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Elson Grammer School Literature, Book Four. by William H. Elson and Christine Keck

Part 2 out of 10

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Said: "Pass not so cold, these manifold
Deep shades of the hills of Habersham,
These glades in the valleys of Hall."

And oft in the hills of Habersham,
And oft in the valleys of Hall,
The white quartz shone, and the smooth brook stone
Did bar me of passage with friendly brawl;
And many a luminous jewel lone
(Crystals clear or a-cloud with mist,
Ruby, garnet, or amethyst)
Made lures with the lights of streaming stone
In the clefts of the hills of Habersham,
In the beds of the valleys of Hall.

But oh! not the hills of Habersham,
And oh! not the valleys of Hall
Avail; I am fain for to water the plain.
Downward the voices of Duty call;
Downward to toil and be mixed with the main.
The dry fields burn and the mills are to turn,
And a myriad flowers mortally yearn,
And the lordly main from beyond the plain
Calls o'er the hills of Habersham,
Calls through the valleys of Hall.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: The South has given us two most melodious
singers, Poe and Lanier. When only nineteen Sidney Lanier enlisted in the
Confederate army, and the close of the war found him broken in health, with
little else in the world than a brave wife and a brave heart. When his
health permitted he played the flute in an orchestra in Baltimore. The
rhythm, the rhyme and the melodious words of his poetry all show him the
passionate lover of music that he was. Among his prose writings, "The Boy's
Froissart" and "The Boy's King Arthur" are of especial interest to young
readers.

Notes and Questions.

Find the Chattahoochee river on your map with its source in the "hills of
Habersham" and its course through the "valleys of Hall."

Compare this poem with Tennyson's "The Brook."

What is peculiar in the phrases: "run the rapid," "flee from folly,"
"wilful waterweeds," "loving laurel," etc.

Find alliteration in other lines.

What is added to the poem by alliteration?

Notice the rhythm in the third line of the first stanza.

What is the peculiarity of the eighth line of the first stanza?

Find lines in the other stanzas which contain rhymes. Notice the last word
in each of these lines. What two things have you found out?

Lanier believed that poetry is a kind of music. Does the rhythm in this
poem sustain this definition?

Point out lines that are especially musical and pleasing.

Habersham, Hall--Counties in northern Georgia.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"laving laurel"
"fondling grass"
"friendly brawl"
"made lures"
"lordly main"
"run the rapid"
"leap the fall"
"hurry amain"
"veiling the valleys"
"flickering meaning"
"the mills are to turn"
"I am fain for to water the plain"

* * * * *

THE CATARACT OF LODORE

ROBERT SOUTHEY.

"How does the water
Come down at Lodore?"
My little boy asked me
Thus, once on a time;
And, moreover, he tasked me
To tell him in rhyme.
Anon at the word,
There first came one daughter,
And then came another,
To second and third
The request of their brother,
And to hear how the water
Comes down at Lodore,
With its rush and its roar,
As many a time
They had seen it before.
So I told them in rhyme--
For of rhymes I had store;
And 'twas my vocation
For their recreation
That so I should sing;
Because I was Laureate
To them and the king.

From its sources, which well
In the tarn on the fell;
From its fountains
In the mountains,
Its rills and its gills;
Through moss and through brake,
It runs and it creeps
For a while, till it sleeps
In its own little lake.
And thence, at departing,
Awakening and starting,
It runs through the reeds,
And away it proceeds,
Through meadow and glade,
In sun and in shade,
And through the wood shelter,
Among crags in its flurry,
Helter-skelter,
Hurry-skurry.
Here it comes sparkling,
And there it lies darkling;
Now smoking and frothing
In tumult and wrath in,
Till, in this rapid race
On which it is bent,
It reaches the place
Of its steep descent.

The cataract strong
Then plunges along,
Striking and raging,
As if a war waging
Its caverns and rocks among;
Rising and leaping,
Sinking and creeping,
Swelling and sweeping,
Showering and springing,
Flying and flinging,
Writhing and ringing,
Eddying and whisking,
Spouting and frisking,
Turning and twisting,
Around and around
With endless rebound;
Smiting and fighting,
A sight to delight in;
Confounding, astounding,
Dizzying, and deafening the ear with its sound,

Collecting, projecting,
Receding and speeding,
And shocking and rocking,
And darting and parting,
And threading and spreading,
And whizzing and hissing,
And dripping and skipping,
And hitting and splitting,
And shining and twining,
And rattling and battling,
And shaking and quaking,
And pouring and roaring,
And waving and raving,
And tossing and crossing,
And flowing and going,
And running and stunning,
And foaming and roaming,
And dinning and spinning,
And dropping and hopping,
And working and jerking,
And guggling and struggling,
And heaving and cleaving,
And moaning and groaning,
And glittering and frittering,
And gathering and feathering,
And whitening and brightening,
And quivering and shivering,
And hurrying and skurrying,
And thundering and floundering;

Dividing and gliding and sliding,
And falling and brawling and sprawling,
And driving and riving and striving,
And sprinkling and twinkling and wrinkling,
And sounding and bounding and rounding,
And bubbling and troubling and doubling,
And grumbling and rumbling and tumbling,
And chattering and battering and shattering;
Retreating and beating and meeting and sheeting,
Delaying and straying and playing and spraying,
Advancing and prancing and glancing and dancing,
Recoiling, turmoiling, and toiling and boiling,
And gleaming and streaming and steaming and beaming,
And rushing and flushing and brushing and gushing,
And flapping and rapping and clapping and slapping,
And curling and whirling and purling and twirling,
And thumping and plumping and bumping and jumping.
And dashing and flashing and splashing and clashing;
And so never ending, but always descending,
Sounds and motions forever and ever are blending,
All at once, and all o'er, with a mighty uproar:
And this way the water comes down at Lodore.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical: Robert Southey, 1774-1843, was a great English poet. In 1813
he was made poet laureate.

Notes and Questions.

Who was "laureate"? What is it to be "laureate"?

Who was the king to whom Southey was poet-laureate?

To whom beside the king does he say he is laureate?

What do you think he means by this?

Find this cataract on your map (Derwent River in Cumberland). What is a
cataract? Have you ever seen one?

Find changes in rhythm as the stream advances.

Where in the poem does Southey first use lines in which two words rhyme? In
which three words rhyme?

Why does the poet use all these rhymes?

Compare the first and second stanzas as to rate.

