the beautiful girls who, according to the Moslem
faith, are to be companions of the faithful in paradise.


13. Peccavimus: we have sinned.

20. Avaunt: Begone! Away!

26. Paean: song of joy or triumph.


10. Eld: antiquity.

14. See Matthew 26: 36-56.

16. The Chaldxans were the world's greatest astrologers.

26-29. Poe here uses technical architectural terms with success.

plinth: the block upon which a column or a statue rests.

shafts: the main part of a column between the base and the capital.

entablatures: the part of a building borne by the columns.

frieze: an ornamented horizontal band in the entablature.

cornices: the horizontal molded top of the entablatures.

32. corrosive: worn away by degrees; used figuratively of time.

36. At Thebes there is a statue which is supposed to be Memnon, the
mythical king of Ethiopia, and which at daybreak was said to emit the
music of the lyre.


19. Astarte: the Phoenician goddess of love.


41. Pallas: Greek goddess of wisdom.

46-47. Night's Plutonian shore: Pluto ruled over the powers of the lower
world and over the dead. Darkness and gloom are constantly associated
with him; the cypress tree was sacred to him and black victims were
sacrificed to him. Why does the coming of the raven suggest this realm
to the poet?

50. relevancy: appropriateness.

80. Seraphim: one of the highest orders of angels

82. respite and nepenthe: period of peace and forgetting.

89. balm in Gilead. See Jeremiah 8: 22; 46: 11 and Genesis 37: 25.

93. Aideen, fanciful spelling of Eden.

106. This line has been often criticized on the ground that a lamp could
not cause any shadow on the floor if the bird sat above the door. Poe
answered this charge by saying: "My conception was that of the bracket
candelabrum affixed against the wall, high up above the door and bust, as
is often seen in English palaces, and even in some of the better houses
of New York."

What effect does this poem have upon you? Work out the rhyme scheme in
the first and second stanzas. Are they alike? Does this rhyme scheme
help to produce the effect of the poem? Have you noticed a similar use
of "more" in any other poem? Point out striking examples of repetition,
of alliteration. Are there many figures of speech here?


This Helen is Mrs. Whitman.

15. parterre: a flower garden whose beds are arranged in a pattern and
separated by walks.

48. Dian: Roman goddess representing the moon.

60. elysian: supremely happy.

65. scintillant: sending forth flashes of light.

66. Venuses: morning stars.


"The Bells" originally consisted of eighteen lines, and was gradually
enlarged to its present form.

10. Runic: secret, mysterious.

11. Why does Poe use this peculiar word? Compare its use with that of
"euphony," 1. 26, "jangling," 1. 62, "moLotone" 1. 8'3.

26. euphony: the quality of having a pleasant sound.

72. monody: a musical composition in which some one voice-part

88. Ghouls: imaginary evil beings of the East who rob graves.


6. Eldorado: any region where wealth may be obtained is abundance;
hence, figuratively, the source of any abundance, as here.

21. "Valley of the Shadow" suggests death and is a fitting close to
Poe's poetic work.


"His verse blooms like a flower, night and day;
Bees cluster round his rhymes; and twitterings
Of lark and swallow, in an endless May,
Are mingling with the tender songs he sings.
Nor shall he cease to sing--in every lay
Of Nature's voice he sings--and will alway."


Born in Portland, Maine, he graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825 and
went abroad to prepare himself to teach the modern languages. He taught
until 1854, when he became a professional author. During the remaining
years of his fife he lived quietly at Craigie House in Cambridge and
there he died.

The poems by Longfellow are used by permission of, and by special
arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of his


"Night, thrice welcome."
"Night, undesired by Troy, but to the Greeks
Thrice welcome for its interposing gloom."


21. Orestes-like. Orestes, the son of Agamemnon and Clytemnestra,
avenged the death of his father by killing his mother. The Furies chased
him for many years through the world until at last he found pardon and
peace. The story is told in several Greek plays, but perhaps best in
AEschylus' "Libation Pourers" and "Furies"


"I kept it," he said, "some time in manuscript, unwilling to show it to
any one, it being a voice from my inmost heart."

7. "Dust thou art": quoted from Genesis 3:19, "Dust thou art, and unto
dust shalt thou return."

10. Pope in Epistle IV of his "Essay on Man" says: "0 happiness! our
being's end and aim." How does Longfellow differ with him?


The Skeleton in Armor. "The following Ballad was suggested to me while
riding on the seashore at Newport. A year or two previous a skeleton had
been dug up at Fall River, clad in broken and corroded armor; and the
idea occurred to me of connecting it with the Round Tower at Newport,
generally known hitherto as the Old Windmill, though now claimed by the
Danes as a work of their early ancestors."

