Meaning & Nature

    First, 2 different sets of windows to look through . . .

Mary Rowlandson,
The Narrative of the Captivity and the Restoration of Mrs. Mary Rowlandson (1682)

"It is a solemn sight to see so many Christians lying in their blood, some here, and some there, like a company of sheep torn by wolves, all of them stripped naked by a company of hell-hounds . . ."



Mark Twain,
Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885)

". . . and I do believe [Jim] cared just as much for his people as white folks does for their'n. It don't seem natural, but I reckon it's so."



Toni Morrison,
"Recitatif" (1995)
". . . you acted sort of like you didn't want to know me then."
  "Oh, Twyla, you know how it was in those days: black—white. You know how everything was."
  But I didn't know. I thought it was just the opposite.

    Then, three birds and a leaf to look at . . .
"To a Waterfowl"
by William Cullen Bryant       1815

    Whither, 'midst falling dew,
While glow the heavens with the last steps of day,
Far, through their rosy depths, dost thou pursue
      Thy solitary way?

    Vainly the fowler's eye
Might mark thy distant flight to do thee wrong,
As, darkly painted on the crimson sky,
      Thy figure floats along.

    Seek'st thou the plashy brink
Of weedy lake, or marge of river wide,
Or where the rocking billows rise and sink
      On the chafèd ocean side?

    There is a Power whose care
Teaches thy way along that pathless coast,—
The desert and illimitable air,—
      Lone wandering, but not lost.

    All day thy wings have fann'd
At that far height, the cold thin atmosphere:
Yet stoop not, weary, to the welcome land,
      Though the dark night is near.

    And soon that toil shall end,
Soon shalt thou find a summer home, and rest,
And scream among thy fellows; reed shall bend
      Soon o'er thy sheltered nest.

    Thou'rt gone, the abyss of heaven
Hath swallowed up thy form; yet, on my heart
Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given,
      And shall not soon depart.

    He, who, from zone to zone,
Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight,
In the long way that I must tread alone,
      Will lead my steps aright.



Emily Dickinson       1862

To hear an Oriole sing
May be a common thing -
Or only a divine.

It is not of the Bird
Who sings the same, unheard,
As unto Crowd -

The Fashion of the Ear
Attireth that it hear
In Dun, or fair -

So whether it be Rune,
Or whether it be none
Is of within.

The "Tune is in the Tree -"
The Skeptic - showeth me -
"No Sir! In Thee!"



"The Oven Bird"
By Robert Frost       1920

There is a singer everyone has heard,
Loud, a mid-summer and a mid-wood bird,
Who makes the solid tree trunks sound again.
He says that leaves are old and that for flowers
Mid-summer is to spring as one to ten.
He says the early petal-fall is past
When pear and cherry bloom went down in showers
On sunny days a moment overcast;
And comes that other fall we name the fall.
He says the highway dust is over all.
The bird would cease and be as other birds
But that he knows in singing not to sing.
The question that he frames in all but words
Is what to make of a diminished thing.




e. e. cummings       1958
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