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QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. What is “ the farmer's wintry
How did they plant it in hoard”?.
Whittier's time? 2. What is the corn’s “ soft and 8. Why does the poet call the yellow hair "?
crows“ robbers”? 3. What are some of the other 9. Why does he say “frosted
“gifts that Autumn pours leaves "?
from out her lavish horn"? | 10. Make a list of ways in which :. 4. What is meant by “the corn is useful to you.
apple from the pine "? 11. What other crops might be “The cluster from the destroyed and corn alone vine”?
sustain the life of man? 5. Why is corn a "hardy gift”? Stanza 12. 6. Why is April said to be 12. Do you now think that corn “changeful”?
is worthy of being the 7. Tell the different ways in subject of a great poem ?
which corn is planted. Why do you think so ? John Greenleaf Whittier, often called the “ Quaker Poet,” was born in 1807, near Haverhill, Massachusetts. His boyhood home was a busy, economical one. He was familiar with poverty and hard work.
Young Whittier worked all of one winter making slippers at eight cents a pair, to pay his next term's school dues. He calculated so closely every item of expense that he knew before the beginning of the term that he would have twenty-five cents remaining at its close, and he actually had just that amount left.
While he was still “ a barefoot boy,” a copy of the poems of Robert Burns fell into his hands, and, inspired by the verse of the plowboy of Scotland, he resolved to become a poet. “ SnowBound” is his best poem descriptive of country life, and it is the best poem of this type written in America.
Whittier never married. He died at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, in 1892, in his eighty-fifth year.
F. P. IRVINE
After the first early frosts, usually in October, or a little later, we often have a calm, hazy, short “second summer.” This wonderful season often lasts for several weeks and is called Indian Summer. Indian Summer is noted for the beautiful dawns and the dreamy, tawny dusks of its many perfect days. You probably have seen such seasons.
In studying this poem which we hope you may read in the Indian Summer time, try to find out whether Mr. Irvine really describes it accurately.
Now turn to the poem. The poet says, “The toil-encumbered days are over.” What does this mean? What about the harvests, the corn-cutting and husking, and the fall plowing ?
Study each line, stopping to think whether the line is a true picture of the time as you have seen it. For example, are the “airs of noon as mellow as the morn”? Are.“ the blooms upon the seeding clover brown,” and so on?
As you read, think whether the line presents a true picture, for you have surely seen it yourself. But you probably never thought that what you saw was worthy of a poem.
Count the eye- and ear-pictures in the poem, and try to see and to hear every one of them and to hang them on the walls of your own memory. Remember that you must stop, shut your eyes and think if you really read this poem, for it is nothing but a set of pictures.
Study carefully the meanings of the following words before reading the poem :
encumbered: burdened with. | limbs. Try to imagine such gossamer : very fine, shining a tree. threads.
upland glades: meadows in the indolence: sleepy laziness. high hills. covert: a hiding place.
sterile: dead or not bearing a-gambol: running about play- beechnuts. (Last stanza.) fully, as lambs do.
staccato barking (stå-kä'to) : the yonder beech trunk sheer: a distinct, separate sounds made
dead trunk of a tree without by a squirrel when barking.
At last the toil-encumbered days are over,
And airs of noon are mellow as the morn; The blooms are brown upon the seeding clover,
And brown the silks that plume the ripening corn.
5 All sounds are hushed of reaping and of mowing ;
The winds are low; the waters lie uncurled; Nor thistle-down nor gossamer is flowing,
So lull'd in languid indolence the world.
3 And mute the farms along the purple valley, 10 The full barns muffled to the beams with sheaves; You hear no more the noisy rout and rally
Amongst the tenant-masons of the eaves.
4 A single quail, upstarting from the stubble,
Darts whirring past and quick alighting down Is lost, as breaks and disappears a bubble,
Amid the covert of the leafy brown.
The upland glades are flecked afar in dapples
By flocks of lambs a-gambol from the fold; The orchards bend beneath the weight of apples,
And groves are bright in crimson and in gold.
6 But hark! I hear the pheasant's muffled drumming,
The water murmur from a distant dell; A drowsy bee in mazy tangles humming;
The far, faint tinkling tenor of a bell.
And now from yonder beech trunk sheer and sterile,
The rat-tat-tat of the woodpecker's bill; The sharp staccato barking of a squirrel,
A dropping nut, and all again is still.
QUESTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION 1. What is meant by “ the toil-13. What is the color of clover
encumbered days are blooms and corn silks at over"?
this time of the year? 2. What are the “ mellow 4. Is Indian Summer a quiet, airs”?
or a noisy season? Answer