19. Skald: a Scandinavian minstrel who composed and sang or recited
verses in celebration of famous deeds, heroes, and events.

"And there, in many a stormy vale,
The Scald had told his wondrous tale."

-SCOTT, Lay of the Last Minstrel, can. 6, St. 22.

20. Saga: myth or heroic story.

28. ger-falcon: large falcon, much used in northern Europe in falconry.

38. were-wolf: a person who had taken the form of a wolf and had become
a cannibal. The superstition was that those who had voluntarily become
wolves could become men again at will.

42. corsair: pirate. Originally "corsair" was applied to privateers off
the Barbary Coast who preyed upon Christian shipping under the authority
of their governments.

49. "wassail-bout": festivity at which healths are drunk.

53. Berserk. Berserker was a legendary Scandinavian hero who never wore
a shirt of mail. In general, a warrior who could assume the form and
ferocity of wild beasts, and whom fire and iron could not harm.

94. Sea-mew: a kind of European gull.

110. Skaw: a cape on the coast of Denmark.

159. Skoal!: Hail! a toast or friendly greeting used by the Norse
especially in poetry.


On Dec. 17, 1839, Longfellow wrote in his journal: "News of shipwrecks
horrible, on the coast. Forty bodies washed ashore near Gloucester, one
lashed to a piece of the wreck. There is a reef called Norman's Woe,
where many of these took place; among others the schooner Hesperus."

On Dec. 30 he added: "Sat till one o'clock by the fire, smoking, when
suddenly it came into my head to write the Ballad of the schooner
Hesperus, which I accordingly did. Then went o bed, but could not sleep.
New thoughts were running in my mind, and I got up to add them to the
ballad. It was three by the clock."... "I feel pleased with the ballad.
it hardly cost mean effort. It did not come into my mind by lines but by

In a letter to Mr. Charles Lanman on Nov. 24, 1871, Mr. Longfellow said:
"I had quite forgotten about its first publication; but I find a letter
from Park Benjamin, dated Jan. 7, 1840, beginning...as follows:--

"`Your ballad, The Wreck of the Hesperus, is grand. Enclosed are twenty-
five dollars (the sum you mentioned) for it, paid by the proprietors of
The New World, in which glorious paper it will resplendently coruscate on
Saturday next.'"

11. flaw: a sudden puff of wind.

14. Spanish Main: a term applied to that portion of the Caribbean Sea
near the northeast coast of South America, including the route followed
by Spanish merchant ships traveling between Europe and America.

37-48. This little dialogue reminds us of the "Erlkonig," a ballad by

66. See Luke 8: 22-25.

60. Norman's Woe: a reef in", W. Glouster harbor, Mass.

70. carded wool. The process of carding wool, cotton, flax, etc.
removes by a wire-toothed brush foreign matter and dirt, and leaves it
combed out and cleansed.


7. Crisp, and black, and long. Mr. Longfellow says that before this
poem was published, he read it to his barber. The man objected that
crisp black hair was never long, and as a result the author delayed
publication until be was convinced in his own mind that no other
adjectives would give a truer picture of the blacksmith as he saw him.

39-42. Mr. Longfellow's friends agree that these lines depict his own
industry and temperament better than any others can.


No hay pajaros en los nidos de antano. Translated in lines 12 and 24.

8. freighted: heavily laden.


Mr. Longfellow explained fully the allegory of this poem in a letter to
Mr. Henry T. Tuckerman. He said: "This (his intention) was no more than
to display, in a series of pictures, the life of a man of genius,
resisting all temptations, laying aside all fears, heedless of all
warnings, and pressing right on to accomplish his purpose. His motto is
Excelsior, `higher.' He passes through the Alpine village,--through the
rough, cold paths of the world--where the peasants cannot understand him,
and where his watchword is `an unknown tongue.' He disregards the
happiness of domestic peace, and sees the glaciers--his fate--before him.
He disregards the warnings of the old man's wisdom.... He answers to
all, `Higher yet'! The monks of St. Bernard are the representatives of
religious forms and ceremonies, and with their oft-repeated prayer
mingles the sound of his voice, telling them there is something higher
than forms and ceremonies. Filled with these aspirations he perishes
without having reached the perfection he longed for; and the voice heard
in the air is the promise of immortality and progress ever upward."

Compare with this Tennyson's " Merlin and The Gleam," in which he tells
his own experience.

7. falchion: a sword with a broad and slightly curved blade, used in the
Middle Ages; hence, poetically, any type of sword.