Point out lines that are especially pleasing to you.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"cataract"
"tarn"
"brake"
"glade"
"helter-skelter"
"hurry-skurry"
"vocation"
"recreation"
"fell"

* * * * *

THE BELLS

EDGAR ALLAN POE

Hear the sledges with the bells--
Silver bells!
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.

Hear the mellow wedding-bells,
Golden bells!
What a world of happiness their harmony foretells!
Through the balmy air of night
How they ring out their delight!
From the molten-golden notes,
And all in tune,
What a liquid ditty floats
To the turtle-dove that listens, while she gloats
On the moon!
Oh, from out the sounding cells
What a gush of euphony voluminously wells!
How it swells!
How it dwells
On the Future! how it tells
Of the rapture that impels
To the swinging and the ringing
Of the bells, bells, bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
To the rhyming and the chiming of the bells!

Hear the loud alarum bells--
Brazen bells!
What a tale of terror, now, their turbulency tells!
In the startled ear of night
How they scream out their affright!
Too much horrified to speak,
They can only shriek, shriek,
Out of tune,
In a clamorous appealing to the mercy of the fire,
In a mad expostulation with the deaf and frantic fire
Leaping higher, higher, higher,
With a desperate desire,
And a resolute endeavor,
Now--now to sit or never,
By the side of the pale-faced moon.
Oh, the bells, bells, bells!
What a tale their terror tells
Of despair!
How they clang, and clash, and roar!
What a horror they outpour
On the bosom of the palpitating air!
Yet the ear it fully knows,
By the twanging
And the clanging,
How the danger ebbs and flows;
Yet the ear distinctly tells,
In the jangling,
And the wrangling,
How the danger sinks and swells,
By the sinking or the swelling in the anger of the bells--
Of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells--
In the clamor and the clangor of the bells!

Hear the tolling of the bells--
Iron bells!
What a world of solemn thought their monody compels!
In the silence of the night,
How we shiver with affright
At the melancholy menace of their tone!
For every sound that floats
From the rust within their throats
Is a groan.
And the people--ah, the people--
They that dwell up in the steeple,
All alone,
And who tolling, tolling, tolling,
In that muffled monotone,
Feel a glory in so rolling
On the human heart a stone--
They are neither man nor woman--
They are neither brute nor human--
They are Ghouls;
And their king it is who tolls;
And he rolls, rolls, rolls,
Rolls,
A paean from the bells!
And his merry bosom swells
With the paean of the bells!
And he dances, and he yells;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the paean of the bells--
Of the bells:
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the throbbing of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells--
To the sobbing of the bells;
Keeping time, time, time,
As he knells, knells, knells,
In a happy Runic rhyme,
To the rolling of the bells--
Of the bells, bells, bells--
To the tolling of the bells,
Of the bells, bells, bells, bells--
Bells, bells, bells--
To the moaning and the groaning of the bells.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston on January
19th, 1809. Both his parents were members of a theatrical troupe then
playing in Boston. He was left an orphan at the age of three years, and was
adopted by a wealthy Virginia planter and by him educated in England and
elsewhere. Owing to his erratic habits, Poe's foster-father disowned him,
and after that life for him was a constant battle with poverty. His prose
tales abound in adventure, allegory, and the supernatural. His poetry is
full of imagery, beauty, and melody.

Notes and Questions.

What kinds of bells does the poet seek to reproduce the sound of?

Which bells has he described best?

Point out words particularly suited to express the sound they describe.

Which lines are especially musical and pleasing?

What can you say of the fire-bells of today?

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"euphony"
"tintinnabulation"
"expostulation"
"Runic"
"crystalline"
"palpitating"

* * * * *

ANNABEL LEE

EDGAR ALLAN POE

It was many and many a year ago,
In a kingdom by the sea,
That a maiden there lived whom you may know
By the name of Annabel Lee;
And this maiden she lived with no other thought
Than to love and be loved by me.

I was a child and she was a child,
In this kingdom by the sea:
But we loved with a love that was more than love--
I and my Annabel Lee;
With a love that the wingd seraphs of heaven
Coveted her and me.

And this was the reason that, long ago,
In this kingdom by the sea,
A wind blew out of a cloud, chilling
My beautiful Annabel Lee;
So that her highborn kinsmen came
And bore her away from me,
To shut her up in a sepulchre
In this kingdom by the sea.

The angels, not half so happy in heaven,
Went envying her and me--
Yes!--that was the reason (as all men know,
In this kingdom by the sea)
That the wind came out of the cloud by night,
Chilling and killing my Annabel Lee.

But our love it was stronger by far than the love
Of those who were older than we--
Of many far wiser than we--
And neither the angels in heaven above,
Nor the demons down under the sea,
Can ever dissever my soul from the soul
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee:

For the moon never beams, without bringing me dreams
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And the stars never rise, but I feel the bright eyes
Of the beautiful Annabel Lee;
And so, all the night-tide, I lie down by the side
Of my darling,--my darling,--my life and my bride,
In the sepulchre there by the sea,
In her tomb by the sounding sea.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Notes and Questions.

Like "The Bells," this poem is musical and the words are chosen with
reference to this quality.

Notice that the repetition of the word "many" adds to the music of the
first line.

Find other lines in which a word is repeated for the sake of melody.

Find lines in which rhymes occur.

Mention lines that are especially pleasing to you.

What reason is given for the death of Annabel Lee?

Why did the angels "covet" and "envy" the lovers?

How strong was this love?

Why does not the lover feel separated from Annabel Lee?

Do you like this poem? Why?

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"winged seraphs"
"sounding sea"
"sepulchre"
"highborn kinsmen"
"coveted"
"envying"

* * * * *

OPPORTUNITY

EDWARD ROWLAND SILL

This I beheld, or dreamed it in a dream:--
There spread a cloud of dust along a plain;
And underneath the cloud, or in it, raged
A furious battle, and men yelled, and swords
Shocked upon swords and shields. A prince's banner
Wavered, then staggered backward, hemmed by foes.
A craven hung along the battle's edge,
And thought, "Had I a sword of keener steel--
That blue blade that the king's son bears,--but this
Blunt thing--!" he snapt and flung it from his hand,
And lowering crept away and left the field.
Then came the king's son, wounded, sore bestead,
And weaponless, and saw the broken sword,
Hilt-buried in the dry and trodden sand,
And ran and snatched it, and with battle-shout
Lifted afresh he hewed his enemy down,
And saved a great cause that heroic day.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical: Edward Rowland Sill was born in Connecticut in 1841. He
graduated at Yale and lived most of his life in California, being for some
years professor of English language and literature at the State University.
Sill was a true poet, but the whole of his literary output is contained in
two slender volumes. His poems are noted for their compressed thought. The
selection here given shows this quality.

