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[SELLA is the name given by the Vulgate to one of the wives of Lamech, mentioned in the fourth chapter of the Book of Genesis, and called Zillah in the common English version of the Bible. The meaning of the name is Shadow, and in choosing it the poet seems to have had no reference to the Biblical fact, but to the significance of the name, since he was telling of a creature who had the form without the substance of human kind. The story naturally suggests Fouqué's Undine, and is in some respects a complement to that lovely romance. Undine is a water-nymph without a soul, who gains one only by marrying a human being, and in marrying tastes of the sorrows of life. Sella is of the human race, gifted with a soul, but having a longing for life among the water-nymphs. That life withdraws her from the troubles and cares of the world, and she loses more and more her interest in :hem; when at last she is rudely cut off from sharing in the water-nymphs' life, is awakened as it were from a dream of beauty, she returns to the world after a brief struggle, mingles with it, and makes the knowledge gained among the waternymphs minister to the needs of men.

The story must not be probed too ingeniously for its moral; it is an exquisite fairy tale, but like many of such tales it involves a gentle parable, which has been hinted at above. If a more explicit interpretation is desired, we may say that the passion for ideals, gradually withdrawing one from human sympathy, is made finally to ennoble and lift real life. The poet has not localized the poem nor given it a specific time, but left himself and the reader free by using the large terms of nature and human life, and referring the action to the early, formative period of the world. Observe Bryant's delicate and accurate transcriptions of faint charac. teristics of nature, as in lines 8, 12, 30, 35, 41, 215, 238, 389.]

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HEAR now a legend of the days of old
The days when there were goodly marvels yet,
When man to man gave willing faith, and loved

A tale the better that 't was wild and strange. 5 Beside a pleasant dwelling ran a brook

Scudding along a narrow channel, paved
With green and yellow pebbles; yet full clear
Its waters were, and colorless and cool,

As fresh from granite rocks. A maiden oft 10 Stood at the open window, leaning out,

And listening to the sound the water made,
A sweet, eternal murmur, still the same,
And not the same; and oft, as spring came on,

She gathered violets from its fresh moist bank, 15 To place within her bower, and when the herbs

Of summer drooped beneath the midday sun, 11. Observe the various suggestions in the early lines of the noen of Sella's sympathy with water life.

She sat within the shade of a great rock,
Dreamily listening to the streamlet's song.
Ripe were the maiden's years ; her stature

showed
20 Womanly beauty, and her clear, calm eye

Was briglit with venturous spirit, yet her face
Was passionless, like those by sculptor graved
For niches in a temple. Lovers oft

Had wooed her, but she only laughed at love, 25 And wondered at the silly things they said.

’T was her delight to wander where wild vines
O’erhang the river's brim, to climb the path
Of woodland streamlet to its mountain springs,

To sit by gleaming wells and mark below 30 The image of the rushes on its edge,

And, deep beyond, the trailing clouds that slid
Across the fair blue space. No little fount
Stole forth from hanging rock, or in the side

Of hollow dell, or under roots of oak,
35 No rill came trickling, with a stripe of green,

Down the bare hill, that to this maiden's eyes
Was not familiar. Often did the banks
Of river or of sylvan lakelet hear

The dip of oars with which the maiden rowed 40 Her shallop, pushing ever from the prow A crowd of long, light ripples toward the shore.

Two brothers had the maiden, and she thought, Within herself : “I would I were like them ;

For then I might go forth alone, to trace 45 The mighty rivers downward to the sea,

And upward to the brooks that, through the year,

Prattle to the cool valleys. I would know 31. The clouds which she sees deep beyond are of course the eflection of the clouds passing over the well, as it is not the rushes but the image of the rushes which she sees in the water.

What races drink their waters; how their chiefs

Bear rule, and how men worship there, and how 50 They build, and to what quaint device they frame,

Where sea and river meet, their stately ships;
What flowers are in their gardens, and what trees
Bear fruit within their orchards; in what garb

Their bowmen meet on holidays, and how 55 Their maidens bind the waist and braid the hair.

Here, on these bills, my father's house o'erlooks
Broad pastures grazed by flocks and herds, but

there
I hear they sprinkle the great plains with corn

And watch its springing up, and when the green 60 Is changed to gold, they cut the stems and bring

The harvest in, and give the nations bread.
And there they hew the quarry into shafts,
And pile up glorious temples from the rock,

And chisel the rude stones to shapes of men. 65 All this I pine to see, and would have seen, But that I am a woman, long ago."

Thus in her wanderings did the maiden dream, Until, at length, one morn in early spring,

When all the glistening fields lay white with frost, 70 She came half breathless where her mother sat : " See, mother dear,” said she, “ what I have

found,
Upon our rivulet's bank; two slippers, white
As the mid-winter snow, and spangled o'er

With twinkling points, like stars, and on the edge 72. The reader will recall instances of the magical or trans!. forming character of slippers and the like: Mercury with him winged sandals, Cinderella with her glass slippers, the seven eagued boots, Puss in boots. A covering for the head is cout gected with the power of command and the power of invisibil itv: a covering for the foot with magical power of motion.

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75 My name is wrought in silver ; read, I pray,

Sella, the name thy mother, now in heaven, Gave at my birth; and sure, they fit my feet!” “ A dainty pair," the prudent matron said,

“ But thine they are not. We must lay them by 80 For those whose careless hands have left them

here,
Or haply they were placed beside the brook
To be a snare. I cannot see thy name
Upon the border, — only characters

Of mystic look and dim are there, like signs 85 Of some strange art; nay, daughter, wear them

not.'

Then Sella hung the slippers in the porch
Of that broad rustic lodge, and all who passed,
Admired their fair contexture, but none knew

Who left them by the brook. And now, at length, 90 May, with her flowers and singing birds, had gone,

And on bright streams and into deep wells shone
The high, mid-summer sun. One day, at noon,
Sella was missed from the accustomed meal.

They sought her in her favorite haunts, they looked 95 By the great rock, and far along the stream,

And shouted in the sounding woods her name.
Night came and forth the sorrowing household

went

With torches over the wide pasture grounds

To pool and thicket, marsh and briery dell, 100 And solitary valley far away.

The morning came, and Sella was not found.

82. In the mother's inability to read Sella's name on the slipder is suggested that unimaginative nature which is so often represented in fairy tales for a foil to the imagination. Hawthorne has used this open-eyed blindness with excellent effect in his story of the Snow Image.

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