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nature, a lively and charming imagination, and a rather unruly and unconventional personality. He was always generous and indulgent with others and fearless in his pursuit of what he thought was right. While only thirty, on a pleasure cruise off the coast of Italy, he was drowned.
Discussion. 1. To whom is the poem addressed? 2. By what name is the skylark addressed in the first line? 3. What characteristics of the lark's song and flight made the poet say, “Bird thou never wert”? 4. Read a line from the second stanza that shows the energy and enthusiasm with which the lark begins its flight; why should this sudden spring of the bird make the poet think of fire? 5. What question does the poet ask in the seventh stanza? In what stanzas does he try to answer the question? 6. Is he satisfied with any of the comparisons he has made? Read the lines which tell us that the song of the lark is sweeter and more joyous than any of these things. 7. In which stanzas does the poet compare music produced by man with the music of the lark's song? How does our music seem when compared to the song of the lark? 8. What question is asked in lines 21 and 22, on page 59? 9. In the questions that follow, the pcet suggests what the lark may be singing about; what things does he suggest? 10. From what does the poet say the lark has never suffered? 11. How are we affected by "hate and pride and fear”? 12. The poet tries to imagine how we would feel if we were not affected by hate or pride or fear and knew no sorrow. Does he think we would then feel joy as great as the lark's? Find the line in which he tells us. 13. What does the poet ask of the bird in the last stanza? Why does he want to know this gladness? 14. Compare this poem on the skylark with those of Wordsworth and Hogg. What impressed each poet most in the skylark? 15. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: vernal; chaunt; languor; satiety. 16. Pronounce: aërial; Hymeneal.
HARK, HARK! THE LARK
Hark, hark! the lark at heaven's gate sings;
And Phæbus 'gins arise,
On chaliced flowers that lies;
To ope their golden eyes.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
For Biography, see page. 326.
Discussion. 1. At what time of day does the lark sing "at heaven's gate”? What lines tell you that it is morning? 2. By what other name is Phæbus known? 3. For what was the watering of the steeds a preparation? 4. The use of "lies” in the song is old English idiom; what does it add to the poem? 5. What is added to the picture by the poet's choice of marigolds as the opening flowers? 6. Which lines do you think are the most beautiful in this little song? 7. Which lines sing themselves to you? 8. Have you heard this lyric rendered by a good singer? You would enjoy hearing a phonograph record of it. 9. Who can memorize these lines in the shortest time?
THE MOCKING BIRD
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON
It is where the great magnolia shoots up its majestic trunk, crowned with evergreen leaves, and decorated with a thousand beautiful flowers that perfume the air around; where the forests
and fields are adorned with blossoms of every hue; where the 5 golden orange ornaments the gardens and the groves; where bignonias of various kinds interlace their climbing stems around the white-flowered stuartia, and mounting still higher, cover the summits of the lofty trees around, accompanied with innumerable
vines that here and there festoon the dense foliage of the mag10 nificent woods, lending to the vernal breeze a slight portion of
the perfume of their clustered flowers; where a genial warmth seldom forsakes the atmosphere; where berries and fruits of all descriptions are met with at every step—in a word, kind reader,
it is where Nature seems to have paused, as she passed over the 15 carth, and opening her stores, to have strewed with unsparing
hand the diversified seeds from which have sprung all the beautiful and splendid forms which I should in vain attempt to describe, that the mocking bird should have fixed its abode, there only that its wondrous song should be heard.
But where is that favored land? It is in that great continent
to whose distant shores Europe has sent forth her adventurous sons, to wrest for themselves a habitation from the wild inhabitants of the forest, and to convert the neglected soil into
fields of exuberant fertility. It is, reader, in Louisiana that these 5 bounties of nature are in the greatest perfection. It is there that you should listen to the love song of the mocking bird, as I at this moment do. See how he flies round his mate, with motions as light as those of the butterfly! His tail is widely expanded,
he mounts in the air to a small distance, describes a circle, and, 10 again alighting, approaches his beloved one, his eyes gleaming
with delight, for she has already promised to be his and his only. His beautiful wings are gently raised, he bows to his love, and again bouncing upward, opens his bill, and pours forth his melody, full of exultation at the conquest which he has made.
They are not the soft sounds of the flute or the hautboy that I hear, but the sweeter notes of Nature's own music. The mellowness of the song, the varied modulations and gradations, the extent of its compass, the great brilliancy of execution, are un
rivaled. There is probably no bird in the world that possesses 20 all the musical qualifications of this king of song, who has derived all from Nature's self. Yes, reader, all!
