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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 flower,
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''}
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)
gãy'-ly-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."
. 1 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. Through a thin, dry mist, that morning, the sun rose broad and
And all that quiet afternoon, slow sloping to the night,
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.
From spire and barn, looked westerly the patient weathercocks;
shell, And the yellow leaves among the boughs, low rustling as they
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
10 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,
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 | What does the second stanza tell made the woodlands gay?
about the summer grains? What words in the second stanza | What “summer grain” is menmake you feel that the wood tioned in this stanza? was some distance away?
What crop was still ungathered ? To whom does "he" in the third Where were the harvesters at stanza refer?
work? What words in the second stanza What was it that set the sky
explain the word “haze'' in "all afire beyond?'' the third stanza ?
What was the "milder glory” What gave the beeches the ap. which shone as the sun was
pearance of being painted ? setting? Where did the girls find the Why does Whittier speak of the aster-flowers ?
farm-houses as “brown” (stanWhat do you think was the rea za ten)?
son the boys laughed when they | Where did the husking take looked up to the sky?
place? Read lines from the fifth stanza What tells you this? which tell that there was no How did the old men spend the wind.