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upon a quiet spot. In the second the picture is more definite, and is used to show how the sight of the pine-trees brings joy to a man in an hour of discouragement. In the third there is no picture. The melody of bird-song, the habit of the singer to soar far above the earth and yet to return to its nest, becomes a symbol or ideal of life, an interpretation of the meaning of a worth-while life. In no case are we particularly conscious of elevated or unfamiliar language. Simple words and phrases give the effect needed: "sleeps," "quiet sky," “their sharp black heads," "pilgrim of the sky.” From the keen observation of facts, and the application of these facts, through deep feeling and imagination, to life, all these expressed in language filled with beauty, poetry is born in our souls. For it is in this power to awaken our imagination, to sharpen our powers of observation, to transfer to us the deep feeling that inspired the verse, that we find the true sources of poetry. Much of the effect is gained through this power of suggestion, which needs a bit of farther observation.
AN AUTUMN WALK
Suppose you are walking through the woods in late autumn. Your dog is with you, and he thinks it is great sport. He bounds here and there, sniffing at trails of rabbits and squirrels, barking with excitement when he thinks he has found the path that leads directly to one of the little forest animals. Your enjoyment is as keen as his. You love the sound of your feet as they shuffle through the deep masses of fallen leaves. You explore a bit for nuts. You look at the clouds, gray, cold, promising snow before many more days. The thousand secrets of the forest in autumn suggest Hallowe'en, corn huskings, winter sports, Christmas. You notice that the trees are bare of leaves, save here and there a few which still hang on until the first blast of winter shall come and drive them headlong. You notice a farmer, who looks also at this tree and that as though to decide which ones shall be cut down to make his winter wood supply. And then you pass an old man, hobbling along with his cane, who also looks at the fallen leaves and seems almost as dried-up as they.
So your walk brings a set of facts to your observation. Some of these facts relate to your own interests and pleasures. Perhaps you get no farther. Or perhaps you notice the pranks of your dog or the sturdy matter-of-factness of the farmer, or the bent form of the old man. Perhaps you even go a little farther, and say to yourself, "Poor old fellow, he's about done for himself, like these dead leaves."
And then suppose you should hear these words, coming seemingly from the air about you, commenting on the old man as he limps along:
That time of year thou may'st in me behold
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang. Instantly you feel that you are in the presence of something different from your own vague reactions on the autumn day in the woods. This is not because of the music of the lines solely, though that is partly the reason. It is not because of the rime or the words that are used. Indeed, the words are such as you yourself might use except for such a phrase as “thou may'st" instead of "you may,” or as “do hang" instead of “hang,” or a word like "late" instead of "lately.” There is something else that the great poet—for it is no less than Shakespeare who wrote these lines-contrived to get into these simple observations, to make them seem so different from the thoughts that have been chasing fitfully through your mind in your walk as your dog has been chasing here and there in pursuit of an imaginary squirrel.
This something is found in the unity, the oneness of the picture. The theme runs like this: The few yellow leaves clinging to the boughs are a symbol of old age, hanging on for a few days or weeks until Death shall make an end. But more than this theme, which is the interpretation of the facts of life and the observations of which we have been speaking, is the suggestion of things not expressed. You yourself thought of the first two lines: the old man is like the yellow leaves. Yet you recognize that the phrasing
When yellow leaves, or none, or few do hang, is more effective than what you would have said, perhaps: "Wher
a few dried-up leaves hang on the boughs.” When you come to the line,
Upon those boughs that shake against the cold
you recognize a new and deeper effect. You knew it was a cold day, but not how cold. The coldness seems almost solid; the boughs creak and groan, seem to shake against it as if they were scraping against a building. So the more penetrating imagination of the poet has given you an impression much sharper and more distinct than you could have gained unaided. Now listen once more to the last line, and as you listen, look at the trees in the forest, the carpet of dead leaves beneath your feet, the gray sky, and then once more at those branches as they creak and groan in the wind
Bare ruined choirs where late the sweet birds sang.
Instantly, as if a wizard had waved his wand and murmured a charm, the gray skies melt to blue; the carpet of rustling leaves has turned to deep green moss, flowered by the plants of the forest; the boughs of the trees are clothed once more in the green vesture of June; while from every side come the songs of the birds. The bare ruined choirs have become again the sources of the thousand melodies of summer.
Such is the power of poetry over the understanding heart. It sharpens your perception of fact. It awakens your imagination. It phrases for you the feelings that are too indistinct for utterance. It brings beauty into the prose of life. It finds in nature and man, in bird-song and flower, in the rain and the cloud and the thunder, in the snows of winter and the first breath of spring, the beauty and the joy of life, its sorrows and defeats, its aspirations, its sense of infinite things beyond what the eye of sense can discern. Shelley says of the skylark that it is
Like a poet hidden
In the light of thought,
Till the world is wrought
STORIES AND POEMS OF NATURE
God made all the creatures and gave them our love and our fear, To give sign we and they are his children, one family here.