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Verbal Expression
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A Book

by Emily Dickinson

He ate and drank the precious words,
His spirit grew robust;
He knew no more that he was poor,
Nor that his frame was dust.
He danced along the dingy days,
And this bequest of wings
Was but a book. What liberty
A loosened spirit brings!

Song of the Croaker

by Horatio Alger, Jr.

An old frog lived in a dismal swamp,
  In a dismal kind of way;
And all that he did, whatever befell,
  Was to croak the livelong day.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When darkness filled the air,
And croak, croak, croak,
  When the skies were bright and fair.

“Good Master Frog, a battle is fought,
  And the foeman’s power is broke.”
But he only turned a greener hue,
  And answered with a croak.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When the clouds are dark and dun,
And croak, croak, croak,
  In the blaze of the noontide sun.

“Good Master Frog, the forces of right
  Are driving the hosts of wrong.”
But he gave his head an ominous shake,
  And croaked out, “Nous verrons!”
Croak, croak, croak,
  Till the heart is full of gloom,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Till the world seems but a tomb.

To poison the cup of life,
  By always dreading the worst.
Is to make of the earth a dungeon damp,
  And the happiest life accursed.
Croak, croak, croak,
  When the noontide sun rides high,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Lest the night come by and by.

Farewell to the dismal frog;
  Let him croak as loud as he may,
He cannot blot the sun from heaven,
  Nor hinder the march of day,
Though he croak, croak, croak,
  Till the heart is full of gloom,
And croak, croak, croak,
  Till the world seems but a tomb.


 by Emily Dickinson
‘T was a long parting, but the time
For interview had come;
Before the judgment-seat of God,
The last and second time

These fleshless lovers met,
A heaven in a gaze,
A heaven of heavens, the privilege
Of one another’s eyes.

No lifetime set on them,
Apparelled as the new
Unborn, except they had beheld,
Born everlasting now.

Was bridal e’er like this?
A paradise, the host,
And cherubim and seraphim
The most familiar guest.

by Emily Dickinson

The brain within its groove
Runs evenly and true;
But let a splinter swerve,
‘T were easier for you
To put the water back
When floods have slit the hills,
And scooped a turnpike for themselves,
And blotted out the mills!

The Forest Reverie

by Edgar Allan Poe
      ‘Tis said that when
      The hands of men
    Tamed this primeval wood,
  And hoary trees with groans of wo,
  Like warriors by an unknown foe,
    Were in their strength subdued,
      The virgin Earth
      Gave instant birth
    To springs that ne’er did flow–
      That in the sun
      Did rivulets run,
  And all around rare flowers did blow–
      The wild rose pale
      Perfumed the gale,
  And the queenly lily adown the dale
      (Whom the sun and the dew
      And the winds did woo),
  With the gourd and the grape luxuriant grew.

      So when in tears
      The love of years
    Is wasted like the snow,
  And the fine fibrils of its life
  By the rude wrong of instant strife
    Are broken at a blow–
      Within the heart
      Do springs upstart
    Of which it doth now know,
      And strange, sweet dreams,
      Like silent streams
  That from new fountains overflow,
      With the earlier tide
      Of rivers glide
  Deep in the heart whose hope has died–
  Quenching the fires its ashes hide,–
    Its ashes, whence will spring and grow
      Sweet flowers, ere long,–
    The rare and radiant flowers of song!

The Island of the Fay

by Edgar Allan Poe
    “Nullus enim locus sine genio est.”