26. In this stanza and the two following Longfellow describes what his
poems have come to mean to us and the place they hold in American life.
Compare with Whittier's "Dedication" to "Songs of Labor," Il. 26-36.


Walter von der Vogelweide: the most celebrated of medieval German lyric
poets, who lived about the year 1200. He belonged to the lower order of
"nobility of service." He livedin Tyrol, then the home of famous
minnesingers from whom he learned his art.

4. Walter von der Vogelweide is buried in the cloisters adjoining the
Neumiinster church in Wiirtzburg, which dates from the eleventh century.

10. The debt of the poet to the birds has been dwelt upon in many poems,
the best known of which are Shelley's " Skylark" and Wordsworth's "To the

27. War of Wartburg. In 1207 there occurred in this German castle, the
Wartburg, a contest of the minstrels of the time. Wagner has
immortalized this contest in "Tannhauser," in which he describes the
victory of Walter von der Vogelweide over all the other singers.

42. Gothic spire. See note on "The Builders" 11. 17-19.


17-19. The perfection of detail in the structure and sculpture of Gothic
cathedrals may be seen in the cathedrals of Chartres and Amiens.
Numerous beautiful illustrations may be found in Marriage, "The
Sculptures of Chartres Cathedral," and in Ruskin, "The Bible of Amiens."


Santa Filomena stands for Miss Florence Nightingale, who did remarkable
work among the soldiers wounded in the Crimean War (1854-56). This poem
was published in 1857 while the story of her aid was fresh in the minds
of the world.

42. The palm, the lily, and the spear: St. Filomena is represented in
many Catholic churches and usually with these three emblems to signify
her victory, purity, and martyrdom. Sometimes an anchor replaces the


King Alfred's Orosius. Orosius, a Spaniard of the fifth century A.D.,
wrote at the request of the church a history of the world down to 414
A.D. King Alfred (849-901) translated this work and added at least one
important story, that of the voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan. The part
of the story used by Longfellow may be found in Cook and Tinkers's
Translations from Old English Prose, in Bosworth's, and in Sweet's

2. Helgoland: an island in the North Sea, belonging to Prussia.

42. Hebrides: islands west of Scotland.

90. a nameless sea. They sailed along the coast of Lapland and into the
White Sea.

96-100. Alfred reports simply, "He says he was one of a party of six who
killed sixty of these in two days."

116. The original says: "He made this voyage, in addition to his purpose
of seeing the country, chiefly for walruses, for they have very good bone
in their teeth--they brought some of these teeth to the king--and their
hides are very good for ship-ropes."


Sandalphon: one of the oldest angel figures in the Jewish system. In the
second century a Jewish writing described him as follows: "He is an angel
who stands on the earth.. ; he is taller than his fellows by the length
of a journey of 500 years; he binds crowns for his Creator." These
crowns are symbols of praise, and with them he brings before the Deity
the prayers of men. See the Jewish Encyclopaedia for further

1. Talmud: the work which embodies the Jewish law of church and state.
It consists of texts, and many commentaries and illustrations.

12. Refers to Genesis 28: 10-21.

39. Rabbinical: pertaining to Jewish rabbis or teachers of law.

44. welkin: poetical term for the sky.

48. nebulous: indistinct.


The "Tales of a Wayside Inn" were series of stories told on three
separate days by the travelers at the Inn at Sudbury, Mass. It is the
same device used by writers since the days of Chaucer, but cleverly
handled furnishes an interesting setting for a variety of tales. Some of
Longfellow's best-known narratives are in these series, among them the
following selections.

The story is self-explanatory. It is probably the best example of the
simple poetic narrative of an historic event.

107-110. The reference is to one of the seven men who were killed at
Lexington--possibly to Jonathan Harrington, Jr., who dragged himself to
his own door-step before he died. Many books tell the story, but the
following are the most interesting; Gettemy, Chas. F. True "Story of Paul
Revere:" Colburn, F., The Battle of April 19, 1775.


This story of King Robert of Sicily is very old, as it is found among the
short stories of the Gesta Romanorum written in the thirteenth and
fourteenth centuries.

17. seditious: tending towards disorder and treason.

52. besprent: poetic for besprinkled.

66. seneschal: the official in the household of a prince of high noble
who had the supervision of feasts and ceremonies.

106. Saturnian: the fabled reign of the god Saturn was the golden age of
the world, characterized by simplicity, virtue, and happiness.

110. Enceladus, the giant. Longfellow's poem "Enceladus" emphasizes
this reference. For the story of the giants and the punishment of
Enceladus see any good Greek mythology.


9. dial: the sun-dial was the clock of the time.

