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15 minutes | Jan 19, 2022
Episosde 79: The Wreck of the Hesperus
THE WRECK OF THE HESPERUSby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW It was the schooner Hesperus, That sailed the wintry sea; And the skipper had taken his little daughter, To bear him company. Blue were her eyes as the fairy-flax, Her cheeks like the dawn of day, And her bosom white as the hawthorn buds, That ope in the month of May. The skipper he stood beside the helm, His pipe was in his mouth, And he watched how the veering flaw did blow The smoke now West, now South. Then up and spake an old Sailor, Had sailed to the Spanish Main, "I pray thee, put into yonder port, For I fear a hurricane. "Last night, the moon had a golden ring, And to-night no moon we see!" The skipper, he blew a whiff from his pipe, And a scornful laugh laughed he. Colder and louder blew the wind, A gale from the Northeast. The snow fell hissing in the brine, And the billows frothed like yeast. Down came the storm, and smote amain The vessel in its strength; She shuddered and paused, like a frighted steed, Then leaped her cable's length. "Come hither! come hither! my little daughter, And do not tremble so; For I can weather the roughest gale That ever wind did blow." He wrapped her warm in his seaman's coat Against the stinging blast; He cut a rope from a broken spar, And bound her to the mast. "O father! I hear the church-bells ring, O say, what may it be?" "'T is a fog-bell on a rock-bound coast!"-- And he steered for the open sea. "O father! I hear the sound of guns, O say, what may it be?" "Some ship in distress, that cannot live In such an angry sea!" "O father! I see a gleaming light, O say, what may it be?" But the father answered never a word, A frozen corpse was he. Lashed to the helm, all stiff and stark, With his face turned to the skies, The lantern gleamed through the gleaming snow On his fixed and glassy eyes. Then the maiden clasped her hands and prayed That saved she might be; And she thought of Christ, who stilled the wave, On the Lake of Galilee. And fast through the midnight dark and drear, Through the whistling sleet and snow, Like a sheeted ghost, the vessel swept Tow'rds the reef of Norman's Woe. And ever the fitful gusts between A sound came from the land; It was the sound of the trampling surf On the rocks and the hard sea-sand. The breakers were right beneath her bows, She drifted a dreary wreck, And a whooping billow swept the crew Like icicles from her deck. She struck where the white and fleecy waves Looked soft as carded wool, But the cruel rocks, they gored her side Like the horns of an angry bull. Her rattling shrouds, all sheathed in ice, With the masts went by the board; Like a vessel of glass, she stove and sank, Ho! ho! the breakers roared! At daybreak, on the bleak sea-beach, A fisherman stood aghast, To see the form of a maiden fair, Lashed close to a drifting mast. The salt sea was frozen on her breast, The salt tears in her eyes; And he saw her hair, like the brown sea-weed, On the billows fall and rise. Such was the wreck of the Hesperus, In the midnight and the snow! Christ save us all from a death like this, On the reef of Norman's Woe!
9 minutes | Jan 12, 2022
Episode 78: Snow-Flakes
Snow-Flakesby Henry Wadsworth LongfellowOut of the bosom of the Air, Out of the cloud-folds of her garments shaken, Over the woodlands brown and bare, Over the harvest-fields forsaken, Silent, and soft, and slow Descends the snow. Even as our cloudy fancies take Suddenly shape in some divine expression, Even as the troubled heart doth make In the white countenance confession, The troubled sky reveals The grief it feels. This is the poem of the air, Slowly in silent syllables recorded; This is the secret of despair, Long in its cloudy bosom hoarded, Now whispered and revealed To wood and field.
8 minutes | Jan 5, 2022
Episode 77: The First Snowfall
The First Snowfallby James Russell Lowell The snow had begun in the gloaming, And busily all the night Had been heaping field and highway With a silence deep and white. Every pine and fir and hemlock Wore ermine too dear for an earl, And the poorest twig on the elm-tree Was ridged inch deep with pearl. From sheds new-roofed with Carrara Came Chanticleer's muffled crow, The stiff rails softened to swan's-down, And still fluttered down the snow. I stood and watched by the window The noiseless work of the sky, And the sudden flurries of snowbirds, Like brown leaves whirling by. I thought of a mound in sweet Auburn Where a little headstone stood; How the flakes were folding it gently, As did robins the babes in the wood. Up spoke our own little Mabel, Saying, "Father, who makes it snow?" And I told of the good All-Father Who cares for us here below. Again I looked at the snow-fall, And thought of the leaden sky That arched o'er our first great sorrow, When that mound was heaped so high. I remembered the gradual patience That fell from that cloud like snow, Flake by flake, healing and hiding The scar that renewed our woe. And again to the child I whispered, "The snow that husheth all, Darling, the merciful Father Alone can make it fall!" Then, with eyes that saw not, I kissed her: And she, kissing back, could not know That my kiss was given to her sister, Folded close under deepening snow.
