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Filled with these aspirations he perishes without having reached the perfection he longed for; and the voice heard in the air is the promise of immortality and progress ever upward. Compare with this Tennyson's "Merlin and The Gleam," in which he tells his own experience. In this stanza and the two following Longfellow describes what his poems have come to mean to us and the place they hold in American life.
SELECTIONS FROM AMERICAN POETRY
Walter von der Vogelweide: the most celebrated of medieval German lyric poets, who lived about the year He belonged to the lower order of "nobility of service. Walter von der Vogelweide is buried in the cloisters adjoining the Neumunster church in Wurtzburg, which dates from the eleventh century. The debt of the poet to the birds has been dwelt upon in many poems, the best known of which are Shelley's "Skylark" and Wordsworth's "To the Cuckoo.
War of Wartburg. In there occurred in this German castle, the Wartburg, a contest of the minstrels of the time. Wagner has immortalized this contest in "Tannhauser," in which he describes the victory of Walter von der Vogelweide over all the other singers. The perfection of detail in the structure and sculpture of Gothic cathedrals may be seen in the cathedrals of Chartres and Amiens. Santa Filomena stands for Miss Florence Nightingale, who did remarkable work among the soldiers wounded in the Crimean War This poem was published in while the story of her aid was fresh in the minds of the world.
The palm, the lily, and the spear: St. Filomena is represented in many Catholic churches and usually with these three emblems to signify her victory, purity, and martyrdom. Sometimes an anchor replaces the palm. King Alfred's Orosius. Orosius, a Spaniard of the fifth century A. King Alfred translated this work and added at least one important story, that of the voyages of Ohthere and Wulfstan. Alfred reports simply, "He says he was one of a party of six who killed sixty of these in two days. The original says: "He made this voyage, in addition to his purpose of seeing the country, chiefly for walruses, for they have very good bone in their teeth—they brought some of these teeth to the king—and their hides are very good for ship-ropes.
Sandalphon: one of the oldest angel figures in the Jewish system. In the second century a Jewish writing described him as follows: "He is an angel who stands on the earth;.. See the Jewish Encyclopaedia for further particulars. Talmud: the work which embodies the Jewish law of church and state.
It consists of texts, and many commentaries and illustrations. The "Tales of a Wayside Inn" were series of stories told on three separate days by the travelers at the Inn at Sudbury, Mass. It is the same device used by writers since the days of Chaucer, but cleverly handled furnishes an interesting setting for a variety of tales.
HAGAR AND HER SISTERS
Some of Longfellow's best-known narratives are in these series, among them the following selections. The story is self-explanatory. It is probably the best example of the simple poetic narrative of an historic event. The reference is to one of the seven men who were killed at Lexington—possibly to Jonathan Harrington, Jr. Many books tell the story, but the following are the most interesting; Gettemy, Chas. This story of King Robert of Sicily is very old, as it is found among the short stories of the Gesta Romanorum written in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries.
Saturnian: the fabled reign of the god Saturn was the golden age of the world, characterized by simplicity, virtue, and happiness. Enceladus, the giant. Longfellow's poem "Enceladus" emphasizes this reference. For the story of the giants and the punishment of Enceladus see any good Greek mythology.
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Born at East Haverhill, Mass. At the age of twenty-two he secured an editorial position in Boston and continued to write all his life. For some years he devoted all his literary ability to the cause of abolition, and not until the success of "Snow-Bound" in was he free from poverty. The poems by Whittier are used by permission of, and by special arrangement with, Houghton Mifflin Company, authorized publishers of his works. He stands as a model of chivalry. He was mortally wounded at the battle of Zutphen.
Here used as if in a sounding process. Compare this opinion of his own work with Lowell's comments in "A Fable for Critics. For Whittier's opinion of Milton see also "Raphael," I. Marvell, Andrew : an English statesman, poet, and satirist, friend of Milton. Whittier has an intense love and appreciation of winter. Do you find this same idea in other poets? Hecla: a volcano in Iceland which has had 28 known eruptions—one as late as It rises feet above the sea and has a bare irregular-shaped cone.
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Its appearance is extremely wild and desolate. The o'er-sunned bloom In this collection of poems are a few written in his youth, the more mature works of the "summer" of his life, and the later works of his old age. The figure here is carefully carried through and gives a clear, simplified picture of his literary life.
Whittier himself noted that he was indebted for this line to Emerson's "Rhodora". Compare Longfellow's "The Day is Done" for another idea of the influence of poetry. Penobscot: one of the most beutiful of Maine rivers. It is about miles long and flows through the central part of the state. Barclay of Ury: David Barclay He bought the estate of Ury, near Aberdeen, in He was arrested after the Restoration and for a short time was confined to Edinburgh Castle, where he was converted to Quakerism by a fellow prisoner.
His son, also a Quaker, heard of the imprisonment mentioned in this poem and attempted to rescue his father. During the years between this trouble in and his death in , the persecution seems to have been directed largely against his son. See Dictionary of National Biography for details.
Whinier naturally felt keenly on this subject, as he himself was a Quaker. Aberdeen: capital of Aberdeenshire, and chief seaport in north of Scotland; fourth Scottish town in population, industry, and wealth.
The buildings of Aberdeen College, founded in , are the glory of Aberdeen. Gustavus Adolphus, "The Great" He was one of the great Swedish kings, and was very prominent in the Thirty Years' War Walloon: a people akin to the French, inhabiting Belgium and some districts of Prussia. They have great vivacity than the Flemish, and more endurance than the French. The unmarried women of Scotland formerly wore a band around their heads to distinguish them from married women. Raphael Sanzio , the great Italian painter.
Trained first by his father, later by the great Perugino. His work was done mainly in Florence and Rome. Raphael painted many madonnas, but the word "drooped" limits this description. It is now in the Vatican Gallery, at Rome. There are few great Old Testament stories which are not depicted by Raphael.
Poetry and painting are here spoken of together as producing permanent effects, and from the figure he uses we may add music to the list. Compare Longfellow's "The Arrow and the Song. Whittier's intense interest in Freedom is here apparent. His earlier poems were largely on the slavery question in America.
His best work was not done until he began to devote his poetic ability to a wider range of subjects. Samuel Sewall is one of the most interesting characters in colonial American history. He was born in England in , but came to America while still a child. He graduated from Harvard College in and finally became a justice of the peace.
He was instrumental in the Salem witchcraft decision, but later bitterly repented. He made in a public confession of his share in the matter and begged that God would "not visit the sin Hales Reports. Sir Matthew Hale was one of the most eminent judges of England.
From to he occupied the position of Chief Justice of the King's Bench, the highest judicial position in England.
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Sewall was depending upon an authority of the day. Koordish robber. The Kurds were a nomadic people living in Kurdistan, Persia, and Caucasia. They were very savage and vindictive, specially towards Armenians. The Sheik was the leader of a clan or town and as such had great power. This prophecy is most effective in its use of local color for a spiritual purpose. Beginning with local conditions which might be changed, it broadens to include all nature which shall never grow old.
Skipper Ireson's Ride. Whittier was told after this poem was published that it was not historically accurate, since the crew and not Skipper Ireson was to blame for the desertion of the wreck. He stated that he had founded his poem on a song sung to him when he was a boy. Apuleius's Golden Ass. Apuleius was a Latin satirical writer whose greatest work was a romance or novel called "The Golden Ass.
See the Arabian Nights' Entertainments for the story of the one-eyed beggar. Al-Borak: according to the Moslem creed the animal brought by Gabriel to carry Mohammed to the seventh heaven. It had the face of a man, the body of a horse, the wings of an eagle, and spoke with a human voice.
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