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NOTES AND QUESTIONS Biography. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), one of the greatest of American poets, was born in Portland, Maine. He was graduated from Bowdoin College in 1825, in the same class with Nathaniel Hawthorne. While in college Longfellow developed a great interest in foreign languages and also showed marked ability in verse-making. He spent three years in Europe and upon his return became professor of modern languages at Bowdoin. Outre Mer, his first book, is in prose, and gives an account of his life in Europe.
From Bowdoin, Longfellow went to Harvard University to teach, but in 1854 he gave up his college work and devoted himself to the writing of poetry. By his many translations from foreign tongues Longfellow has greatly enriched our literature; but in his own poems he remained thoroughly American. The titles, "poet of culture," "poet of peace, of the home, and history,” and “the children's poet,” which have been bestowed upon him show the nature of his work and the esteem in which he is held. Longfellow won recognition from the lovers of poetry in England as well as in America, and after his death his bust was placed in the “Poets' Corner" in Westminster Abbey, where stand memorials to Shakespeare and others who have won imperishable fame.
Discussion. 1. Describe in your own words Roushan Beg's perilous position before the leap. 2. What do you think had brought him to this peril? 3. Find lines that show his love for his horse. 4. Find lines that tell how he gained his wealth. 5. What shows Kyrat's intelligence? 6. To what does the poet compare the leap of the horse? 7. To which one of the two, Roushan Beg or Kyrat, does the greater part of the credit belong for the leap? Why? 8. To whom did the watching Arab give the credit? 9. How did the bearing of Roushan Beg after the leap influence the Arab? 10. Describe the appearance of Kyrat. 11. Compare Kyrat with Coaly-Bay; what likenesses do you find? 12. Why would you call this poem a ballad? 13. What other ballads by Longfellow have you read? 14. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: fourscore; livery; housings; verge. 15. Pronounce: Roushan; khan; chasm; forehead.
Phrases for Study son of the road, 133,
into the air's embrace, 135, 23 reach the dust-cloud, 134, 3
vision of life and death, 136, 14
Class Reading. Bring to class and read “Muléykeh,” Browning.
“ "HOW THEY BROUGHT THE GOOD NEWS FROM
GHENT TO AIX"
sprang to the stirrup, and Joris, and he; I galloped, Dirck galloped, we galloped all three; "Good speed!” cried the watch, as the gatebolts undrew; "Speed !" echoed the wall to us galloping through; 5 Behind shut the postern; the lights sank to rest; And into the midnight we galloped abreast.
Not a word to each other; we kept the great pace
Then shortened each stirrup, and set the pique right, 5 Rebuckled the cheek-strap, chained slacker the bit,
Nor galloped less steadily Roland a whit.
'Twas moonset at starting; but while we drew near Lokeren, the cocks crew, and twilight dawned clear;
At Boom, a great yellow star came out to see; 10 At Düffeld, 'twas morning as plain as could be;
And from Mecheln church-steeple we heard the half-chime, So Joris broke silence with, “Yet there is time!"
At Aershot, up leaped of a sudden the sun,
And against him the cattle stood black every one, 15 To stare through the mist at us galloping past;
And I saw my stout galloper Roland at last,
And his low head and crest, just one sharp ear bent back 20 For my voice, and the other pricked out on his track;
And one eye's black intelligence-ever that glance
25 By Hasselt, Dirck groaned; and cried Joris, "Stay spur!
Your Roos galloped bravely—the fault's not in her;
And sunk tail, and horrible heave of the flank,
So we were left galloping, Joris and I;
'Neath our feet broke the brittle bright stubble like chaff; 5 Till over by Dalhem a dome-spire sprang white,
And “Gallop,” gasped Joris, "for Aix is in sight!”
"How they'll greet us!”—and all in a moment his roan Rolled neck and croup over, lay dead as a stone;
And there was my Roland to bear the whole weight
With his nostrils like pits full of blood to the brim,
Then I cast loose my buffcoat, each holster let fall,
Shook off both my jack-boots, let go belt and all, 15 Stood up in the stirrup, leaned, patted his ear,
Called my Roland his pet name, my horse without peer;
And all I remember is—friends flocking round
And no voice but was praising this Roland of mine,
NOTES AND QUESTIONS For Biography see page 87.
Discussion. 1. This poem is without historical basis; the ride occurred only in the mind of the poet; what does this tell you of Browning's power of imagination? 2. Does he tell what he imagined the good news was? 3. Why do you think three riders started to carry this news? 4. How does the beginning of the poem give you the impression of haste? 5. At what time did the messengers start?
6. How is the passing of time noted by the riders? 7. When did the rider see his horse for the first time during the ride? Why had he not seen him before? 8. Would the news which you imagine the messengers were carrying require such haste as is described in the poem? 9. Which stanza gives the most vivid impression of haste? Which gives the impression of endurance? Which is the expression of eration? 10. To whom does the rider give the credit for carrying the message? To whom would you give it? Why? 11. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: abreast; slacker; butting; bluff; askance; peer; burgess. 12. Pronounce: Ghent; Aix; pique.
Phrases for Study
aye and anon, 138, 23 stay spur, 138, 25
laughed a pitiless laugh, 139, 3
INCIDENT OF THE FRENCH CAMP
You know, we French stormed Ratisbon;
A mile or so away,
Stood on our storming-day;
Legs wide, arms locked behind,
Oppressive with its mind.
Just as perhaps he mused, "My plans
That soar, to earth may fall,
Waver at yonder wall”-
A rider, bound on bound
Until he reached the mound.