Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dr. Wordwielder is Weary

Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. Dr. Wordwielder here with your weekly word examination. I shan't be long. I'm a mite bit weary this evening as I've made several trips out in the rain and doing so depletes this old chap of any gumption he might have thought in his possession.

First, I purposed to go to the local library for their annual used book sale in a quest for a few, desired, old faithful books, some of which have been on my wish list for quite some time now, perhaps ten years. I've handled the modern copies but they do not compare to the quality striven for by every business worth it's salt in yesteryear. It was imperative that I not be late for this very important date with alibris, so I skipped breakfast and gobbled down a light nosh of pickled eggs followed by a slice of brown bread. I advanced to my car in hopes that the motorway would not be too cramped. Of course, you know that the weather in Florida is about as fickle as a mood ring and one must prepare for the best and worst to come. I tossed a brolly in the boot even though it was bright and warm from the golden sun. Walking away, I glanced in the rear view as I approached the driver's side. I noted a few bread crumbs in my mustache so I reached up to brush them away, only to accidentally nudge my bi-focals. They fell off my face but I quickly scooped the cap off my woolen head and caught them. To my great surprise, the neighborhood children who were waiting on the arrival of the school bus, must have believed that I was a magician performing a trick, as they giggled and clapped (after a gasp or two). I have to admit, it was a pretty brilliant chance for me to cover up what might have been a fateful accident. I turned and gave a slight bow and then climbed into the vehicle.

As I motored toward the library sale, little droplets of water began to drip onto my windscreen and form into little pools. I turned on my wipers and gave way to the yellow cab that seemed to be out of place in this area and didn't he know it? Perhaps he was from New York or something. He almost ran me off the road, but I was able to right myself and keep on track until I reached the slip road to the adorable village that's name includes the title for Mountain but is really a hill with a few slight curves. At any rate, the precipitation had weakened and I was not too disappointed as I had no way of reaching my protection that was lying by itself in the rear of the car.

The library was as I had hoped it would be, quiet as a museum at night (although I heard someone wrote a movie about strange happenings in one museum). The early bird catches the worm, you know. I stood at the door, awaiting the librarian who came a moment later with the keys. I had not arrived a minute too soon. As we entered the building, cars were motoring up into the lot like ants on honey at a picnic. I mustn't blame them. There were a grand amount of books available. I gazed on a copy of "The Royal Path of Life" by Thomas Haines and company. It was a giant volume containing pages of velum, black and white drawings and advice written in a grandfatherly tone, yielding wisdom as well as debating the issues of contemporary society. I longed to purchase it but pondered the thought of carrying the monstrosity along with me as I browsed the other tables.

The aroma of musty paper wafted o'er the room and to me it was the scent of heaven unleashed. I picked up a copy of John Greenleaf Whittier's poetry, a fine book with an embossed red rose on the front. It contained an autograph on the title page and was addressed to a colleague of his. I ran my fingers across the edges and marveled at how the grainy cover could suddenly feel so smooth over the center of it, as if ribbon with a rose underneath, had been woven in like fabric across the cover. I placed the anthology back down on the table and picked up a plain book that looked like it had been wrapped in a brown paper bag, only it felt more like burlap. It was a copy of Riverside Literature Series Numbers 13 and 14, the Song of Hiawatha, by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Delighted, I opened the book and saw that it was a true find for only $10.00. I snatched it up quickly and proceeded to the cashier, checked out and left. It had always fascinated me to read stories of the Natives in early America and Longfellow was no slouch in the telling of it.

Since the hour is late and since Ms. BeckyJoie has requested that I weigh in on the matter of good literature, I shall forgo the lengthy examination and post but one or two questions. Prior to that, I shall share with you a portion of the book I was able to acquire. I do hope that you will grant a weary old man some forgiveness for an atypical post this eve. This is only an excerpt of the poem titled, "Hiawatha's Friends" in "The Song of Hiawatha". I am posting it in response to Ms. JoJo Tabares weblog article about friendship and what constitutes such. Don't you think that Longfellow does an excellent job of describing Hiawatha's feelings toward friends?