8 minutes | Dec 29, 2021
Episode 76: Sweaters That Go on over Your Head
Sweaters That Go on over Your Headby Keith GundersonWhen I was four I got a sweater for Christmas that was blue and itchy and one of those sweaters that go over your head and I’d never liked sweaters like that because before your head gets punched through the headhole you’re in a dark place for a little too long so you start to think it’ll never be light again and this new sweater which was my Aunt Molly’s fault was the worst one of all because it had an extra-small headhole like it was made for a grapefruit sized head so after my dad stuffed my arms through the sleeves and lifted the dark inside part over my head and everythng went black he began to smash my head through the headhole but I could tell by the feeling on the top of my head that it’d never make it so I started backing out but even my own Mom tried to block my escape and my sister Janice yelled about how she could help hold me but they wouldn’t let her and then someone jerked the sweater back hard over my head until my head went through the headhole to just above my eyes where it stuck so I jumped and twisted away and got away from everyone’s grabbings and ran blind and screaming around the living room and tripped over my sister’s new doll and fell down yelling and crying and my sister was shouting about her dumb doll that tripped me so my Dad and Mom finally joined my side and attacked the sweater and freed me from it and told my Aunt Molly who’d been waiting to see it on me that I’d try it on later and it sure would look cute but I wouldn’t even put a dangerous sweater like that in my present-pile and stuck it over by Janice’s doll and my Aunt said to my Dad whose other name was Luverne LUVERNE YOU SHOULD HAVE JUST YANKED IT OVER HIS HEAD AND HE’D GOTTN USED TO IT and I heard her say that and didn’t want her to baby sit with me anymore and during the next few years there came to be a special drawer in my dresser set aside for those sweatrs I got for Christmas and birthdays that were supposed to go on over my head but never did and I wondered how they liked being stuffed in a dark place with no way out.
10 minutes | Dec 22, 2021
Episode 75: Advent
Adventby Mary Jo SalterWind whistling, as it does in winter, and I think nothing of it until it snaps a shutter offher bedroom window, spins it over the roof and down to crash on the deck in back, like something out of Oz.We look up, stunned—then glad to be safe and have a story, characters in a fable we only half-believe. Look, in my surpriseI somehow split a wall, the last one in the house we’re making of gingerbread. We’ll have to improvise: prop the two halves forward like an open double door and with a tube of icing cement them to the floor.Five days until Christmas,and the house cannot be closed. When she peers into the cold interior we’ve exposed, she half-expects to find three magi in the manger, a mother and her child. She half-expects to read on tablets of gingerbread a line or two of Scripture, as she has every morning inside a dated shutter on her Advent calendar. She takes it from the mantel and coaxes one fingertip under the perforation, as if her future hingeson not tearing off the flap under which a thumbnail picture by Raphael or Giorgione, Hans Memling or David of apses, niches, archways, cradles a smaller scene of a mother and her child, of the lidded jewel-box of Mary’s downcast eyes. Flee into Egypt, cries the angel of the Lord to Joseph in a dream,for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him. While she works to tile the roof with shingled peppermints, I wash my sugared hands and step out to the deck to lug the shutter in, a page torn from a book still blank for the two of us, a mother and her child.
9 minutes | Dec 15, 2021
Episode 74: December
DECEMBERby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Riding upon the Goat, with snow-white hair, I come, the last of all. This crown of mine Is of the holly; in my hand I bear The thyrsus, tipped with fragrant cones of pine. I celebrate the birth of the Divine, And the return of the Saturnian reign;-- My songs are carols sung at every shrine. Proclaiming "Peace on earth, good will to men."
12 minutes | Dec 8, 2021
Episode 73: Tegner’s Drapa
Tegnér's Drapaby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW I heard a voice, that cried, "Balder the Beautiful Is dead, is dead!" And through the misty air Passed like the mournful cry Of sunward sailing cranes. I saw the pallid corpse Of the dead sun Borne through the Northern sky. Blasts from Niffelheim Lifted the sheeted mists Around him as he passed. And the voice forever cried, "Balder the Beautiful Is dead, is dead!" And died away Through the dreary night, In accents of despair. Balder the Beautiful, God of the summer sun, Fairest of all the Gods! Light from his forehead beamed, Runes were upon his tongue, As on the warrior's sword. All things in earth and air Bound were by magic spell Never to do him harm; Even the plants and stones; All save the mistletoe, The sacred mistletoe! Hoeder, the blind old God, Whose feet are shod with silence, Pierced through that gentle breast With his sharp spear, by fraud Made of the mistletoe, The accursed mistletoe! They laid him in his ship, With horse and harness, As on a funeral pyre. Odin placed A ring upon his finger, And whispered in his ear. They launched the burning ship! It floated far away Over the misty sea, Till like the sun it seemed, Sinking beneath the waves. Balder returned no more! So perish the old Gods! But out of the sea of Time Rises a new land of song, Fairer than the old. Over its meadows green Walk the young bards and sing. Build it again, O ye bards, Fairer than before! Ye fathers of the new race, Feed upon morning dew, Sing the new Song of Love! The law of force is dead! The law of love prevails! Thor, the thunderer, Shall rule the earth no more, No more, with threats, Challenge the meek Christ. Sing no more, O ye bards of the North, Of Vikings and of Jarls! Of the days of Eld Preserve the freedom only, Not the deeds of blood!
