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HARK, HARK! THE LARK

WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE

Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings;

And Phoebus 'gins arise,
His steeds to water at those springs

On chaliced flowers that lies;
5 And winking Mary-buds begin

To ope their golden eyes.
With every thing that pretty is,

My lady sweet, arise,
Arise, arise.

NOTES AND QUESTIONS

Biography. William Shakespeare (1564-1616), a famous English poet and the greatest dramatist the world has produced, was born at Stratford- . on-Avon, England. At the age of twenty-two, after his marriage with Anne Hathaway, he moved to London, where for twenty-five years he wrote poems and plays, was an actor, and later became a shareholder in a theater. This was the time of Queen Elizabeth and is known as the Elizabethan Age. It was a period rich in genius of many kinds, but especially in the creation of dramatic literature. In 1612 Shakespeare retired to Stratford, where he spent the last few years of his life.

Discussion. 1. At what time of day does the lark sing “at heaven's gate"? What lines tell you that it is morning? 2. By what other name is Phoebus known?. 3. For what was the watering of the steeds a preparation? 4. The use of “lies” in the song is old English idiom; what does it add to the poem? 5. What is added to the picture by the poet's choice of marigolds as the opening flowers? 6. Which lines do you think are the most beautiful in this little song? 7. Which lines sing themselves to you? The Schubert music of this lyric is particularly pleasing. 8. Have you heard this lyric rendered by a good singer? You would enjoy listening to the phonograph records of it by Gluck, Williams, and others. 9. Who can memorize these lines in the shortest time? 10. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: chaliced.

THE MOCKING BIRD*

JOHN JAMES AUDUBON

It is where the great magnolia shoots up its majestic trunk, crowned with evergreen leaves, and decorated with a thousand beautiful flowers that perfume the air around; where the forests

and fields are adorned with blossoms of every hue; where the 5 golden orange ornaments the gardens and the groves; where

bignonias of various kinds interlace their climbing stems around the white-flowered stuartia, and mounting still higher, cover the summits of the lofty trees around, accompanied with innumer

able vines that here and there festoon the dense foliage of the 10 magnificent woods, lending to the vernal breeze a slight portion

of the perfume of their clustered flowers; where a genial warmth seldom forsakes the atmosphere; where berries and fruits of all descriptions are met with at every step-in a word, kind

reader, it is where Nature seems to have paused, as she passed 15 over the earth, and opening her stores, to have strewed with

unsparing hand the diversified seeds from which have sprung all the beautiful and splendid forms which I should in vain attempt to describe, that the mocking bird should have fixed its abode, there only that its wondrous song should be heard.

But where is that favored land? It is in that great continent to whose distant shores Europe has sent forth her adventurous sons, to wrest for themselves a habitation from the wild inhabitants of the forest, and to convert the neglected soil into

fields of exuberant fertility. It is, reader, in Louisiana that 25 these bounties of Nature are in the greatest perfection. It is

there that you should listen to the love song of the mocking bird, as I at this moment do. See how he flies round his mate, with motions as light as those of the butterfly! His tail is widely expanded, he mounts in the air to a small distance, describes.

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*See Silent and Oral Reading, page 11.

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a circle, and, again alighting, approaches his beloved one, his eyes gleaming with delight, for she has already promised to be his and his only. His beautiful wings are gently raised, he bows

to his love, and again bouncing upward, opens his bill, and pours 5 forth his melody, full of exultation at the conquest which he has made.

They are not the soft sounds of the flute or the hautboy that I hear, but the sweeter notes of Nature's own music. The mel

lowness of the song, the varied modulations and gradations, the 10 extent of its compass, the great brilliancy of execution, are un

rivaled. There is probably no bird in the world that possesses all the musical qualifications of this king of song, who has derived all from Nature's self. Yes, reader, all!

No sooner has he again alighted near his mate than, as if his 15 breast were about to be rent with delight, he again pours forth

his notes with more softness and richness than before. He now soars higher, glancing around with a vigilant eye, to assure himself that none has witnessed his bliss. When these love scenes

are over, he dances through the air, full of animation and delight, 20 and, as if to convince his lovely mate that to enrich her hopes

he has much more love in store, he that moment begins anew, and imitates all the notes which Nature has imparted to the other songsters of the grove.

