Imágenes de páginas

may then be considered as a warning of the departure of the day.

Wind.- To wind, means properly to move round. When a road is not straight, but turns in different directions without sharp corners (angles), it is said to wind, though it does not forin a circle, or move quite round. It is here said the herd wind; we should say in common. conversation, the herd winds, because the herd means one herd; but as there are many cattle in a herd, it is allowable to use the verb wind in the plural number; and the plural raises the idea of a scattered' herd—the singular of a drove. An observing pupil may ask why winds might not as well have been used in the singular number. The s is omitted because it would not sound agreeably with the s at tlie beginning of the next word, slowly.

Lea.--Ground that is not ploughed, but that is covered with grass, the saine as lay. The next stanza or division of the poem continues to describe evening, the landscape begins to disappear for want of light. The air is still or quiet, nothing but the hum of the beetle and the tinkling of the sheep bells are heard.


[ocr errors]

"Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds ;

The landscape or prospect is said to “glimmer;" that is, to shine faintly.

Solemn.-The word solemn means awful : it originally meant what happened but once a year.

Observe, that it is a solemn stillness which holds the air, and not the air which holds a solemn stillness.

Droning beetle wheels his flight ; — that is, flies in circles. Droning," a noise like that made by a large bee called a drone.

Drowsy tinklings. - One sheep in a flock has usually a bell tied round his neck, by the sound of which the rest of the flock is called, and kept together. When the sheep that carry the bell lie down to rest, they move their necks slowly and seldom, which gives to the bells a faint and interrupted sound.

Fold-or pen-a little enclosure made of moveable frames of wood, called hurdles, in which farmers sometimes enclose their flocks of sheep at night. The word fold is used here to express the flocks contained in the fold, and

not the fold itself; fór, though the drowsy tinklings may be said to lull or put to sleep the flocks, it would be nonsense in prose or common conversation to talk of lul ing a sheep-pen or fold. The word fold is sometimes used as a verb-to." fold his flock” means to put his flock up in a fold.


“Save that from yonder ivy-mantled tower,
The moping owl does to the moon complain
Of such as wand'ring near her secret bower,
Molest her ancient solitary reign.



Ivy-mantled tower. - Mantle is a robe or covering. The poet describes the tower as having a covering of ivy, to show that it was an old tower, because owls frequent ruined towers. Besides, as poetry is a kind of painting in words, describing the tower as covered with ivy, makes it more like a picture than it would have been without this additional circumstance.

My young readers will observe, that in these stanzas the adjectives, parting, lowing, weary, glimmering, solemn, droning, distant, and ivy-mantled, would not have been used in prose. Adjectives used in this manner, to add to, or to limit, the descriptions contained in the substantives to which they are annexed,

are called epithets; and upon the propriety of these epithets much of the beauty of poetry depends. In prose, but few epithets are used; and in poetry they should not be crowded too closely, and they should never appear super, fluous. When two epithets are joined together as, ivy-mantled, they are called compound epithets.

Moping. - To mope, is' to seem stupified by melancholy: an owl has this appearance, especially in the day time, because it nearly shuts it's eyes which cannot bear much light; but at night the owl opens it's eyes, which are formed so as to see in twilight (perhaps twainlight, that light which is between day and night.) An owl is very far from being a stupid bird. The ancients considered it as the favourite of Minerva ; but whether this bird were her favourite as goddess of wisdom, or of war, is doubtful; it is most probable that she patronised the owl in her warlike character. For Minerva is opposed to Mars, as emplaying art against mere force. To surprise an enemy by night was accounted highly brave and meritorious ; and as the owl generally catches it's prey by night, it might therefore he consicred as an emblem of military stratagein.

Doctor Darwin says, in his Essay on Female Education p. 99, “ The owl bends both his eyes upon the object which he observes; and by thus perpetually turning his head to the thing he inspects, appears to have greater attention to it, and has thence acquired the name of the bird of wisdom. All other birds, I believe, look at objects with one eye only ; but it is with the eye nearest the object which they attend to."

Does to the moon complain. It is here meant, that the complaining notes of the owl seem to be addressed to the moon, as there is no other striking general object, to which the owl might be supposed to address herself. Probably the notes of the owl are uitered to call her companions.

Dogs are also supposed to howl at the


". Nor watchful dogs bark at the silent moon,” is a line of Dryden's.

. I'd rather be a dog, and bay the moon,
" Than such a Roman."


Molest her ancient solitary reign ; disturb her from her accustomed seat. The owl, by residing long in an old ruin, seems to acquire

« AnteriorContinuar »