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THE GLADNESS OF NATURE
WILLIAM CULLEN BRYANT
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
HELPS TO STUDY
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
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.
WORDS AND PHRASES:
JOHN GREENLEAF WHITTIER
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
2 Through a thin, dry mist, that morning, the sun rose broad and
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
Unfolded from their ripened charge, shone out the yellow ear;
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
As thus into the quiet night the twilight lapsed away,
Swung o'er the heaped-up harvest, from pitchforks in the mow,
Half hidden in a quiet nook, serene of look and heart,
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.
HELPS TO STUDY
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