41. iteration: repetition.

49. dole: portion.

bl. almoner: official dispenser of alms.

100. See Matthew 25: 40.


"Best loved and saintliest of our singing train,
Earth's noblest tributes to thy name belong.
A lifelong record closed without a stain,
A blameless memory shrived in deathless song."


Born at East Haverhill, Mass., in surroundings which he faithfully
describes in "Snow-Bound," he had little education. At the age of
twenty-two he secured an editorial position in Boston and continued to
write all his life. For some years he devoted all his literary ability
to the cause of abolition, and not until the success of "Snow-Bound" in
1866 was he free from poverty.

The poems by Whittier are used by permission of, and by special
arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of his


Proem: preface or introduction.

3. Spenser, Edmund (1552-1599). His best-known work is the "Faerie

4. Arcadian Sidney: Sir Philip Sidney (1554-1586); an English courtier,
soldier, and author. He stands as a model of chivalry. He was mortally
wounded at the battle of Zutphen. "Arcadia" was his greatest work; hence
the epithet here.

23. plummet-line: a weight suspended by a line used to test the
verticality of walls, etc. Here used as if in a sounding process.

30. Compare this opinion of his own work with Lowell's comments in "A
Fable for Critics." How do they agree?

32. For Whittier's opinion of Milton see also " Raphael," I. 7 0, and "
Burns," 1. 104.

33. Marvell, Andrew (1621-1678): an English statesman, poet, and
satirist, friend of Milton.


Whittier has an intense love and appreciation of winter. With this poem
may be read "Snow Bound," the last stanzas of "Flowers in Winter," and
"Lumbermen." Many others may be added to this list. Do you find this
same idea in other poets?

11. Hecla: a volcano in Iceland which has had 28 known eruptions--one as
late as 1878. It rises 5100 feet above the sea and has a bare irregular-
shaped cone. Its appearance is extremely wild and desolate.


8. The o'er-sunned bloom.... In this collection of poems are a few
written in his youth, the more mature works of the "summer" of his life,
and the later works of his old age. The figure here is carefully carried
through and gives a clear, simplified picture of his literary life.

22. Whittier himself noted that he was indebted for this line to
Emerson's "Rhodora"

26-3b. Compare Longfellow's "The Day is Done" for another idea of the
influence of poetry.

36. Compare Genesis 3: 17-19.

43-45. Compare Luke 2: 51-52.


33. Ambijejis: lake in central Maine.

35. Millnoket: a lake in central Maine.

39. Penobscot: one of the most beutiful of Maine rivers. It is about
300 miles long and flows through the central part of the state.

42. Katahdin: Mount Katahdin is 5385 feet in height and is usually snow-


Barclay of Ury: David Barclay (1610-1686). Served under Gustavus
Adolphus, was an officer in the Scotch army during Civil War. He bought
the estate of Ury, near Aberdeen, in 1648. He was arrested after the
Restoration and for a short time was confined to Edinburgh Castle, where
he was converted to Quakerism by a fellow prisoner. His son, also a
Quaker, heard of the imprisonment mentioned in this poem and attempted to
rescue his father. During the years between this trouble in 1676 and his
death in 1686, the persecution seems to have been directed largely
against his son. (See Dictionary of National Biography for details.)
Whinier naturally felt keenly on this subject, as he himself was a

1. Aberdeen: capital of Aberdeenshire, and chief seaport in north of
Scotland; fourth Scottish town in population, industry, and wealth. The
buildings of Aberdeen College, founded in 1494, are the glory of

7. churl: a rude, low-bred fellow.

10. carlin: a bluff, good-natured man.

35. Lutzen: a town in Saxony where the Swedes under Gustavus Adolphus
defeated the Austrians, Nov. 16, 1632.

36. Gustavus Adolphus, "The Great" (1594-1632). He was one of the great
Swedish kings, and was very prominent in the Thirty Years' War (1618-

56. Tilly: Johann Tserklaes, Count von Tilly, a German imperial
commander in the Thirty Years' War.

57. Walloon: a people akin to the French, inhabiting Belgium and some
districts of Prussia. They have great vivacity than the Flemish, and
more endurance than the French.

66. Jewry: Judea.

76. reeve: a bailiff or overseer.

31. snooded. The unmarried women of Scotland formerly wore a band
around their heads to distinguish them from married women.

99. Tolbooth: Scotch word for prison.

126. This idea is expanded in the poem "Seed-time and Harvest."


Raphael Sanzio (1483-1520), the great Italian painter. Trained first by
his father, later by the great Perugino. His work was done mainly in
Florence and Rome.