7 minutes | Dec 1, 2021
Episode 72: The Brook and the Wave
The Brook and the Waveby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow The brooklet came from the mountain, As sang the bard of old, Running with feet of silver Over the sands of gold!Far away in the briny ocean There rolled a turbulent wave, Now singing along the sea-beach, Now howling along the cave.And the brooklet has found the billow, Though they flowed so far apart, And has filled with freshness and sweetness That turbulent, bitter heart.
11 minutes | Nov 24, 2021
Episode 71: Thanksgiving Day
The New-England Boy's Song about Thanksgiving Dayby Lydia Maria Child Over the river, and through the wood, To grandfather's house we go; The horse knows the way, To carry the sleigh, Through the white and drifted snow.Over the river, and through the wood, To grandfather's house away! We would not stop For doll or top, For 't is Thanksgiving day. Over the river, and through the wood, Oh, how the wind does blow! It stings the toes, And bites the nose, As over the ground we go. Over the river, and through the wood, With a clear blue winter sky, The dogs do bark, And children hark, As we go jingling by. Over the river, and through the wood, To have a first-rate play — Hear the bells ring Ting a ling ding, Hurra for Thanksgiving day! Over the river, and through the wood — No matter for winds that blow; Or if we get The sleigh upset, Into a bank of snow.Over the river, and through the wood, To see little John and Ann; We will kiss them all, And play snow-ball, And stay as long as we can. Over the river, and through the wood, Trot fast, my dapple grey! Spring over the ground, Like a hunting hound, For 't is Thanksgiving day!Over the river, and through the wood, And straight through the barn-yard gate; We seem to go Extremely slow, It is so hard to wait.Over the river, and through the wood, Old Jowler hears our bells; He shakes his pow, With a loud bow wow, And thus the news he tells.Over the river, and through the wood — When grandmother sees us come, She will say, Oh dear, The children are here, Bring a pie for every one.Over the river, and through the wood — Now grandmother's cap I spy! Hurra for the fun! Is the pudding done? Hurra for the pumpkin pie!
14 minutes | Nov 17, 2021
Episode 70: from The Song of Hiawatha
from Hiawatha’s LamentationThe Song of Hiawathaby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Then the Medicine-men, the Medas, The magicians, the Wabenos, And the Jossakeeds, the Prophets, Came to visit Hiawatha; Built a Sacred Lodge beside him, To appease him, to console him, Walked in silent, grave procession, Bearing each a pouch of healing, Skin of beaver, lynx, or otter, Filled with magic roots and simples, Filled with very potent medicines. When he heard their steps approaching, Hiawatha ceased lamenting, Called no more on Chibiabos; Naught he questioned, naught he answered, But his mournful head uncovered, From his face the mourning colors Washed he slowly and in silence, Slowly and in silence followed Onward to the Sacred Wigwam. There a magic drink they gave him, Made of Nahma-wusk, the spearmint, And Wabeno-wusk, the yarrow, Roots of power, and herbs of healing; Beat their drums, and shook their rattles; Chanted singly and in chorus, Mystic songs like these, they chanted. "I myself, myself! behold me! 'T is the great Gray Eagle talking; Come, ye white crows, come and hear him! The loud-speaking thunder helps me; All the unseen spirits help me; I can hear their voices calling, All around the sky I hear them! I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus. "Friends of mine are all the serpents! Hear me shake my skin of hen-hawk! Mahng, the white loon, I can kill him; I can shoot your heart and kill it! I can blow you strong, my brother, I can heal you, Hiawatha!" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus. "I myself, myself! the prophet! When I speak the wigwam trembles, Shakes the Sacred Lodge with terror, Hands unseen begin to shake it! When I walk, the sky I tread on Bends and makes a noise beneath me! I can blow you strong, my brother! Rise and speak, O Hiawatha!" "Hi-au-ha!" replied the chorus, "Way-ha-way!" the mystic chorus. Then they shook their medicine-pouches O'er the head of Hiawatha, Danced their medicine-dance around him; And upstarting wild and haggard, Like a man from dreams awakened, He was healed of all his madness. As the clouds are swept from heaven, Straightway from his brain departed All his moody melancholy; As the ice is swept from rivers, Straightway from his heart departed All his sorrow and affliction.
