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NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. John James Audubon (1780-1851) was born in New Orleans. His mother died while he was very young, and his father, who was a Frenchman, took the boy to rance. There Audub
grew up and was educated. He studied drawing with some of the celebrated French artists. In 1798 he returned to America, and from that time on he spent most of his time in this country. He devoted himself to the study of natural history and especially to birds. His great work, The Birds of America, contains lifesize pictures of more than a thousand birds. The drawings for these he made himself, and they are artistically excellent as well as true to nature. “The Mocking Bird” is taken from the text made by Audubon to accompany the pictures. Because of his interest in birds, the clubs for the care and study of birds, which have been formed throughout the United States, are called “Audubon Societies."
Discussion. 1. Make an outline of the selection. 2. Tell the main thoughts of the essay, following your outline of topics. 3. The first two paragraphs describe the place where the bird lives; how does the description of the second paragraph differ from that of the first? 4. How does the author imply that the richness of the plant life of this region is reproduced in the bird's song? 5. How does Audubon say the musical powers of the mocking bird compare with those of the nightingale? 6. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: stuartia; diversified; exuberant; hautboy; modulations; compass; derived; imparted; resort; Falco Starlen; philomel; essays. 7. Pronounce: bignonias; genial; species; foliage; ruffian; Mozart. 3. Library reading: “A Mocking Bird,” Bynner, and "The Mocking Bird,” Stanton (in Melody of Earth); "Bob, the Mocking Bird,” Lanier (in The Larier Book); selections from Our Humble Helpers, Fabre
Biography. Madison Cawein (1865-1915) was born in Louisville, Kentucky. He was educated in the public schools. In 1887 he published his first poems in a book called Blooms of the Berry. In all his poems, Nature is the theme. He spent his life learning Nature's ways and describing them in poetry full of rich imagery.
Discussion. 1. The poet has made a compound word by using the name Shakespeare gave to a fairy or sprite with the word "airy.” What do you think was his purpose in doing this? 2. How is the impression of lightness sustained through the poem? 3. When is the name of the flower first mentioned in the poem? 4. What reason do you think the poet had for not telling the name in the first line? 5. Who told the poet this story? 6. How well must you know flowers before they will talk to you? 7. How can you learn to know them? 8. What poems have you read in which the poet talks to a bird or a flower? 9. Why does the poet think of the fairies as fleeing at cockcrow? 10. Class reading: You will enjoy reading aloud in class “The Flowerphone,” by Abbie Farwell Brown (in Melody of Earth). 11. Find in the Glossary the meaning of: aromatic; fay; Queen Titania; el in. PINE-TREES AND THE SKY: EVENING
I'd watched the sorrow of the evening sky,
And in them all was only the oid cry,
Then from the sad west turning wearily,
I saw the pines against the white north sky, 15 Very beautiful, and still, and bending over
Their sharp black heads against a quiet sky.
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
Biography. Rupert Brooke (1887-1915) was born in Rugby, England. He gave up his studies at King's College to become Sub-Lieutenant in the Royal Navy and accompanied the Antwerp Expeditionary Force in October, 1914. In February, 1915, he sailed with the British Mediterranean Force. He died from sunstroke on his way to the Dardanelles on April 23 of the same year and is buried on the Greek island of Skyrcs. His poems appear under the titles, 1914 and Other Poems and Collected Poems.
Discussion. 1. What cause did the poet think the evening sky would have for sorrowing? 2. Why did the setting sun bring the thought that "the best is over"? 3. How did the cry of the sea-gull affect the poet? 4. The changing western sky made the poet think how life had changed for him; the fading color made him think of joys that were gone forever; what did he see when he turned to the north? Can you tell why he was comforted by the sight? 5. Can you tell why he felt brave and strong when he looked at the white sky and the quiet trees? 6. Compare this poem with Bryant's "To a Waterfowl”; what likenesses do you find? 7. Class reading: "The Soldier,” Rupert Brooke; “The Island of Skyros” (a poem in memory of Brooke), John Masefield.
FLOWER IN THE CRANNIED WALL
ALFRED, LORD TENNYSON
Flower in the crannied wall,
NOTES AND QUESTIONS
For Biography, see page 8.
Discussion. 1. What do you find in the first three lines that tells you that the flower was small and not firmly rooted? 2. Why does the poet make the insignificance of the flower so plain to us? 3. To whom is the poet talking? 4. What does his use of the words, “little flower," tell you of Tennyson's feeling for flowers? 5. What other poems have you read that show how birds and flowers speak to those who have learned to listen? 6. If Tennyson had known all he wanted to know about that little flower, he would have known what no mortal knows of the great mysteries of life and death. The little flower could not explain these to him. What do you think it did say to him? 7. Compare these lines from one of Wordsworth's great poems with the poem you are studying:
“To me the meanest flower that blows can give