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Is this a time to be cloudy and sad,

When our Mother Nature laughs around; When even the deep blue heavens look glad,

And gladness breathes from the blossoming ground?


There are notes of joy from the hang-bird and wren,

And the gossip of swallows through all the sky; The ground-squirrel gayly chirps by his den,

And the wilding bee hums merrily by.


The clouds are at play in the azure space,

And their shadows at play on the bright green vale, And here they stretch to the frolic chase,

And there they roll on the easy gale.


There's a dance of leaves in that aspen bower,

There's a titter of winds in that beechen tree, There's a smile on the fruit, and a smile on the flowei,

And a laugh from the brook that runs to the sea

And look at the broad-faced sun, how he smiles

On the dewy earth that smiles in his ray, On the leaping waters and gay young isles;

Ay, look, and he'll smile thy gloom away


Notes and Questions What season is described here? What is meant by “a laugh from What signs of gladness are men the brook”g

tioned in the first two stanzas ? What is meant by "a smile on Which of these have you seen in the fruit''? springtime?

What does the poet say the sun Have you ever seen clouds which will do for us?

seem to chase one another? Do you think Spring is "a time Why do aspen leaves dance''? to be cloudy and sad”?? Why?

Words and Phrases for Study


wild'-ing frol'-ic

tỉt'-ter (ēr)

beech'-en (bēch’’n) isles (ils)


gāy'-lý—with mirth and frolic; in a gay manner. asp'-en (ăs'-pěn)-a kind of poplar tree, the leaves of which quiver

or move by a very slight current of air.


"frolic chase"
"gladness breathes”

"blossoming ground"
"titter of winds"



John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was a native of Haverhill, Massachusetts. He attended the district school, but his parents were too poor to send him to college. He was patriotic, fond of children, and of nature. He is called the “Quaker Poet."


It was late in mild October, and the long autumnal rain
Had left the summer harvest-fields all green with grass again;
The first sharp frosts had fallen, leaving all the woodlands gay
With the hues of summer's rainbow, or the meadow flowers of May.

2 Through a thin, dry mist, that morning, the sun rose broad and

At first a rayless disk of fire, he brightened as he sped;
Yet, even his noontide glory fell chastened and subdued,
On the cornfields and the orchards, and softly pictured wood

3 And all that quiet afternoon, slow sloping to the night, He wove with golden shuttle the haze with yellow light; Slanting through the painted beeches, he glorified the hill; And, beneath it, pond and meadow lay brighter, greener still.

4 And shouting boys in woodland haunts caught glimpses of that

sky, Flecked by the many-tinted leaves, and laughed, they knew not

why; And school-girls, gay with aster-flowers, beside the meadow

brooks, Mingled the glow of autumn with the sunshine of sweet looks.

5 From spire and barn, looked westerly the patient weathercocks; But even the birches on the hill stood motionless as rocks. No sound was in the woodlands, save the squirrel's dropping


And the yellow leaves among the boughs, low rustling as they fell.

6 The summer grains were harvested; the stubble-fields lay dry, Where June winds rolled, in light and shade, the pale green

waves of rye; But still, on gentle hill-slopes, in valleys fringed with wood, Ungathered, bleaching in the sun, the heavy corn crop stood.

Bent low, by autumn’s wind and rain, through husks that, dry

and sere,

Unfolded from their ripened charge, shone out the yellow ear;
Beneath, the turnip lay concealed, in many a verdant fold,
And glistened in the slanting light the pumpkin's sphere of gold.


There wrought the busy harvester; and many a creaking wain Bore slowly to the long, barn-floor its load of husk and grain; Till broad and red, as when he rose, the sun sank down, at last, And like a merry guest's farewell, the day in brightness passed.


And lo! as through the western pines, on meadow, stream, and

Flamed the red radiance of a sky, set all afire beyond.
Slowly o'er the eastern sea-bluffs a milder glory shone,
And the sunset and the moonrise were mingled into one !


As thus into the quiet night the twilight lapsed away,
And deeper in the brightening moon the tranquil shadows lay;
From many a brown old farm-house, and hamlet without name,
Their milking and their home-tasks done, the merry huskers



Swung o'er the heaped-up harvest, from pitchforks in the mow,
Shone dimly down the lanterns on the pleasant scene below;
The glowing pile of husks behind, the golden ears before,
And laughing eyes and busy hands and brown cheeks glimmering



Half hidden in a quiet nook, serene of look and heart,
Talking their old times over, the old men sat apart;
While, up and down the unhusked pile, or nestling in its shade,
At hide-and-seek, with laugh and shout, the happy children


Urged by the good host's daughter, a maiden young and fair, Lifting to light her sweet blue eyes and pride of soft brown hair, The master of the village school, sleek of hair and smooth of

tongue, To the quaint tune of some old psalm, a husking-ballad sung.


Notes and Questions

What had the frost done that

made the woodlands gay? What words in the second stanza

make you feel that the wood

was some distance away? To whom does "he" in the third

stanza refer? What words in the second stanza

explain the word “haze' in

the third stanza ? What gave the beeches the ap.

pearance of being painted Where did the girls find the

aster-flowers What do you think was the rea.

son the boys laughed when they

looked up to the sky? Read lines from the fifth stanza

which tell that there was

What does the second stanza tell

about the summer grains ? What “summer grain” is men

tioned in this stanza What crop was still ungathered i Where were the harvesters at

work? What was it that set the sky

"all afire beyond?What was the "milder glory'

which shone as the sun

setting Why does Whittier speak of the

farm-houses as "brown” (stan

za ten)? Where did the husking take

place! What tells you this? How did the old men spend the




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