13 minutes | Nov 10, 2021
Episode 69: from Henry V
Enter Gloucester, Bedford, Exeter, Erpingham with all his host, Salisbury, and Westmoreland. GLOUCESTER Where is the King? BEDFORD The King himself is rode to view their battle. WESTMORELAND Of fighting men they have full threescore thousand. EXETER There’s five to one. Besides, they all are fresh. SALISBURY God’s arm strike with us! ’Tis a fearful odds. God be wi’ you, princes all. I’ll to my charge. If we no more meet till we meet in heaven, Then joyfully, my noble Lord of Bedford, My dear Lord Gloucester, and my good Lord Exeter, And my kind kinsman, warriors all, adieu. BEDFORD Farewell, good Salisbury, and good luck go with thee. And yet I do thee wrong to mind thee of it, For thou art framed of the firm truth of valor. EXETER Farewell, kind lord. Fight valiantly today. Salisbury exits. BEDFORD He is as full of valor as of kindness, Princely in both. Enter the King of England. WESTMORELAND O, that we now had here But one ten thousand of those men in England That do no work today. KING HENRY What’s he that wishes so? My cousin Westmoreland? No, my fair cousin. If we are marked to die, we are enough To do our country loss; and if to live, The fewer men, the greater share of honor. God’s will, I pray thee wish not one man more. By Jove, I am not covetous for gold, Nor care I who doth feed upon my cost; It yearns me not if men my garments wear; Such outward things dwell not in my desires. But if it be a sin to covet honor, I am the most offending soul alive. No, ’faith, my coz, wish not a man from England. God’s peace, I would not lose so great an honor As one man more, methinks, would share from me, For the best hope I have. O, do not wish one more! Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host, That he which hath no stomach to this fight, Let him depart. His passport shall be made, And crowns for convoy put into his purse. We would not die in that man’s company That fears his fellowship to die with us. This day is called the feast of Crispian. He that outlives this day and comes safe home Will stand o’ tiptoe when this day is named And rouse him at the name of Crispian. He that shall see this day, and live old age, Will yearly on the vigil feast his neighbors And say “Tomorrow is Saint Crispian.” Then will he strip his sleeve and show his scars. Old men forget; yet all shall be forgot, But he’ll remember with advantages What feats he did that day. Then shall our names, Familiar in his mouth as household words, Harry the King, Bedford and Exeter, Warwick and Talbot, Salisbury and Gloucester, Be in their flowing cups freshly remembered. This story shall the good man teach his son, And Crispin Crispian shall ne’er go by, From this day to the ending of the world, But we in it shall be rememberèd— We few, we happy few, we band of brothers; For he today that sheds his blood with me Shall be my brother; be he ne’er so vile, This day shall gentle his condition; And gentlemen in England now abed Shall think themselves accursed they were not here, And hold their manhoods cheap whiles any speaks That fought with us upon Saint Crispin’s day.
9 minutes | Nov 3, 2021
Episode 68: The Bridge
THE BRIDGEby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW I stood on the bridge at midnight, As the clocks were striking the hour, And the moon rose o'er the city, Behind the dark church-tower. I saw her bright reflection In the waters under me, Like a golden goblet falling And sinking into the sea. And far in the hazy distance Of that lovely night in June, The blaze of the flaming furnace Gleamed redder than the moon. Among the long, black rafters The wavering shadows lay, And the current that came from the ocean Seemed to lift and bear them away; As, sweeping and eddying through them, Rose the belated tide, And, streaming into the moonlight, The seaweed floated wide. And like those waters rushing Among the wooden piers, A flood of thoughts came o'er me That filled my eyes with tears. How often, oh, how often, In the days that had gone by, I had stood on that bridge at midnight And gazed on that wave and sky! How often, oh, how often, I had wished that the ebbing tide Would bear me away on its bosom O'er the ocean wild and wide! For my heart was hot and restless, And my life was full of care, And the burden laid upon me Seemed greater than I could bear. But now it has fallen from me, It is buried in the sea; And only the sorrow of others Throws its shadow over me. Yet whenever I cross the river On its bridge with wooden piers, Like the odor of brine from the ocean Comes the thought of other years. And I think how many thousands Of care-encumbered men, Each bearing his burden of sorrow, Have crossed the bridge since then. I see the long procession Still passing to and fro, The young heart hot and restless, And the old subdued and slow! And forever and forever, As long as the river flows, As long as the heart has passions, As long as life has woes; The moon and its broken reflection And its shadows shall appear, As the symbol of love in heaven, And its wavering image here.
