July 23, 2010

Birds of Passage

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--Description: 19th C, Longfellow H.W., Nature, Seasons-- 
 
Black shadows fall
From the lindens tall,
That lift aloft their massive wall
Against the southern sky;

And from the realms
Of the shadowy elms
A tide-like darkness overwhelm
The fields that round us lie.

But the night is fair,
And everywhere
A warm, soft vapor fills the air,
And distant sounds seem near;

And above, in the light
Of the star-lit night,
Swift birds of passage wing their flight
Through the dewy atmosphere.

I hear the beat
Of their pinions fleet,
As from the land of snow and sleet
They seek a southern lea.

I hear the cry
Of their voices high
Falling dreamily through the sky,
But their forms I cannot see.

Oh, say not so!
Those sounds that flow
In murmurs of delight and woe
Come not from wings of birds.

They are the throngs
Of the poet's songs,
Murmurs of pleasures, and pains, and wrongs,
The sound of winged words.

This is the cry
Of souls, that high
On toiling, beating pinions, fly,
Seeking a warmer clime.

From their distant flight
Through realms of light
It falls into our world of night,
With the murmuring sound of rhyme.



Henry W. Longfellow

--Did You Know: (February 27, 1807 – March 24, 1882) Longfellow was an American educator and poet whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and "Evangeline". He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri's The Divine Comedy and was one of the five Fireside Poets. Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor there and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882. Longfellow predominantly wrote lyric poems which are known for their musicality and which often presented stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses. Read more at: Henry W. Longfellow

--Word of the Day: canard (kuh-NAHRD), noun
Meaning: 1. A deliberately misleading story; hoax. 2. An airplane with small forward wings mounted in front of the main wings; also such a wing.
Example:
"Lyndon Johnson's half-truths about the Gulf of Tonkin, supported by subservient media, embroiled the United States in a nasty war that took the lives of millions of souls. Ultimately, the Vietnam War's distortions and canards prevented him from running for a second term."
(Mansour El-Kikhia; Realists Conquer Politics With Lies; San Antonio
Express-News; Nov 28, 2003.)

--Quote of the Day: It is well to think well. It is divine to act well.
- Horace Mann

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