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1. Read the whole poem. Is this poem a moralized legend? What do you consider the principal moral idea? Which makes the stronger impression on your mind — the story, or the moral ? Refer to any lines in which the poet expresses the moral idea. Did Bryant write the poem for the sake of the moral? or for the sake of the story? or for both ?

2. The name Sella means “shadow.” Why was this a good name for the chief character in the story? How many characters are there in the story? Who are they? What sort of change takes place in the character of Sella ? When? Name the causes of this change of heart; the results.

3. Point out a number of particular passages that indicate Sella's love for the water, both in her youth, and in her maturer life. Name the practical uses of water that Sella taught the people. In what respects is the conclusion of the poem especially good ?

4. Bryant is our American “ poet of Nature.” Point out several lines in this poem that show his close observation of natural phe

What kinds of Nature scenes are used most in this poem ? Which is most prominent in the poem — the natural scenery, the human interest, or the interest in the superhuman element of Sella's character ?

5. What passages of the poem indicate the indefinite setting of time and place that the author gives it? Show that this method of handling the story is in keeping with the prevailing thought and mood.

6. Do you know of any fairy tale in which the transformation of the chief character is effected by a pair of magic slippers? What peculiar power did the slippers give Sella? To what mythological character did a pair of winged sandals give the same power ?

7. Select the passages of the poem in which a direct comparison occurs, as in lines 21–23:

“ Yet her face
Was passionless, like those by sculptor graved
For niches in a temple.”


Point out the respects in which the things compared are alike; unlike. Such a comparison is called, for convenience, a SIMILE.

8. Select five passages in this poem in which indirect comparisons occur, as in line 148, “ And oft we trod a waste of pearly sands.” Such a use of language is called a METAPHOR. Point out the respects in which the things compared are alike.

9. Select several passages in which things in Nature or things without life are represented as human; for example, lines 367–369 :

" The rivulet, as they touched its face, flung up
Its small bright waves like hands, and seemed to take

The prize with eagerness and draw it down.” This figure of speech is called PERSONIFICATION. Figures of speech are valuable chiefly for the mental pleasure they afford the reader in his discovery of the fitness, force, and beauty of the suggested thought.

10. Make an outline to indicate the large divisions or steps of the story. What remains for the author to do, after he has the general plan of his story in mind ?



The first four lines serve what purpose ? Why is a wild and strange story more interesting than one about ordinary things of the present time and life? 2. marvels.

6. scudding. 12. Why was the murmur eternal ? 13. Why was the murmur not always the same ? 18. What was the mood of the maiden at such a time?

19. Express the first statement in plainer language; which statement is the better for poetry? stature. 21. venturous. 23. niches. 28. What is the force of the modifiers - woodland” and “mountain "? 30. What are “rushes”? 31. “deep beyond” means where ? that is, where does she see the “trailing clouds”? What must be supplied, in thought, before “the trailing clouds”? 34. dell. 35. rill. What was this “stripe of green”? 38. sylvan. 40. shallop.

47. How are the brooks thought of? 50. Explain “quaint device.” 59. Explain the passage, “when the green is changed to gold." 62. Explain “hew the quarry into shafts.” 64. This line alludes to what art? 65. pine. 66. What is the feeling of Sella here?

73. spangled. 75. wrought. 76. What is the relation of the name “ Sella” to the rest of the sentence? 77. Compare the feelings of the mother and Sella. 81. haply. 82. Why could not the mother see the mystic name?


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87. What is a “rustic lodge”? 88. contexture. 91. Why could the sun shine now into “deep” wells? 96. What does “sounding” signify here ? 101-107. These lines indicate how long a time? 105. hovered. 106. What is meant by “the amber west”? 111. What is Sella's first emotion? Why does it not continue very long ? 118. blent, thrill. 123. Why is reference to “clouds ” and a “ dream " particularly fitting here? 124. The “musical voice” of the water nymph corresponds to what fact about water ? 131. What does

· barks" mean here? Why “gallant” barks? 132. Why is the word “onward” repeated ? 136. Explain

a green sunshine.”

What were these groves” and “ meadows” (138) ? 144. What words are in apposition with “strange growths”? 147. fronds, bowers. 151. What caused the “ blue” twilight? 153. Why did the sea animals pass by them “reverently”? 154. dolphins. What does “rolling” mean here ? 156. hammer-sharks.

159. What is the artistic reason for having the mother interrupt Sella's narrative at this point ? 160. Was the mother's statement true ?

163. distaff. 174. “of the abyss” means what? 175. plummet. 176. What comparison is implied by the word “ downy”? 177. What means “the pulses of the tide " ?

182. Show the especial fitness of the comparison “like wavelets.” How does “on a summer shore” make the thought more definite? 186. What words tell what they had to eat at this “sea banquet”? 187. culled. 188. midrib.

