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Selections From American Poetry by Margeret Sprague Carhart

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Mexican War, and was at this time the candidate for governor opposed to
Governor Briggs.

16. pelf: money.

23. vally: value.

32. eppyletts: epaulets, the mark of an officer in the army or navy.

39. debit, per contry: makes him the debtor and on the other side
credits us.


17. crook-necks: gourds.

19. queen's-arm: musket.

33-34. He had taken at least twenty girls to the social events of the

68. sekle: sequel, result.

94. The Bay of Fundy has an exceptionally high tide which rises with
great rapidity.


2. precerdents: legal decisions previously made which serve as models
for later decisions.

4. this-worldify. The women in early New England dressed very simply
and sternly, but the odor of musk would make them seem to belong to this
world, which has beauty as well as severity.

7. clawfoot: a piece of furniture, here a chest, having clawfeet.

38. pithed with hardihood. New England people had hardihood at the
center of their lives.

50. The bloodroot leaf is curled round the tiny write flower bud to
protect it.

56. haggle: move slowly and with difficulty.

100. vendoo: vendue, public sale.

117. What American poets express a similar need of nearness to nature?

144. Lowell's own education was four-story: grammar school, high school,
college, law school.

165. A good application of the old story of the man who killed the goose
that laid the golden eggs.

157. Cap-sheaf: the top sheaf on a stack and hence the completion of any

165. Lowell, himself, seems to be talking in these last lines, and not
young Hosea Biglow.

209. English Civil War (1642-1649), which ended in the establishment of
the Commonwealth.

241. As Adam's fall "Brought death into the world, and all our woe," it
was considered by all Puritans as an event of highest importance; most
men agree that their wives' bonnets stand at the other end of the scale.

2&I. Crommle: Oliver Cromwell, under whom the English fought for a
Commonwealth. See note on line 219.

270. After the short period of the Commonwealth, Charles II became ruler
of England (1660-1685).

272. Millennium: a period when all government will be free from


5. Autumn personified as Hebe, the cupbearer of the Greek gods.

11. projected spirit. The poet's own spirit seems to take on material
form in the landscape before him.

28. See the book of Ruth in the Old Testament for this exquisite story.

32. Magellan's Strait: passage discovered by Magellan when he sailed
around the southern end of South America.

51. retrieves: remedies.

59. lapt: wrapped.

77. Explain this simile. Has color any part in it?

83. ensanguined: made blood-red by frost.

92. The Charles is so placid and blue that it resembles a line of the

99. In connection with this description of the marshes. Lanier's "The
Marshes of Glynn" may well be read, as it is the best description of
marshes in American literature.

133. Compare Bryant's "Robert of Lincoln."

140. Compare this figure with Bryant's in "To a Waterfowl," 1. 2.

157. Compare with the Prelude to the Second Part of "The Vision of Sir

163. The river Charles near its mouth is affected by the ocean tides.

178. Why is the river pictured as dumb and blind?

182. Compare Whittier's "Snow-Bound."

187. gyves: fetters.

190. Druid-like device. At Stonehenge (1. 192) in England is a confused
mass of stones, some of which are in their original positions and which
are supposed to have been placed by the Druids. It is possible that the
sun was worshiped here, but everything about the Druids is conjecture.

201. A view near at hand is usually too detailed to be attractive. But
in the twilight, near-by objects become softened, the distance fades into
the horizon, and a soothing picture is formed.

209. The schools and colleges. Probably Harvard College is here
included, as Lowell graduated there.

217. Compare this idea with that in the following lines from
Wordsworth's "The Daffodils":

"I gazed--and gazed--but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought;
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils."

The justice of these opinions should be tested by each student from his
own experience.


36. ignified: melted.

40. An example of Lowell's puns, which are generally critcized as
belonging to a low order of humor.

41. Parnassus: a mountain in Greece, sacred to Apollo and the Muses, and
hence the domain of the arts in general.

49. inter nos: between us.

bl. ices. Isis was the Egyptian goddess of the arts and of agriculture.

60. bemummying: a word coined by Lowell to mean causing one to dry up
like a mummy.

68.. Pythoness: woman with power of prophecy.

69. tripod: a bronze altar over which the Pythoness at Delphi uttered
her oracles.

"Most of his judgments are, however, those of posterity though often, as
in the case of Hawthorns, he was characterizing writers who had not done
their best work." --CAIRNS.

92. scathe: injury.

93. rathe: early in the season.

96. John Bunyan Fouque is an extraordinary combination of names as of
characteristics. Bunyan is known everywhere for his devotion to truth as
he saw it; the oak in character. Friederich Heinrich Karl, Baron de
Lamotte-Fouque, was a German soldier, but is better known as a romantic
writer. His best-known work is "Undine," the anemone in daintiness of
fancy and delicacy of expression.

A Puritan Tieck is another anomaly. From the early poems in this
anthology the Puritan type is evident; Tieck was a German writer who
revolted against the sternness of life and believed in beauty and

110. In 1821 Scott published The Pilot, a novel of the sea, which was
very popular. Cooper, however, thought he could improve upon it and so
in 1823 he published "The Pilot," hoping to show his superiority.

112. The bay was used for a garland of honor to a poet.

124. Nathaniel Bumpo was "Leatherstocking," who gave his name to the
series of Cooper s novels.

126. Long Tom Coffin was the hero in The Pilot.

130. derniere chemise. A pun upon the word "shift," which here means

148. Parson Adams is one of the most delightful of all notion
characters. Fielding pictures him in his novel Joseph Andrews in such a
manner that you always sympathize with him even if you must laugh at his

Dr. Primrose in Goldsmith's Vicar of Wakefield is a direct literary
descendant of Parson Adams. He is one of the best-known characters in
English fiction. To be classed with these two men is high praise for
Natty Bumpo.

