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On sunny noons upon the deck's smooth face,
On stormy nights, when wild northwesters rave,
--Arthur Hugh Clough.
THE RHODORA The thought in this beautiful and perfect little poem is similar to the thought in Tennyson's Flower in the Crannied Wall:
Flower in the crannied wall,
I pluck you out of the crannies,
I should know wbat God and man is.
They present the idea of the unity of all things. Emerson makes Nature say, in The Sphinx, “Who telleth one of my meanings is master of all I am.” This is the central theme of The Rhodora. Longfellow, speaking of Emerson, says:
It was his faith, perhaps is mine,
That life in all its forms is one. A secondary thought is stated in the line, “Beauty is its own excuse for being.” This is a thoroughly sound and thoroughly useful principle, but one which the world has not fully accepted, at least in practice.
In May, when sea-winds pierced our solitudes,
Why thou wert there, O rival of the rose !
I never thought to ask, I never knew : But, in my simple ignorance, suppose The selfsame Power that brought me there brought you.
-Ralph Walão Emerson. The Rhodora belongs to the Rhododendron family and is a native of cold and wet wooded places from Pennsylvania north. It has delicate rosy flowers which appear before the leaves.
It line of cold and gets to the Rhodos
THE FINDING OF THE LYRE
This is an allegory and tells in simple rhyme an old and familiar truth–the world is full of music and beauty and opportunity, all about us every day. But most of us fail to see or hear or understand. The man of genius, whether poet, musician, inventor, or philosopher, is the one who discovers them, interprets them, and puts them to use.
THE FINDING OF THE LYRE
What once a tortoise served to cover;
The surf had rolled it over,
As wind and weather might decide it,
Cheap burial might provide it.
2 It rested there, to bleach or tan;
The rains had soaked, the suns had burned it; With many a ban the fisherman
Had stumbled o'er and spurned it; And there the fisher girl would stay,
Conjecturing with her brother How in their play the poor estray
Might serve some use or other.
So there it lay, through wet and dry,
As empty as the last new sonnet, Till by and by came Mercury,
And having mused upon it, “Why, here,” cried he, “the thing of things
In shape, material, and dimensions ! Give it but strings, and, lo, it sings,
A wonderful invention !"
4 So said, so done; the chords he strained,
And as his fingers o'er them hovered,
The lyre had been discovered.
Dead shell, of soul and thought forsaken,
-James Russell Lowell.
Mercury-in classic mythology, was the supposed inventor of the lyre, and of weights and measures. He was also the messenger of the gods.
As empty as the last new sonnet-referring to the poor quality of current poetry.
THE SANDS O’ DEE
The meaning of genuine poetry can never be fully expressed in prose. Poetry appeals to the emotions, and part of the appeal is made through the rhythm, the “music,” of the lines. The haunting melody of Poe's Annabel Lee, for example, creates an emotion of pleasure quite apart from the meaning of the verses.
The three qualities of Charles Kingsley's little poem The Sands o Dee are imagination, melody, and mystery. A young girl goes to call the cattle home from the marshes of the River Dee where it flows into the Irish Sea; in the blinding mist and the wet western wind she loses her way, the tide comes creeping up and carries her out among the fishermen's nets. By her golden hair she is recognized, for no salmon ever shone so fair. The tragedy so appeals to the fishermen that their natural superstition leads them to imagine that they still sometimes hear her voice across the sands o’ Dee going as of old to call the cattle home. Thus a legend, such as is the basis of the story in the poem, arises.
These things are treated with so much imagination and melody, and the mysterious element is so closely