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The clouds are at play in the azure space,
And their shadows at play on the bright green vale, And here they stretch to the frolic chase,
And there they roll on the easy gale.
There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,
There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flower,
And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea.
And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles
On the dewy earth that smiles in his rays,
Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away.
HELPS FOR STUDY
What time of year does this poem describe?
Explain “wilding bee,” “azure space," "stretch to the frolic chase,” “roll on the easy gale.”
What is meant by “aspen bower”?
To a Waterfowl
The Death of the Flowers
RALPH WALDO EMERSON
Ralph Waldo Emerson was born in Boston, Mass., May 25, 1803. His father was a clergyman, who died when Ralph was a child, leaving the family to struggle with poverty. The boy prepared for college at the Boston Latin School, entering Harvard at the age of fourteen, where he paid part of his expenses by waiting at table in the college dining-hall. He took prizes for his essays and one for declamation, and was class day poet. After graduation, he taught a few years, and then entered the ministry. Later, he became a lecturer. His works include both prose and poetry, the prose writings being all in the form of essays. The subjects he chose were general, as History, Friendship, and Compensation. In reading Emerson, you learn to look at things in a new light, to see truths you had not suspected. This is due to his singularly pure nature and keen mental vision. He seemed to see through the disguises of the world, and penetrated to the soul beneath. He died in Concord, Mass., April 27, 1882.
The glory of the farmer is that, in the division of labors, it is his part to create. All trade rests at last on his primitive activity. He stands close to nature; he obtains from
the earth the bread and the meat. The food which was 5 not, he causes to be. The first farmer was the first man, and all historic nobility rests on possession and use of land. Men do not like hard work, but every man has an exceptional respect for tillage, and a feeling that this is the
original calling of his race, that he himself is only excused 10 from it by some circumstance which made him delegate
it for a time to other hands. If he have not some skill which recommends him to the farmer, some product for which the farmer will give him corn, he must himself return into his due place among the planters. And the profession has in all eyes its ancient charm, as standing nearest to God, the first cause.
Then the beauty of nature, the tranquillity and inno5 cence of the countryman, his independence, and his pleasing arts the care of bees, of poultry, of sheep, of cows, the dairy, the care of hay, of fruits, of orchards and forests and the reaction of these on the workman, in giving him
a strength and plain dignity like the face and manners of 10 nature, all men acknowledge. All men keep the farm
in reserve as an asylum where, in case of mischance, they may hide their poverty, or a solitude, if they do not succeed in society. And who knows how many glances of
remorse are turned this way from the bankrupts of trade, 15 from mortified pleaders in courts and senates, or from the
victims of idleness and pleasure? Poisoned by town life and town vices, the sufferer resolves: “Well, my children whom I have injured shall go back to the land, to be re
cruited and cured by that which should have been my 20 nursery, and now shall be their hospital.”
HELPS FOR STUDY
What does Emerson say is the glory of the farmer?
Explain “keep the farm in reserve as an asylum," "in case of mischance," "bankrupts of trade," "mortified pleaders in courts and senates," "victims of idleness and pleasure,” “to be recruited and cured.”
ADDITIONAL SELECTIONS The Rhodora
The Mountain and the Squirrel The Humble Bee
Forbearance The Snowstorm
Love's Nobility Each and All
Sky-born Music The Concord Hymn
THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
Oliver Wendell Holmes was born in Cambridge, Mass., August 29, 1809. At the age of sixteen, he entered Harvard College, graduating in 1829. He decided to become a physician, and went to Paris for study, and returned to open an office in Boston. He was appointed professor of anatomy at Dartmouth College, and was called to a similar position at Harvard in 1847. Although he made some valuable contributions to medical science, he is best known as an author. His writings consist of both prose and poetry. He died at Boston, October 7, 1894.
“The Chambered Nautilus” is the poem which Holmes himself preferred. It is probably the most familiar of his serious verse.
This is the ship of pearl, which, poets feign,
Sails the unshadowed main
The venturous bark that flings
And coral reefs lie bare,
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Before thee lies revealed --
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew,
Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea.
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Till thou at length art free,
HELPS FOR STUDY
What is a nautilus?
Why is the word "wrecked” used by the poet? What does it mean?