6. This picture is the portrait of Raphael when scarcely more than a

17. Gothland's sage: Sweden's wise man, Emanuel Swedenborg.

36. Raphael painted many madonnas, but the word "drooped" limits this
description. Several might be included under this: "The Small Holy
Family," "The Virgin with the Rose," or, most probable of all to me, "The
Madonna of the Chair."

37. the Desert John: John the Baptist.

40. "The Transfiguration" is not as well known as some of the madonnas,
but shows in wonderful manner Raphael's ability to handle a large group
of people, without detracting from the central figure. It is now in the
Vatican Gallery, at Rome.

42. There are few great Old Testament stories which are not depicted by
Raphael. Among them are The Passage Through Jordan, The Fall of Jericho,
Joshua Staying the Sun, David and Goliath, The Judgment of Solomon, The
Building of the Temple, Moses Bringing the Tables of the Law, the Golden
Calf, and many others equally well known.

45. Fornarina. This well-known portrait is now in the Palazzo Barberini
in Rome.

70. holy song on Milton's tuneful ear. Poetry and painting are here
spoken of together as producing permanent effects, and from the figure he
uses we may add music to the list. Compare Longfellow's "The Arrow and
the Song." In the last stanza the field is still further broadened until
his thought is that all we do lives after us.


Whittier's intense interest in Freedom is here apparent. His earlier
poems were largely on the slavery question in America. His best work was
not done until he began to devote his poetic ability to a wider range of

26. See Longfellow, "A Psalm of Life," 11. 9-12 and note.


12. Samuel Sewall is one of the most interesting characters in colonial
American history. He was born in England in 1652, but came to America
while still a child. He graduated from Harvard College in 1671 and finally
became a justice of the peace. He was instrumental in the Salem witchcraft
decision, but later bitterly repented. He made in 1697 a public confession
of his share in the matter and begged that God would "not visit the sin...
upon the Land."

28. Hales Reports. Sir Matthew Hale (1609-1676) was one of the most
eminent judges of England. From 1671 to 1676 he occupied the position of
Chief Justice of the King's Bench, the highest judicial position in
England. Sewall was depending upon an authority of the day.

32. warlock's: a wizard, one who deals in incantations; synonymous with

46. Theocracy: a state governed directly by the ministers of God.

58. hand-grenade: a hollow shell, filled with explosives, arranged to be
thrown by hand among the enemy and to explode on impact.

73. Koordish robber. The Kurds were a nomadic people living in
Kurdistan, Persia, and Caucasia. They were very savage and vindictive,
specially towards Armenians. The Sheik was the leader of a clan or town
and as such had great power.

81. Newbury, Mass. Judge Sewall's father was one of the founders of the

130-156. This prophecy is most effective in its use of local color for a
spiritual purpose. Beginning with local conditions which might be
changed, it broadens to include all nature which shall never grow old.


Skipper Ireson's Ride. Whittier was told after this poem was published
that it was not historically accurate, since the crew and not Skipper
Ireson was to blame for the desertion of the wreck. He stated that he
had founded his poem on a song sung to him when he was a boy.

3. Apuleius's Golden Ass. Apuleius was a Latin satirical writer whose
greatest work was a romance or novel called "The Golden Ass." The hero
is by chance changed into an ass,, and has all sorts of adventures until
he is finally freed from the magic by eating roses in the hands of a
priest of Isis.

3. one-eyed Calendar's horse of brass. See the Arabian Nights'
Entertainments for the story of the one-eyed beggar.

6. Al-Borak: according to the Moslem creed the animal brought by Gabriel
to carry Mohammed to the seventh heaven. It had the face of a man, the
body of a horse, the wings of an eagle, and spoke with a human voice.

11. Marblehead, in Massachusetts.

30. Maenads: the nymphs who danced and sang in honor of Bacchus, the god
of vegetation and the vine.

35. Chalettr Bay, in Newfoundland, a part of the Gulf of St. Lawrence.


6. Deucalion flood. The python was a monstrous serpent which arose from
the mud left after the flood in which Deucalion survived. The python
lived in a cave on Mount Parnassus and there Apollo slew him. Deucalion
and his wife, Pyrrha were saved from the flood because Zeus respected
their piety. They obeyed the oracle and threw stones behind them from
which sprang men and women to repopulate the earth.

9. See "The Prophecy of Samuel Sewall" for another story of Newbury

22. stones of Cheops: an Egyptian king, about 2900 b.c.; built the great
pyramid, which is called by his name.

59. Each town in colonial days set aside certain land for free pasture-
land for the inhabitants.

80. double-ganger: a double or apparition of a person; here, a reptile
moving in double form.

