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THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS
This poem, like most of Longfellow's, is easy to understand. Bearded grain refers to old people shocks of corn fully ripe; and the flowers that grow between are the children. “They shall bloom in the fields of light,” for “of such is the kingdom of heaven.”
THE REAPER AND THE FLOWERS
There is a Reaper whose name is Death,
And, with his sickle keen,
And the flowers that grow between.
2 “Shall I have naught that is fair?” saith he;
"Have naught but the bearded grain ? Though the breath of those flowers is sweet to me,
I will give them all back again.”
He gazed at the flowers with tearful eyes,
He kissed their drooping leaves ; It was for the Lord of Paradise
He bound them in his sheaves.
4 “My Lord has need of these flowerlets gay,"
The Reaper said, and smiled; “Dear tokens of the earth are they
Where once he was a child.
“They shall all bloom in the fields of light,
Transplanted by my care,
These sacred blossoms wear."
And the mother gave in tears and pain
The flowers she most did love;
In the fields of light above.
0, not in cruelty, not in wrath,
The Reaper came that day, 'Twas an angel visited the green earth,
And took the flowers away.
-Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. DOWN TO SLEEP
This delightful little poem, read to a company of boys and girls roaming in the November woods, some clear, bright afternoon, will give a new meaning to the autumn-time, and a happy appreciation of the woods by the children. Select some pretty spot, have the children all sit down and try to be as still as the woods—then read to them in your most appreciative manner the first stanza of this poem. They will see that the woods are bare, they will feel the hushed silence of the forest, they will appreciate the warmth of the afternoon sun, and they will understand that all things are lying down to sleep for the winter. Before reading the second stanza, call their attention to the fresh, fragrant air of the woods. It is always the purest air in the world. Have the children feel with their hands the soft rich soil, into which the leaves are falling. Have them listen to the winds, the falling leaves, the cawing crows, or other forest sounds that are sure to break upon the November stillness of the woods. Then read, as before, the second stanza. Before reading the third stanza, have the children move about in the leafiest places, and scratch down among the leaves to the soil, to find the covered ferns, the acorns, the nuts and the seeds of maple, ash or elm. Let them dig in the loose, loamy soil, where the bulbs and tubers of violets, bloodroot, and hepaticas lie hidden under the "coverlids."
Seat the children again and read stanza three. Ask the children how they feel when they lie down to sleep. Are they glad or sad? Ask them how it makes them feel to think of all the plants lying down to sleep for the winter. The children might then be told that when we have lived our lives, we too, like the plants, must "lie down to sleep.” Then read the fourth stanza, and finally read the entire poem through, so that its impression as a whole may rest upon and abide with you and the children like a benediction from the woods.
DOWN TO SLEEP
November woods are bare and still,
I never knew before what beds,
When all wild things lie down to sleep.”
Each day I find new coverlids
-Helen Hunt Jackson.
The Bluebell tells a truth but not a fact; for there are many great truths which are not facts. Even some fairy stories contain great truths.
The little white flower, from constantly watching the sky and the star and longing for them, by and by became the color of the sky, with a tiny spot of gold in its