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In Edward Rowland Sill's poem called "Opportunity" (p. 230) the "coward" says that if he only had the keen-edged sword belonging to the "king's son," he could fight. But as he had only a cheap sword, he broke it, threw the pieces down, and slunk away. The "king's son," "wounded and weaponless," found the broken sword, snatched it up, returned to the fight, and won a great victory.

In the following poem, Sam Walter Foss, who was born in Candia, New Hampshire, 1858, and who died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1911, tells of a man who could not accomplish anything unless he was surrounded by every possible convenience with which to work. And even then he could not do the things he planned to do. The author means to tell us that, if it is in us to do things, we will do them anyway, and that, if we really wish to do things, we will find the way.

The story of this man is funny, but it makes us somewhat ashamed to make excuses. There is no poorer thing on earth than an excuser. Tommy Sipes excused himself for not having his lesson by saying, "I didn't have my book at home." He knew that it would have taken him only ten minutes to get his book. He

was an excuser.

Now read the story of a man who was an excuser.

Homer was a great Greek poet and the author of "The Iliad," or the story of the siege of Troy. It is supposed that he did not have a written language, but composed and kept his great poem only in memory. About three thousand years have passed since he died, but his poem is still read by all intelligent persons.






A man once bought a bottle of ink
To write the thoughts that he might think.

A marble table then he bought

Whereon to write the thoughts he thought.

He bought a farm, fringed round with wood,
And compassed round with solitude,

That he, where none molest, might sink
And write the thoughts he thought he'd think.

And then around his bottle of ink

He built a house wherein to think;

And in the house he built a room
Retired in dim scholastic gloom;

A room made up of alcoved nooks
And furnished with ten thousand books!

For from such lakes of lore to drink,
He thought would aid his brain to think.


His hair was thick and richly brown
When at his desk he sat him down,

And long he gazed within the brink
Of that potential bottle of ink;

Ah, long before it did he stay,
Until his hair was thin and gray!

And dreamed, before that bottle of ink,
Of thoughts he thought he ought to think.

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Ah, long he tried to be a bard
But found his rooster crowed too hard,

And with loud cock-a-doodle-doos
It frightened off the bashful Muse.

He meditated sounding lines -
But the loud wind among the pines

Disturbed him blowing from the west,
And kept his fine lines unexpressed.

And so he died, old, lame, and blind,
And left his bottle of ink behind;

And some one wrote with it a very
Pathetic, sweet obituary.


A man who suffers from the strain
Of unwrit epics in his brain





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Can ease the pressure of his grief
With a stub of pencil and a leaf.

Old Homer owned no inch of ground,
But sung and passed his hat around;

No farm, no house, no books, no ink,
But still had divers thoughts to think.

If nothing in the skull abide,
Then nothing helps a man outside;

And what avails a sea of ink

To him who has no thoughts to think?


1. What did this man plan to do? | 6.
2. How did he prepare to do it?
3. What does "that potential

bottle of ink" mean? (Po-
tential means having 7.
power of doing or pro-
ducing.) A bottle of ink
is before you. Might there
be a poem or a story in it?

4. What excuses did the man
offer for failing to write his 8.
great poem?

5. What became of him? Did

he ever write his poem?

What was at last written with "the bottle of ink"? (An obituary is a funeral notice.)

An "epic" is a long poem

which tells of heroic deeds, as "The Iliad." What does a poet need in order to write a great epic? How did Homer produce "The Iliad "?

What is an excuser? Are

you acquainted with any excuser?



This short poem about a little flower that the great English poet, Alfred Tennyson, plucked out of a cranny, or crevice in a wall, contains a very great thought. Let us try to find the thought.

To find the thought, let us suppose that you live near a river, in which you have been swimming many times.

If some one should ask you, "Do you know this river?" you would quickly and with much certainty answer, "Yes."

But have you ever thought that, to know the river, you would have to know all the streams that go to make the river? You would also have to know the slope of all the land in the river's basin. You would have to know all about how the sun takes the water from oceans and lakes to make the river; about the laws of rainfall, and winds, and heat and cold; indeed, you would need to know everything in the universe, if you really knew your river.

That is, everything in the whole universe of earth and sun and stars is connected and related, and everything works together.

"Winds wander, and dews drip earthward,

Rains fall, suns rise and set,

Earth whirls, and all but to prosper

A poor little violet."

So, if you really knew a "little flower in the crannied wall," you would "know what God and man is."

That is what the poem means.

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