« 前へ次へ »
Lost in faint deeps of heliotrope
The whippoorwill, the whippoorwill.
THE FIRST BLUEBIRD 1
JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY
James Whitcomb Riley (1853– ) was born in the little town of Greenfield, Indiana. The Raggedy Man, and Little Orphant Annie, which are among his most familiar poems, illustrate his perfect sympathy with children, and explain their love for him. His poems on nature and rural life, such as When the Frost is on the Punkin and The First Bluebird, are great favorites. It has been truly said that “he lives in the understanding and affection of the millions.” See also:
Halleck’s History of American Literature, pp. 352-354, 366.
Good Housekeeping, 55: 456-460; Literary Digest, 47: 782.
Jest rain and snow! and rain again!
And dribble ! drip! and blow!
Some more rain and snow !
This morning I was 'most afeard
To wake up — when, I jing !
The first bluebird of Spring ! -
And in acrost the orchurd come,
Soft as a angel's wing,
Too sweet fer anything! 1 From Neighborly Poems, by James Whitcomb Riley, copyright, 1891. Used by special permission of the publishers, The Bobbs-Merrill Company.
The winter's shroud was rent a-part –
The sun bust forth in glee, -
Hopped out o’ bed with me!
There are twenty-one stanzas in Shelley's The Skylark. Would you not like to read the other fifteen? What does the poet think may be the cause of the skylark's song? Why does he think the bird must know the true and deep realities of death? Does the third stanza express almost universal truths of human nature? How does Shelley compare his own skill with that of the skylark? Is the world now listening to him?
In Hayne's poem why is the mocking bird called the “laureate”? Name the birds that have stopped to listen. What is the different position of each? Does it require careful observation to write verse like this? Visualize in distinct images the eight birds mentioned and describe the appearance of each. Does the poet convey to you the beauty of the mocking bird's song by direct description? What method does he employ?
How is the character of the robin shown in Lanier's poem? In what does the robin find bliss? How many examples of personification are there in this poem? Think carefully over the second line of the last stanza. Reread the poem aloud and see how spirited you can make it. Statistical investigation of children's geographical knowledge shows that they usually agree in considering the same two states the most interesting. Which states do you think these are? Why? Compare the background of Tampa Robins with that of The First Bluebird.
In Cawein's The Whippoorwill, explain why the word “stealthy” is very happily used in this connection. Would any one but a natural poet have thought of such expressions as “stealthy twilights,” “hot geranium red," "scarlet-haunted sky”? What is the time of year of this poem? The time of day? If you were an artist, could you embody the first stanza in a picture? How does the second stanza tell you that there is no air stirring? Why is “drained out of dusk” very appropriate for such a "plaintive cry”? Mention the chief natural objects that lend fascination to this poem. Would you be more apt to discover this fascination in nature after reading this poem aloud several times ?
Note that Riley's The First Bluebird is written in the dialect of the Indiana farmer. Have you ever known a March day, such as the first four lines realistically describe? How does the poet make you feel the fascination of the bluebird's song? In what way does he make the song more effective by its background?
The first is an English bird; the others may be heard in many parts of our own country. Can you name the birds in your own locality? How many bird notes can you whistle ?
Of the five poems in this group, which gives you the most pleasure? Which do you think is the greatest ? Read them all to some of your friends and learn their opinions. Perhaps some very good-natured friend or company may allow you at some special time to read aloud all of this and the preceding groups, and they may express their preferences. Of the fifteen poems in the three groups in this volume note that all but two are complete and that you are to read all of these two if you like them.
SUGGESTIONS FOR ADDITIONAL READINGS
The Skylark. James Hogg.
CAPTAIN PHIPS'S SEARCH FOR SUNKEN
Cotton Mather (1663–1728) was born of Puritan ancestry in New England. He was graduated from Harvard in his sixteenth year. Like his father he was a minister and a writer, publishing in all three hundred and eighty-two works. He was prominent in the persecution of Salem witches. Benjamin Franklin said of his Essays To Do Good, "If I have been a useful citizen, the public owes the advantage of it to that book." His greatest work is his Magnalia, which he defines as an “Ecclesiastical History of New England.” See also:
Halleck's History of American Literature, pp. 46-50, 63.
(Captain William Phips (1651-1695) was born in what is now Bristol, Maine, and died in London. At eighteen years of age he learned to read and write. In 1692 he organized a commission of magistrates to try so-called witches justly and protect them as much as possible. He was governor of Massachusetts, and was knighted by the king of England for his honesty and success in finding treasure. No doubt Cotton Mather heard this account from Captain Phips himself, who was a member of Cotton Mather's church.)
He was of an inclination cutting rather like a hatchet than like a razor; he would propose very considerable matters to himself, and then so cut through them that no difficulties could put by the edge of his resolutions. Being thus of the true temper for doing of great things, he betakes himself to the sea, the right scene for such things; and upon advice of
1 From Magnalia, 1702.
a Spanish wreck about the Bahamas, he took a voyage thither; but with little more success than what just served him a little to furnish him for a voyage to England; whither he went in a vessel, not much unlike that which the Dutchmen stamped on their first coin, with these words about it: Incertum quo Fata ferant.! Having first informed himself that there was another Spanish wreck, wherein was lost a mighty treasure, hitherto undiscovered, he had a strong impression upon his mind that he must be the discoverer; and he made such representations of his design at Whitehall, that by the year 1683 he became the captain of a king's ship, and arrived at New England commander of the AlgierRose, a frigate of eighteen guns and ninety-five men.
To relate all the dangers through which he passed, both by sea and land, and all the tiresome trials of his patience, as well as of his courage, while year after year the most vexing accidents imaginable delayed the success of his design, it would even tire the patience of the reader; for very great was the experiment that Captain Phips made of the Italian observation, “He that cannot suffer both good and evil, will never come to any great preferment.” Wherefore I shall supersede all journal of his voyages to and fro, with reciting one incident of his conduct, that showed him to be a person of no contemptible capacity. While he was captain of the Algier-Rose, his men growing weary of their unsuccessful enterprise, made a mutiny, wherein they approached him on the quarter-deck, with drawn swords in their hands, and required him to join with them in running away with the ship, to drive a trade of piracy on the South Seas. Captain Phips, though he had not so much of a weapon as an ox-goad, or a jawbone in his hands, yet, like another Shamgar? or Samson, with a most undaunted forti
1" (It is) uncertain whither the Fates may bear (us).” 2 An Old Testament hero who slew six hundred Philistines with an ox-goad.