8 minutes | Oct 27, 2021
Episode 67: The Spectre Pig
The Spectre PigBy Oliver Wendell Holmes It was the stalwart butcher man, That knit his swarthy brow, And said the gentle Pig must die, And sealed it with a vow. And oh! it was the gentle Pig Lay stretched upon the ground, And ah! it was the cruel knife His little heart that found. They took him then, those wicked men, They trailed him all along: They put a stick between his lips, And through his heels a thong; And round and round an oaken beam A hempen cord they flung, And, like a mighty pendulum, All solemnly he swung. Now say thy prayers, thou sinful man, And think what thou hast done, And read thy catechism well, Thou bloody-minded one; For if his sprite should walk by night, It better were for thee, That thou wert mouldering in the ground, Or bleaching in the sea. It was the savage butcher then, That made a mock of sin, And swore a very wicked oath, He did not care a pin. It was the butcher's youngest son,-- His voice was broke with sighs, And with his pocket-handkerchief He wiped his little eyes; All young and ignorant was he, But innocent and mild, And, in his soft simplicity, Out spoke the tender child:-- "Oh, father, father, list to me The Pig is deadly sick, And men have hung him by his heels, And fed him with a stick." It was the bloody butcher then, That laughed as he would die, Yet did he soothe the sorrowing child, And bid him not to cry;-- "Oh, Nathan, Nathan, what's a Pig, That thou shouldst weep and wail? Come, bear thee like a butcher's child, And thou shalt have his tail!" It was the butcher's daughter then, So slender and so fair, That sobbed as if her heart would break, And tore her yellow hair; And thus she spoke in thrilling tone,-- Fast fell the tear-drops big:-- "Ah! woe is me! Alas! Alas! The Pig! The Pig! The Pig!" Then did her wicked father's lips Make merry with her woe, And call her many a naughty name, Because she whimpered so. Ye need not weep, ye gentle ones, In vain your tears are shed, Ye cannot wash his crimson hand, Ye cannot soothe the dead. The bright sun folded on his breast His robes of rosy flame, And softly over all the west The shades of evening came. He slept, and troops of murdered Pigs Were busy with his dreams; Loud rang their wild, unearthly shrieks, Wide yawned their mortal seams. The clock struck twelve; the Dead hath heard; He opened both his eyes, And suddenly he shook his tail To lash the feeding flies. One quiver of the hempen cord,-- One struggle and one bound,-- With stiffened limb and leaden eye, The Pig was on the ground! And straight towards the sleeper's house His fearful way he wended; And hooting owl and hovering bat On midnight wing attended. Back flew the bolt, up rose the latch, And open swung the door, And little mincing feet were heard Pat, pat along the floor. Two hoofs upon the sanded floor, And two upon the bed; And they are breathing side by side, The living and the dead! "Now wake, now wake, thou butcher man! What makes thy cheek so pale? Take hold! take hold! thou dost not fear To clasp a spectre's tail?" Untwisted every winding coil; The shuddering wretch took hold, All like an icicle it seemed, So tapering and so cold. "Thou com'st with me, thou butcher man!"-- He strives to loose his grasp, But, faster than the clinging vine, Those twining spirals clasp: And open, open swung the door, And, fleeter than the wind, The shadowy spectre swept before, The butcher trailed behind. Fast fled the darkness of the night, And morn rose faint and dim; They called full loud, they knocked full long, They did not waken him. Straight, straight towards that oaken beam, A trampled pathway ran A ghastly shape was swinging there,-- It was the butcher man.
10 minutes | Oct 20, 2021
Episode 66: When the Frost is on the Punkin’
When the Frost is on the Punkin’By JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock,And you hear the kyouck and gobble of the struttin’ turkey-cock,And the clackin’ of the guineys, and the cluckin’ of the hens,And the rooster’s hallylooyer as he tiptoes on the fence;O, it’s then’s the times a feller is a-feelin’ at his best,With the risin’ sun to greet him from a night of peaceful rest,As he leaves the house, bareheaded, and goes out to feed the stock,When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.They’s something kindo’ harty-like about the atmusfereWhen the heat of summer’s over and the coolin’ fall is here—Of course we miss the flowers, and the blossums on the trees,And the mumble of the hummin’-birds and buzzin’ of the bees;But the air’s so appetizin’; and the landscape through the hazeOf a crisp and sunny morning of the airly autumn daysIs a pictur’ that no painter has the colorin’ to mock—When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock.The husky, rusty russel of the tossels of the corn,And the raspin’ of the tangled leaves, as golden as the morn;The stubble in the furries—kindo’ lonesome-like, but stillA-preachin’ sermuns to us of the barns they growed to fill;The strawstack in the medder, and the reaper in the shed;The hosses in theyr stalls below—the clover over-head!—O, it sets my hart a-clickin’ like the tickin’ of a clock,When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!Then your apples all is gethered, and the ones a feller keepsIs poured around the celler-floor in red and yeller heaps;And your cider-makin’ ’s over, and your wimmern-folks is throughWith their mince and apple-butter, and theyr souse and saussage, too! ...I don’t know how to tell it—but ef sich a thing could beAs the Angels wantin’ boardin’, and they’d call around on me—I’d want to ’commodate ’em—all the whole-indurin’ flock—When the frost is on the punkin and the fodder’s in the shock!
