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bogles, spirits, “spooks.” 88. ghaists, ghosts. houlets, owls. 90. smoored, smothered. birks, birches. meikle stane, big stone. 93. whins, furze.cairn, pile of stone. 95. aboon, above. 96. St. Mungo was the patron saint of Alloway, but no legend is known of him or his “mither” to explain why Mungo's Well was so called. 102. bleeze, blaze. 103. bore, crevice. 105. John Barleycorn, whiskey. 107. tippenny, twopenny ale. 108. usquebae, whiskey. 109. See note on line 40. 110. fair play, if you gave him only fair play. boddle, a copper. 114. unco, marvelous.
116. cotillion is here accented on the first and last syllables. brent-new, brand-new. 117. hornpipes, etc., Scotch dances. 119. winnock bunker, window-seat. 121. towzie tyke, shaggy dog. 122. gie, give. 123. gart them skirl, made them shriek. 124. dirl, rattle. 127. cantraip sleight, magic trick. 130. haly (holy) table, the communion table. 131. airns, irons. 132. unchristened bairns, unbaptized infants.
133. rape, rope.
134. gab, mouth. 139. ain, own. 140. stack, stuck.
143. glow'r'd, stared. 147. cleekit, joined hands. 148. carlin, witch. swat and reekit, reeked with sweat. 149. coost, cast. duddies, clothes (“duds"). 150. linket, went at it. sark, smock. 151. queans, young girls. 152. A’, all. 153. creeshie, greasy. 154. seventeen hunder, very fine.
155. kend, knew. fu' brawlie, very well. 156. wawlie, goodlooking 157. core.
Same as “corps.” 158. Carrick is the district of Ayrshire south of the Doon. Carrick shore, then, is the south shore of the river. 161. shook, threshed. corn, grain. bear, barley. 163. cutty sark, short undergarment. harn, coarse linen. 166. vauntie, proud. 168. coft, bought. 169. twa pund Scots was equivalent to about eighty cents.
171. cour, bend down. 173. lap and flang, leaped and flung. 174. souple, supple. jad, “jade," lass (in either a good or a bad sense).
eyes. 177. fidg’d, fidgeted. 178. hotched, squirmed. 179. syne, then. 180. tint, lost. 185. bizz, buzz: fyke, noise. 186. byke, hive. 187. pussie is a hare. open, bark; predicate of foes. 192. eldritch, uncanny.
193. fairin, reward. 198. brig, bridge. 202. fient, fiend;" devil. 205. ettle, intention. 206. wist, knew.
Auld Lang Syne, days of long ago. 9. pint-stowp, drinkingcup. be your pint-stowp, be good for (pay for) your own drink. 13. braes, hillsides. 14. gowans, daisies. 15. fit, foot.
17. paidled, paddled. burn, brook. 18. dine, dinner. 19. braid, broad. 21. fiere, comrade. 23. guid-willie, good-willed, friendly. waught, draught.
Willie Brewed. - This poem is printed as a good specimen of Burns's “convivial” verse, which too frequently commemorated real events. Willie was William Nichol; Rob was the poet himself; Allan was Allan Masterton, a musician, who afterwards set the lines to music. 8. bree, brew.
14. lift, sky. 15. wyle, entice. Flow Gently. This poem
is said to be a most faithful description of the little river about fifteen miles east of Ayr; but no original for “Mary” has been found.
A Man's a Man. The theme of this poem was probably suggested by Pope's line, “An honest man's the noblest work of God.” (See Memorable Couplets, page 188.) Burns quoted Pope's line in his Cotter's Saturday Night (line 166). Supply “a man after is there. 8. gowd, gold. 9. hamely, homely, plain. 10. hoddengray, clothes made of coarse cloth. 17. birkie, fellow.
20. coof, fool. 22. riband (ribbon) and star are badges of different orders of knighthood. 28. mauna fa', cannot accomplish. 36. gree, prize.
WORDSWORTH. Much of what the poet says in his famous Preface is commonplace now; but in 1800 his theory was revolutionary, and aroused great opposition among the critics. The ideal of Pope, which was essentially artificial, had dominated English poetry for a century; and the new poetry of Wordsworth and his followers was harshly condemned for a long time.
50. meanness, insignificance. 65. all good poetry, etc. This description, one realizes, is far from true. It applies to lyric poetry, but certainly not to long poems like Paradise Lost or Wordsworth's own Prelude and Excursion. Even a good poet can hardly be spontaneous for 10,000 lines.
Passages Dealing with Poetry in General. Wordsworth is now recognized as one of the greatest English critics. Among the passages given none would be more helpful for men to understand and act upon than that in line 23. Ability to appreciate great poetry is a valuable accomplishment for a “practical,” busy man. 25. Sir Joshua Reynolds, see note on Boswell, First Meeting, line 11. As first president of the Royal Academy Reynolds delivered a number of Discourses on Painting, in the seventh of which he treated the subject of taste in art.
Expostulation and Reply. The Matthew of this poem (line 15) is supposed to be William Taylor, Wordsworth's teacher at Hawkshead, located on Esthwaite lake (13).
The Tables Turned. — 6. lustre is the object of has spread. 21 ff. This stanza “has been censured for exaggeration, but Wordsworth means that in communion with external nature a moment may come which will evoke from the heart more moral energy than can be taught by books.” (Dowden.) 28. to dissect, in the act of dissecting or analyzing.
She Was a Phantom refers to the poet's wife. 27. Note that the important word in this line is not perfect, but woman, which is set over against spirit in 29.
I Wandered. Lines 21-22, felt by many readers to be the best in the poem, were written by Mrs. Wordsworth.