Notes and Questions.

What do you learn from this poem?

Where was the craven when he decided his sword was useless?

What word shows that he was there of his own choice?

What kind of sword had the craven?

What words tell you that he was greatly needed in the thick of the
conflict?

What kind of sword had the king's son?

How long did the king's son look at the discarded sword before using it?

If the battle represents life, and the craven and the king's son are types
of the people in the world, what do you think the swords represent?

Why is this poem called "Opportunity"?

Can you think of another title which might be given to it?

Such a story as this is called an allegory.

"furious"--What is a furious battle?

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"craven"
"bestead"
"hung along the battle's edge"
"shocked"
"hemmed by foes"

* * * * *

TO A WATERFOWL

WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT

Whither, midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far through their rosy depths dost thou pursue
Thy solitary way?

Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
Thy figure floats along.

Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
On the chafed ocean-side?

There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,--
The desert and illimitable air,--
Lone wandering, but not lost.

All day thy wings have fanned,
At that far height, the cold, thin atmosphere,
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
Though the dark night is near.

And soon that toil shall end;
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reeds shall bend
Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.

Thou'rt gone; the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
And shall not soon depart.

He who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone
Will lead my steps aright.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: William Cullen Bryant was born in 1794 in
Western Massachusetts. His education was carried on in the district school.
At home he had the use of an exceptionally fine library, for that period,
and he made the most of its opportunities. In 1816 he secured a license to
practice law, and journeyed on foot to Plainfield, Mass., to look for a
place to open an office. He felt forlorn and desolate, and the world seemed
big and cold. In this mood, while pausing on his way to contemplate the
beauty of the sunset, he saw a solitary bird wing its way along the
horizon. He watched it until it was lost in the distance. Then he pursued
his journey with new courage and on arriving at the place where he was to
stop for the night, he sat down and wrote this beautiful poem of faith and
hope.

Notes and Questions.

What lines tell you the time of day?

Which stanza do you like best? Why?

What lines give you the most beautiful picture?

What does the poet learn from the waterfowl?

Note that the rhythm gives the impression of the bird's flight.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"thy solitary way"
"rosy depths"
"thin atmosphere"
"the fowler's eye"
"long way"
"welcome land"
"that toil shall end"
"tread alone"
"boundless sky"
"last steps of day"
"certain flight"
"lone wandering but not lost"
"chafed ocean-side"
"pathless coast"
"the abyss of heaven hath swallowed up thy form"

* * * * *

THE SKYLARK

JAMES HOGG.

Bird of the wilderness,
Blithesome and cumberless,
Sweet be thy matin o'er moorland and lea!
Emblem of happiness,
Blest is thy dwelling place,--
O to abide in the desert with thee!
Wild is thy lay and loud,
Far in the downy cloud,
Love gives it energy, love gave it birth.
Where on thy dewy wing,
Where art thou journeying?
Thy lay is in heaven, thy love is on earth,

O'er fell and fountain sheen,
O'er moor and mountain green,
O'er the red streamer that heralds the day,
Over the cloudlet dim,
Over the rainbow's rim,
Musical cherub, soar, singing, away!
Then, when the gloaming comes,
Low in the heather blooms,
Sweet will thy welcome and bed of love be!

HELPS TO STUDY.

James Hogg was born in Ettrick, Scotland, in 1770, and was known as "the
Ettrick Shepherd," because he followed the occupation of a shepherd until
he was thirty. The beautiful selection here given was doubtless inspired by
the poet's early communion with Nature.

Notes and Questions.

From this poem what can you tell of the home of the skylark? Of its nature?

Why is the lark called an emblem of happiness? Name something that might be
called an emblem of strength; of sorrow.

What pictures do the following words make to you: "wilderness," "moor,"
"lea," "fell," "heather-bloom"?

What is the "red streamer that heralds the day"?

What does the word "dewy" suggest as to the habits of the bird?

What do "matin" and "gloaming" signify?

In the poem what tells you the nest is near the ground?

Why is "downy" used to describe "cloud"?

What makes lines 13 and 14 so musical?

Indicate the rhythm of the first six lines by writing them in groups as
shown in the following curves:

___________ _____________
/ \/ \
Bird of the wil-der-ness

* * * * *

TO A SKYLARK

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

Hail to thee, blithe Spirit!
Bird thou never wert,
That from Heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.

Higher still and higher
From the earth thou springest
Like a cloud of fire;
The blue deep thou wingest
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest.

In the golden lightning
Of the sunken sun,
O'er which clouds are bright'ning,
Thou dost float and run;
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.

The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight;
Like a star of heaven,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen,--but yet I hear thy shrill delight,

Keen as are the arrows
Of that silver sphere,
Whose intense lamp narrows
In the white dawn clear
Until we hardly see--we feel that it is there.

All the earth and air
With thy voice is loud,
As, when Night is bare,
From one lonely cloud
The moon rains out her beams, and Heaven is overflowed.

What thou art we know not;
What is most like thee?
From rainbow clouds there flow not
Drops so bright to see
As from thy presence showers a rain of melody.

Like a Poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Singing hymns unbidden
Till the world is wrought
To sympathy with hopes and fears it heeded not:

Like a high-born maiden
In a palace tower,
Soothing her love-laden
Soul in secret hour
With music sweet as love,--which overflows her bower:

Like a glow-worm golden
In a dell of dew,
Scattering unbeholden
Its arial hue
Among the flowers and grass which screen it from the view:

Like a rose embowered
In its own green leaves,
By warm winds deflowered,
Till the scent it give
Makes faint with too much sweet those heavy-winged thieves:

Sound of vernal showers
On the twinkling grass,
Bain-awakened flowers,
All that ever was
Joyous and clear and fresh, thy music doth surpass,

Teach us, Sprite or Bird,
What sweet thoughts are thine;
I have never heard
Praise of love or wine
That panted forth a flood of rapture so divine.

Chorus Hymeneal,
Or triumphal chaunt,
Matched with thine, would be all
But an empty vaunt,
A thing wherein we feel there is some hidden want.