For a while, each long day and pleasant night are thus spent. 25 A nest is to be prepared, and the choice of a place in which to

lay it is to become a matter of mutual consideration. The orange, the fig, the pear tree of the gardens are inspected; the thick brier patches are also visited. They appear all so well

. suited for the purpose in view, and so well do the birds know 30 that man is not their most dangerous enemy, that, instead of

retiring from him, they at length fix their abode in his vicinity, perhaps in the nearest tree to his window. Dried twigs, leaves, grasses, cotton, flax, and other substances are picked up, carried

to a forked branch, and there arranged. Five eggs are deposited 35 in due time, when the male, having little more to do than to sing his mate to repose, attunes his pipe anew. Every now and then he spies an insect on the ground, the taste of which he is sure will please his beloved one. He drops upon it, takes it in

his bill, beats it against the earth, and flies to the nest to feed 5 and receive the warm thanks of his devoted female.

When a fortnight has elapsed, the young brood demand all their care and attention. No cat, no vile snake, no dreaded hawk, is likely to visit their habitation. Indeed the inmates

of the next house have by this time become quite attached to 10 the lovely pair of mocking birds, and take pleasure in contribut

ing to their safety. The dewberries from the fields, and many kinds of fruit from the gardens, mixed with insects, supply the young as well as the parents with food. The brood is soon seen

emerging from the nest, and in another fortnight, being now able 15 to fly with vigor, and to provide for themselves, they leave the parent birds, as many other species do.

In winter, nearly all the mocking birds approach the farmhouses and plantations, living about the gardens or outhouses.

They are then frequently seen on the roofs, and perched on the 20 chimney tops; yet they always appear full of animation. While

searching for food on the ground, their motions are light and elegant, and they frequently open their wings as butterflies do when basking in the sun, moving a step or two, and again throw

ing out their wings. When the weather is mild, the old males 25 are heard singing with as much spirit as during the spring or

summer, while the younger birds are busily engaged in practicing, preparatory to the love season. They seldom resort to the interior of the forest either during the day or by night, but

usually roost among the foliage of evergreens, in the immediate 30 vicinity of houses in Louisiana, although in the eastern states they prefer low fir trees.

The flight of the mocking bird is performed by short jerks of the body and wings, at every one of which a strong twitching

motion of the tail is perceived. This motion is still more appar35 ent while the bird is walking, when it opens its tail like a fan and instantly closes it again. When traveling, this flight is only a little prolonged, as the bird goes from tree to tree, or at most across a field, scarcely, if ever, rising higher than the

top of the forest. During this migration, it generally resorts 5 to the highest parts of the woods near watercourses, utters its

usual mournful note, and roosts in these places. It travels mostly by day.

Few hawks attack the mocking birds, as on their approach, however sudden it may be, they are always ready not only to 10 defend themselves vigorously and with undaunted courage, but

to meet the aggressor half way, and force him to abandon his intention. The only hawk that occasionally surprises the mocking bird is the Falco Starlen, which flies low with great swift

ness, and carries the bird off without any apparent stop. Should 15 it happen that the ruffian misses his prey, the mocking bird in

turn becomes the assailant, and pursues the hawk with great courage, calling in the meantime all the birds of its species to its assistance; and although it cannot overtake the marauder,

the alarm created by their cries, which are propagated in suc20 cession among all the birds in the vicinity, like the watchwords

of sentinels on duty, prevents him from succeeding in his attempts.

The musical powers of this bird have often been taken notice of by European naturalists, and persons who find pleasure in 25 listening to the songs of different birds while in confinement or

at large. Some of these persons have described the notes of the nightingale as occasionally fully equal to those of our bird. I have frequently heard both species, in confinement and in the

wild state, and without prejudice have no hesitation in pronounc30 ing the notes of the European philomel equal to those of a sou

bretto of taste, which, could she study under a Mozart, might perhaps in time become very interesting in her way. But to compare her essays to the finished talent of the mocking bird is, in my opinion, quite absurd.

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