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So the fragrant soul in its purity,
To sordid life tied down,
How God hath seen the crown.
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. What was the humble be-15. How may the lily be like a
ginning of the water lily? human being ?
Describe its surroundings. 6. Apply the story to the life 2. What things that lived in of some great person of
the slime failed to see what humble origin.
7. What may this poem mean
James Jeffrey Roche was born in Ireland in 1847. He first came to Canada, where he acquired his education. He removed later to Boston, where he was editor of The Pilot for many years. He published several volumes of poems. He died April 3, 1908.
But who will watch my lilies,
BEFORE THE RAIN
THOMAS BAILEY ALDRICH
Every one has heard persons say: "I believe it is going to rain ”; or, " There are signs of rain to-day." Yet, if those persons were asked, “What are these signs of rain?” they would find difficulty in explaining exactly what they are.
This poem describes“ signs of rain ” as a poet sees them. Every one of you has felt and seen such signs. Let us see, then, whether, with your knowledge of these signs you can read — that is, see and feel in your mind—what Mr. Aldrich describes as the “ signs of rain ” which he saw.
Of course, you know that the heat of the sun warms the water of the oceans, rivers, lakes, swamps, and marshes, and that the water, unseen, is taken up by the warm air, and forms the clouds which go sailing over our heads. Thousands of tons of water are always above us in the air and in the clouds.
So, in this poem, the poet imagines that the heat of the sun, never seen, is a “spirit” which, from the sun's place, high in the heavens, lowers “golden buckets” on “slender ropes of mist” into the “ vapory amethyst,” or the faintly purple air of places where water lies, and in these golden buckets“ scoops the dew" from the flowers and“ dips the jewels out of the sea,” or dips up the bright drops of water such as you sometimes see hanging from the boughs of trees.
This spirit, the heat of the sun, scoops up the dew and dips the jewels out of the sea in his golden bucket, – “ To scatter them over the land in showers.”
Now is not that a pretty fancy?
Then, he tells us that we know it will rain, for“ before the rain," the poplar trees turn up the white undersides of their leaves, as they are doing while he writes.
Then, too, the amber grain, or ripened grain, in the fields is “ shrinking in the wind,” – that is, the tall stalks are bending away, or “ shrinking " from the wind. Can you see them do this and hear them as they rustle?
As he watches the “signs of rain,” the lightning flashes, and, as the rain begins to fall, the flashes of the lightning are —
— tangled in tremulous skeins of rain.” “Skeins ” (skānz) means yarn wound up in circles, then twisted like big twisted doughnuts. Can you see the falling raindrops twisting around one another like skeins of yarn, and the lightning “ tangled ” in the skeins of the falling raindrops ?
With all this clearly in mind, try to read Mr. Aldrich's description of “ Before the Rain,” reading slowly enough to be sure to see what he describes. If you can see it, you will haye great pleasure. dismal fens:' dark, gloomy swamp lands.
We knew it would rain, for all the morn,
A spirit on slender ropes of mist
Into the vapory amethyst
Scooping the dew that lay in the flowers,
To scatter them over the land in showers.
We knew it would rain, for the poplars showed
The white of their leaves, the amber grain
Is tangled in tremulous skeins of rain !
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
1. Name the signs of rain that|5. Have you seen standing grain you know. :
seem to “ shrink ” from 2. Name a!l the signs of rain the wind? Describe it.
that Mr. Aldrich mentions 6. Can you think of rain as in the poem.
“skeins,” like yarn? De3. Who is the "spirit” that . scribe it. A "skein "
lowers his golden bucket? of yarn is familiar to you. From what places does he Try to think of falling rain lift water for rain ?
as looking like a “skein." 4. What are the “ jewels ” that 7. Try to see the lightning
he dips out of the sea ? “tangled” in the “ tremuHave you seen them?
lous skeins of rain.”
Thomas Bailey Aldrich, the author of “Before the Rain” and one of our best American poets, was born November 11, 1836, at Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He wrote also many fine stories. His “ Story of a Bad Boy” is especially loved by children. He died March 19, 1907.
The wild and windy March once more
Has shut his gates of sleet,
To read this familiar and much loved poem, you must first read over slowly the first lines, then shut your eyes and try to see the pictures. You have seen them and can easily recall them.
Now read the first five lines. Can you think a cold, dark, dreary day, with rain falling and dripping; a vine with leaves all brown and wet, and with dead leaves letting go and falling ? Shut your eyes and try to see and feel such a day.
A great sorrow had befallen Mr. Longfellow, and he was very sad. So he thought how like the day his life was. His life, like the day, was cold, and dark, and dreary. His tears fell as the raindrops fell; his sighs were like the wind; his thoughts clung to the sad past like the vine to the moldering wall, and the hopes of his youth were like the dead leaves falling thick in the blast.
But this brave man is ashamed to give way to the gloomy spell of a dreary rainy day, so he tells himself to cease weeping and sighing and complaining; for just as the sun is shining behind this dark cloud, so happiness will shine in his life again in spite of all his fears and tears. He fully realizes that all of any life cannot be joyous, and that each one of us must have some sad, dark days. He wants us to know that the sad days make other days seem happier and that the dark days serve only to make other days seem brighter. This is the belief of all brave men and women.
This poem will be of value to you if, the next time you feel sad, you will say that you are too proud to mope and then cheer up like a brave boy or girl.