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bobolink nests in meadows and is not generally found on mountain sides.)
(2) Stanza 2. The bobolink is gaily dressed in black and white. (“Wedding-coat” alludes to the fact that male birds take on brilliant plumage just before the nesting season.) (3) Stanza 3. The female is a pretty, plain
little bird that sits faithfully on her nest.
(4) Stanza 4. She is modest, shy and no singer, while he is a braggart and a brilliant vocalist.
(5) Stanza 5. In the nest are six white eggs spotted with purple, which the mother covers.
(6) Stanza 6. The male bobolink works hard feeding the young as soon as they are hatched.
(7) Stanza 7. As he feeds the young, the male bobolink becomes sober and silent, his plumage changes and he ceases to sing.
(8) Stanza 8. In autumn the sedate bobolink migrates to the South with his grown-up brood.
V. CONCLUSION. As we have seen, this lyric gives us something of natural history and much of bird character, and exhibits great skill in composition. It is a noteworthy instance of the poet's power in imitating, by the sound of his lines, the song of the bird. In other words, the sound is in harmony with the sense. Moreover, in an indirect way it shows Bryant to be an appreciative observer of nature and a lover of birds, who is more interested in their beauty and their sweet songs than in a scientific inquiry into their habits.
THE CHAMBERED NAUTILUS
By OLIVER WENDELL HOLMES
The venturous bark that flings
wings In gulfs enchanted, where the Siren sings,
And coral reefs lie bare, Where the cold sea-maids rise to sun their stream
Its webs of living gauze no more unfurl;
Wrecked is the ship of pearl!
And every chambered cell,
Before thee lies revealed,
Year after year beheld the silent toil
That spread his lustrous coil;
Still, as the spiral grew, He left the past year's dwelling for the new, Stole with soft step its shining archway through,
Built up its idle door, Stretched in his last-found home, and knew the old Thanks for the heavenly message brought by thee,
Child of the wandering sea,
Cast from her lap, forlorn!
While on mine ear it rings,
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Till thou at length art free,
It is only the person who has read widely that can recognize many allusions, and it will always be true that some will escape the closest reader. If a person is unacquainted with the Bible, whole sentences might be quoted and pass without recognition; if he has never read the stories of classical mythology, the names of Mars and Minerva would suggest nothing to him; and to a person who does not know the history of the United States, the sentence “We have met the enemy and they are ours” would have little significance. In The Chambered Nautilus allusions are numerous :
In the first line, "ship of pearl" alludes to the belief of the old-time mariners that the nautilus rose to the surface of the water and spread its tentacles, “purpled wings,” like sails to the breeze.
In the fourth line comes the phrase, “where the Siren sings." For an explanation of this, one must go to the dictionary or encyclopedia or to some book where the stories of Grecian mythology are to be found.
When Ulysses and his men sailed away from Circe's island, they passed the ledge where the Sirens sang. The Sirens were beings with the bodies of birds and the heads of women, who sang such entrancing melodies that mariners were led to wreck and destruction on the ledge. Ulysses filled the ears of his sailors with wax and made them bind him to the mast so he could not break loose nor stop the course of the vessel. In this way he escaped the Sirens. The story is told in the Odyssey.
In the last line of that stanza, the "cold seamaids” are the mermaids, who, as people believed in ancient times, were beings with bodies of fish and heads of women. The mermaid lived under the sea and was usually represented as holding a mirror in one hand and combing her long hair with the other.
"Irised" and "crypt" in the last line of the next stanza suggest ideas from widely separated times, the first going back to Grecian mythology for its meaning, and the latter bringing its significance from the Middle Ages. Iris was the beautiful Greek goddess, the swift-flying attendant of Juno, who passed invisible through the heavens but left behind her, to show that she had passed, the brilliant many colored train of her robe, which we now know as the rainbow. An irised ceiling is a ceiling colored like the rainbow. In the Middle Ages especially, churches were built over dark crypts, which were used as chapels or burying places.
In the last stanza, the lines
“Leave thy low-vaulted past!
contain a most vivid allusion. Many a great cathedral with a vast, resplendent dome is a new temple nobler than a preceding one, and occupies the same spot where centuries ago some low-vaulted shrine was placed.
The significance of the entire poem rests on the fact that the little mollusk builds its shell in spiral form, increasing its size year by year.
OT long before his death Keats' wrote,
—“If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me, nothing to make my friends proud of my memory, but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had
the time I would have made myself remembered.” He is remembered, is famous, and the other sentence he framed as he lay dying, the epitaph on his tombstone in the Protestant cemetery at Rome, is as mistaken as the fear that prompted it. “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” He was not twenty-six years of age when he died, but he had written a few perfect poems and had exerted a permanent influence on the poetry of his language.
What a mournful tragedy his life was! His father was a hostler in a livery stable and Keats’s boyhood was passed in London. His parents were ambitious for their children but died when John was a boy. He was apprenticed to a surgeon, but disliking surgery immensely he quarreled with his master just before the expiration of his term. At nineteen all his interests centered in poetry, and at twenty-one he decided to devote himself exclusively to it.
Always delicate in health and nervous in temperament, everything he undertook was done at the highest tension and in a manner most unsatisfac
1. John Keats was born in 1795 and died in 1821.