18 minutes | Oct 13, 2021
Episode 65: The March of Miles Standish
from “The March of Miles Standish”from The Courtship of Miles Standishby Henry Wadsworth Longfellow After a three days' march he came to an Indian encampmentPitched on the edge of a meadow, between the sea and the forest;Women at work by the tents, and the warriors, horrid with war-paint,Seated about a fire, and smoking and talking together;Who, when they saw from afar the sudden approach of the white men,Saw the flash of the sun on breastplate and sabre and musket,Straightway leaped to their feet, and two, from among them advancing,Came to parley with Standish, and offer him furs as a present;Friendship was in their looks, but in their hearts there was hatred.Braves of the tribe were these, and brothers gigantic in stature,Huge as Goliath of Gath, or the terrible Og, king of Bashan;One was Pecksuot named, and the other was called Wattawamat.Round their necks were suspended their knives in scabbards of wampum,Two-edged, trenchant knives, with points as sharp as a needle.Other arms had they none, for they were cunning and crafty."Welcome, English!" they said,--these words they had learned from the tradersTouching at times on the coast, to barter and chaffer for peltries.Then in their native tongue they began to parley with Standish,Through his guide and interpreter Hobomok, friend of the white man,Begging for blankets and knives, but mostly for muskets and powder,Kept by the white man, they said, concealed, with the plague, in his cellars,Ready to be let loose, and destroy his brother the red man!But when Standish refused, and said he would give them the Bible, Suddenly changing their tone, they began to boast and to bluster.Then Wattawamat advanced with a stride in front of the other,And, with a lofty demeanor, thus vauntingly spake to the Captain:"Now Wattawamat can see, by the fiery eyes of the Captain,Angry is he in his heart; but the heart of the brave WattawamatIs not afraid at the sight. He was not born of a woman,But on a mountain, at night, from an oak-tree riven by lightning,Forth he sprang at a bound, with all his weapons about him,Shouting, 'Who is there here to fight with the brave Wattawamat?'"Then he unsheathed his knife, and, whetting the blade on his left hand,Held it aloft and displayed a woman's face on the handle,Saying, with bitter expression and look of sinister meaning:"I have another at home, with the face of a man on the handle;By and by they shall marry; and there will be plenty of children!" Then stood Pecksuot forth, self-vaunting, insulting Miles Standish:While with his fingers he petted the knife that hung at his bosom,Drawing it half from its sheath, and plunging it back, as he muttered,"By and by it shall see; it shall eat; ah, ha! but shall speak not!This is the mighty Captain the white men have sent to destroy us!He is a little man; let him go and work with the women!" Meanwhile Standish had noted the faces and figures of IndiansPeeping and creeping about from bush to tree in the forest,Feigning to look for game, with arrows set on their bow-strings,Drawing about him still closer and closer the net of their ambush.But undaunted he stood, and dissembled and treated them smoothly;So the old chronicles say, that were writ in the days of the fathers.But when he heard their defiance, the boast, the taunt, and the insult,All the hot blood of his race, of Sir Hugh and of Thurston de Standish,Boiled and beat in his heart, and swelled in the veins of his temples.Headlong he leaped on the boaster, and, snatching his knife from its scabbard,Plunged it into his heart, and, reeling backward, the savageFell with his face to the sky, and a fiendlike fierceness upon it.Straight there arose from the forest the awful sound of the war-whoop,And, like a flurry of snow on the whistling wind of December,Swift and sudden and keen came a flight of feathery arrows,Then came a cloud of smoke, and out of the cloud came the lightning,Out of the lightning thunder; and death unseen ran before it.Frightened the savages fled for shelter in swamp and in thicket,Hotly pursued and beset; but their sachem, the brave Wattawamat,Fled not; he was dead. Unswerving and swift had a bulletPassed through his brain, and he fell with both hands clutching the greensward,Seeming in death to hold back from his foe the land of his fathers.
10 minutes | Oct 6, 2021
Episode 64: Under the October Maples
Under the October Maplesby James Russell Lowell What mean these banners spread, These paths with royal red So gaily carpeted? Comes there a prince today? Such footing were too fine For feet less argentine Than Diane’s own or thine, Queen whom my tides obey. Surely for thee are meant These hues so orient That with a sultan’s tent Each tree invites the sun; Our Earth such homage pays, So decks her dusty ways, And keeps such holidays, For one and only one. My brain shapes form and face, Throbs with the rhythmic grace And cadence of her pace To all fine instincts true; Her footsteps, as they pass, Than moonbeams over grass Fall lighter,—but, alas, More insubstantial too!