What objects are the fountains
Of thy happy strain?
What fields or waves or mountains?
What shapes of sky or plain?
What love of thine own kind? what ignorance of pain?

With thy clear keen joyance
Languor cannot be;
Shadow of annoyance
Never came near thee;
Thou lovest--but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

Waking or asleep
Thou of death must deem
Things more true and deep
Than we mortals dream--
Or how could thy notes flow in such a crystal stream?

We look before and after,
And pine for what is not;
Our sincerest laughter
With some pain is fraught;
Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest thought.

Yet if we could scorn
Hate and pride and fear;
If we were things born
Not to shed a tear,
I know not how thy joy we ever should come near.

Better than all measures
Of delightful sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Thy skill to poet were, thou scorner of the ground!

Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
The world should listen then--as I am listening now.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: Percy Bysshe Shelley was born in 1792. He was
an English poet who traveled much in Europe, and found Italy especially to
his liking. His life was short and full of storm and stress, although he
never allowed his personal sufferings to embitter his spirit. While only
thirty, on a pleasure cruise off the coast of Italy, he was drowned.

"To a Skylark" and "The Cloud" are rare poems because of their wonderful
harmony of sound.

The skylark is found in northern Europe. It is noted for its lofty flights
and wonderful song. Note that Shelley, Wordsworth, and James Hogg have all
written poems about the skylark.

Notes and Questions.

What country is the home of these poets? What does this fact suggest to
you?

Explain the simile in the fifth stanza. In the sixth.

In the seventh stanza what two words are contrasted?

Note the four comparisons--stanzas eight, nine, ten and eleven. Which do
you like best? Why?

In line 86 emphasize the first word and explain the stanza.

In line 95 emphasize the fifth word and explain the stanza.

In line 96 to end, what does Shelley say would be the result if a poet
could feel such joy as the little bird seems to feel?

If we had no dark days do you think we could appreciate the bright days?

If we had no sadness could we appreciate the songs of gladness?

If Shelley had never experienced sadness could he have written this
beautiful poem of gladness?

Explain the following:

"There is no music in the life
That sounds with empty laughter wholly;
There's not a string attuned to mirth
But has its chord in melancholy."

What does the skylark mean to Shelley?

If we think only of being happy shall we be very helpful to others?

Make a list of all the names he gives the skylark.

Enumerate the expressions Shelley uses in characterizing the song.

Which stanza do you like best? Why?

"wert" rhymes with heart. (In England the sound is broad, er=r).

"even"--a contraction of evening.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"profuse strains"
"panted forth"
"heavy-winged thieves"
"unpremeditated art"
"rain of melody"
"harmonious madness"
"shrill delight"
"flood of rapture"
"float and run"
"rains out"
"triumphant chaunt"
"scattering unbeholden"

* * * * *

THE CLOUD

PERCY BYSSHE SHELLEY

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noon-day dreams;
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under;
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

I sift the snow on the mountains below,
And their great pines groan aghast;
And all the night 'tis my pillow white,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast,
Sublime on the towers of my skyey bowers,
Lightning, my pilot, sits;
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,--
It struggles and howls by fits;
Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
This pilot is guiding me,
Lured by the love of the genii that move
In the depths of the purple sea;
Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Over the lakes and the plains,
Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
The spirit he loves remains;
And I, all the while, bask in heaven's blue smile,
Whilst he is dissolving in rains.

The sanguine sunrise, with his meteor eyes,
And his burning plumes outspread,
Leaps on the back of my sailing rack,
When the morning-star shines dead,
As on the jag of a mountain-crag,
Which an earthquake rocks and swings,
An eagle, alit, one moment may sit,
In the light of its golden wings.
And when sunset may breathe, from the lit sea beneath,
Its ardors of rest and love,
And the crimson pall of eve may fall
From the depth of heaven above,
With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,
As still as a brooding dove.

That orbd Maiden, with white fire laden,
Whom mortals call the Moon,
Glides glimmering o'er my fleece-like floor,
By the midnight breezes strewn;
And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Which only the angels hear,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof,
The stars peep behind her, and peer!
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.

I bind the sun's throne with a burning zone,
And the moon's with a girdle of pearl;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim,
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape,
Over a torrent of sea,
Sun-beam proof, I hang like a roof,
The mountains its columns be.
The triumphal arch through which I march
With hurricane, fire, and snow,
When the powers of the air are chained to my chair,
Is the million-colored bow;
The sphere-fire above its soft colors wove,
While the moist earth was laughing below.

I am the daughter of earth and water,
And the nursling of the sky;
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores;
I change, but I can not die.
For after the rain, when, with never a stain,
The pavilion of heaven is bare,
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex gleams,
Build up the blue dome of air,
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph,
And out of the caverns of rain,
Like a sprite from the gloom, like a ghost from the tomb,
I rise and unbuild it again.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Notes and Questions.

In this poem Shelley personifies the Cloud. Why?

What does the second stanza mean to you?

The third stanza relates to the sun; what comparisons are made?

What comparisons are found in the fourth stanza?

Read the last stanza and tell what lesson the poem teaches. What line tells
you?

What pictures do you get from the fifth stanza?

Which stanza is most musical and pleasing?

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"sanguine sunrise"
"pavilion of heaven"
"reel and swim"
"meteor eyes"
"caverns of rain"
"million-colored bow"
"burning plumes"
"fleece-like floor"
"sphere-fire"
"orbed maiden"
"wind-built tent"
"cenotaph"

* * * * *

APOSTROPHE TO THE OCEAN (From "Childe Harold," Canto IV.)

LORD BYRON

There is a pleasure in the pathless woods,
There is a rapture on the lonely shore,
There is society, where none intrudes,
By the deep sea, and music in its roar;
I love not man the less, but nature more,
From these our interviews, in which I steal
From all I may be, or have been before,
To mingle with the universe, and feel
What I can ne'er express, yet cannot all conceal.

Roll on, thou deep and dark blue Ocean--roll!
Ten thousand fleets sweep over thee in vain;
Man marks the earth with ruin--his control
Stops with the shore; upon the watery plain
The wrecks are all thy deed, nor doth remain
A shadow of man's ravage, save his own,
When, for a moment, like a drop of rain,
He sinks into thy depths, with bubbling groan--
Without a grave, unknelled, uncoffined, and unknown.

