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“Must I relinquish it all, the joy, the hope, the illusion ?
Was it for this I have loved, and waited, and worshipped 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 200
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, 205
Worshipping Astaroth blindly, and impious idols of Baal.
193- 199 Longfellow supposes Alden’s attachment to have begun in England. See the sketch of the poem in the preface.
2” Astaroth and Baal: these were Phoenician 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 Commandment was broken by such worship ?
This is the cross I must bear; the sin and the swift retribution.”
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, 210 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 Priscilla!
So I will take them to her; to Priscilla the Mayflower Of Plymouth, 215 Modest and simple and sweet, as a parting gift will I take them;
21” Mayflowers: the trailing arbutus. The name is applied in England to the hawthorn. It is said that the Pilgrims called the trailing arbntns thus after the hawthorn of their old home.
203-209 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.
W What story is referred to 'I
Breathing their silent farewells, as they fade and wither and perish,
Soon to be thrown away as is the heart of the
So through the Plymouth woods John Alden went on his errand;
Came to an open space, and saw the disk of the 006311, 220
Sailless, sombre and cold with the comfortless breath of the east-wind; Saw the new-built house, and people at work in a
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 comforting many.
224 Who wrote the words of the hundredth Psalm ?
215 Who was Luther? Who was the Psalmist, and why was he so called ?
225 Look up Genesis ii. 7.
Then, as he opened the door, he beheld the form of the maiden
Seated beside her wheel, and the carded wool like a snow-drift
Piled at her knee, her white hands feeding the ravenous spindle,
While with her foot on the treadle she guided the wheel in its motion. :30
Open wide on her lap lay the well-worn psalm-book of Ainsworth,
Printed in Amsterdam, the words and the music together,
Rough-hewn, angular notes, like stones in the wall of a churchyard,
Darkened and overhung by the running vine of the verses.
228 Wheel: what sort of wheel is this? Can you give a description of it? Where did she get the wool?
229 Ravenous: why is the spindle called ravenous?
281 Ainsworth: a saintly leader and teacher among the Puritans. He was forced to remove to Holland, and there occupied his life with writings on the different books of the Bible. He died about 1622.
238' 234 A good description of a page of the hymn book. The art of printing was introduced in 1454. The use of such an art grows slowly, so that after the lapse of a century and a half the printing was still rough.
Such was the book from whose pages she sang the old Puritan anthem, 235
She, the Puritan girl, in the solitude of the forest,
Making the humble house and the modest apparel of homespun
Beautiful with her beauty, and rich with the wealth of her being!
Over him rushed, like a wind that is keen and cold and relentless,
Thoughts of what might have been, and the weight and woe of his errand; 240
All the dreams that had faded, and all the hopes that had vanished, .
All his life henceforth a dreary and tenantless mansion,
Haunted by vain regrets, and pallid, sorrowful faces.
Still he said to himself, and almost fiercely he said it,
“Let not him that putteth his hand to the plough look backwards ; 245
Though the ploughshare cut through the flowers of life to its fountains,
237‘ 238 Compare these lines from Herbert’s “ Elixir" :—
“ Who sweeps a room as by Thy laws
245 Look up Luke ix. 62.