76. Cotton Mather (1663-1728). This precocious boy entered Harvard
College at eleven and graduated at fifteen. At seventeen he preached his
first sermon and all his life was a zealous divine. He was undoubtedly
sincere in his judgments in the cases of witchcraft and was not
thoughtlessly cruel. He was a great writer and politician and a public-
minded citizen.

85. Wonder-Book of Cotton Mather is his story of early New England life
called Magnalia Christi Americana.


94. astral: a lamp with peculiar construction so that the shadow is not
cast directly below it.


Burns. In connection with this poem may well be read the following poems
by Robert Burns (1759-1796): "The Twa Dogs," "A Man's a Man for A' That,"
"Cotter's Saturday Night" (Selections), "Ye Banks and Braes o' Bonnie
Doon," "Highland Mary."

40. allegory: the expression of an idea indirectly by means of a story
or narrative. Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress is probably the best-known
allegory. What others can you name?

67. Craigie-burn and Devon were favorite Scotch streams.

71. Ayr: a river in Scotland. This whole region is full of associations
with Burns. Near it he was born and there is the Auld Brig of Doon of
Tam o' Shanter fame. Near the river is a Burns monument. Doon: a river
of Scotland 30 miles long and running through wild and picturesque
country. Burns has made it famous.

91-92. The unpleasant facts of Burns's life, due to weakness of
character, should not be allowed to destroy our appreciation of what he
accomplished when he was his better self.

99. Magdalen. See John 8:3-11 and many other instances in the Gospels.

103. The mournful Tuscan: Dante, who wrote "The Divine Comedy."


1. Bayard, Pierre Terrail (1473-1524): a French soldier who, on account
of his heroism, piety, and magnanimity was called "le chevalier sans noun
et sans reproche," the fearless and faultless knight. By his
contemporaries he was more often called "le bon chevalier," the good

6. Zutphen: an old town in Holland, which was often besieged, especially
during the wars of freedom waged by the Dutch. The most celebtated fight
under its walls was in Septeember, 1586, when Sir Philip Sidney was
mortally wounded.

12. See John 16: 21.

28. Sidney. See note on line 6 and Proem, note on line 4.

31. Cyllenian ranges: Mount Cyllene, in southern Greece, the fabled
birthplace of Hermes.

36. Suliote. See Fitz-Greene Halleck, "Marco Bozzaris," note on line 13

42. The reference is to Samuel G. Howe, who fought as a young man for
the independence of Greece.

46. Albanian: pertaining to Albania, a province of western Turkey.

78. Cadmus: mythological king of Phoenicia; was regarded as the
introducer of the alphabet from Phoenicia into Greece.

86. Lancelot stands for most of us as the example of a brave knight
whose life was ruined by a great weakness. Malory writes of him in "Mort
d'Arthur," and Tennyson has made him well known to us.


24. See John 19:23 and Matthew 9: 20-22.

36. After David had suffered, he wrote the greatest of the Psalms which
are attributed to him. The idea of righteous judgement is to be found
throughout thoem all, but seems especially strong in 9 and 147.

54. Compare Tennyson's Crossing the Bar.


9. Lowland: the south and east of Scotland; distinguished from the

13. pibroch: a wild, irregular martial music played on Scotch bagpipes.

18. A small English garrison was in possession of the city of Lucknow at
the time of the great Sepoy Mutiny in India,. They were besieged, and
their rescue is described here.

32. Sir Henry Havelock commanded the relieving army.

36. Sepoy: a native East-Indian soldier, equipped like a European

51. Goomtee: a river of Hindustan.

77. Gaelic: belonging to Highland Scotch or other Celtic people.


The element of superstition which enters into many of Whittier's poems is
well illustrated here.

19. the Brocken: in the Harz Mountains in Germany.

35. swart: dark-colored.

49. See "Prophecy of Samuel Sewall," note on line 32.

52. Religion among the Pilgrim fathers was a harsh thing. What
illustrations of its character did you find in the early part of this

84. Doctor Dee: an English astrologer (1527-1608).

85. Agrippa, Heinrich Cornelius: German physician, theologian, and
writer (1486-1535), who tried to turn less precious metals into gold.

89. Minnesinger. Hares Sachs (1494-I57b), the famous cobbler singer, is
probably referred to. For another famous minstrel see notes on
Longfellow, "Walter von der Vogelweide."

139. Bingen, a city on the Rhine, has been made famous by the poem
written in 1799 by Southey, "God's Judgment on a Wicked Bishop."
Longfellow refers to this legend in "The Children's Hour."

