McGuffey’s Fifth Reader – VI – The Singing Lesson

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus frantzii) by Ian

Ruddy-capped Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus frantzii) by Ian

The Project Gutenberg EBook of McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader by William Holmes McGuffey

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Title: McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader Author: William Holmes McGuffey

VI. THE SINGING LESSON.

Jean Ingelow (b. 1830, d.1897) was born at Boston, Lincolnshire, England. Her fame as a poetess was at once established upon the publication of her “Poems” in 1863; since which time several other volumes have appeared. The most generally admired of her poems are “Songs of Seven” and “The High Tide on the Coast of Lincolnshire,” She has also written several successful novels, of which, “Off the Skelligs” is the most popular. “Stories Told to a Child,” “The Cumberers,” “Poor Mat,” “Studies for Stories,” and “Mopsa, the Fairy” are also well known. Miss Ingelow resided in London, England, and spent much of her time in deeds of charity.

1. A nightingale made a mistake;
She sang a few notes out of tune:
Her heart was ready to break,
And she hid away from the moon.
She wrung her claws, poor thing,
But was far too proud to weep;
She tucked her head under her wing,
And pretended to be asleep.

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

Crested Lark (Galerida cristata)

2. A lark, arm in arm with a thrush,
Came sauntering up to the place;
The nightingale felt herself blush,
Though feathers hid her face;
She knew they had heard her song,
She felt them snicker and sneer;
She thought that life was too long,
And wished she could skip a year.

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) by Reinier Munguia

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) by Reinier Munguia

3. “O nightingale!” cooed a dove;
“O nightingale! what’s the use?
You bird of beauty and love,
Why behave like a goose?
Don’t sulk away from our sight,
Like a common, contemptible fowl;
You bird of joy and delight,
Why behave like an owl?

4. “Only think of all you have done;
Only think of all you can do;
A false note is really fun
From such a bird as you!
Lift up your proud little crest,
Open your musical beak;
Other birds have to do their best,
You need only to speak!”

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

6. The nightingale shyly took
Her head from under her wing,
And, giving the dove a look,
Straightway began to sing.
There was never a bird could pass;
The night was divinely calm;
And the people stood on the grass
To hear that wonderful psalm.

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

6. The nightingale did not care,
She only sang to the skies;
Her song ascended there,
And there she fixed her eyes.
The people that stood below
She knew but little about;
And this tale has a moral, I know,
If you’ll try and find it out.

DEFINITIONS.—2. Saun’ter-ing, wandering idly, strolling. Snick’er, to laugh in a half-suppressed manner. 4. Crest, a tuft growing on an animal’s head. 5. Di-vine’ly, in a supreme degree. 6. Mor’al, the practical lesson which anything is fitted to teach.

NOTE.—The nightingale is a small bird, about six inches in length, with a coat of dark-brown feathers above and of grayish, white beneath. Its voice is astonishingly strong and sweet, and, when wild, it usually sings throughout the evening and night from April to the middle of summer. The bird is common in Europe, but is not found in America.

“The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;” (Song of Solomon 2:12 KJV)

Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord;
(Ephesians 5:19 KJV)

Wordless Birds

McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Solitary Reaper

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by NikhilDevasar

Asian Emerald Cuckoo (Chrysococcyx maculatus) by NikhilDevasar

McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Solitary Reaper

William Wordsworth, 1770-1850, the founder of the “Lake School” of poets, was born at Cockermouth, Cumberland, England. From his boyhood he was a great lover and student of nature, and it is to his beautiful descriptions of landscape, largely, that he owes his fame. He was a graduate of Cambridge University, and while there commenced the study of Chaucer, Spenser, Milton, and Shakespeare, as models for his own writings. Two legacies having been bequeathed him, Wordsworth determined to make poetry the aim of his life, and in 1795 located at Racedown with his sister Dorothy, where he commenced the tragedy of “The Borderers.” A visit from Coleridge at this period made the two poets friends for life. In 1802 Wordsworth married Miss Mary Hutchinson, and in 1813 he settled at Rydal Mount, on Lake Windermere, where he passed the remainder of his life.

Wordsworth’s poetry is remarkable for its extreme simplicity of language. At first his efforts were almost universally ridiculed, and in 1819 his entire income from literary work had not amounted to 140 Pounds. In 1830 his merit began to be recognized; in 1839 Oxford University conferred upon him the degree of D. C. L.; and in 1843 he was made poet laureate.

“The Excursion” is by far the most beautiful and the most important of
Wordsworth’s productions. “Salisbury Plain,” “The White Doe of Rylstone,”
“Yarrow Revisited,” and many of his sonnets and minor poems are also much
admired.
###

The Solitary Reaper

Behold her, single in the field,
Yon solitary Highland lass!
Reaping and singing by herself;
Stop here, or gently pass!
Alone she cuts and binds the grain,
And sings a melancholy strain;
Oh listen! for the vale profound
Is overflowing with the sound.

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) ©©SergeyYeliseev

No nightingale did ever chant
More welcome notes to weary bands
Of travelers in some shady haunt,
Among Arabian sands:
A voice so thrilling ne’er was heard
In springtime from the cuckoo bird,
Breaking the silence of the seas
Among the farthest Hebrides.

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) by Nikhil Devasar

Jacobin Cuckoo (Clamator jacobinus) by Nikhil Devasar

Will no one tell me what she sings?
Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
For old, unhappy, far-off things,
And battles long ago:
Or is it some more humble lay,
Familiar matter of to-day?
Some natural sorrow, loss, or pain,
That has been, and may be again?

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

Black-headed Nightingale-Thrush (Catharus mexicanus) by Michael Woodruff

Whate’er the theme, the maiden sang
As if her song could have no ending;
I saw her singing at her work,
And o’er the sickle bending;—
I listened motionless and still;
And, as I mounted up the hill,
The music in my heart I bore,
Long after it was heard no more.

“Speaking to yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” (Ephesians 5:19-20 KJV)

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Wordless Birds