GIS 3510: Intermediate Reading and Writing

Week 2: Readings and Assignments

Reading assignments: All the material below--"On-line lecture," "Assignments," "The Selfish Giant," "Astyages' Revenge," "Past and Present."


We have discussed already the first level of interacting with texts--retelling (or summary, or literal comprehension). But there is more to reading than retelling a story. Another crucial aspect of reading is interpretation (or moral, or hidden message, or unstated point).

II. Interpretation. Key points of works of fiction and nonfiction are often implied (and not directly stated). The art of inferring these key points is called INTERPRETATION. At this point, I am concerned with the moral of the story or with the hidden message the writer is trying to convey. As a reader of a short story, for example, I must decipher the meaning behind the plot. Often, this level also involves the question: Can some points be extended to circumstances beyond those directly touched upon by the author?

Again, let's make this abstraction clear by looking at the three pigs. We tell stories such as this endlessly to our children to entertain them, of course, but also to educate them. Now, what kind of education do we have in mind? Obviously, it's through such stories that they learn to communicate well and become socialized. But such stories serve other purposes, of which one involves their hidden message.

The teller of this story is probably trying to convey to us one or more of these message: this message: Build your house on solid foundations. OR: invest in your future. Or: Better safe than sorry. Or: If you fail to invest in your future, you may have to pay a terrible price.

Note that finding the moral of a story involves some creativity and hard thinking on your part. Note also that any interpretation contains an element of uncertainty--this might be what the writer is trying to say, but we can't be sure. For this reason, this part of your homework must contain an explanation. For instance, "I believe that the author is trying to tell us that we must work hard to secure a safe future. I believe that this is the hidden message in the story because the first two pigs cut corners, avoided expenses of time and money, built their house on flimsy materials. This nonchalance cost them their lives. On the other hand, the pig who worked hard and paid cold sweat and hard cash for a strong house, survived. His house, but not the others', was truly his castle.


Due date for the FINAL version of each assignment: As early as possible but no later than the third week of class.

Assignment 1. Submit summaries of all new pieces (see below). Note: To see how this is done, consult instructions for week 1.

Assignment 2. Provide an interpretation for two of the five pieces we have read so far. In each case, EXPLAIN your reasons for believing this is the hidden message, or moral, of the story.

Assignment 3. Carefully edit the following sentences:

1. Soon I began to teach at Wayne State. First teaching underwater basket weaving and later teaching moonshining.

2. Diane was elected top editor in this class. And was provided with an honorary pencil.

3. They did not recognize me. My beard gone and hair turned white.

4. We were trying to follow directions. Which were confusing and absurd.

5. Mary stutters whenever she see Joe. And whenever she see her math instructor.

6. She was not an outstanding success at her first job, she was not a complete failure either.

7. I ran over some broken glass in the parking lot, it did not puncture my tires.

8. The tiny storms cannot be identified as hurricanes therefore, they are called neutercanes.

9. The train departs at a reasonable late hour.

10. The diver was experience.

11. Our swimming pool is more deeper than Lake Michigan.

12. This guy is really the most craziest guy I have ever seen.

13. Seven candidates entered the mayor race in Detroit.

14. He didn't guard no goal.

15. It ain't nothing but a rooster.

16. I hate this job, but with an annual salary of $120,000 I couldn't hardly afford to quit.

17. These differences aside the resemblance between 1972 and 1980 is striking.

18. The boy is black handsome and smart.

19. An experienced teacher generally speaking doesn't run up against this kind of problem.

20. Today native Americans are still exploited not for land but for minerals.



Oscar Wilde


Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Irish dramatist, novelist, poet, social rebel, and wit, was born in Dublin. From the early 1880s, he spent most of his time in London. He became known for his aestheticism and his advocacy of "art for art's sake," regardless of moral stance. This advocacy is particularly conspicuous in his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). As a dramatist he achieved considerable success with a series of comedies noted for their epigrammatic style and sharp social commentary. These plays include Lady Windermere's Fan (1892) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Wilde's drama Salome (1893), written in French, was refused a performing license. It was published in English in 1894 and first performed in Paris in 1896. He died in exile in Paris.


Every afternoon, as they were coming from school, the children used to go and play in the Giant's garden.