19 minutes | Sep 29, 2021
Episode 63: The Skeleton in Armor
THE SKELETON IN ARMORby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW "Speak! speak! thou fearful guest Who, with thy hollow breast Still in rude armor drest, Comest to daunt me! Wrapt not in Eastern balms, But with thy fleshless palms Stretched, as if asking alms, Why dost thou haunt me?" Then, from those cavernous eyes Pale flashes seemed to rise, As when the Northern skies Gleam in December; And, like the water's flow Under December's snow, Came a dull voice of woe From the heart's chamber. "I was a Viking old! My deeds, though manifold, No Skald in song has told, No Saga taught thee! Take heed, that in thy verse Thou dost the tale rehearse, Else dread a dead man's curse; For this I sought thee. "Far in the Northern Land, By the wild Baltic's strand, I, with my childish hand, Tamed the gerfalcon; And, with my skates fast-bound, Skimmed the half-frozen Sound, That the poor whimpering hound Trembled to walk on. "Oft to his frozen lair Tracked I the grisly bear, While from my path the hare Fled like a shadow; Oft through the forest dark Followed the were-wolf's bark, Until the soaring lark Sang from the meadow. "But when I older grew, Joining a corsair's crew, O'er the dark sea I flew With the marauders. Wild was the life we led; Many the souls that sped, Many the hearts that bled, By our stern orders. "Many a wassail-bout Wore the long Winter out; Often our midnight shout Set the cocks crowing, As we the Berserk's tale Measured in cups of ale, Draining the oaken pail, Filled to o'erflowing. "Once as I told in glee Tales of the stormy sea, Soft eyes did gaze on me, Burning yet tender; And as the white stars shine On the dark Norway pine, On that dark heart of mine Fell their soft splendor. "I wooed the blue-eyed maid, Yielding, yet half afraid, And in the forest's shade Our vows were plighted. Under its loosened vest Fluttered her little breast Like birds within their nest By the hawk frighted. "Bright in her father's hall Shields gleamed upon the wall, Loud sang the minstrels all, Chanting his glory; When of old Hildebrand I asked his daughter's hand, Mute did the minstrels stand To hear my story. "While the brown ale he quaffed, Loud then the champion laughed, And as the wind-gusts waft The sea-foam brightly, So the loud laugh of scorn, Out of those lips unshorn, From the deep drinking-horn Blew the foam lightly. "She was a Prince's child, I but a Viking wild, And though she blushed and smiled, I was discarded! Should not the dove so white Follow the sea-mew's flight, Why did they leave that night Her nest unguarded? "Scarce had I put to sea, Bearing the maid with me, Fairest of all was she Among the Norsemen! When on the white sea-strand, Waving his armed hand, Saw we old Hildebrand, With twenty horsemen. "Then launched they to the blast, Bent like a reed each mast, Yet we were gaining fast, When the wind failed us; And with a sudden flaw Came round the gusty Skaw, So that our foe we saw Laugh as he hailed us. "And as to catch the gale Round veered the flapping sail, “Death!” was the helmsman's hail, “Death without quarter!” Mid-ships with iron keel Struck we her ribs of steel Down her black hulk did reel Through the black water! "As with his wings aslant, Sails the fierce cormorant, Seeking some rocky haunt With his prey laden, So toward the open main, Beating to sea again, Through the wild hurricane, Bore I the maiden. "Three weeks we westward bore, And when the storm was o'er, Cloud-like we saw the shore Stretching to leeward; There for my lady's bower Built I the lofty tower, Which, to this very hour, Stands looking seaward. "There lived we many years; Time dried the maiden's tears She had forgot her fears, She was a mother; Death closed her mild blue eyes, Under that tower she lies; Ne'er shall the sun arise On such another! "Still grew my bosom then, Still as a stagnant fen! Hateful to me were men, The sunlight hateful! In the vast forest here, Clad in my warlike gear, Fell I upon my spear, O, death was grateful! "Thus, seamed with many scars, Bursting these prison bars, Up to its native stars My soul ascended! There from the flowing bowl Deep drinks the warrior's soul, Skoal! to the Northland! skoal!" Thus the tale ended.
8 minutes | Sep 22, 2021
Episode 62: Hymn to the Night
HYMN TO THE NIGHTby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOWI heard the trailing garments of the Night Sweep through her marble halls! I saw her sable skirts all fringed with light From the celestial walls! I felt her presence, by its spell of might, Stoop o'er me from above; The calm, majestic presence of the Night, As of the one I love. I heard the sounds of sorrow and delight, The manifold, soft chimes, That fill the haunted chambers of the Night Like some old poet's rhymes. From the cool cisterns of the midnight air My spirit drank repose; The fountain of perpetual peace flows there,-- From those deep cisterns flows. O holy Night! from thee I learn to bear What man has borne before! Thou layest thy finger on the lips of Care, And they complain no more. Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer! Descend with broad-winged flight, The welcome, the thrice-prayed for, the most fair, The best-beloved Night!
10 minutes | Sep 15, 2021
Episode 61: Chrysaor
CHRYSAORby HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW Just above yon sandy bar, As the day grows fainter and dimmer, Lonely and lovely, a single star Lights the air with a dusky glimmer Into the ocean faint and far Falls the trail of its golden splendor, And the gleam of that single star Is ever refulgent, soft, and tender. Chrysaor, rising out of the sea, Showed thus glorious and thus emulous, Leaving the arms of Callirrhoe, Forever tender, soft, and tremulous. Thus o'er the ocean faint and far Trailed the gleam of his falchion brightly; Is it a God, or is it a star That, entranced, I gaze on nightly!
