« PreviousContinue »
The sights we see, and the sounds we hear,
Then the Master,
And lo! from the assembled crowd
How beautiful she is! How fair
Sail forth into the sea of life,
Thy comings and thy goings be!
Thou, too, sail on, O Ship of State!
HELPS TO STUDY
Notes and Questions Quote the lines that tell the kind What does Longfellow. say that
of ship the Master is to build. one thought can do? What comparison does the Master Explain lines 84 to 93. use in speaking of the model ? Account for the name given the
ship by the Master.
Describe the daughter in your own
words. Explain: “It is the heart, and not the
brain, That to the highest doth attain. Quote the song of the Master and
the following: “the rudder,”
lordly pines.' What does Longfellow say the flag
of the ship will be to the wan
derer Longfellow comments on the mar.
riage of the ship with the sea.
Explain the figure of speech. Memorize the pastor's words. Describe the launching in your own words.
seen a ship launched ? What does the building of the
ship symbolize? Memorize the apostrophe to the
ship of state and explain the
symbol in detail.
Words and Phrases for Discussion "airy argosy'' “heir of his dexterity” "slip'' “Like a beauteous barge was she's
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
The year 1807 was the birth year of both Whittier and Longfellow—two poets in whom the love of human nature is a marked trait. Little of the scholar, however, is to be found in the New England Quaker whose lot it was to pass from plow to politics, and from politics to literature. John Greenleaf Whittier was born in East Haverhill, a rugged, hilly section of Essex County, Massachusetts. In the southern part of this same county lies Salem, where three years earlier Hawthorne was born.
The home of Whittier was in a country district, and to this day no roof is in sight from the old homestead. The house, considerably more than a hundred years old at the time of the poet's birth, was built by his great-great-grandfather. The Whittiers were mostly stalwart men, six feet in height, who lived out their three
score years and ten; but the poet, though his years were more than any of his immediate ancestors, fell a little short of the family stature, and was of slender frame. “Snow-bound" gives us a faithful picture of the Whittier homestead and household, as they were eighty years ago.
The life they lived there was one utterly without luxury, and with few means of culture. There were perhaps thirty books in the house, largely Quaker tracts and journals. Of course there was the Bible, and through all his poetry Whittier reverts to the Bible for phrases and images as naturally as Longfellow turns to mediæval legend. Memorable were the evenings when the school teacher came and read to the family from books he brought with him,one most memorable, when the book was a copy of Burns. On Whittier's first visit to Boston, an occasion honored by his wearing "boughten buttons” on his homespun coat, and a broad-brim hat made by his aunt out of pasteboard covered with drab velvet, he purchased a copy of Shakespeare.
He attended the district school a few weeks each winter, and when he was nineteen he completed his scanty education with a year at an academy at Haverhill. From the time when the reading of Burns woke the poet in him, he was constantly writing rhymes, covering his slate with them, and sometimes copying them out painstakingly on paper.
Without Whittier's knowledge, bis sister sent one of his poems to a paper in a neighboring town. The Editor became interested in his contributor and, as the story goes, drove out to the country home and Whittier was called in from the field to meet the smart young newspaper man. Thus began his literary career.
He became an Editor in Boston and later in Hartford, but the work proving too trying for his delicate health, he returned to the farm. Meanwhile, he was contributing verse to the newspapers.
During this time he was elected to the Legislature of Massachusetts and had some prospects of being nominated for Congress.
Later in life he returned again and again to the purely lyrical notes which he had taken up in his youth.
Two subjects always appealed strongly to Whitter's poetic imagination. One is the slender body of legendary lore that has come down to us from the colonial days of New England, including a few tales of the trials and persecutions of the early Quaker. “Skipper Ireson's Ride” belongs to this group of ballads. The other favorite field of Whittier's poetic fancy was the humble rural life of his own childhood—“In School-Days” and “SnowBound” belong to this class of New England idyls. The latter will always be a favorite with American readers, both for its simple rustic pictures, and for its deep religious faith.
Whittier never married. The little romances of his youth slipped quietly into memories, and imparted a finer tone to the poetry of his maturer years. He died at Hampton Falls, New Hampshire, in the eighty-fifth year of his age. Holmes was the only one of the New England singers left to mourn his departure:
"Best loved and saintliest of our singing train,