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The World Beautiful
Study Nature, not books," said that inspired teacher, Louis Agassiz.
The poets do not bring you the fruit of conscious study, perhaps, for they do not analyze or dissect Dame Nature's methods; with them genius begets a higher instinct, and it is by a sort of divination that they interpret for us the power and grandeur, romance and witchery, beauty and mystery of "God's great out-of-doors." The born poet, like the born naturalist, seems to have additional senses. Emerson says of his friend Thoreau that he saw as with microscope and heard as with eartrumpet, while his memory was a photographic register of all he saw and heard; and Thoreau the naturalist might have said the same of Emerson the poet.
Glance at the succession of beautiful images in Shelley's "Cloud" or Aldrich's "Before the Rain"; lend your ear to the tinkle of Tennyson's "Brook." Contrast them with the bracing lines of the "Northeast Wind," the rough metre of "Highland Cattle," the chill calm of "Snow Bound," the grand style of Milton's "Morning," the noble simplicity of Addison's "Hymn," and note how the great poet bends his language to the mood of Nature, grim or sunny, stormy or kind, strong or tender. There is a stanza in Pope's "Essay on Criticism" which conveys the idea perfectly:
"Soft is the strain when zephyr gently blows,
And the smooth stream in smoother numbers flows;
Flies o'er th' unbending corn, and skims along the main.”
SWEET is the breath of Morn, her rising sweet With charm of earliest birds; pleasant the Sun When first on this delightful land he spreads His orient beams, on herb, tree, fruit, and flower, Glistening with dew; fragrant the fertile Earth After soft showers; and sweet the coming on Of grateful Evening mild; then silent Night With this her solemn bird, and this fair Moon, And these the gems of Heaven, her starry train. JOHN MILTON.
It is the harvest moon! On gilded vanes
The World Beautiful
And harvest-fields, its mystic splendor rests!
With the last sheaves return the laboring wains!
I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under;
I sift the snow on the mountains below,
While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,