Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

grandeur. But no description can give any idea of the strangeness, splendor, and, really, the sublimity, of the sight. Its great size, for it must have been from two to three miles in circumference, and several hundred feet in height,-its slow motion, as its base rose and sank in the water, and its high points nodded against the clouds; the dashing of the waves upon it, which, breaking high with foam, lined its base with a white crust; and the thundering sound of the cracking of the mass, and the breaking and tumbling down of huge pieces; together with its nearness and approach, which added a slight element of fear,—all combined to give to it the character of true sublimity. The main body of the mass was, as I have said, of an indigo color, its base crusted with frozen foam; and as it grew thin and transparent toward the edges and top, its color shaded off from a deep blue to the whiteness of snow. It seemed to be drifting slowly toward the north, so that we kept away and avoided it.

It was in sight all the afternoon; and when we got to leeward of it the wind died away, so that we lay-to quite near it for a greater part of the night. Unfortunately, there was no moon, but it was a clear night, and we could plainly mark the long, regular heaving of the stupendous mass, as its edges moved slowly against the stars, now revealing them, and now shutting them in. Several times in our watch hour cracks were heard, which sounded as though they must have run through the whole length of the iceberg, and several pieces fell down with a thundering crash, plunging heavily into the sea. Toward morning a strong breeze sprang up, and we filled away, and left it astern, and at daylight it was out of sight.

-From "Two Years before the Mast."

Questions for Study 1. What do you like best about this description? How does it make you realize the great size of the iceberg ? its color? its majesty!

JAFFAR

LEIGH HUNT

Jaffar, the Barmecide, the good Vizier,
The poor man's hope, the friend without a peer,
Jaffar was dead, slain by a doom unjust;
And guilty Haroun, sullen with mistrust
Of what the good and e’en the bad might say,
Ordain'd that no man living from that day
Should dare to speak his name on pain of death.-
All Araby and Persia held their breath.

All but the brave Mondeer.—He, proud to show
How far for love a grateful soul could go,
And facing death for very scorn and grief
(For his great heart wanted a great relief),
Stood forth in Bagdad, daily, in the square
Where once had stood a happy house; and there
Harangued the tremblers at the scimitar
On all they owed to the divine Jaffar.

“Bring me this man, the caliph cried. The man
Was brought—was gaz'd upon. The mutes began
To bind his arms. “Welcome, brave cords !” cried he;
“From bonds far worse Jaffar deliver'd me;
From wants, from shames, from loveless household fears;
Made a man's eyes friends with delicious tears;
Restor'd me-lov'd me—put me on a par
With his great self. How can I pay Jaffar?

Haroun, who felt that on a soul like this
The mightiest vengeance could but fall amiss,
Now deign'd to smile, as one great lord of face
Might smile upon another half as great.
He said, “Let worth grow frenzied, if it will;
The caliph's judgment shall be master still.
Go: and since gifts thus move thee, take this gem,
The richest in the Tartar's diadem,
And hold the giver as thou deemest fit.”

“Gifts !” cried the friend. He took; and holding it High tow'rds the heavens, as though to meet his star, Exclaim'd, “This, too, I owe to thee, Jaffar!”

Notes

The Barmecide (bär'-mē-sīd): a wealthy Persian family famous for its generosity and patronage of arts and literature.

Vizier (vì-zēr'): a high Mohammedan officer.
Haroun (hä-rõõn'): a caliph.
Bagdad: city in Asiatic Turkey.
Caliph (kăl'if): a Mohammedan ruler.
Tartar: Turkish.

Questions for Study 1. Can you justify Mondeer's defiance of the caliph? Was it foolhardiness? recklessness? courage! or something else?

2. How can you explain Haroun's act in the fourth stanza? What else could or should he have done?

3. Criticize Jaffar's last exclamation.

THE GREAT STONE FACE

NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE

PART ONE

One afternoon, when the sun was going down, a mother and her little boy sat at the door of their cottage, talking about the Great Stone Face. They had but to lift their eyes, and there it was plainly to be seen, though miles away, with the sunshine brightening all its features.

And what was the Great Stone Face? ... The Great Stone Face

was a work of Nature in her mood of majestic playfulness, formed on the perpendicular side of a mountain by some immense rocks, which had been thrown together in such a position as, when viewed at a proper distance, precisely to resemble the features of the human countenance. It seemed as if an enormous giant, or a Titan, had sculptured his own likeness on the precipice. There was the broad arch of the forehead, a hundred feet in height; the nose, with its long bridge; and the vast lips, which, if they could have spoken, would have rolled their thunder accents from one end of the valley

[ocr errors]

to the other. . . . It was a happy lot for children to grow up to manhood or womanhood with the Great Stone Face before their eyes, for all the features were noble, and the expression was at once grand and sweet, as if it were the glow of a vast, warm heart, that embraced all mankind in its affections, and had room for more. It was an education only to look at it. ...

As we began with saying, a mother and her little boy sat at their cottage-door, gazing at the Great Stone Face, and talking about it. The child's name was Ernest.

“Mother,” said he, while the Titanic visage smiled on him, “I wish that it could speak, for it looks so very kindly that its voice must needs be pleasant. If I were to see a man with such a face, I should love him dearly.”

“If an old prophecy should come to pass," answered his mother, “we may see a man, some time or other, with exactly such a face as that."

“What prophecy do you mean, dear mother?”' eagerly inquired Ernest. “Pray tell me all about it!”

So his mother told him a story that her own mother had told to her, when she herself was younger than little Ernest; a story, not of things that were past, but of what was yet to come; a story, nevertheless, so very old, that even the Indians, who formerly inhabited this valley, had heard it from their forefathers, to whom, as they affirmed, it had been murmured by the mountain streams, and whispered by the wind among the tree-tops. The purport was, that, at some future day, a child should be born hereabouts, who was destined to become the greatest and

« ElőzőTovább »