140. Frankfort (on-the-Main), in Germany.

147. droughty: thirsty, wanting drink.


1. Sad Mayflower: the trailing arbutus.

14. Our years of wandering o'er. The Pilgrim fathers sought refuge in
Holland, but found life there unsatisfactory, as they were not entirely
free. They then set out for Virginia and almost by chance settled in New


"He shaped an ideal for the commonest life, he proposed an object to the
humblest seeker after truth. Look for beauty in the world around you, he
said, and you shall see it everywhere. Look within, with pure eyes and
simple trust, and you shall find the Deity mirrored in your own soul.
Trust yourself because you trust the voice of God in your inmost

Born in Boston, Mass., of a family with some literary attainments, he
showed little promise of unusual ability during his years at Harvard. He
became pastor of the Second Church in Boston for a time and later settled
in Concord. He lectured extensively and wrote much, living a quiet,
isolated life.

The poems by Emerson are used by permission of, and by special
arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of his


"Good-Bye" was written in 1823 when Emerson, a young boy, was teaching in
Boston. It does not refer to his retirement to the country twelve years
later, but seems a kind of prophecy.

27. lore: learning.

28. sophist: a professed teacher of wisdom.


26. noisome offensive.


18. canticles: hymns belonging to church service.

19. The dome of St. Peter's was the largest in the world at the time of
its construction and was a great architectural achievement. Emerson
feels that it, like every other work that is worth-while, was the result
of a sincere heart.

20. groined: made the roofs inside the churches according to a
complicated, intersecting pattern.

28. Notice the figure of speech here. Is it effective?

39-40. All the mighty buildings of the world were made first in the
minds of the builder or architect, and then took form.

44. The Andes and Mt. Ararat are very ancient formations and belong to
Nature at her beginning on the earth. These great buildings are so in
keeping with Nature that she accepts them and forgets how modern they

51. Pentecost: Whitsunday, when the descent of the Holy Spirit is
celebrated. Emerson says here that this spirit animates all beautiful
music and sincere preaching, as it does we do at our noblest.

65. Chrysostom, Augustine, and the more modern Taylor are all great
religious teachers of the world, and all urged men enter the service of
the church. Augustine: Saint Augustine, the great African bishop (354-
430). He was influential mainly through his numerous writings, which are
still read. His greatest work was his Confessions.

68. Taylor: Dr. Jeremy Taylor, English bishop and author (1613-1667).
One writer assigns to him "the good humour of gentleman, the eloquence of
an orator, the fancy of a poet, acuteness of a schoolman, the
profoundness of a philosopher, the wisdom of a chancellor, the sagacity
of a prophet, reason of an angel, and the piety of a saint." Why should
a man so endowed be compared to Shakespeare?


6. What characteristics of the bumblebee make animated torrid-zone
applicable? Why doesn't he need to seek a milder climate in Porto Rico?

16. Epicurean: one addicted to pleasure of senses, specially eating and
drinking. How does it apply to the bee?


Emerson called this poem "a lecture on God's architecture, one of his
beautiful works, a Day."

9. This picture is strikingly like Whittier's description of a similar
day in "Snow-Bound."

13. bastions: sections of fortifications.

18. Parian wreaths were very white because the marble of Paros was pure.

21. Maugre: in spite of.


This fable was written some years before its merits were recognized.
Since then it has steadily grown in popularity.


16. fend: defend.

24. boreal: northern.

80. behemoth: very large beast.


76. impregnably: so that it can resist attack.

97. wold: Rood, forest.


"As political reformer, as editor, as teacher, above all as an example of
the type of scholarly gentleman that the new world was able to produce,
he perhaps did more than any of his contemporaries to dignify American
literature at home and to win for it respect abroad."


Born at Cambridge, Mass., he early showed a love of literature and says
that while he was a student at Harvard he read everything except the
prescribed textbooks. He opened a law office in Boston, but spent his
time largely in reading and writing poetry. He became professor of
literature at Harvard in 1854 and later edited the Atlantic Monthly.
Later he was minister to Spain and to England. In 1885 he returned to
his work at Harvard, where he remained until his death in the very house
in which he was born.

The poems by Lowell are used by permission of, and by special arrangement
with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of his works.


This poem is here given in its original form as published by Lowell in
Graham's Magazine in January, 1855. It was afterwards expanded into the
second canto of "The Voyage to Vinland."

With what other poems in this book may "Hakon's Lay" be compared?

3. Skald. See Longfellow, 'The Skeleton in Armor,' note on I. 19.

10. Hair and beard were both white, we are told. Who is suggested in
this line as white?

17. eyried. An eagle builds its aerie or nest upon a crag or
inaccessible height above ordinary birds. The simile here begun before
the eagle is mentioned, and the minstrel's thoughts are spoken of as born
in the aerie of his brain, high above his companions.