His steps are not upon thy paths--thy fields
Are not a spoil for him--thou dost arise
And shake him from thee; the vile strength he wields
For earth's destruction thou dost all despise,
Spurning him from thy bosom to the skies,
And send'st him, shivering in thy playful spray,
And howling to his gods, where haply lies
His petty hope in some near port or bay,
And dashest him again to earth: there let him lay.

The armaments which thunder-strike the walls
Of rock-built cities, bidding nations quake,
And monarchs tremble in their capitals,
The oak leviathans, whose huge ribs make
Their clay creator the vain title take
Of lord of thee, and arbiter of war:
These are thy toys, and, as the snowy flake,
They melt into thy yeast of waves, which mar
Alike the Armada's pride, or spoils of Trafalgar.

Thy shores are empires changed in all save thee--
Assyria, Greece, Rome, Carthage, what are they?
Thy waters washed them power while they were free,
And many a tyrant since; their shores obey
The stranger, slave, or savage; their decay
Has dried up realms to deserts; not so thou;
Unchangeable save to thy wild waves' play.
Time writes no wrinkle on thine azure brow:
Such as creation's dawn beheld, thou rollest now.

Thou glorious mirror, where the Almighty's form
Glasses itself in tempests; in all time,
Calm or convulsed--in breeze or gale or storm,
Icing the pole, or in the torrid clime
Dark-heaving; boundless, endless, and sublime--
The image of Eternity--the throne
Of the Invisible; even from out thy slime
The monsters of the deep are made; each zone
Obeys thee; thou goest forth, dread, fathomless, alone.

And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
Of youthful sports was on thy breast to be
Borne, like thy bubbles, onward: from a boy
I wantoned with thy breakers--they to me
Were a delight; and if the freshening sea
Made them a terror--'twas a pleasing fear;
For I was as it were a child of thee,
And trusted to thy billows far and near,
And laid my hand upon thy mane--as I do here.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: George Gordon Byron was born in London the
year before the outbreak of the French Revolution. At the age of ten, upon
the death of his grand-uncle he became Lord Byron. He traveled extensively
through Europe, spending much time in Italy. At Pisa he formed a warm
friendship for the poet Shelley. So deeply was he moved by his impulses
toward liberty and freedom that in the summer of 1823 he left Genoa with a
supply of arms, medicines, and money to aid the Greeks in their struggle
for independence. In the following year he became commander-in-chief at
Missolonghi, but he died of a fever before he had an opportunity to
actually engage in battle. Hearing the news, the boy Tennyson, dreaming at
Somersby on poetic greatness, crept away to weep and carve upon sandstone
the words, "Byron is dead."

Notes and Questions.

In the first stanza why "pathless woods" and "lonely shore"?

In the second and third stanzas Byron contrasts the ocean and the earth in
their relation to man.

Line 12--What two words require emphasis?

Line 13--With what is "watery plain" contrasted?

Line 14--With what is "thy" contrasted?

Line 22--What word requires emphasis?

In the fourth stanza what contrast does Byron make?

What does the fifth stanza tell? The sixth?

Which stanza do you like best? Why?

Which lines are the most beautiful?

"The Invincible Armada"--an immense Spanish fleet consisting of one hundred
thirty vessels, sailed from Corunna in 1588 and attacked the English fleet
but suffered defeat. This event furnished Southey the inspiration for a
poem, "The Spanish Armada."

"Trafalgar"--one of Lord Nelson's great sea-fights, occurring off Cape
Trafalgar on the coast of Spain in 1805. Here he defeated the combined
fleets of France and Spain, but was himself killed.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"unknelled"
"uncoffined"
"unknown"
"playful spray"
"oak leviathans"
"yeast of waves"
"These are thy toys"
"The Armada's pride"
"spoils of Trafalgar"
"rock-built"
"glasses itself"
"fathomless"

* * * * *

THE DESTRUCTION OF SENNACHERIB LORD BYRON

The Assyrian came down like the wolf on the fold,
And his cohorts were gleaming in purple and gold;
And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea,
When the blue wave rolls nightly on deep Galilee.

Like the leaves of the forest when summer is green,
That host with their banners at sunset were seen;
Like the leaves of the forest when autumn hath flown,
That host on the morrow lay withered and strown.

For the Angel of Death spread his wings on the blast,
And breathed in the face of the foe as he passed;
And the eyes of the sleepers waxed deadly and chill,
And their hearts but once heaved, and forever grew still!

And there lay the steed with his nostril all wide,
But through it there rolled not the breath of his pride;
And the foam of his gasping lay white on the turf,
And cold as the spray of the rock-beating surf.
And there lay the rider distorted and pale,
With the dew on his brow and the rust on his mail;
And the tents were all silent, the banners alone,
The lances unlifted, the trumpet unblown.

And the widows of Ashur are loud in their wail,
And their idols are broke in the temple of Baal;
And the might of the Gentile, unsmote by the sword,
Hath melted like snow in the glance of the Lord!

HELPS TO STUDY.

Historical: Sennacherib was King of Assyria. His army invaded Judea and
besieged Jerusalem but was overthrown; 185,000 of his men were destroyed in
a single night. Sennacherib returned in haste with the remnant to his own
country. For the Bible story of this event read 2 Kings XIX. 6-36.

Notes and Questions.

Find Assyria and Galilee on your map.

Note the development:
1. Brilliant outset of the Assyrian cavalry.
2. Their summer changes to winter.
3. The angel turns their sleep into death.
4. The steed and the rider.
5. The mourning.
6. Their idols powerless to help them.
7. Their religion broken down.
8. Their power "melted like snow."

What two comparisons are found in the first stanza?

Note the movement and rhythm.

Point out the fitness of the two similes in the second stanza.

Find a comparison in the sixth stanza.

"Ashur"--Assyria.

"Baal"--the sun-god worshipped by the Assyrians.

Indicate the rhythm of the four lines of the second stanza by writing them
in groups under curves as on page 47:

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"cohorts"
"sheen"
"host"
"unsmote"
"idols are broke" (broken)
"purple and gold"
"withered and strown"
"rock-beating surf"

* * * * *

THE EVE BEFORE WATERLOO (From "Childe Harold," Canto III.)

LORD BYRON

There was a sound of revelry by night,
And Belgium's capital had gathered then
Her beauty and her chivalry, and bright
The lamps shone o'er fair women and brave men.
A thousand hearts beat happily; and when
Music arose with its voluptuous swell,
Soft eyes looked love to eyes which spake again,
And all went merry as a marriage bell.
But, hush! hark! a deep sound strikes like a rising knell!