It was a large lovely garden, with soft green grass. Here and there over the grass stood beautiful flowers like stars, and there were twelve peach-trees that in the spring-time broke out into delicate blossoms of pink and pearl, and in the autumn bore rich fruit. The birds sat on the trees and sang so sweetly that the children used to stop their games in order to listen to them. "How happy we are here!" they cried to each other.

One day the Giant came back. He had been to visit his friend the Cornish ogre, and had stayed with him for seven years. After the seven years were over he had said all that he had to say, for his conversation was limited, and he determined to return to his own castle. When he arrived he saw the children playing in the garden.

"What are you doing here?" he cried in a very gruff voice, and the children ran away.

"My own garden is my own garden," said the Giant; "any one can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself." So he built a high wall all round it, and put up a notice-board.




He was a very selfish Giant.

The poor children had now nowhere to play. They tried to play on the road, but the road was very dusty and full of hard stones, and they did not like it. They used to wander round the high walls when their lessons were over, and talk about the beautiful garden inside. "How happy we were there!" they said to each other.

Then the Spring came, and all over the country there were little blossoms and little birds. Only in the garden of the Selfish Giant it was still winter. The birds did not care to sing in it as there were no children, and the trees forgot to blossom. Once a beautiful flower put its head out from the grass, but when it saw the notice-board it was so sorry for the children that it slipped back into the ground again, and went off to sleep. The only people who were pleased were the Snow and the Frost. "Spring has forgotten this garden," they cried, "so we will live here all the year round." The Snow covered up the grass with her great white cloak, and the Frost painted all the trees silver. Then they invited the North Wind to stay with them, and he came. He was wrapped in furs, and he roared all day about the garden, and blew the chimney-pots down. "This is a delightful spot," he said, "we must ask the Hail on a visit." So the Hail came. Every day for three hours he rattled on the roof of the castle till he broke most of the slates, and then he ran round and round the garden as fast as he could go. He was dressed in grey, and his breath was like ice.

"I cannot understand why the Spring is so late in coming," said the Selfish Giant, as he sat at the window and looked out at his cold, white garden; "I hope there will be a change in the weather."

But the Spring never came, nor the Summer. The Autumn gave golden fruit to every garden, but to the Giant's garden she gave none. "He is too selfish," she said. So it was always Winter there, and the North Wind and the Hail, and the Frost, and the Snow danced about through the trees.

One morning the Giant was lying awake in bed when he heard some lovely music. It sounded so sweet to his ears that he thought it must be the King's musicians passing by. It was really only a little linnet singing outside his window, but it was so long since he had heard a bird sing in his garden that it seemed to him to be the most beautiful music in the world. Then the Hail stopped dancing over his head, and the North Wind ceased roaring, and a delicious perfume came to him through the open casement. "I believe the Spring has come at last," said the Giant; and he jumped out of bed and looked out.

What did he see?

He saw a most wonderful sight. Through a little hole in the wall the children had crept in, and they were sitting in the branches of the trees. In every tree that he could see there was a little child. And the trees were so glad to have the children back again that they had covered themselves with blossoms, and were waving their arms gently above the children's heads. The birds were flying about and twittering with delight, and the flowers were looking up through the green grass and laughing. It was a lovely scene, only in one corner it was still winter. It was the farthest corner of the garden, and in it was standing a little boy. He was so small that he could not reach up to the branches of the tree, and he was wandering all round it, crying bitterly. The poor tree was still covered with frost and snow, and the North Wind was blowing and roaring above it. "Climb up! little boy," said the Tree, and it bent its branches down as low as it could; but the boy was too tiny.

And the Giant's heart melted as he looked out. "How selfish I have been!" he said: "now I know why the Spring would not come here. I will put that poor little boy on the top of the tree, and then I will knock down the wall, and my garden shall be the children's playground for ever and ever." He was really very sorry for what he had done.