“La musique,” says Marmontel, in those “Contes Moraux” which in all
our translations we have insisted upon calling “Moral Tales,” as if in
mockery of their spirit–”la musique est le seul des talens qui jouisse
de lui-meme: tous les autres veulent des temoins.” He here confounds
the pleasure derivable from sweet sounds with the capacity for creating
them. No more than any other talent, is that for music susceptible of
complete enjoyment where there is no second party to appreciate its
exercise; and it is only in common with other talents that it produces
effects which may be fully enjoyed in solitude. The idea which the
raconteur has either failed to entertain clearly, or has sacrificed in
its expression to his national love of point, is doubtless the very
tenable one that the higher order of music is the most thoroughly
estimated when we are exclusively alone. The proposition in this form
will be admitted at once by those who love the lyre for its own sake and
for its spiritual uses. But there is one pleasure still within the reach
of fallen mortality, and perhaps only one, which owes even more than
does music to the accessory sentiment of seclusion. I mean the happiness
experienced in the contemplation of natural scenery. In truth, the man
who would behold aright the glory of God upon earth must in solitude
behold that glory. To me at least the presence, not of human life only,
but of life, in any other form than that of the green things which grow
upon the soil and are voiceless, is a stain upon the landscape, is at
war with the genius of the scene. I love, indeed, to regard the dark
valleys, and the gray rocks, and the waters that silently smile, and the
forests that sigh in uneasy slumbers, and the proud watchful mountains
that look down upon all,–I love to regard these as themselves but the
colossal members of one vast animate and sentient whole–a whole whose
form (that of the sphere) is the most perfect and most inclusive of all;
whose path is among associate planets; whose meek handmaiden is the
moon; whose mediate sovereign is the sun; whose life is eternity; whose
thought is that of a god; whose enjoyment is knowledge; whose destinies
are lost in immensity; whose cognizance of ourselves is akin with our
own cognizance of the animalculæ which infest the brain, a being which
we in consequence regard as purely inanimate and material, much in the
same manner as these animalculæ must thus regard us.

Our telescopes and our mathematical investigations assure us on every
hand, notwithstanding the cant of the more ignorant of the priesthood,
that space, and therefore that bulk, is an important consideration in
the eyes of the Almighty. The cycles in which the stars move are those
best adapted for the evolution, without collision, of the greatest
possible number of bodies. The forms of those bodies are accurately such
as within a given surface to include the greatest possible amount of
matter; while the surfaces themselves are so disposed as to accommodate
a denser population than could be accommodated on the same surfaces
otherwise arranged. Nor is it any argument against bulk being an object
with God that space itself is infinite; for there may be an infinity of
matter to fill it; and since we see clearly that the endowment of matter
with vitality is a principle–indeed, as far as our judgments extend,
the leading principle in the operations of Deity, it is scarcely
logical to imagine it confined to the regions of the minute, where we
daily trace it, and not extending to those of the august. As we find
cycle within cycle without end, yet all revolving around one far-distant
centre which is the Godhead, may we not analogically suppose, in the
same manner, life within life, the less within the greater, and all
within the Spirit Divine? In short, we are madly erring through
self-esteem in believing man, in either his temporal or future
destinies, to be of more moment in the universe than that vast “clod of
the valley” which he tills and contemns, and to which he denies a soul,
for no more profound reason than that he does not behold it in operation.

These fancies, and such as these, have always given to my meditations
among the mountains and the forests, by the rivers and the ocean, a
tinge of what the every-day world would not fail to term the fantastic.
My wanderings amid such scenes have been many and far-searching, and
often solitary; and the interest with which I have strayed through many
a dim deep valley, or gazed into the reflected heaven of many a bright
lake, has been an interest greatly deepened by the thought that I have
strayed and gazed alone. What flippant Frenchman was it who said,
in allusion to the well known work of Zimmermann, that “la solitude est
une belle chose; mais il faut quelqu’un pour vous dire que la solitude
est une belle chose”? The epigram cannot be gainsaid; but the necessity
is a thing that does not exist.

It was during one of my lonely journeyings, amid a far distant region of
mountain locked within mountain, and sad rivers and melancholy tarns
writhing or sleeping within all, that I chanced upon a certain rivulet
and island. I came upon them suddenly in the leafy June, and threw
myself upon the turf beneath the branches of an unknown odorous shrub,
that I might doze as I contemplated the scene. I felt that thus only
should I look upon it, such was the character of phantasm which it wore.

