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.
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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)

Please leave a comment about whether these are helpful and enjoyable to you, your children, or your grandchildren. Maybe, even your students.

These are coming from the Gutenberg books online:

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McGuffey’s 6th Grade Reader – The Morning Oratorio

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Quy Tran

“He sends forth springs in the valleys; They flow between the mountains; They give drink to every beast of the field; The wild donkeys quench their thirst. Beside them the birds of the heavens dwell; They lift up their voices among the branches.” (Psalms 104:10-12 NASB)

McGuffey Readers were a series of graded primers for grade levels 1-6. They were widely used as textbooks in American schools from the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, and are still used today in some private schools and in homeschooling.

Here is a story of The Oratorio from the Sixth Grade Reader. (From Gutenberg) Pictures are current photos.

hairbird

Noun (plural hairbirds) – birdSpizella passerina, the chipping sparrow. [from Your Dictionary]

XI. THE MORNING ORATORIO. (90)

Wilson Flagg, 1806-1884, was born in Beverly, Mass. He pursued his academical course in Andover, at Phillips Academy, and entered Harvard College, but did not graduate. His chief Works are: “Studies in the Field and Forest,” “The Woods and Byways of New England,” and “The Birds and Seasons of New England.”

Nature, for the delight of waking eyes, has arrayed the morning heavens in the loveliest hues of beauty. Fearing to dazzle by an excess of delight, she first announces day by a faint and glimmering twilight, then sheds a purple tint over the brows of the rising morn, and infuses a transparent ruddiness throughout the atmosphere. As daylight widens, successive groups of mottled and rosy-bosomed clouds assemble on the gilded sphere, and, crowned with wreaths of fickle rainbows, spread a mirrored flush over hill, grove, and lake, and every village spire is burnished with their splendor.

At length, through crimsoned vapors, we behold the sun’s broad disk, rising with a countenance so serene that every eye may view him ere he arrays himself in his meridian brightness. Not many people who live in towns are aware of the pleasure attending a ramble near the woods and orchards at daybreak in the early part of summer. The drowsiness we feel on rising from our beds is gradually dispelled by the clear and healthful breezes of early day, and we soon experience an unusual amount of vigor and elasticity.

During the night, the stillness of all things is the circumstance that most powerfully attracts our notice, rendering us peculiarly sensitive to every accidental sound that meets the ear. In the morning, at this time of year, on the contrary, we are overpowered by the vocal and multitudinous chorus of the feathered tribe. If you would hear the commencement of this grand anthem of nature, you must rise at the very first appearance of dawn, before the twilight has formed a complete semicircle above the eastern porch of heaven.

Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) by Daves BirdingPix

The first note that proceeds from the little warbling host, is the shrill chirp of the hairbird,—occasionally vocal at an hours on a warm summer night. This strain, which is a continued trilling sound, is repeated with diminishing intervals, until it becomes almost incessant. But ere the hairbird has uttered many notes, a single robin begins to warble from a neighboring orchard, soon followed by others, increasing in numbers until, by the time the eastern sky is flushed with crimson, every male, robin in the country round is singing with fervor.

It would be difficult to note the exact order in which the different birds successively begin their parts in this performance; but the bluebird, whose song is only a short, mellow warble, is heard nearly at the same time with the robin, and the song sparrow joins them soon after with his brief but finely modulated strain. The different species follow rapidly, one after another, in the chorus, until the whole welkin rings with their matin hymn of gladness.

I have often wondered that the almost simultaneous utterance of so many different notes should produce no discords, and that they should result in such complete harmony. In this multitudinous confusion of voices, no two notes are confounded, and none has sufficient duration to grate harshly with a dissimilar sound. Though each performer sings only a few strains and then makes a pause, the whole multitude succeed one another with such rapidity that we hear an uninterrupted flow of music until the broad light of day invites them to other employments.

When there is just light enough to distinguish the birds, we may observe, here and there, a single swallow perched on the roof of a barn or shed, repeating two twittering notes incessantly, with a quick turn and a hop at every note he utters. It would seem to be the design of the bird to attract the attention of his mate, and this motion seems to be made to assist her in discovering his position. As soon as the light has tempted him to fly abroad, this twittering strain is uttered more like a continued song, as he flits rapidly through the air.

Purple Martin (Progne subis) ©WikiC

But at this later moment the purple martins have commenced their more melodious chattering, so loud as to attract for a while the most of our attention. There is not a sound in nature so cheering and animating as the song of the purple martin, and none so well calculated to drive away melancholy. Though not one of the earliest voices to be heard, the chorus is perceptibly more loud and effective when this bird has united with the choir.

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

American Robin (Turdus migratorius) eating by Jim Fenton

When the flush of the morning has brightened into vermilion, and the place from which the sun is soon to emerge has attained a dazzling brilliancy, the robins are already less tuneful. They are now becoming busy in collecting food for their morning repast, and one by one they leave the trees, and may be seen hopping upon the tilled ground, in quest of the worms and insects that, have crept out during the night from their subterranean retreats.

Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) by J Fenton

But as the robins grow silent, the bobolinks begin their vocal revelries; and to a fanciful mind it might seem that the robins had gradually resigned their part in the performance to the bobolinks, not one of which is heard until some of the former have concluded their songs. The little hairbird still continues his almost incessant chirping, the first to begin and the last to quit the performance. Though the voice of this bird is not very sweetly modulated, it blends harmoniously with the notes of other birds, and greatly increases the charming effect of the combination.

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

Eastern Wood Pewee (Contopus virens) by Raymond Barlow

It would be tedious to name all the birds that take part in this chorus; but we must not omit the pewee, with his melancholy ditty, occasionally heard like a short minor strain in an oratorio; nor the oriole, who is really one of the chief performers, and who, as his bright plumage flashes upon the sight, warbles forth a few notes so clear and mellow as to be beard above every other sound. Adding a pleasing variety to all this harmony, the lisping notes of the meadowlark, uttered in a shrill tone, and with a peculiar pensive modulation, are plainly audible, with short rests between each repetition.

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

Western Meadowlark (Sturnella neglecta)©USFWS

There is a little brown sparrow, resembling the hairbird, save a general tint of russet in his plumage, that may be heard distinctly among the warbling host. He is rarely seen in cultivated grounds, but frequents the wild pastures, and is the bird that warbles so sweetly at midsummer, when the whortleberries are ripe, and the fields are beautifully spangled with red lilies.

There is no confusion in the notes of his song, which consists of one syllable rapidly repeated, but increasing in rapidity and rising to a higher key towards the conclusion. He sometimes prolongs his strain, when his notes are observed to rise and fall in succession. These plaintive and expressive notes are very loud and constantly uttered, during the hour that precedes the rising of the sun. A dozen warblers of this species, singing in concert, and distributed in different parts of the field, form, perhaps, the most delightful part of the woodland oratorio to which we have listened.

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

Carolina Wren (Thryothorus ludovicianus) by Quy Tran

At sunrise hardly a robin can be beard in the whole neighborhood, and the character of the performance has completely changed during the last half hour. The first part was more melodious and tranquilizing, the last is more brilliant and animating. The grass finches, the vireos, the wrens, and the linnets have joined their voices to the chorus, and the bobolinks are loudest in their song. But the notes of the birds in general are not so incessant as before sunrise. One by one they discontinue their lays, until at high noon the bobolink and the warbling flycatcher are almost the only vocalists to be heard in the fields.


Title: McGuffey’s Sixth Grade Eclectic Reader, Author: William Holmes McGuffey
Release Date: September 26, 2005 [EBook #16751], Language: English

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