22 minutes | Sep 8, 2021
Episode 60: from “The Courtship of Miles Standish”
So he entered the house: and the hum of the wheel and the singingSuddenly ceased; for Priscilla, aroused by his step on the threshold,Rose as he entered, and gave him her hand, in signal of welcome,Saying, "I knew it was you, when I heard your step in the passage;For I was thinking of you, as I sat there singing and spinning."Awkward and dumb with delight, that a thought of him had been mingledThus in the sacred psalm, that came from the heart of the maiden,Silent before her he stood, and gave her the flowers for an answer,Finding no words for his thought. He remembered that day in the winter,After the first great snow, when he broke a path from the village,Reeling and plunging along through the drifts that encumbered the doorway,Stamping the snow from his feet as he entered the house, and PriscillaLaughed at his snowy locks, and gave him a seat by the fireside,Grateful and pleased to know he had thought of her in the snow-storm.Had he but spoken then! perhaps not in vain had he spoken;Now it was all too late; the golden moment had vanished!So he stood there abashed, and gave her the flowers for an answer. Then they sat down and talked of the birds and the beautiful Spring-time,Talked of their friends at home, and the Mayflower that sailed on the morrow."I have been thinking all day," said gently the Puritan maiden,"Dreaming all night, and thinking all day, of the hedge-rows of England,--They are in blossom now, and the country is all like a garden;Thinking of lanes and fields, and the song of the lark and the linnet,Seeing the village street, and familiar faces of neighborsGoing about as of old, and stopping to gossip together,And, at the end of the street, the village church, with the ivyClimbing the old gray tower, and the quiet graves in the churchyard.Kind are the people I live with, and dear to me my religion;Still my heart is so sad, that I wish myself back in Old England.You will say it is wrong, but I cannot help it: I almostWish myself back in Old England, I feel so lonely and wretched."Thereupon answered the youth:--"Indeed I do not condemn you;Stouter hearts than a woman's have quailed in this terrible winter.Yours is tender and trusting, and needs a stronger to lean on;So I have come to you now, with an offer and proffer of marriageMade by a good man and true, Miles Standish the Captain of Plymouth!" Thus he delivered his message, the dexterous writer of letters,--Did not embellish the theme, nor array it in beautiful phrases,But came straight to the point, and blurted it out like a schoolboy;Even the Captain himself could hardly have said it more bluntly.Mute with amazement and sorrow, Priscilla the Puritan maidenLooked into Alden's face, her eyes dilated with wonder,Feeling his words like a blow, that stunned her and rendered her speechless;Till at length she exclaimed, interrupting the ominous silence:"If the great Captain of Plymouth is so very eager to wed me,Why does he not come himself, and take the trouble to woo me?If I am not worth the wooing, I surely am not worth the winning!"Then John Alden began explaining and smoothing the matter,Making it worse as he went, by saying the Captain was busy,--Had no time for such things;--such things! the words grating harshlyFell on the ear of Priscilla; and swift as a flash she made answer:"Has he no time for such things, as you call it, before he is married,Would he be likely to find it, or make it, after the wedding?That is the way with you men; you don't understand us, you cannot.When you have made up your minds, after thinking of this one and that one,Choosing, selecting, rejecting, comparing one with another,Then you make known your desire, with abrupt and sudden avowal,And are offended and hurt, and indignant perhaps, that a womanDoes not respond at once to a love that she never suspected,Does not attain at a bound the height to which you have been climbing.This is not right nor just: for surely a woman's affectionIs not a thing to be asked for, and had for only the asking.When one is truly in love, one not only says it, but shows it.Had he but waited awhile, had he only showed that he loved me,Even this Captain of yours--who knows?--at last might have won me,Old and rough as he is; but now it never can happen." Still John Alden went on, unheeding the words of Priscilla,Urging the suit of his friend, explaining, persuading, expanding;Spoke of his courage and skill, and of all his battles in Flanders,How with the people of God he had chosen to suffer affliction,How, in return for his zeal, they had made him Captain of Plymouth;He was a gentleman born, could trace his pedigree plainlyBack to Hugh Standish of Duxbury Hall, in Lancashire, England,Who was the son of Ralph, and the grandson of Thurston de Standish;Heir unto vast estates, of which he was basely defrauded,Still bore the family arms, and had for his crest a cock argentCombed and wattled gules, and all the rest of the blazon.He was a man of honor, of noble and generous nature;Though he was rough, he was kindly; she knew how during the winterHe had attended the sick, with a hand as gentle as woman's;Somewhat hasty and hot, he could not deny it, and headstrong,Stern as a soldier might be, but hearty, and placable always,Not to be laughed at and scorned, because he was little of stature;For he was great of heart, magnanimous, courtly, courageous;Any woman in Plymouth, nay, any woman in England,Might be happy and proud to be called the wife of Miles Standish! But as he warmed and glowed, in his simple and eloquent language,Quite forgetful of self, and full of the praise of his rival,Archly the maiden smiled, and, with eyes overrunning with laughter,Said, in a tremulous voice, "Why don't you speak for yourself, John?"
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