On all sides, save to the west where the sun was about sinking, arose
the verdant walls of the forest. The little river which turned sharply
in its course, and was thus immediately lost to sight, seemed to have no
exit from its prison, but to be absorbed by the deep green foliage of
the trees to the east; while in the opposite quarter (so it appeared to
me as I lay at length and glanced upward) there poured down noiselessly
and continuously into the valley a rich golden and crimson waterfall
from the sunset fountains of the sky.

About midway in the short vista which my dreamy vision took in, one
small circular island, profusely verdured, reposed upon the bosom of the

  So blended bank and shadow there,
  That each seemed pendulous in air–

so mirror-like was the glassy water, that it was scarcely possible to
say at what point upon the slope of the emerald turf its crystal
dominion began. My position enabled me to include in a single view both
the eastern and western extremities of the islet, and I observed a
singularly-marked difference in their aspects. The latter was all one
radiant harem of garden beauties. It glowed and blushed beneath the eye
of the slant sunlight, and fairly laughed with flowers. The grass was
short, springy, sweet-scented, and Asphodel-interspersed. The trees were
lithe, mirthful, erect, bright, slender, and graceful, of eastern figure
and foliage, with bark smooth, glossy, and parti-colored. There seemed a
deep sense of life and joy about all, and although no airs blew from out
the heavens, yet everything had motion through the gentle sweepings to
and fro of innumerable butterflies, that might have been mistaken for
tulips with wings.

The other or eastern end of the isle was whelmed in the blackest shade.
A sombre, yet beautiful and peaceful gloom, here pervaded all things.
The trees were dark in color and mournful in form and attitude–
wreathing themselves into sad, solemn, and spectral shapes, that
conveyed ideas of mortal sorrow and untimely death. The grass wore the
deep tint of the cypress, and the heads of its blades hung droopingly,
and hither and thither among it were many small unsightly hillocks, low
and narrow, and not very long, that had the aspect of graves, but were
not, although over and all about them the rue and the rosemary
clambered. The shades of the trees fell heavily upon the water, and
seemed to bury itself therein, impregnating the depths of the element
with darkness. I fancied that each shadow, as the sun descended lower
and lower, separated itself sullenly from the trunk that gave it birth,
and thus became absorbed by the stream, while other shadows issued
momently from the trees, taking the place of their predecessors thus

This idea having once seized upon my fancy greatly excited it, and I
lost myself forthwith in reverie. “If ever island were enchanted,” said
I to myself, “this is it. This is the haunt of the few gentle Fays who
remain from the wreck of the race. Are these green tombs theirs?–or do
they yield up their sweet lives as mankind yield up their own? In dying,
do they not rather waste away mournfully, rendering unto God little by
little their existence, as these trees render up shadow after shadow,
exhausting their substance unto dissolution? What the wasting tree is to
the water that imbibes its shade, growing thus blacker by what it preys
upon, may not the life of the Fay be to the death which engulfs it?”

As I thus mused, with half-shut eyes, while the sun sank rapidly to
rest, and eddying currents careered round and round the island, bearing
upon their bosom large dazzling white flakes of the bark of the
sycamore, flakes which, in their multiform positions upon the water, a
quick imagination might have converted into anything it pleased; while I
thus mused, it appeared to me that the form of one of those very Fays
about whom I had been pondering, made its way slowly into the darkness
from out the light at the western end of the island. She stood erect in
a singularly fragile canoe, and urged it with the mere phantom of an
oar. While within the influence of the lingering sunbeams, her attitude
seemed indicative of joy, but sorrow deformed it as she passed within
the shade. Slowly she glided along, and at length rounded the islet and
re-entered the region of light. “The revolution which has just been made
by the Fay,” continued I musingly, “is the cycle of the brief year of
her life. She has floated through her winter and through her summer. She
is a year nearer unto death: for I did not fail to see that as she came
into the shade, her shadow fell from her, and was swallowed up in the
dark water, making its blackness more black.”