Did ye not hear, it?--No; 'twas but the wind,
Or the car rattling o'er the stony street.
On with the dance! let joy be unconfined;
No sleep till morn, when Youth and Pleasure meet
To chase the glowing hours with flying feet!
But, hark! that heavy sound breaks in once more,
As if the clouds its echo would repeat;
And nearer, clearer, deadlier than before!
Arm! arm! it is--it is the cannon's opening roar!

Within a windowed niche of that high hall
Sate Brunswick's fated chieftain; he did hear
That sound the first amidst the festival,
And caught its tone with Death's prophetic ear;
And when they smiled because he deemed it near,
His heart more truly knew that peal too well
Which stretched his father on a bloody bier,
And roused the vengeance blood alone could quell;
He rushed into the field, and, foremost fighting, fell.

Ah! then and there was hurrying to and fro,
And gathering tears, and tremblings of distress,
And cheeks all pale, which but an hour ago
Blushed at the praise of their own loveliness;
And there were sudden partings, such as press
The life from out young hearts, and choking sighs
Which ne'er might be repeated: who could guess
If ever more should meet those mutual eyes,
Since upon night so sweet such awful morn could rise!

And there was mounting in hot haste: the steed,
The mustering squadron, and the clattering car,
Went pouring forward with impetuous speed,
And swiftly forming in the ranks of war;
And the deep thunder peal on peal afar;
And near, the beat of the alarming drum
Roused up the soldier ere the morning star;
While thronged the citizens with terror dumb,
Or whispering with white lips, "The foe! They come! they come!"

And wild and high the "Cameron's Gathering" rose!
The war note of Lochiel, which Albyn's hills
Have heard--and heard, too, have her Saxon foes:
How in the noon of night that pibroch thrills,
Savage and shrill! But with the breath which fills
Their mountain pipe, so fill the mountaineers
With the fierce native daring which instills
The stirring memory of a thousand years,
And Evan's, Donald's fame rings in each clansman's ears!

And Ardennes waves above them her green leaves,
Dewy with Nature's tear-drops, as they pass,
Grieving, if aught inanimate e'er grieves,
Over the unreturning brave--alas!
Ere evening to be trodden like the grass
Which now beneath them, but above shall grow
In its next verdure, when this fiery mass
Of living valor, rolling on the foe,
And burning with high hope, shall molder cold and low.

Last noon beheld them full of lusty life,
Last eve in Beauty's circle proudly gay;
The midnight brought the signal sound of strife--
The morn, the marshaling in arms--the day,
Battle's magnificently stern array!
The thunderclouds close o'er it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay,
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse--friend, foe--in one red burial blent!

HELPS TO STUDY.

Historical: On the evening of June 15, 1815, the Duchess of Richmond gave a
ball at Brussels. Wellington's officers, at his request, were present, his
purpose being to conceal the near approach of battle. Napoleon, the leader
of the French army, was the military genius of the age; Wellington, the
leader of the English forces, had, Tennyson tells us, "gained a hundred
fights nor ever lost an English gun." These two great generals now met for
the first time. The event was of supreme interest to all the world. The
engagement that followed next day was fought at Quatre Bras; the great
battle of Waterloo took place June 18th, Sunday. Read Thackeray's "Vanity
Fair" for description of this night in Brussels. This is a great martial
poem--the greatest inspired by this event.

Note the movement of the poem. The revelry, the beauty and the chivalry,
the music and the merry-making, the alarm, the hurrying to and fro, the
gathering tears, the mounting in hot haste, the whispering with white lips,
the Scotch music, the green leaves of Ardennes, the closing scene.

Notes and Questions.

Find Belgium's capital on your map; also Waterloo, twelve miles away.

What does the first stanza tell? The second stanza?

Note the differences between the fourth and fifth stanzas.

The sixth stanza describes the Scottish martial music--What purpose does
this stanza serve in the poem?

Which lines do you like best? Why?

Which is the most beautiful stanza?

What words seem to be especially appropriate?

Note the rhythm and the change in movement. "Cameron's Gathering"--The
Cameron Highlander's call to arms. "Lochiel"--Donald Cameron of Lochiel was
a famous highland chieftain. Read the poem "Lochiel's Warning."

"Albyn"--name given poetically to northern Scotland, the Highland region.

"Pibroch"--martial music upon the bagpipe.

"Evan's, Donald's fame"--Evan Cameron (another Lochiel) and his grandson,
Donald, were famous Highland chiefs.

"Ardennes"--Arden, a forest on the Meuse river between Brussels and
Waterloo, called Arden by Shakespeare in "As You Like It."

"car"--a cart.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"voluptuous swell"
"rising knell"
"glowing hours"
"opening roar"
"terror dumb"
"noon of night"
"stirring memory"
"revelry"
"chivalry"
"mustering squadron"
"clattering car"
"pouring forward"
"impetuous speed"
"unreturning brave"
"rolling on the foe"
"magnificently stern"
"clansman"
"inanimate"
"verdure"
"blent"

* * * * *

SONG OF THE GREEK BARD (From "Don Juan," Canto-III.)

LORD BYRON

The isles of Greece, the isles of Greece!
Where burning Sappho loved and sung,
Where grew the arts of war and peace,
Where Delos rose and Phoebus sprung!
Eternal summer gilds them yet,
But all, except their sun, is set.

The Scian and the Teian muse,
The hero's harp, the lover's lute,
Have found the fame your shores refuse;
Their place of birth alone is mute
To sounds which echo further west
Than your sires' "Islands of the Blest."

The mountains look on Marathon--
And Marathon looks on the sea;
And musing there an hour alone,
I dreamed that Greece might still be free:
For, standing on the Persian's grave,
I could not deem myself a slave.

A king sat on the rocky brow
Which looks o'er sea-born Salamis;
And ships by thousands lay below,
And men in nations;--all were his!
He counted them at break of day--
And when the sun set, where were they?

And where are they? and where art thou
My country? On thy voiceless shore
The heroic lay is tuneless now--
The heroic bosom beats no more.
And must thy lyre, so long divine,
Degenerate into hands like mine?

'Tis something in the dearth of fame,
Though linked among a fettered race,
To feel at least a patriot's shame,
Even as I sing, suffuse my face;
For what is left the poet here?
For Greeks a blush--for Greece a tear.