Two good friends had Hiawatha,
Singled out from all the others,
Bound to him in closest union,
And to whom he gave the right hand
Of his heart, in joy and sorrow;
Chibiabos, the musician,
And the very strong man, Kwasind.
Straight between them ran the pathway,
Never grew the grass upon it;
Singing birds, that utter falsehoods,
Story-tellers, mischief-makers,
Found no eager ear to listen,
Could not breed ill-will between them,
For they kept each other's counsel,
Spake with naked hearts together,
Pondering much and much contriving
How the tribes of men might prosper.
Most beloved by Hiawatha
Was the gentle Chibiabos,
He the best of all musicians,
He the sweetest of all singers.
Beautiful and childlike was he,
Brave as man is, soft as woman,
Pliant as a wand of willow,
Stately as a deer with antlers.
When he sang, the village listened;
All the warriors gathered round him,
All the women came to hear him;
Now he stirred their souls to passion,
Now he melted them to pity.
From the hollow reeds he fashioned
Flutes so musical and mellow,
That the brook, the Sebowisha,
Ceased to murmur in the woodland,
That the wood-birds ceased from singing,
And the squirrel, Adjidaumo,
Ceased his chatter in the oak-tree,
And the rabbit, the Wabasso,
Sat upright to look and listen.
Yes, the brook, the Sebowisha,
Pausing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach my waves to flow in music,
Softly as your words in singing!"
Yes, the bluebird, the Owaissa,
Envious, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as wild and wayward,
Teach me songs as full of frenzy!"
Yes, the robin, the Opechee,
Joyous, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as sweet and tender,
Teach me songs as full of gladness!"
And the whippoorwill, Wawonaissa,
Sobbing, said, "O Chibiabos,
Teach me tones as melancholy,
Teach me songs as full of sadness!"
All the many sounds of nature
Borrowed sweetness from his singing;
All the hearts of men were softened
By the pathos of his music;
For he sang of peace and freedom,
Sang of beauty, love, and longing;
Sang of death, and life undying
In the Islands of the Blessed,
In the kingdom of Ponemah,
In the land of the Hereafter.

The vivid language and grammar of this piece is inspiring in a literary and philosophical sense. I simply adore Longfellow's use of poetic devices. For example,
his use of similes and metaphors such as "pliant as a wand of willows", "stately as a deer with antlers" and "spoke with naked hearts together" show his astute knowledge of how to appeal to the interest and intellect of his readers. What eloquent words he uses that we might understand and feel what Hiawatha, the main character feels toward his friends. What magnificent usage of the colour and imagery that evoke in us a sense of our presence in the story. I noticed also that the gentleman used a subtle amount of alliteration. For instance, "teach me tones wild and wayward", "eager ear" and the like. He does employ a set rhythm which engraves the words and details upon the mind of the reader. Not many folks are skilled at the art of using multiple, hyphenated words so close together but Longfellow used them like they were pieces of a song-of course they are-the Song of Hiawatha. "Singing birds, that utter falsehoods, Story-tellers,mischief-makers, Found no eager ear to listen, Could not breed ill-will between them."

Although I am merely skimming the surface, the literary content of Longfellow's poetry is an example from which a good poet and writer can learn much about entertaining the reader and using quality grammatical tools. But I shall have to lecture more at another hour.

The hour is late and I'm rambling as I suppose stodgy old people do. I shan't have another cup of coffee as I need to arise early tomorrow for another round of lectures at the university. So I shall leave you with an abbreviated version of my weekly examination.

Don't forget to post your responses and return again in a day or so for the answers.

Two Questions this week.

1. Hectic or Helpful Homonyms. Which homonym is correct? Two weeks prior to today, I, Dr. William Wordwielder did visit the local book (sellers or cellars).

2. Ideal or Idiotic Idioms. If you make companionship with a fool, you might also be taken for one because as everybody knows, (a. You must never count your chickens before they hatch OR b. Birds of a feather flock together.)

By the way, I neglected to inform you about the results of my audition last Wednesday evening for the church worship ensemble. It appears that my style of vocal expression is not compatible with the music selections used by the choral director for the ensemble but the director was pleased with my audition so that he added an extra chair in the choir itself and placed me in the back to assist the bass and baritone sections as I possess a three octave range and there was no need for another tenor. Thank you all for your interest in my endeavor. I recently heard about another option where I might be able to sing with a collage of singers. For now, I shall retire and wish you all a good night's rest, though as I said it is late and you shall probably read my ramblings on the morrow. Good night. Don't forget to comment. Parting is such sweet, nay, bittersweet sorrow.


Spitfire said...

I'm glad the cabbie didn't hit you and that you caught your bifocals, Dr. Wordwielder. And I'm sorry the church choir wasn't overly impressed with your audition. Their loss....although I understand you'll still be helping.

As for the quiz, for number one, you went to the book sellers.
For number two, you'd be known by your friends, so birds of a kind flock together.

I love your quizes. Thanks for sharing them. And thanks to Becky Joie for allowing you to use her blog. Shalom.

Rich and JoJo Tabares said...

1. book sellers

2. b. Birds of a feather flock together.

Thank you for sharing your adventures. I do pray you will have a good time in the choir even though you didn't get the position you had hoped for.

Just wondering if you had seen Professor Wordsmith at the library. She mentioned to me she might attend.