And again the boat appeared and the Fay, but about the attitude of the
latter there was more of care and uncertainty and less of elastic joy.
She floated again from out the light and into the gloom (which deepened
momently), and again her shadow fell from her into the ebony water, and
became absorbed into its blackness. And again and again she made the
circuit of the island (while the sun rushed down to his slumbers), and
at each issuing into the light there was more sorrow about her person,
while it grew feebler and far fainter and more indistinct, and at each
passage into the gloom there fell from her a darker shade, which became
whelmed in a shadow more black. But at length, when the sun had utterly
departed, the Fay, now the mere ghost of her former self, went
disconsolately with her boat into the region of the ebony flood, and
that she issued thence at all I cannot say, for darkness fell over all
things, and I beheld her magical figure no more.

Miss Billy’s Decision, CHAPTER XV

by Eleanor H. Porter

On the fourteenth of December Billy came
down-stairs alert, interested, and happy.  She
had received a dear letter from Bertram (mailed
on the way to New York), the sun was shining,
and her fingers were fairly tingling to put on paper
the little melody that was now surging riotously
through her brain.  Emphatically, the restlessness
of the day before was gone now.  Once more
Billy’s “clock” had “begun to tick.”

After breakfast Billy went straight to the
telephone and called up Arkwright.  Even one
side of the conversation Aunt Hannah did not
hear very clearly; but in five minutes a radiant-
faced Billy danced into the room.

“Aunt Hannah, just listen!  Only think–
Mary Jane wrote the words himself, so of course
I can use them!”

“Billy, dear, _can’t_ you say `Mr. Arkwright’?”
pleaded Aunt Hannah.

Billy laughed and gave the anxious-eyed little
old lady an impulsive hug.

“Of course!  I’ll say `His Majesty’ if you like,
dear,” she chuckled.  “But did you hear–did
you realize?  They’re his own words, so there’s
no question of rights or permission, or anything.
And he’s coming up this afternoon to hear my
melody, and to make a few little changes in the
words, maybe.  Oh, Aunt Hannah, you don’t
know how good it seems to get into my music

“Yes, yes, dear, of course; but–”  Aunt
Hannah’s sentence ended in a vaguely troubled

Billy turned in surprise.

“Why, Aunt Hannah, aren’t you glad?  You
_said_ you’d be glad!”

“Yes, dear; and I am–very glad.  It’s only
–if it doesn’t take too much time–and if
Bertram doesn’t mind.”

Billy flushed.  She laughed a little bitterly.

“No, it won’t take too much time, I fancy,
and–so far as Bertram is concerned–if what
Sister Kate says is true, Aunt Hannah, he’ll
be glad to have me occupy a little of my time with
something besides himself.”

“Fiddlededee!” bristled Aunt Hannah.

“What did she mean by that?”

Billy smiled ruefully.

“Well, probably I did need it.  She said it
night before last just before she went home with
Uncle William.  She declared that I seemed to
forget entirely that Bertram belonged to his Art
first, before he belonged to me; and that it was
exactly as she had supposed it would be–a
perfect absurdity for Bertram to think of marrying

“Fiddlededee!” ejaculated the irate Aunt
Hannah, even more sharply.  “I hope you have
too much good sense to mind what Kate says,

“Yes, I know,” sighed the girl; “but of course
I can see some things for myself, and I suppose
I did make–a little fuss about his going to
New York the other night.  And I will own that
I’ve had a real struggle with myself sometimes,
lately, not to mind–his giving so much time
to his portrait painting.  And of course both of
those are very reprehensible–in an artist’s wife,”
she finished, a little tremulously.

“Humph!  Well, I don’t think I should worry
about that,” observed Aunt Hannah with grim

“No, I don’t mean to,” smiled Billy, wistfully.
“I only told you so you’d understand that it
was just as well if I did have something to take
up my mind–besides Bertram.  And of course
music would be the most natural thing.”

