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Having the graces of speech, and skill in the turning
of phrases." Taking the hand of his friend, who still was reluctant
and doubtful, Holding it long in his own, and pressing it kindly, he
added : “Though I have spoken thus lightly, yet deep is the
feeling that prompts me; Surely you cannot refuse what I ask in the name of our friendship!”
180 Then made answer John Alden: “The
friendship is sacred; What you
demand in that name, I have not the power to deny you!” So the strong will prevailed, subduing and moulding
the gentler, Friendship prevailed over love, and Alden went on
THE LOVER'S ERRAND
So the strong will prevailed, and Alden went on his errand,
185 Out of the street of the village, and into the paths of
Into the tranquil woods, where bluebirds and robins
were building Towns in the populous trees, with hanging gardens of
verdure, Peaceful, aerial cities of joy and affection and free
dom. All around him was calm, but within him commotion and conflict,
190 Love contending with friendship, and self with each
generous impulse. To and fro in his breast his thoughts were heaving
and dashing, As in a foundering ship, with every roll of the ves
sel, Washes the bitter sea, the merciless surge of the
ocean! “ Must I relinquish it all,” he cried with a wild lamentation,
188 Populous: why are the trees so called ?
Hanging gardens: the reference is to the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon which Nebuchadnezzar built for his wife. She was a princess from Media and missed in the flat scenery of Babylon the mountains and valleys of her native land. These gardens were made in terraces supported upon columns and with soil sufficiently deep to sustain life in full-grown trees.
191 What did love prompt him to do? What did friendship urge
“Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illu
sion ? Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and wor
shipped in silence ? Was it for this I have followed the flying feet and the
shadow Over the wintry sea, to the desolate shores of New
England ? Truly the heart is deceitful, and out of its depths of
corruption Rise, like an exhalation, the misty phantoms of passion; Angels of light they seem, but are only delusions of
Satan. All is clear to me now; I feel it, I see it distinctly! This is the hand of the Lord; it is laid upon me in
anger, For I have followed too much the heart's desires and
devices, Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of
198, 199 Longfellow supposes Alden's attachment to have begun in England. See the sketch of the poem in the preface.
206 Astaroth and Baal: these were Phænician deities, Astaroth, also spelled Astarte, being about the same as the Roman Venus. Look up Judges ii. 12, 13, and I Samuel xii. 10. What Command. ment was broken by such worship?
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went
on his errand; Crossing the brook at the ford, where it brawled over
pebble and shallow, Gathering still, as he went, the Mayflowers blooming
around him, Fragrant, filling the air with a strange and wonderful
sweetness, Children lost in the woods, and covered with leaves in
their slumber. “Puritan flowers," he said, " and the type of Puritan
maidens, Modest and simple and sweet, the very type of Pris
cilla! So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the Mayflower of Plymouth,
210 Mayflowers: the trailing arbutus. The name is applied in England to the hawthorn. It is said that the Pilgrims called the trailing arbutus thus after the hawthorn of their old home.
208, 209 These lines would seem to indicate that there were other houses in the settlement that winter than the little cluster on Leyden St. Another instance of poetic license.
212 What story is referred to ?
Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I
take them; Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and
wither and perish, Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the
giver." So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on
his errand; Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the
ocean, Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath
of the east-wind; Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a
meadow; Heard, as he drew near the door, the musical voice of
Priscilla Singing the hundredth Psalm, the grand old Puritan
anthem, Music that Luther sang to the sacred words of the Psalmist,
225 Full of the breath of the Lord, consoling and comfort
224 Who wrote the words of the hundredth Psalm ?
225 Who was Luther? Who was the Psalmist, and why was he so called ?
226 Look up Genesis ii. 7.