20. One of the finest pictures of the singing of a minstrel before his
lord is found in Scott's "Waverly."

21. fletcher: arrow-maker.

31. The work of Fate cannot be done by a reed which is proverbially weak
or by a stick which is cut cross-grained and hence will split easily.
She does not take her arrow at random from all the poor and weak weapons
which life offers, but she chooses carefully.

35. sapwood: the new wood next the bark, which is not yet hardened.

37. Much of the value of an arrow lies in its being properly feathered.
So when Fate chooses, she removes all valueless feathers which will
hinder success.

40. In these ways her aim Would be injured.

43. butt's: target's.

52. frothy: trivial.

64. Leif, the son of Eric, near the end of the tenth century went from
Greenland to Norway and was converted to Christianity. About 1000 he
sailed southward and landed at what is perhaps now Newfoundland, then
went on to some part of the New England coast and there spent the winter.

61. The coming of Leif Ericson with his brave ship to Vinland was the
first happening in the story of America.

61. rune: a character in the ancient alphabet.


"Flowers" is another very early poem, but it was included by Lowell in
his first volume,"A Year's Life," in 1841. Compare this idea of a poet's
duty and opportunity with that of other American writers.

12. Look up Matthew 13: 3-9.

18. Condensed expression; for some of that seed shall surely fall in
such ground that it shall bloom forever.


16. viceroy: ruler in place of the king.

44. Apollo, while he was still young, killed one of the Cyclops of Zeus
and Zeus condemned him to serve a mortal Man as a shepherd. He served
Admetus, as is here described, and secured many special favors for him
from the gods.


3. The men who fought for the cause they loved expressed their love in
the forming of a squadron instead of a poem, and wrote their praise of
battle in fighting-lines instead of tetrameters.

17. guerdon: reward.

36. A creed without defenders is lifeless. When to belief in a cause is
added action in its behalf, the creed lives.

60. This is as life would be without live creeds and results that will
endure. Compare Whittier's "Raphael."

67. aftermath: a second crop.

79. Baal's: belonging to the local deities of the ancient Semitic race.

105. With this stanza may well be compared "The Present Crisis."

113. dote: have the intellect weakened by age.

146. Plutarch's men. Plutarch wrote the lives of the greatest men of
Greece and Rome.


7. auroral: morning.

12. Sinais. Read Exodus, Chapter 19. Why did Moses climb Mount Sinai?
What would be the advantage to us if we knew when we climbed a Mount

9-20. Wordsworth says:

"Heaven lies about us in our infancy!
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
Upon the growing boy," etc.

Lowell does not agree with him, and in these lines he declares that
heaven is as near to the aged man as to the child, since the skies, the
winds, the wood, and the sea have lessons for us always.

28. bubbles: things as useless and perishable as the child's soap-

20-32. The great contrast! What does Lowell mean by Earth? Does he
define it? Which does he love better?

79. Notice how details are accumulated to prove the hightide. Are his
points definite?

91. sulphurous: so terrible as to suggest the lower world.


Lowell attempted a large task in the "Biglow Papers," and on the whole he
succeeded well. He wished to discuss the current question in America
under the guise of humorous Yankee attack. The first series appeared in
1848 and dealt with the problem of the Mexican War; the second series in
1866 and refers to the Civil War. From the two series are given here
only three which are perhaps the best known. Mr. Hosea Biglow purports
to be the writer. He is an uneducated Yankee boy who "com home (from
Boston) considerabul riled." His father in No. 1, a letter, describes
the process of composition as follows: "Arter I'd gone to bed I hearn Him
a thrashin round like a shoot-tailed bull in flitime. The old woman ses
she to me ses she, Zekle, sos she, our Hosie's gut the drollery or suthin
anuther, ses she, don't you be skeered, ses I, he's oney a-makin poetery;
ses I, he's ollers on hand at that ere busyness like Da & martin, and
Shure enuf, cum mornin, Hosy he cum down stares full chizzle, hare on
eend and cote tales flyin, and sot rite of to go reed his varses to
Parson Wilbur."


1. Guvener B.: George Nixon Briggs of Massachusetts.

6. John P. Robinson was a lawyer (1. 59) of Lowell, Mass. Mr. Lowell
had no intention of attacking the individual here; Mr. Robinson changed
his party allegiance and the letter published over his signature called
Lowell's attention to him.

lb. Gineral C.: General Caleb Gushing, who took a prominent part in the

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