“Yes, of course,” agreed Aunt Hannah.

“And it seems actually almost providential
that Mary–I mean Mr. Arkwright is here to
help me, now that Cyril is gone,” went on Billy,
still a little wistfully.

“Yes, of course.  He isn’t like–a stranger,”
murmured Aunt Hannah.  Aunt Hannah’s voice
sounded as if she were trying to convince herself
–of something.

“No, indeed!  He seems just like one of the
family to me, almost as if he were really–your
niece, Mary Jane,” laughed Billy.

Aunt Hannah moved restlessly.

“Billy,” she hazarded, “he knows, of course,
of your engagement?”

“Why, of course he does, Aunt Hannah
everybody does!”  Billy’s eyes were plainly surprised.

“Yes, yes, of course–he must,” subsided
Aunt Hannah, confusedly, hoping that Billy
would not divine the hidden reason behind her
question.  She was relieved when Billy’s next
words showed that she had not divined it.

“I told you, didn’t I?  He’s coming up this
afternoon.  He can’t get here till five, though;
but he’s so interested!  He’s about as crazy over
the thing as I am.  And it’s going to be fine, Aunt
Hannah, when it’s done.  You just wait and see!”
she finished gayly, as she tripped from the

Left to herself, Aunt Hannah drew a long

“I’m glad she didn’t suspect,” she was
thinking.  “I believe she’d consider even the _question_
disloyal to Bertram–dear child!  And of course
Mary”–Aunt Hannah corrected herself with
cheeks aflame–“I mean Mr. Arkwright does

It was just here, however, that Aunt Hannah
was mistaken.  Mr. Arkwright did not–know.
He had not reached Boston when the engagement
was announced.  He knew none of Billy’s friends
in town save the Henshaw brothers.  He had
not heard from Calderwell since he came to Boston.
The very evident intimacy of Billy with the
Henshaw brothers he accepted as a matter of
course, knowing the history of their acquaintance,
and the fact that Billy was Mr. William Henshaw’s
namesake.  As to Bertram being Billy’s lover–
that idea had long ago been killed at birth by
Calderwell’s emphatic assertion that the artist
would never care for any girl–except to paint.
Since coming to Boston, Arkwright had seen
little of the two together.  His work, his friends,
and his general mode of life precluded that.
Because of all this, therefore, Arkwright did not–
know; which was a pity–for Arkwright, and
for some others.

Promptly at five o’clock that afternoon,
Arkwright rang Billy’s doorbell, and was admitted
by Rosa to the living-room, where Billy was at
the piano.

Billy sprang to her feet with a joyous word of

“I’m so glad you’ve come,” she sighed happily.
“I want you to hear the melody your pretty
words have sung to me.  Though, maybe, after
all, you won’t like it, you know,” she finished
with arch wistfulness.

“As if I could help liking it,” smiled the man,
trying to keep from his voice the ecstatic delight
that the touch of her hand had brought

Billy shook her head and seated herself again
at the piano.

“The words are lovely,” she declared, sorting
out two or three sheets of manuscript music from
the quantity on the rack before her.  “But there’s
one place–the rhythm, you know–if you could
change it.  There!–but listen.  First I’m going
to play it straight through to you.”  And she
dropped her fingers to the keyboard.  The next
moment a tenderly sweet melody–with only a
chord now and then for accompaniment–filled
Arkwright’s soul with rapture.  Then Billy began
to sing, very softly, the words!

No wonder Arkwright’s soul was filled with
rapture.  They were his words, wrung straight
from his heart; and they were being sung by
the girl for whom they were written.  They
were being sung with feeling, too–so evident
a feeling that the man’s pulse quickened, and his
eyes flashed a sudden fire.  Arkwright could not
know, of course, that Billy, in her own mind, was
singing that song–to Bertram Henshaw.

