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thrift, timely enough in America today, and have learned what good citizenship meant to patriots, from the Colonial ideals shown in Grandfather's Chair to the vigorous Americanism of Theodore Roosevelt. Through literature, also, you have learned how brave men have fought for freedom. The stories of great leaders-Leonidas and Robert Bruce and our own George Washington-have given you an understanding of what liberty means. In this book you will learn the views of Daniel Webster on the duties that our country, as the model of self-government, owes the world—wisdom as useful today as it was two generations ago -and many other bits of knowledge that you may well treasure as guides to lead you through life. All your years this second joy of reading will give you the power to ripen your judgment by the accumulated wisdom left as an inheritance by the world's greatest minds.
And the third joy that reading brings you is the awakening of your feelings to the wonders that lie all about you in the great outdoor world. Already the poets have enriched your lives by revealing the charms of Nature when viewed through "seeing eyes.” If you have read with an understanding mind the poem by Robert Burns, "To a Mountain Daisy," even the commonest flowers of the field will have their message for you. And such lovers of Nature as Audubon and Roosevelt and Baynes have shown you how a trip through the woods may bring stirring adventure, or the quieter joy of close kinship with birds and beasts. In this book, Bryant, Wordsworth, Ernest Thompson Seton, and many others will reveal to you new pictures of the beauty of the world in which we live.
WHAT IS LITERATURE?
Through reading, then, you gain happiness and power. all about you there is so much to read-thousands of books and magazines and papers—that it may be well to pause long enough to answer the question, “What kind of reading will bring these rewards? What is literature?"
In one sense, anything written or printed, anything expressed in permanent or semi-permanent form, as distinguished from that which is merely spoken, is literature. The ballad, a song
. story, was repeated from generation to generation by word of mouth, changing in details of language and incident in the process; when it was written down and then printed, it became fixed, became literature. So also the traveler may tell you of his adventures, may tell audiences in many cities of his adventures; when he writes his story and it is published as a book, it becomes literature, in this sense of the word.
In a truer sense, however, the word "literature" is more strictly limited. You have seen that it is permanence of form that distinguishes the book or the printed story from mere tradition. But thousands of books are printed that find a few readers for a time, and then are as completely forgotten as if they had been merely words spoken in casual conversation. Many things are printed, also, which are not intended to have permanence, such as newspaper stories of daily happenings in the city or throughout the world. The newspaper, to be sure, adds greatly to our power of partaking in the important events of the day, wherever they may occur. One knows about battles half a world away, almost as soon as they are fought, or about a new remedy for disease, or the triumph of a great man. But these records are of a day; true literature is for all time. It has a different permanence from that of mere printed paper. Literature, in this truer sense, means not merely that which is printed, in contrast to that which is spoken. It means the expression of the facts of life, or of the interpretation of life, or of the beauty of life, in language of such enduring charm that men treasure it and will not let it die.
In your reading you have already become acquainted with literature that sets forth the "facts of life.” When Parkman wrote his account of the American buffalo in The Oregon Trail, he was making a permanent record of wild life on the Western Plains in pioneer days. When Hamlin Garland wrote sketches
of his boyhood on the prairie, he was recording the primitive life of mid-western farmers so vividly that the pictures will enable future generations to understand the hardships, as well as the simple joys, of the thrifty, toiling folk who built our "inland empire." When Sir Walter Scott gave us his Tales of a Grandfather he was preserving for all time the thrilling "facts of life" that centered around Scotland's brave struggle for freedom centuries ago. And in our own day the poet Noyes in his "Song of the Trawlers" records the heroism of English seamen, offering their lives in the same great cause. The book you hold in your hand will give you still other examples of literature that deals with the "facts of life." Daniel Webster in "The American Experiment” will set forth for you the ideals of our great democracy; the poet Whittier will paint for you in "Snow-Bound" a picture that will give you a clear understanding of life in rural New England; Herschel Hall through his story "Pete of the Steel-Mills" will give you a glimpse of the romance that may be found amidst the toil of huge industrial centers. These and many others of the makers of literature will help you to gain an acquaintance with some of the "facts of life.” Many of these facts, it is true, you may learn from your geography or your history text or from an encyclopedia, but all through life you will find pleasure and increased understanding if you will supplement books of this latter kind by the literature of great authors who have recorded their observation of events and peoples in language of such enduring charm that men treasure it and will not let it die.