195. What growths of earth are thought of here? Look up “coral,” and find out what you can about its formation. 199. pinnacles. 200. molten. 201. What is the significance of the word “gushed”? 202. quenched. What natural phenomenon is described in lines 198– 204 ? 205. Refer to line 174. 209. What are the “ ribs” of a ship?

211. What means “ fountains of the sea"? 212. In what respects were these “jets” silvery? 213. azure. What is meant by the “ brine"? 215. Point out the elements of likeness in this simile. 219. What common characteristic of human re does this line express ? 223. Bewildered. 225. Which was the stronger — Sella's human feelings, or this unreal life that she assumed when she visited the deep sea? What feeling is especially prominent here?

230. Does this mean only the simple fact of going against the current, or is there any other interpretation of the line? 235. What lines

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explain what this "pleasant sight " was? 237. grazeil. 254. How long did Sella keep this promise? Was it possible for her to forget what she had experienced? Was it likely that she would remain perfectly satisfied with her home life and that she would never wish to visit the sea nymphs again?

257–260. How much time passed? What is the effect of mentioning the seasons in order? 261. What is expressed by “ere her time?

269. What kind of “ shrubs” were these ? 271. waned. 272. patriarch. Where was Sella at these times of absence ? 274. What did this fact indicate? 286. Explain fully in your own words “the grace and glory of our home.” Does this mean that home duties, when performed in a sweet and noble way, are greater and more lovely in a girl's life than to live in an ideal world without helping others in any way? 290. perpetual.

295. fatlings. 297. rifled. 301. canisters.

302. trooping. 304. Show the fitness of the figure. 305. What time of the world's history is meant by “ that simpler age”? Can you mention any people who wore “ costumes” of this kind? 309. What does “ bridal” mean here? 310. spousal rite. 315. Would the white rose, or the lily of the valley, or some other white flower have answered the purpose of the poet as perfectly as “ the lily of the lakes ”? What do we commonly call such a lily? 317. Explain “ beings of immortal youth.” What is the double significance of the expression ? 318. decked. 320. vied. Who is meant by “she”? 322. beseem. What people believed in river nymphs ? What fact about a river did the nymph symbolize? 292–324. What is the mood or emotion that pervades these lines?

329. emerging. 331. cleft.

342–314. Show in detail the beauty of this figure. 345. chords. What comparison is implied in “gush ”? 351. abashed. 352. Explain “ tingling in their veins.” 353. Why did the old people wish “quaint old” music? 359. What is the meaning of “edged” here?

362. “ The merry din ” refers to what? 368. Notice the force of the word “ seemed”; as Bacon said, “ Poetry alters the shews (appearance) of things to suit the desires of the mind.” 373. Why were their hearts “full” and “beating”? 375. repentant. Why? 382. Notice that three words in this line begin with s; is the effect pleasing to the ear? This poetic device is called “alliteration.” Note other in

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stances in the poem. 386. What are Sella's feelings now ? 398. How did she know the guilty ones ? 401. anguish, reproach.

403. frankly. 406. beguile. 408. stealthily. 413. Compare the emotion here with that expressed in line 109.

423. Compare “ bower,” as used here, with its meaning in line 147. 424. demeanor. 433. What is the usual effect of weeping upon those who are in deep sorrow ? 438. grots. 453–156. What is Sella's attitude toward the world? Have the expressions “glaring lights,” etc. any figurative significance? If so, explain each.

461. Note that Sella here takes a lingering farewell of the “otherworldliness” in which she had found so much pleasure. What lines express a new attitude on her part toward life and the world ? 483. Give several practical illustrations of the truth of this beautiful principle of life.

486-502. These lines give a poetic statement of what facts? How does the poetic statement differ from commonplace statement of the same facts ?

505–510. How beautiful such an old lady is ! 516. bickering. 521. iris, orchis, cardinal flower.

Read the whole poem again. In what respects is the style (that is, his way of telling a story) of Bryant different from that of Hawthorne in “ Feathertop”? Is the language of this poem very difficult? How is the story made impressive? Beautiful? Is the thought very profound ? Important ?

The three chief elements of literature as a fine art are: first, some great idea or emotion, universal in its application and appeal; second, a story about Nature (the external world), or human life, or the supernatural, or a skillful combination of these elements, into which the great idea or emotion is woven the story interests us and we remember it; third, the beautifying of the story in various ways — this furnishes us pleasure.

Word Study Review. — marvels, murmur, scudding, stature, venturous, sculptor, niches, dell, rill, sylvan, shallor, quaint, quarry, pine, rivulet, spangled, wrought, rustic, contexture, hovered, blent, fronds, bower, distaff, abyss, plummet, banquet, culled, pinnacles, molten, quenched, azure, waned, patriarch, perpetual, fatlings, rifled, canisters, bridal, spousal, rite, immortal, vied, decked, emerging, repentant, anguish, reproach, frankly, beguile, stealth, demeanor, grots, bickering, iris, orchis, cardinal,

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