The fire was still in Arkwright’s eyes when the
song was ended; but Billy very plainly did not
see it.  With a frowning sigh and a murmured
“There!” she began to talk of “rhythm” and
“accent” and “cadence”; and to point out
with anxious care why three syllables instead of
two were needed at the end of a certain line.
From this she passed eagerly to the accompaniment,
and Arkwright at once found himself lost
in a maze of “minor thirds” and “diminished
sevenths,” until he was forced to turn from the
singer to the song.  Still, watching her a little
later, he noticed her absorbed face and eager
enthusiasm, her earnest pursuance of an elusive
harmony, and he wondered: did she, or did she
not sing that song with feeling a little while before?

Arkwright had not settled this question to his
own satisfaction when Aunt Hannah came in
at half-past five, and he was conscious of a vague
disappointment as he rose to greet her.  Billy,
however, turned an untroubled face to the newcomer.

“We’re doing finely, Aunt Hannah,” she cried.
Then, suddenly, she flung a laughing question
to the man.  “How about it, sir?  Are we going
to put on the title-page:  `Words by Mary Jane
Arkwright’–or will you unveil the mystery
for us now?”

“Have you guessed it?” he bantered.

“No–unless it’s `Methuselah John.’  We
did think of that the other day.”

“Wrong again!” he laughed.

“Then it’ll have to be `Mary Jane,’ ” retorted
Billy, with calm naughtiness, refusing to meet
Aunt Hannah’s beseechingly reproving eyes.
Then suddenly she chuckled.  “It would be a
combination, wouldn’t it?  `Words by Mary
Jane Arkwright.  Music by Billy Neilson’!
We’d have sighing swains writing to `Dear Miss
Arkwright,’ telling how touching were _her_ words;
and lovelorn damsels thanking Mr. Neilson for
his soul-inspiring music!”

“Billy, my dear!” remonstrated Aunt Hannah, faintly.

“Yes, yes, I know; that was bad–and I
won’t again, truly,” promised Billy.  But her
eyes danced, and the next moment she had whirled
about on the piano stool and dashed into a Chopin
waltz.  The room itself, then, seemed to be full
of the twinkling feet of elves.

The Lonely House

by Emily Dickinson

I know some lonely houses off the road
A robber ‘d like the look of, –
Wooden barred,
And windows hanging low,
Inviting to
A portico,
Where two could creep:
One hand the tools,
The other peep
To make sure all’s asleep.
Old-fashioned eyes,
Not easy to surprise!

How orderly the kitchen ‘d look by night,
With just a clock, –
But they could gag the tick,
And mice won’t bark;
And so the walls don’t tell,
None will.

A pair of spectacles ajar just stir –
An almanac’s aware.
Was it the mat winked,
Or a nervous star?
The moon slides down the stair
To see who’s there.

There’s plunder, — where?
Tankard, or spoon,
Earring, or stone,
A watch, some ancient brooch
To match the grandmamma,
Staid sleeping there.

Day rattles, too,
Stealth’s slow;
The sun has got as far
As the third sycamore.
Screams chanticleer,
“Who’s there?”
And echoes, trains away,
Sneer — “Where?”
While the old couple, just astir,
Fancy the sunrise left the door ajar!

A Good Play

by Robert Louis Stevenson

We built a ship upon the stairs
All made of the back-bedroom chairs,
And filled it full of sofa pillows
To go a-sailing on the billows.

We took a saw and several nails,
And water in the nursery pails;
And Tom said, “Let us also take
An apple and a slice of cake;”–
Which was enough for Tom and me
To go a-sailing on, till tea.

We sailed along for days and days,
And had the very best of plays;
But Tom fell out and hurt his knee,
So there was no one left but me.

The Mystery of Pain

by Emily Dickinson

Pain has an element of blank;
It cannot recollect
When it began, or if there were
A day when it was not.

It has no future but itself,
Its infinite realms contain
Its past, enlightened to perceive
New periods of pain.

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