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I

RECEIVING IDEAS

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I. READING AND TALKING

The year 's at the spring,
And day's at the mom;
Morning 's at seven;
The hill-side 's dew-pearled;
The lark's on the wing;
The snail's on the thorn;
God's in His Heaven

All's right with the world!
Pippa Passo.."

Robert Browning Read aloud the song of Pippa; then give the meaning in your own words. Were there any differences in the variations of your voice between your reading and your conversation? What variations in your talking were absent from your reading and what was the chief cause of the difference?

WILD ROSES AND SNOW
How sweet the sight of roses

In country lanes of June,
Where every flower uncloses

To meet the kiss of noon.

How strange the sight of roses

Roses both sweet and wild -
Seen where a valley closes

'Mid mountain heights up-piled;
Upon whose sides remaining

Is strewn the purest snow,
By its chill power restraining

The tide of spring's soft glow.
Yet God, who gave the pureness

To yon fair mountain snow,
Gives also the secureness

Whereby these roses blow.

Mackenzio Boll

Tell someone about some interesting object or event, a walk or a ball game for example. Notice your voice in talking - how freely it leaps about. Now read something and observe where and why your reading differs from your talking.

Take a short poem, such as the preceding, or some fable, calling one word at a time as if you were dictating, and observe the action of your voice. Then genuinely think and live the ideas, introducing them to people as something for them to think about. Observe the difference that results in the modulations of your voice.

Sometimes in reading your voice falls into a steady, meaningless drone, instead of gathering words into groups and skipping lightly from one to another as it does when you talk. When we read we are apt to see each word by itself, and pronounce one after another, without thinking of the ideas each helps to represent.

In talking, however, we “think before we speak.” First comes an idea, and the words to express it follow. Ideas should come to us in a similar way when we read, for though we get the idea after we see the words, yet we hold the idea in the mind before we speak them.

From all these illustrations we can see that the difference between our reading and talking results from our difference in thinking. When we do not think, our reading is bad. When we genuinely think and feel and live the ideas our reading appears free and natural.

When we take up any little poem or fable to read we should let our eyes glance through the words until we get an idea. The words ought to set us thinking; we should then hold our mind upon that one thing which the group of words suggests. Finally, we should speak these words naturally and easily while holding the idea.

One cause of our uttering words on one pitch without thinking of what they mean is that we endeavor to take in too many of them at a time. This is what we tend to do when we take words as words; the eye runs far ahead of the mind.

Instead, take only one idea and the words belonging to

it. Hold this definitely; not only until you realize it, but until you have uttered it. Then take time to get another and to utter that. If you do this and take hold of one phrase or idea and utter it as if you want someone to think and feel it with you, you will find at once that you are reading more naturally and easily than before.

IF WORDS WERE BIRDS

If words

Were birds
And swiftly flew

From tips

Of lips
Owned, dear, by you,

Would they,

To-day,
Be hawks and crows,

Or blue

And true
And sweet · who knows?

Let's play,

To-day,
We choose the best;

Birds blue

And true
With dove-like breast.

'Tis queer,

My dear,
We never knew

That words

Like birds
Had wings and flew.

Author not known

Why is it easy to read the preceding poem? Because every line is short, grouping the words and tending to make you stop an instant and think one idea and grasp one phrase at a time.

THE FIRST ROBIN

Welcome, welcome, little stranger;
Fear no harm and fear no danger.
We are glad to see you here,
For you sing, “ Sweet spring is near."
Now the white snow melts away;
Now the flowers blossom gay.
Come, dear bird, and build your nest,
For we love our robin best.

Louisa May Alcott Suppose a boy who loves birds discovers a robin, the first robin of the spring, and runs to tell someone about it. He will be excited, full of joy; he will breathe deeply; his face will brighten and his body expand. Can you give some phrase of your own as he would give it in telling someone about the discovery of a robin?

The words of a poem or fable or lyric must be familiar, otherwise you may be thinking of the words for their own sake, and not of the ideas which they represent. In reading you must always realize the ideas for which the words stand. Words are nothing in themselves; they are only symbols. The real source of all our expression must be in ideas.

WHAT DO WE PLANT WHEN WE PLANT THE TREE?

What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the ship which will cross the sea.
We plant the mast to carry the sails;
We plant the planks to withstand the gales
The keel, the keelson and beam and knee;
We plant the ship when we plant the tree.

What do we plant when we plant the tree?
We plant the houses for you and me;
We plant the rafters, the shingles, the floors,
We plant the studding, the laths, the doors,
The beams and siding, all that be;
We plant the house when we plant the tree.

What do we plant when we plant the tree?
A thousand things that we daily see;
We plant the spire that out-towers the crag,
We plant the staff for our country's flag,
We plant the shade, from the hot sun free;
We plant all these when we plant the tree!

Henry Abbey

For example, in this poem on the tree, certain ideas will come as a surprise to you. In the second line when you take in the first four words, and especially the word “ ship,” though you wonder what a tree has to do with a ship, a vivid picture will arise in your mind and you will give this word with force.

Other ideas about a tree will come before you, and if you realize truly you will give them with similar force, the word “ houses ” for instance.

Can you ask the questions in this little poem about the wind and answer them as definitely and naturally as if you were talking to someone?

Who has seen the wind?

Neither I nor you;
But when the leaves hang trembling

The wind is passing through.
Who has seen the wind?

Neither you nor I;
But when the trees bow down their heads
The wind is passing by.

Christina G. Rossetti

THE CROWS AND THE WINDMILL There was once a windmill which went round and round day after day. It did harm to no one. It never knocked anyone down unless he got within reach of its great arms. What if it did use the air? Surely there was no harm in that. The air was just as good as before.

But a flock of crows in the neighborhood took quite a dislike to the innocent mill. They said there must be some mischief about it. They did not at all like the swinging of those long arms for a whole day at a time.

It was thought best to call a meeting of all the crows in the country, far and near, to see if some plan could not be hit upon by which the dangerous thing could be gotten rid of.

The meeting was held in a corn-field. Such a cawing and chattering was never heard before in that neighborhood. They appointed a chairman, or rather a chair-crow.

As is usual in public meetings, there were many different opinions. Most of the crows thought the windmill a dangerous thing indeed, a very dangerous thing; but as to the best mode of getting rid of it, that was not so easy a matter to decide. Some were for active measures. They proposed going straight over to the windmill - all the crows in a body - and destroying it on the spot.

In justice to the crow family in general, however, it ought to be stated that those who talked about this warlike plan were rather young. Their feathers had not grown to their full length, and they had not seen so much of the world as their fathers had.

After a good deal of loud talking and blustering, one old crow said he had a question to ask. He would beg leave to inquire through the chairman, whether the windmill had ever been known to go away from the place where it was then standing, and to chase crows about with murderous intent.

It was answered that such conduct on the part of the giant had never been heard of.

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