161. Barnaby Rudge, the hero of Dickens's novel of that name, kept a
tame raven.

162. fudge: nonsense, rubbish.

180. Collins and Gray: English poets. William Collins, an English lyric
poet (1721-1759) was a friend of Dr. Johnson. Thomas Gray (1716-1771) is
best known by his "Elegy in a Country Churchyard."

182. Theocritus, a Greek poet of the third century B.C., was the founder
of pastoral poetry. Since his idea was the original one, his judgment of
his followers would be better than that of any one else.

190. Irving had been so long a resident in Europe that America almost
despaired of reclaiming him. He did return, however, in 1832, after
making himself an authority on Spanish affairs.

196. Cervantes: the author of Don Quixote, and the most famous of all
Spanish authors. He died on the same day as Shakespeare, April 23, 1616.

200. Addison and Steele together wrote the Spectator Papers (1711-1712),
which had a great influence on the English reading public. The Sir Roger
de Coverley papers are the most widely read of these essays at the
present time.

224. New Timon, published in 1846; a satire in which Tennyson among
others was severely lampooned.

237. The comparison suggests Bunyan's journey with his bundle of sin.

252. no clipper and meter: no person who could cut short or measure the
moods of the poet.

271. The story of Orpheus and Eurydice may be found in any Greek


[In 1830] most of our writers were sentimental; a few were profound; and
the nation at large began to be deeply agitated over social reforms and
political problems. The man who in such a period showed the
possibilities of humor, and whose humor was invariably tempered by
culture and flavored with kindness, did a service to our literature that
can hardly be overestimated."


Born at Cambridge, Mass., he was brought up under the sternest type of
New England theology. He graduated from Harvard College in 1829 after
writing much college verse. It was Lowell who stimulated him to his best
work. He himself says, "Remembering some crude contributions of mine to
an old magazine, it occurred to me that their title might serve for some
fresh papers, and so I sat down and wrote off what came into my head
under the title, 'The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table.'" He practiced
medicine in Boston and taught Anatomy and Physiology in Harvard until
1882. The latter years of his life were spent happily in Boston, where
he died.

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


The frigate Constitution was popularly known as "Old Ironsides" and this
poem was written when the naval authorities proposed to break it up as
unfit for service.


Holmes says this poem was suggested by the appearance in Boston of an old
man said to be a Revolutionary soldier.


14. irised: having colors like those in a rainbow.

14. crypt: secret recess.


3. In 1857-1858, when this poem was written, the ideal of elegance in
eastern cities of America was a "brown stone front" house. The
possession of such a mansion indicated large wealth. In the light of
this fact the humor of the verse is evident. The same principle is used

22. The position of Minister Plenipotentiary to the court of St. James--
England--was considered the highest diplomatic position in the disposal
of the United States. How would such a position compare with filling the
governor's chair of any state?

35. marrowy: rich.

48. The paintings of Raphael and Titian are beyond purchase price now.
Most of them belong to the great galleries of Europe. Turner is a modern
painter whose work is greatly admired and held almost above price.

64. vellum: fine parchment made of the skin of calves and used for
manuscripts. It turns cream-color with age.

59. Stradivarius: a violin made by Antonio Stradivari, who lived (1644-
1737) in Cremona, Italy. These instruments created a standard so that
they are now the most highly prized violins in existence.

64. buhl: brass, white metal, or tortoise shell inlaid in patterns is
the wood of furniture. So named from the French woodworker who perfected


10. Georgius Secundus: King George II of England. He was the son of
George I, who was elector of Hanover, as well as king of England.

20, felloe: a part of the rim of a wooden wheel in which the spokes are

92. encore: we can say the same thing about their strength.


Born in Pennsylvania, he was early apprenticed to a tailor. He drifted
until at last he made his way to Italy, where he studied and painted for
several years. Later he made Rome his permanent residence, and died
there. He was known as a clever artist and sculptor, but his best work
is the two poem; here quoted.

The poems by Read are used by special permission of J. B. Lippincott
Company, the authorized publishers of the poems.


Storm on St. Bernard may be compared with Excelsior in general subject
matter. Do they affect you in the same way? Are they alike in purpose?
Which seems most real to you? Why is "Excelsior" the more familiar?


Read was essentially an artist, and in this poem he expressed his
artistic soul more truly than in anything else he ever did.

19. Ischia: an island in the bay of Naples.

22. Capri: an island in the Mediterranean, best known for the Blue

WALT WHITMAN (1819-1891)

"Walt Whitman...the chanter of adhesiveness, of the love of man for man,
may not be attractive to some of us....But Walt Whitman the tender nurse,
the cheerer of hospitals, the saver of soldier lives, is much more than
attractive he is inspiring."
--W. P. TRENT.

Born on Long Island, he entered a printer's office when he was thirteen.
By the time he was twenty, he was editing his own paper, but he soon gave
it up for work on a New York newspaper. When he was thirty, be traveled
through the west; in "Pioneers" we have a part of the result. During

the Civil War he gave himself up to nursing as long as his strength
lasted. From 1873 to the time of his death he was a great invalid and
poor, but every trial was nobly borne.

The selections from Walt Whitman are included by special permission of
Mitchell Kennerley, the publisher of the complete authorized editions of
Walt Whitman's Works.


18. debouch: go out into.


Written to express the grief of the nation over the death of Abraham
Lincoln at the time when the joy over the saving of the union was most

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