Must we but weep o'er days more blest?
Must we but blush?--Our fathers bled.
Earth, render back from out thy breast
A remnant of our Spartan dead!
Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopyl!

What, silent still? and silent all?
Ah, no; the voices of the dead
Sound like a distant torrent's fall,
And answer, "Let one living head,
But one, arise--we come, we come!"
'Tis but the living who are dumb.

In vain--in vain: strike other chords;
Fill high the cup with Samian wine!
Leave battles to the Turkish hordes,
And shed the blood of Scio's vine!
Hark! rising to the ignoble call--
How answers each bold bacchanal!

You have the Pyrrhic dance as yet--
Where is the Pyrrhic phalanx gone?
Of two such lessons, why forget
The nobler and the manlier one?
You have the letters Cadmus gave--
Think you he meant them for a slave?

The tyrant of the Chersonese
Was freedom's best and bravest friend;
That tyrant was Miltiades!
O that the present hour would lend
Another despot of the kind!
Such chains as his were sure to bind.

Trust not for freedom to the Franks--
They have a king who buys and sells--
In native swords and native ranks
The only hope of courage dwells;
But Turkish force and Latin fraud
Would break your shield, however broad.

Place me on Sunium's marbled steep,
Where nothing, save the waves and I
May hear our mutual murmurs sweep;
There, swan-like, let me sing and die;
A land of slaves shall ne'er be mine--
Dash down yon cup of Samian wine!

HELPS TO STUDY.

Historical: The decline of Greece is the theme of this poem. Byron
represents a Greek poet as contrasting ancient and modern Greece, showing
that, in modern Greece, "all except their sun is set."

Notes and Questions.

What does the first stanza tell?

What are "the arts of war and peace"?

What nation is meant by the Franks?

"I could not deem myself a slave." Why?

Line 19--relates to Xerxes.

Lines 23, 24. Explain these lines,

Explain lines 67, 70.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"Sappho"
"Delos"
"Phoebus"
"Marathon"
"Persian's grave"
"Salamis"
"eternal summer"
"rocky brow"
"voiceless shore"
"heroic lay"
"fettered race"
"dearth of fame"
"Of the three hundred grant but three,
To make a new Thermopyl"

* * * * *

MARCO BOZZARIS

FITZ-GREENE HALLECK

At midnight, in his guarded tent,
The Turk was dreaming of the hour
When Greece, her knee in suppliance bent,
Should tremble at his power.
In dreams, through camp and court he bore
The trophies of a conqueror;
In dreams, his song of triumph heard;
Then wore his monarch's signet-ring;
Then pressed that monarch's throne--a king:
As wild his thoughts, and gay of wing,
As Eden's garden-bird.

At midnight, in the forest shades,
Bozzaris ranged his Suliote band,
True as the steel of their tried blades,
Heroes in heart and hand.
There had the Persian's thousands stood,
There had the glad earth drunk their blood,
On old Plata's day:
And now there breathed that haunted air,
The sons of sires who conquered there,
With arms to strike, and soul to dare,
As quick, as far as they.

An hour passed on--the Turk awoke;
That bright dream was his last:
He woke--to hear his sentries shriek,
"To arms! they come! the Greek! the Greek!"
He woke--to die mid flames and smoke,
And shout and groan, and sabre-stroke,
And death-shots falling thick and fast
As lightnings from the mountain-cloud;
And heard, with voice as trumpet loud,
Bozzaris cheer his band:
"Strike!--till the last armed foe expires;
Strike!--for your altars and your fires;
Strike!--for the green graves of your sires;
God--and your native land!"

They fought--like brave men, long and well;
They piled the ground with Moslem slain;
They conquered--but Bozzaris fell,
Bleeding at every vein.
His few surviving comrades saw
His smile, when rang their proud--"Hurrah,"
And the red field was won:
Then saw in death his eyelids close,
Calmly as to a night's response,
Like flowers at set of sun.

But to the hero, when his sword
Has won the battle for the free,
Thy voice sounds like a prophet's word,
And in its hollow tones are heard
The thanks of millions yet to be.
Bozzaris! with, the storied brave
Greece nurtured in her glory's time,
Rest thee--there is no prouder grave,
Even in her own proud clime.
We tell thy doom without a sigh;
For thou art Freedom's now, and Fame's--
One of the few, the immortal names
That were not born to die.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Biographical and Historical: Fitz-Greene Halleck was born in Connecticut,
July 8, 1790, and died November 19, 1867. Of his poems, "Marco Bozzaris" is
probably the best known. Marco Bozzaris, leader of the Greek revolution,
was, killed August 20, 1823, in an attack upon the Turks near Missolonghi,
a Greek town. His last words were: "To die for liberty is a pleasure, not a
pain."

Notes and Questions.

Over whom did the Turk dream he gained a victory?

What might be the "trophies of a conqueror"?

Upon whom would a monarch confer the privilege of wearing his signet ring?

Trace the successive steps by which the Turk in his dream rises to the
summit of his ambition.

What other "immortal names" do you know?

"Suliote"--natives of Suli, a mountainous district in Albania (European
Turkey).

"Plata's day" refers to the victory of the Greeks over the Persians on
this field 479 B. C.

"Moslem"--Mohammedans--name given the Turks.

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"tried blades"
"haunted air"
"storied brave"

* * * * *

THE BURIAL OF SIR JOHN MOORE

CHARLES WOLFE

Not a drum was heard, not a funeral note,
At his corse to the rampart we hurried;
Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot
O'er the grave where our hero we buried.

We buried him darkly at dead of night,
The sods with our bayonets turning,
By the struggling moonbeams' misty light,
And the lantern dimly burning.

No useless coffin inclosed his breast,
Nor in sheet nor in shroud we wound him;
But he lay like a warrior taking his rest,
With his martial cloak around him.

Few and short were the prayers we said,
And we spike not a word of sorrow;
But we steadfastly gazed on the face of the dead,
And we bitterly thought of the morrow.

We thought, as we hollowed his narrow bed,
And smoothed down his lonely pillow,
That the foe and the stranger would tread o'er his head,
And we far away on the billow.

Lightly they'll talk of the spirit that's gone,
And o'er his cold ashes upbraid him;
But little he'll reck, if they let him sleep on
In the grave where a Briton has laid him.

But half of our heavy task was done
When the clock struck the hour for retiring;
And we heard the distant and random gun
That the foe was sullenly firing.

