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NOTES AND QUESTIONS.
THE questions here given are suggestive and may be modified at the discretion of the teacher to suit the pupil's needs. Enough should be asked to arouse interest and to quicken intellectual apprehension to the truth and beauty of the poem; more should be avoided as a hindrance to the complete enjoyment of its emotional and spiritual elements. "All questions," says Professor Bates, "that awaken the imagination and enable it to glorify the printed words into such clear-colored visions as dazzled the mind's eye' of the poet while he wrote are of peculiar value. Questions that quicken the ear to the music of the poet's verse, questions that lead the student to recognize and define in himself the emotions aroused by one passage or another in the poem, questions that carry the reason and imagination forward on the lines suggested by the poet, all tend to mould the student's mood into sympathy with that higher mood, sensitive, eager, impassioned, in which the singer first conceived his song."
Although the poem has two parts and two preludes, its essential unity is peculiarly effective. In studying let the pupil note its plan and structure, and the artistic harmony with which the divisions balance and fit in with each other, the contrast, correspondence, and symbolism. These points are summed up in the general questions at the end.
PRELUDE TO PART FIRST.
Stanza I. What makes the peculiar appropriateness of the "musing organist” improvising his theme?
Of what is the bridge in line 4 built?
To what sense does the metaphor in lines 7, 8 appeal?
"Would that the structure brave, the manifold music I build,
Bidding my organ obey, calling its keys to their work,
Claiming each slave of the sound, at a touch, as when Solomon willed Armies of angels that soar, legions of demons that lurk,
Should rush into sight at once as he named the ineffable Name, And pile him a palace straight, to pleasure the princess he loved!
"Would it might tarry like his, the beautiful building of mine, This which my keys in a crowd pressed and importuned to raise!"
See also Adelaide Proctor's Lost Chord.
Stanza II. As Lowell takes Wordsworth's ode Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood as a point of departure, the previous reading of the following stanzas will aid the pupil to grasp the meaning.
Not in entire forgetfulness,
But trailing clouds of glory do we come
Shades of the prison-house begin to close
But he beholds the light, and whence it flows,
The youth, who daily farther from the east
Is on his way attended;
At length the man perceives it die away,
"Earth fills her lap with pleasures of her own;
The homely nurse doth all she can
To make her foster-child, her inmate man,
Forget the glories he hath known,
[Stanza II. con.] In what sense is "heaven" used? What is included in the term "splendors " ?
Mount Sinai is in the northwestern part of Arabia. Upon its summit Moses talked with God and received the Ten Commandments and the Law. See Exodus xix., xx.
Stanza III. What periods of life are contrasted in stanzas ii. and iii. ?
Druid wood. The Druids were the priests and guardians of
the law of the ancient Celts. They dwelt and worshipped in groves, and are usually represented as aged men.
Literally, be thou blessed.
Hence, an invocation of blessing. Why, then, is it appropriate that the "druid wood" utter the "benedicite"?
Stanza IV. What two ideas are here contrasted?
What lines are concrete examples of line 21?
The cap and bells was part of the costume of a court jester. What is the force of the expression in this connection?
What examples of "Heaven's lavish splendors" in this stanza ?
Stanza V. Old world poets usually sing of May. But dwellers in New England and other northern states will agree with Lowell that,
"May is a pious fraud of the almanac
A ghastly parody of real Spring
Shaped out of snow and breathed with eastern wind;
To leisurely delights and sauntering thoughts
Compare lines 33, 35, 36, with,
"This willow is as old to me as life;
See Lowell's Under the Willows, first six stanzas. Note that in both poems Lowell speaks of nature as thrilling with conscious life, In what lines is this thought most conspicuous ?
What impression does the first reading of this stanza give in regard to the melody, the beauty of thought, and the pictures suggested ?
Give concrete illustrations of the signs of life and growth mentioned in lines 38-44, as "life murmur, "flush of life." To what do these terms appeal, sense of sight, sound, or color? What word makes the picture of the little bird peculiarly alive? Does this picture depend for its effect upon form, motion, sound, or color?
Nice. Delicately discriminating. How should you answer the poet's question of the last line?
Are the figures in this stanza merely ornamental, or the natural expression of the poet's thought?
What lines appeal to you as most beautiful? Do you think the beauty of this stanza can be fully explained by the references to figures, color, melody, etc., or do we feel a charm that cannot be analyzed ?
Stanza VI. What is the subject of this stanza as compared with the last, -- nature, man, or man and nature? In Lowell's mind what influence has nature upon man?
In what sense is June the "high tide" of the year?
What is the syntax of "right"? See glossary of Genung's Rhetoric, or A. S. Hill's Principles of Rhetoric, p. 12.
What lines in this stanza suggest color? motion? sound? What references to growth?
Stanza VII. What is the subject of this stanza ?
Explain the figures in lines 91-3, Does the comparison seem to you apt?