Happy Warrior. — “The above verses were written soon after tidings had been received of the death of Lord Nelson, which event directed the author's thoughts to the subject" (Wordsworth's note); but some particulars of Nelson's conduct prevented the poet from “thinking of him with satisfaction in reference to the idea of what a warrior ought to be.” Some features in the character, the poet said, were taken from his brother John, captain of an East Indiaman, who was lost at sea. “The characteristics insisted on are,” in the words of Dowden, “high aims, cultivation of the intellect, moral rectitude, the power to educe good from evil, tenderness, placability, purity, fortitude, obedience to the law of reason, the choice of right means as well as right ends, fidelity, joy in domestic pleasures, heroism in great crises of life.”
Influence of a Mountain-peak. — The sub-title of the Prelude is, “Growth of a Poet's Mind; An Autobiographical Poem.” The passage records an incident of his school days at Hawkshead. 1. her refers to Nature, mentioned in a previous line.
17. elfin pinnace, fairy boat. 22. The huge peak is easily identified as Old Wetherlam, about five miles from Hawkshead. 23. instinct, imbued, filled. 24. struck, i.e., with the oars.
Westminster Bridge. -“Written on the roof of a coach on my way to France.” (Wordsworth's note.) His sister Dorothy, who accompanied him, wrote in her Journal: “We left London on Saturday morning at half past five or six. We mounted the Dover coach at Charing Cross. It was a beautiful morning. The city, St. Paul's with the river, and a multitude of little boats, made a
most beautiful sight. The houses were not overhung by their cloud of smoke, and they were spread out endlessly, yet the sun shone so brightly that there was something like the purity of one of Nature's own grand spectacles.”
London, 1802. — This sonnet is the poet's lament for England's lack of sympathy with the ideals of the French Revolution.
“Nuns Fret Not.” — 3. pensive citadels, places where they may give themselves to meditation without interruption. 6. Furness fells, hills in Westmoreland County, northwestern part of England, the section where Wordsworth lived for about seventy of his eighty years. 8. In truth ... no prison is. Cf. Lovelace, To Althea (pages 101-102), specially lines 25–26.
“ The World is too Much with Us." Wordsworth means that he would rather be a believer in false deities and have some feeling for the divine in Nature than be a professed Christian and have no such feeling at all. 10. “A Pagan nourished in a faith proved to be untrue.” 13. Proteus and Triton were pagan gods of the sea.
“Scorn not the Sonnet.” — 1. Critic ... honours. The sonnet had fallen into disfavor in the eighteenth century. Very few sonnets were composed in England between Milton (died 1674) and Wordsworth (began this form of composition about 1800). 2. with this key, etc. Wordsworth accepted the theory that Shakspere's sonnets are autobiographical. See our note, page 20. 4 ff. Petrarch, Tasso, and Dante were the most distinguished Italian sonnet writers; Camoëns was a Portuguese. These and Spenser (line 10) wrote in honor or memory of loved ones. Milton's eighteen sonnets (alas, too few !), sixteen of which were written during the Civil War, cover a wide range of subjects.
COLERIDGE. Table Talk is a collection of Coleridge's chance comments, published after his death by his nephew. Besides being a great poet, Coleridge was the founder of modern English literary criticism; and in this field his greatest accomplishment was his interpretation of Shakspere.
Kubla Khan. - Coleridge says that he composed two to three hundred lines on this subject“ in a profound sleep.” When he awoke he began to write it out; but after completing fifty-four lines he was interrupted by a person on business," and could never recollect the rest.
Kubla was khan or emperor of China in the thirteenth century; Xanadu was his city of residence. 13. athwart a cedarn cover, across a cedar wood. 19. momently, every moment. 41. Mount Abora probably had no existence outside of the poet's imagination.
– What the complete poem might have been it is idle to conjecture. The fragment is highly mystical and unintelligible; but its musical quality is apparent to all, and poets and critics have always felt in it poetical merit of the first order.
BYRON. Lachin y Gair (pronunciation indicated in the last line of each stanza) appeared in Hours of Idleness, Byron's first volume, published when he was nineteen years old. The mountain, says Byron in a note, “towers proudly preëminent in the northern Highlands, near Invercauld. It is certainly one of the most sublime and picturesque amongst our ‘Caledonian Alps. Its appearance is of a dusky hue, but the summit is the seat of eternal snows. Near Lachin y Gair I spent some of the early part of my life, the recollection of which has given birth to these stanzas.”
5. Caledonia, Scotland. 10. plaid. “This word is erroneously pronounced plăd; the proper pronunciation (according to the Scotch) is shown by the orthography.” (Byron's note.) 25–26. “I allude here to my maternal ancestors, the Gordons, many of whom fought for the unfortunate Prince Charles, better known by the name of the Young Pretender.” (Byron's note.) 27. Culloden, scene of the final defeat of the Young Pretender by the English. Charles was the grandson of James II, deposed by Parliament, and received support from France in his efforts to regain the crown of England for the Stuarts. 30. Braemar is in the Highlands. 31. pibroch, bagpipe. 36. Albion's plain, England.
Wordsworth. - Byron's Hours of Idleness was severely criticized in the Edinburgh Review, and English Bards and Scotch Reviewers: A Satire was his reply. Being “very young and very angry,” he hit promiscuously, and lived to regret many sharp passages in the poem. In his own copy he wrote opposite the passage on Wordsworth, “Unjust."
1. thy refers to Robert Southey, as founder of the “Lake School" of poetry.
2. apostate, one who has forsaken his faith. Wordsworth's “apostasy” is unhesitatingly set forth in his Preface (see page 233) as well as in his poems. 5-6. See The Tables Turned,
13–15. Referring to a poem by Wordsworth called The Idiot Boy.
20. Bard, Wordsworth.