Literature that interprets life has also been a part of your reading course. Lowell in his poem “To a Dandelion” has shown the little flower as a symbol of the riches that lie all about us in the commonest of things; so also Robert Burns has touched the mountain daisy with his poetic fancy and made of it a token of life's uncertainties. Hawthorne in "The Great Stone Face" and Ruskin in "The King of the Golden River" have interpreted for us the great ideal of service to others. And
in this book, Bryant through his poem “To a Waterfowl” breathes a message of hope and faith to all mankind, while Dickens in "A Christmas Carol” interprets the spirit of human brotherhood that makes life worth while.
And last, there is the literature that makes evident to us the beauty that our more prosaic eyes might fail to note. Wordsworth writes a poem about daffodils, and ever after, if you have read it with an understanding mind, you see new beauty in the flower life that lies about you. When you have read in this book Browning's “Home Thoughts, from Abroad,” springtime will come to you filled with new delights.
Facts, interpretation, beauty—these form the body of real literature. And when master writers clothe this body in language of such enduring charm that men treasure it and will not let it die, true literature comes into being. Thus the experiences, the meaning, the emotions of life are given permanent form to enrich mankind throughout the centuries.
THE PLAN OF THIS BOOK
This book offers you a generous body of literature that will provide all three of the “Joys of Reading.” The literature is divided into four main groups. The first of these, called “The World of Nature,” is largely made up of poems, such as Wordsworth's song "To a Skylark," that appeal to the sense of beauty, or interpret for you some of Nature's charms. But you will find, also, selections by such writers as Audubon and Garland and Ernest Thompson Seton that set forth the "facts of life" in the outdoor world. For literature of whatever theme whether it be of Nature or Adventure or Patriotism is not confined to any one appeal, but is blended of all three elements—fact, interpretation, beauty. Animals, birds, flowers, trees, the changing seasons—all these are the themes of various selections in this part of your book. As you read you will begin to see that the writer of true literature makes his poem or his story out of what he sees in life that is worth expressing in words of such power and beauty that "the world will not let it die.''
A second part of your book contains a group of stories and poems called “The World of Adventure.” Some of these are hundreds of years old, others were written just the other day, but all of them will grip you with the vital interest you feel in reading about "doers of great deeds," or will give you the joy of reading that comes when you are transported in imagination to realms of mystery.
A little later in your book appears a group of selections, under the title “The Great American Experiment,” that you will find very different from the stories and poems of the preceding groups. How mankind has struggled through the centuries for liberty, how our country has organized its hard-won freedom in what Daniel Webster called a "Great Experiment,” how American boys and girls can do their part in making this experiment a success—these are some of the themes that make Part III perhaps the most important section in your book. For one of the purposes of literature is to set forth great ideals, and young Americans can find no subject of greater value than the right kind of citizenship.
And last, you will read a long section called "Literature and Life in the Homeland.” Through it you will catch a few glimpses of the complex life that makes up this America of ours. The more intimately you come to know the many phases of our country, the better citizen you will be. This understanding you may gain through reading, for literature expresses the soul of a people. Literature and life—after all, this sums up the whole matter. They are not separate things, but united. Literature is not worth much unless it comes from the life of the people, and life is not worth much if it means just working for a living or for pleasure or in order to heap up a pile of money. If we are able to widen our experiences, to see facts for ourselves and to be able to interpret their meaning, to see beauty in all the world about us, life gains in richness. And it is literature that helps us to gain these riches.