« ForrigeFortsett »
Just the hour of the Earthquake shock!
The poor old chaise in a heap or mound,
You see, of course, if you're not a dunce,
10 End of the wonderful one-hoss shay.
Logic is logic. That's all I say.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
For Biography see page 320.
Discussion. 1. What is a chaise? 2. Explain the allusion to Lisbon. 3. What is meant by “Braddock's army"? 4. Of what besides chaises is the statement in the second line of the third stanza true? 5. What did the deacon determine to do? 6. Find the words that tell how the deacon thought this could be done. 7. What woods were used in making the chaise? 8. Find the lines in which the poet mentions the only things that keep their youth. 9. What happened on the morning of the hundredth year of the "shay's” life? 10. Explain how the chaise went "to pieces all at once.” 11. Have you ever heard of a carriage or coach that lasted one hundred years? 12. Which is it that is funny, the thought that the chaise lasted one hundred years, or the thought that it "went to pieces all at once"? 13. Did you ever hear of such a happening? Do you think the poet ever heard of such an occurrence? 14. Find lines in which the humor is furnished by the poet's manner of telling the incident. 15. Pronounce: "ellum"; "hahnsum”; encore.
Class Reading. Bring to class and read the selection by Holmes that you think is his funniest.
A Suggested Problem. Make a program for a “Holmes Day” celebration in your school. Holmes was a member of the famous Harvard class of 1829, which held annual reunions as long as any of its members were able to attend. In 1889, at the sixtieth anniversary, ten of the fifty-nine classmates were still living. At these class reunions everyone looked to Holmes for the anniversary poem; some of these anni
versary poems are: “Bill and Joe" (1851); "The Boys” (1859); “Lines" (1860); “The Smiling Listener” (1871); “The Archbishop of Gil Blas” (1879); and “After the Curfew” (1889). Some of the more interesting of these class poems, together with other selections by Holmes found or suggested in this book, will furnish material for an interesting program.
Suggestions for Theme Topics. 1. Present-day “newspaper fun.” 2. A proposed exhibit of humorous clippings from newspapers. 3. A plan for making a collection of the best cartoons for “Cartoon Day” in your school.
THE BALLAD OF THE OYSTERMAN
OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
It was a tall young oysterman lived by the riverside.
5 It was the pensive oysterman that saw a lovely maid
Upon a moonlight evening, a-sitting in the shade; He saw her wave a handkerchief, as much as if to say, “I'm wide awake, young oysterman, and all the folks away.”
Then up arose the oysterman, and to himself said he, 10 "I guess I'll leave the skiff at home, for fear that folks should
see; I read it in the story book, that, for to kiss his dear, Leander swam the Hellespont—and I will swim this here."
And he has leaped into the waves, and crossed the shining stream, And he has clambered up the bank, all in the moonlight gleam;
Oh, there are kisses sweet as dew, and words as soft as rainBut they have heard her father's steps, and in he leaps again!
Out spoke the ancient fisherman: “Oh, what was that, my
daughter?” “ 'Twas nothing but a pebble, sir, I threw into the water.”
, 5 “And what is that, pray tell me, love, that paddles off so fast?"
"It's nothing but a porpoise, sir, that's been a-swimming past."
Out spoke the ancient fisherman: "Now bring me my harpoon! I'll get into my fishing boat, and fix the fellow soon.”
Down fell the pretty innocent, as falls a snow-white lamb; 10 Her hair drooped round her pallid cheeks, like seaweed on a clam.
Alas for those two loving ones! she waked not from her swound, And he was taken with the cramp, and in the waves
drowned; But Fate has metamorphosed them, in pity of their woe, And now they keep an oyster shop for mermaids down below.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
For Biography see page 320.
Discussion. 1. This poem is a parody on the old ballads, that is, it mimics the style of these ballads in such a way as to make it absurd. In what respects does it resemble the early ballads you have read? In what ways does it differ? 2. What is the story of Leander and the Hellespont? 3. What expression used by the oysterman makes his resolve to swim across the river ludicrous, instead of heroic? 4. To what does the poet compare the pale face of the girl with the hair falling around it? 5. To what might he have compared it if he had wished to rouse your sympathy?
Library Reading. “The Broomstick Train,” “The September Gale," and prose selections by Holmes: “My Hunt After the Captain,” “The Physiology of Walking,” “The Three Johns” (from Chapter III of The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table).
NEW ENGLAND WEATHER
There is a sumptuous variety about the New England weather that compels the stranger's admiration and regret. The weather is always doing something there; always attending strictly to
business; always getting up new designs and trying them on the 5 people to see how they will go. But it gets through more busi
ness in spring than in any other season. In the spring I have counted one hundred thirty-six different kinds of weather within four and twenty hours. It was I who made the fame and for
tune of the man who had that marvelous collection of weather 10 on exhibition at the Centennial, which so astounded the for
eigners. He was going to travel around the world and get specimens from all climes. I said, "Don't do it; just come to New England on a favorable spring day." I told him what we could do in the way of style, variety, and quantity. Well, he came, and he made his collection in four days. As to variety, he confessed that he got hundreds of kinds of weather that he had never heard of before. And as to quantity, after he had picked out and discarded all that was blemished in any way,
he not only had weather enough, but weather to spare, weather 20 to hire out, weather to sell, weather to deposit, weather to invest, and weather to give to the poor.
Old Probabilities has a mighty reputation for accurate prophecy and thoroughly deserves it. You take up the paper and ob
serve how crisply and confidently he checks off what today's 25 weather is going to be on the Pacific, down South, in the Middle
States, in the Wisconsin region. See him sail along in the joy and pride of his power till he gets to New England, and then see his tail drop. He doesn't know what the weather is going to be
in New England. Well, he mulls over it, and by and by he gets 30 out something like this: "Probable northeast to southwest winds, varying to the southward and westward and eastward and points between; high and low barometer, swapping around from place to place; probable areas of rain, snow, hail, and drought, suc
ceded or preceded by earthquakes with thunder and lightning.” 5 Then he jots down this postscript from his wandering mind, to
cover accidents: “But it is possible that the program may be wholly changed in the meantime.” Yes, one of the brightest gems in the New England weather is the dazzling uncertainty of
it. There is certain to be plenty of weather, a perfect grand re10 view, but you never can tell which end of the procession is going
to move first. You fix up for the drought; you leave your umbrella in the house and sally out with your sprinkling pot, and two to one you are drowned. You make up your mind that an
earthquake is due; you stand from under and take hold of some15 thing to steady yourself, and the first thing you know you are struck by lightning.
But, after all, there are at least two or three things about that weather (or, if you please, the effects produced by it) which
we residents would not like to part with. If we hadn't our be20 witching autumn foliage, we should still have to credit the
weather with one feature which compensates for all its bullying vagaries—the ice storm. Every bough and twig is strung with ice beads, frozen dewdrops, and the whole tree sparkles cold and
white like the Shah of Persia's diamond plume. Then the wind 25 waves the branches, and the sun comes out and turns all those
myriads of beads and drops to prisms that glow and burn and flash with all manner of colored fires; which change and change again, with inconceivable rapidity, from blue to red, from red
to green, and green to gold. The tree becomes a spraying foun30 tain, a very explosion of dazzling jewels, and it stands there the
acme, the climax, the supremest possibility in art or Nature, of bewildering, intoxicating, intolerable magnificence. One cannot make the words too strong. Month after month I lay up
hate and grudge against the New England weather, but when 35 the ice storm comes at last, I say: “There, I forgive you now;