On sunny noons upon the deck's smooth face,
Linked arm in arm, how pleasant here to pace;
Or, o'er the stern reclining, watch below
The foaming wake far widening as we go.


On stormy nights, when wild northwesters rave,
How proud a thing to fight with wind and wave!
The dripping sailor on the reeling mast
Exults to bear, and scorns to wish it past.

Where lies the land to which the ship would go ?
Far, far ahead, is all her seamen know.
And where the land she travels from? Away,
Far, far behind, is all that they can say.

--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 hold you here, root and all, in my hand,
Little flower,—but if I could understand
What you are, root and all, and all in all,

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,
I found the fresh Rhodora in the woods,
Spreading its leafless blooms in a damp nook,
To please the desert and the sluggish brook.
The purple petals, fallen in the pool,
Made the black water with their beauty gay;
Here might the redbird come his plumes to cool,
And court the flower that cheapens his array.
Rhodora ! if the sages ask thee why
This charm is wasted on the earth and sky,
Tell them, dear, that if eyes were made for seeing,
Then beauty is its own excuse for being.

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


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.


There lay upon the ocean's shore

What once a tortoise served to cover;
A year and more, with rush and roar,

The surf had rolled it over,
Had played with it, and flung it by,

As wind and weather might decide it,
Then tossed it high where sand-drifts dry

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 shell disdained, a soul had gained,

The lyre had been discovered.
O empty world that round us lies,

Dead shell, of soul and thought forsaken,
Brought we but eyes like Mercury's,
In thee what songs should waken!

-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 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

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