No sooner has he again alighted near his mate than, as if his breast were about to be rent with delight, he again pours forth
his notes with more softness and richness than before. He now 25 soars higher, glancing around with a vigilant eye, to assure him
self that none has witnessed his bliss. When these love scenes are over, he dances through the air, full of animation and delight, and, as if to convince his lovely mate that to enrich her hopes
he has much more love in store, he that moment begins anew, 30 and imitates all the notes which Nature has imparted to the other songsters of the grove.
For a while, each long day and pleasant night are thus spent. A nest is to be prepared, and the choice of a place in which to lay
it is to become a matter of mutual consideration. The orange, 35 the fig, the pear tree of the gardens are inspected; the thick brier
patches are also visited. They appear all so well suited for the purpose in view, and so well do the birds know that man is not
their most dangerous enemy, that, instead of retiring from him, they at length fix their abode in his vicinity, perhaps in the nearest tree to his window. Dried twigs, leaves, grasses, cotton, flax,
and other substances, are picked up, carried to a forked branch, 5 and there arranged. Five eggs are deposited in due time, when
the male, having little more to do than to sing his mate to repose, attunes his pipe anew. Every now and then he spies an insect on the ground, the taste of which he is sure will please his be
loved one. He drops upon it, takes it in his bill, beats it against 10 the earth, and flies to the nest to feed and receive the warm thanks of his devoted female.
When a fortnight has elapsed, the young brood demand all their care and attention. No cat, no vile snake, no dreaded hawk,
likely to visit their habitation. Indeed the inmates of the next 15 house have by this time become quite attached to the lovely pair
of mocking birds, and take pleasure in contributing to their safety. The dewberries from the fields, and many kinds of fruit from the gardens, mixed with insects, supply the young as well
as the parents with food. The brood is soon seen emerging from 20 the nest, and in another fortnight, being now able to fly with
vigor, and to provide for themselves, they leave the parent birds, as many other species do.
In winter, nearly all the mocking birds approach the farmhouses and plantations, living about the gardens or outhouses. 25 They are then frequently seen on the roofs, and perched on the
chimney tops; yet they always appear full of animation. While searching for food on the ground, their motions are light and elegant, and they frequently open their wings as butterflies do
when basking in the sun, moving a step or two, and again throw80 ing out their wings. When the weather is mild, the old males
are heard singing with as much spirit as during the spring or summer, while the younger birds are busily engaged in practicing, preparatory to the love season. They seldom resort to the in
terior of the forest either during the day or by night, but usually 35 roost among the foliage of evergreens, in the immediate vicinity
of houses in Louisiana, although in the eastern states they prefer low fir trees.
The flight of the mocking bird is performed by short jerks of the body and wings, at every one of which a strong twitching motion of the tail is perceived. This motion is still more apparent while the bird is walking, when it opens its tail like a fan and 5 instantly closes it again.
When traveling, this flight is only a little prolonged, as the bird goes from tree to tree, or at most across a field, scarcely, if ever, rising higher than the top of the forest. During this migration, it generally resorts to the
highest parts of the woods near watercourses, utters its usual 10 mournful note, and roosts in these places. It travels mostly by day.
Few hawks attack the mocking birds, as on their approach, however sudden it may be, they are always ready not only to
defend themselves vigorously and with undaunted courage, but 15 to meet the aggressor half way, and force him to abandon his
intention. The only hawk that occasionally surprises the mocking bird is the Falco Starlen, which flies low with great swiftness, and carries the bird off without any apparent stop. Should it
happen that the ruffian misses his prey, the mocking bird in turn 20 becomes the assailant, and pursues the hawk with great courage,
calling in the meantime all the birds of its species to its assistance; and although it cannot overtake the marauder, the alarm created by their cries, which are propagated in succession among
all the birds in the vicinity, like the watchwords of sentinels on 25 duty, prevents him from succeeding in his attempts.
The musical powers of this bird have often been taken notice of by European naturalists, and persons who find pleasure in listening to the songs of different birds while in confinement or at
large. Some of these persons have described the notes of the 30 nightingale as occasionally fully equal to those of our bird. I
have frequently heard both species, in confinement and in the wild state, and without prejudice have no hesitation in pronouncing the notes of the European philomel equal to those of a sou
brette of taste, which, could she study under a Mozart, might 85 perhaps in time become very interesting in her way.
compare her essays to the finished talent of the mocking bird is, in my opinion, quite absurd.