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Years he numbered scarce thirteen
When Fates turned cruel,
The stage's jewel ;
Old men so duly,
He played so truly.
They all consented;
They have repented;
In baths to steep him;
Heaven vows to keep him.
1 Three years.
2 The three Greek Fates, Clotho, Lachesis, Atropos, who respectively spun the web of life, measured, and cut it.
TO A WATERFOWL
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
William Cullen Bryant (1794–1878), the first great American poet, was born in Cummington, Massachusetts. He was descended from John and Priscilla Alden, whom Longfellow made famous in the Courtship of Miles Standish. When traveling on foot to Plainfield, where he intended practicing law, he saw a bird winging its flight toward the sunset. He was feeling very lonely at the time, but the courage of the bird in its lonely flight gave him new courage. He went on hopefully and at the end of his journey wrote To a Waterfowl to commemorate his experience. See also:
Halleck's History of American Literature, pp. 135-145, 152.
WHITHER, midst falling dew,
Thy solitary way?
Vainly the fowler's eye
Thy figure floats along.
Seek'st thou the plashy brink
On the chafed ocean side?
There is a Power whose care
Lone wandering, but not lost.
All day thy wings have fanned,
Though the dark night is near.
And soon that toil shall end;
Soon, o'er thy sheltered nest.
Thou’rt gone, the abyss of heaven
And shall not soon depart.
He who, from zone to zone,
Will lead my steps aright.
What time of day does the poet describe? What lines show that the bird was a waterfowl? If you were asked to find in this poem a suggestion for a painting, which stanza would you choose? What would you make the central point of interest in the painting? Commit to memory the lesson the poet learned from the bird.
A GROUP OF LETTERS
LETTER TO ST. NICHOLAS 1
Helen A. Keller was born in Tuscumbia, Alabama, in 1880. At the age of nineteen months, she had an illness which left her deaf, dumb, and blind. When she was six years old, a most talented young girl, Miss Sullivan, became her teacher. Through her aid and her own perseverance, Miss Keller took the degree of B.A. at Radcliffe College in 1904. A few years ago she learned to talk. She has lectured from coast to coast in America, and contributed articles to magazines, besides writing several books. The World I Live In and The Story of My Life are most interesting accounts of the life and experiences of this woman who has been called the greatest marvel of the twentieth century.
DEAR ST. NICHOLAS, - It gives me very great pleasure to send you my autograph because I want the boys and girls who read St. Nicholas to know how blind children write. I suppose some of them wonder how we keep the lines so straight so I will try to tell them how it is done. We have a grooved board which we put between the pages when we wish to write. The parallel grooves correspond to lines, and when we have pressed the paper into them by means of the blunt end of the pencil, it is very easy to keep the words even. The small letters are all made in the grooves, while the long ones extend above and below them. We guide the pencil with the right hand, and feel carefully with the forefinger of the left hand to see that we shape and space
1 From The Story of My Life, copyright, 1903, by Doubleday, Page and Company. Used by special arrangement with the publishers.
the letters correctly. It is very difficult at first to form them plainly, but if we keep on trying it gradually becomes easier, and after a great deal of practice we can write legible letters to our friends.
Then we are very, very happy. Sometime they may visit school for the blind. If they do, I am sure they will wish to see the pupils write. Very sincerely your little friend,
LETTER TO GERTRUDE 2
Lewis Carroll is the pen name of the Reverend Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (1832–1898), who was for many years lecturer on mathematics at Oxford University. He is known most widely as the author of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass. This letter may explain partly why he had so many warm friends among young people.
CHRIST CHURCH, OXFORD, October 13, 1875. MY DEAR GERTRUDE, - I never give birthday presents, but you see I do sometimes write a birthday letter: so, as I've just arrived here, I am writing this to wish you many and many a happy return of your birthday to-morrow. I will drink your health if only I can remember, and if you don't mind — but perhaps you object?
You see, if I were to sit by you at breakfast, and to drink your tea, you wouldn't like that, would you? You would say, “Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson drunk all my tea, and I haven't got any left !” So I am very much afraid, next time Sybil looks for you, she'll find you sitting by the sad sea waves and crying “Boo! hoo! Here's Mr. Dodgson has drunk my health, and I haven't got any left !”
1 She was eleven years old at this time.