Slowly and sadly we laid him down,
From the field of his fame fresh and gory;
We carved not a line, we raised not a stone,
But we left him alone with his glory.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Charles Wolfe, a British clergyman, was born at Dublin, December 14, 1791,
and died at Cork, February 21, 1823. His poem, "The Burial of Sir John
Moore," is the only one of his works now widely read.

Historical: Sir John Moore, an English general, was killed (January 16,
1809) in an engagement between the English and the army of Napoleon at
Corunna, in Spain. In accordance with an expressed wish, he was buried at
night on the battlefield. In St. Paul's Cathedral, London, a monument was
erected to his memory, and a stone also marks the spot where he was buried
on the ramparts, at Corunna. Note that it was from this port that the
Spanish Armada sailed.

Notes and Questions.

Who tells the story of the poem?

What is the narrator's feeling for Sir John Moore? How do you know?

What impressions of Sir John Moore do you get from reading this poem?

Which stanza or stanzas do you like best? Why?

Select the lines that seem to you most beautiful and memorize them.

Which is the greater memorial, a monument of stone or bronze, or such a
poem as this? Why?

Words and Phrases for Discussion.

"corse"
"upbraid"
"rampart"
"random"
"bayonets"
"sullenly"
"shroud"
"rock"
"spirit"
"struggling"
"Not a soldier discharged his farewell shot"
"The struggling moonbeam"
"We bitterly thought of the morrow"

* * * * *

ABSALOM

NATHANIEL PARKER WILLIS

The waters slept. Night's silvery veil hung low
On Jordan's bosom, and the eddies curled
Their glassy rings beneath it, like the still,
Unbroken beating of the sleeper's pulse.
The reeds bent down the stream; the willow leaves,
With a soft cheek upon the lulling tide,
Forgot the lifting winds; and the long stems,
Whose flowers the water, like a gentle nurse,
Bears on its bosom, quietly gave way,
And leaned in graceful attitudes to rest.
How strikingly the course of nature tells,
By its light heed of human suffering,
That it was fashioned for a happier world!

King David's limbs were weary. He had fled
From far Jerusalem; and now he stood,
With his faint people, for a little rest,
Upon the shore of Jordan. The light wind
Of morn was stirring, and he bared his brow
To its refreshing breath; for he had worn
The mourner's covering, and he had not felt
That he could see his people until now.
They gathered round him on the fresh green bank,
And spoke their kindly words; and as the sun
Rose up in heaven, he knelt among them there,
And bowed his head upon his hands to pray.
Oh, when the heart is full--when bitter thoughts
Come crowding thickly up for utterance,
And the poor, common words of courtesy
Are such an empty mockery--how much
The bursting heart may pour itself in prayer!
He prayed for Israel; and his voice went up
Strongly and fervently. He prayed for those
Whose love had been his shield; and his deep tones.
Grew tremulous. But oh! for Absalom--
For his estranged, misguided Absalom--
The proud, bright being who had burst away
In all his princely beauty, to defy
The heart that cherished him--for him he poured,
In agony that would not be controlled,
Strong supplication, and forgave him there,
Before his God, for his deep sinfulness.
The pall was settled. He who slept beneath
Was straightened for the grave; and as the folds
Sunk to the still proportions, they betrayed
The matchless symmetry of Absalom.
His hair was yet unshorn, and silken curls
Were floating round the tassels as they swayed
To the admitted air, as glossy now
As when, in hours of gentle dalliance, bathing
The snowy fingers of Judea's daughters.
His helm was at his feet; his banner, soiled
With trailing through Jerusalem, was laid,
Reversed, beside him; and the jeweled hilt,
Whose diamonds lit the passage of his blade,
Rested, like mockery, on his covered brow.
The soldiers of the king trod to and fro,
Clad in the garb of battle; and their chief,
The mighty Joab, stood beside the bier,
And gazed upon the dark pall steadfastly,
As if he feared the slumberer might stir.
A slow step startled him. He grasped his blade
As if a trumpet rang; but the bent form
Of David entered, and he gave command,
In a low tone, to his few followers,
And left him with his dead. The King stood still
Till the last echo died; then, throwing off
The sackcloth from his brow, and laying back
The pall from the still features of his child,
He bowed his head upon him, and broke forth
In the resistless eloquence of woe:

"Alas, my noble boy, that thou shouldst die!
Thou, who wert made so beautifully fair!
That death should settle in thy glorious eye,
And leave his stillness in this clustering hair!
How could he mark thee for the silent tomb,
My proud boy, Absalom?

"Cold is thy brow, my son, and I am chill
As to my bosom I have tried to press thee!
How I was wont to feel my pulses thrill,
Like a rich harp-string, yearning to caress thee,
And hear thy sweet '_My father!_' from these dumb
And cold lips, Absalom!

"But death is on thee. I shall hear the gush
Of music, and the voices of the young;
And life will pass me in the mantling blush,
And the dark tresses to the soft winds flung--
But thou no more, with thy sweet voice, shalt come
To meet me, Absalom!

"And oh! when I am stricken, and my heart,
Like a bruised reed, is waiting to be broken,
How will its love for thee, as I depart,
Yearn for thine ear to drink its last deep token!
It were so sweet, amid death's gathering gloom,
To see thee, Absalom!

"And now, farewell! 'Tis hard to give thee up,
With death so like a gentle slumber on thee;
And thy dark sin! Oh, I could drink the cup,
If from this woe its bitterness had won thee.
May God have called thee, like a wanderer, home,
My lost boy, Absalom!"

He covered up his face, and bowed himself
A moment on his child; then, giving him
A look of melting tenderness, he clasped
His hands convulsively, as if in prayer;
And, as if strength were given him of God,
He rose up calmly, and composed the pall
Firmly and decently, and left him there,
As if his rest had been a breathing sleep.

HELPS TO STUDY.

Nathaniel Parker Willis was born in Maine in 1806. He was a graduate of
Yale and was an early contributor to various periodicals, including the
"Youths' Companion," which magazine had been founded by his father. The
selection here given is regarded as the poet's masterpiece.

Historical: Absalom, the son of David, King of Israel, rebelled against his
father. David sent his army to put down the rebellion, but said to his
captains, "Deal gently for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom."
In spite of this entreaty, Absalom was slain by Joab, a captain in David's
army. The first forty-one lines relate to events preceding the battle, the
remainder to events following the battle. Read 2 Samuel XVIII.

Notes and Questions.

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