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But the old three-cornered hat,
Are so queer!
And if I should live to be
In the spring,
Where I cling.
HELPS TO STUDY
Notes and Questions What was the office of the Crier 8 old man so vivid ! What has done away with the ne How does he resemble "the last cessity for such service?
leaf on the tree” At what time was the costume de Of whom is Holmes thinking when
scribed in the seventh stanza he says “Let them smile''? worn?
What is added to the picture of What great men can you mention the last leaf by the words “In
who are pictured in this dress? the spring''? What makes the description of the
Words and Phrases for Discussion "pruning knife -of Time"
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL was born at Cambridge in the beautiful house known as Elmwood. He was more fortunate than most Americans, for in this same house he lived and died. The dwelling at Elmwood was like Craigie House, an historic place of Revolutionary memories. The secluded, ample grounds made a fine rural refuge for a youth of poetic fancies. Nor was there only wealth for the nature-lover of outdoors; there were also treasures for the lover of books within. The Lowell library was the accumulation of several generations of scholarly men, and Lowell from early youth was familiar with books which Whittier even in the studious leisure of old age never looked into.
Lowell was twelve years younger than Longfellow and was a sophomore when Longfellow went to Harvard as professor of Romance languages. At Harvard Lowell distinguished himself especially in literary matters. In the last year of his residence he was one of the editors of the college magazine and was also elected class poet. Although he studied law, he was never attracted to the practice of it.
Lowell, like Whittier, could turn from the heat and strife of public affairs to the solace of pure poetry. Inspired by the legend of the Holy Grail, he wrote within forty-eight hours, so we are told, the poem of knightly aspiration and brotherly love, “The Vision of Sir Launfal.”
In 1856, upon Longfellow's resignation, Lowell was appointed professor of Romance Languages at Harvard, and, like Longfellow, he remained for twenty years. In 1857 a new magazine to which Holmes had given the name “Atlantic Monthly” was established and Lowell was its first editor.
In 1877 Lowell was appointed minister to Spain, where Irving had been sent more than thirty years before; and in 1880 he was transferred to the court of St. James. Here he distinguished himself by tact, courtesy, and wisdom and won the admiration of the English people.
Returning to America in 1885 Lowell continued to write, and delivered addresses when his strength would permit. He spent his time among his books and lived peacefully at Elmwood, where he died in 1891 at the age of seventy-two.
THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL
JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL
PRELUDE TO PART FIRST
Beginning doubtfully and far away,
And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay:
Then, as the touch of his loved instrument
Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme, First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent
Along the wavering vista of his dream.
Not only around our infancy
We Sinais climb and know it not.
Against our fallen and traitor lives
With our faint hearts the mountain strives;
Waits with its benedicite;
Still shouts the inspiring sea.
The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
We bargain for the graves we lie in;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
'Tis heaven alone that is given away,
And what is so rare as a day in June?
Then, if ever, come perfect days;
And over it softly her warm ear lays;
An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
To be some happy creature's palace;
Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
With the deluge of summer it receives;
Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,