So he crept downstairs and opened the front door quite softly, and went out into the garden. But when the children saw him they were so frightened that they all ran away, and the garden became winter again. Only the little boy did not run for his eyes were so full of tears that he did not see the Giant coming. And the Giant stole up behind him and took him gently in his hand, and put him up into the tree. And the tree broke at once into blossom, and the birds came and sang on it, and the little boy stretched out his two arms and flung them round the Giant's neck, and kissed him. And the other children when they saw that the Giant was not wicked any longer, came running back, and with them came the Spring. "It is your garden now, little children," said the Giant, and he took a great axe and knocked down the wall. And when the people were going to market at twelve o'clock they found the Giant playing with the children in the most beautiful garden they had ever seen.

All day long they played, and in the evening they came to the Giant to bid him good-bye.

"But where is your little companion?" he said: "the boy I put into the tree." The Giant loved him the best because he had kissed him.

"We don't know," answered the children: "he has gone away."

"You must tell him to be sure and come to-morrow," said the Giant. But the children said that they did not know where he lived and had never seen him before; and the Giant felt very sad.

Every afternoon, when school was over, the children came and played with the Giant. But the little boy whom the Giant loved was never seen again. The Giant was very kind to all the children, yet he longed for his first little friend, and often spoke of him. "How I would like to see him!" he used to say.

Years went over, and the Giant grew very old and feeble. He could not play about any more, so he sat in a huge arm-chair, and watched the children at their games, and admired his garden. "I have many beautiful flowers," he said; "but the children are the most beautiful flowers of all."

One winter morning he looked out of his window as he was dressing. He did not hate the Winter now, for he knew that it was merely the Spring asleep, and that the flowers were resting.

Suddenly he rubbed his eyes in wonder and looked and looked. It certainly was a marvellous sight. In the farthest corner of the garden was a tree quite covered with lovely white blossoms. Its branches were golden, and silver fruit hung down from them, and underneath it stood the little boy he had loved.

Downstairs ran the Giant in great joy, and out into the garden. He hastened across the grass, and came near to the child. And when he came quite close his face grew red with anger, and he said, "Who hath dared to wound thee?" For on the palms of the child's hands were the prints of two nails, and the prints of two nails were on the little feet.

"Who hath dared to wound thee?" cried the Giant, "tell me, that I may take my big sword and slay him."

"Nay," answered the child: "but these are the wounds of Love."

"Who art thou?" said the Giant, and a strange awe fell on him, and he knelt before the little child.

And the child smiled on the Giant, and said to him, "You let me play once in your garden, to-day you shall come with me to my garden, which is Paradise."

And when the children ran in that afternoon, they found the Giant lying dead under the tree, all covered with white blossoms.


Astyages' Revenge



After all this, Cyaxares died, having been king for forty years (if you include those years when the Scythians held sway), and Astyages, his son, succeeded him.

Now Astyages had a daughter whose name was Mandane, and Astyages saw her in a dream making water so greatly that she filled all his city and flooded, besides, all of Asia. He confided this dream to those of the Magi who were dream interpreters, and, when he learned the particulars of their exposition, he feared greatly. When Mandane was ripe for a man, Astyages, since he dreaded his dream, gave her to no one of the Medes who were worthy to marry into his house but to a Persian called Cambyses, whom he found to be a man of good house and peaceable temper; and he thought this Persian was much below a Mede of even middle class.

When Mandane was living with her husband in their first year, Astyages saw another vision; it seemed to him that out of his daughter's privy parts there grew a vine, and the vine shaded all Asia. This, then, he saw; and again he entrusted the matter to the dream interpreters and sent to recall his daughter from where she lived among the Persians, she then being big with child. When she came, he kept her under ward, because he wished to destroy whatever should be born of her. For from his vision the interpreters among the Magi had read the signs to mean that the child of his daughter would become king in his place. It was against this that Astyages guarded, and so when Cyrus was born he summoned Harpagus, his kinsman, the faithfullest of the Medes and the steward of all that he had. "Harpagus," he said, "here is a matter I am entrusting to you; by no means mishandle it, nor yet deceive me and choose others: should you do so, you shall thereafter bring upon yourself a fall into ruin. Take this child that Mandane bore and bring it to your own house and kill it, and afterwards bury it in whatever way you please." Harpagus answered, "My lord, never yet have you seen even a hint of what is untoward in me, and I shall give heed that in the time to come, too, I shall not offend against you. If it is your pleasure that this be so, then it shall be mine to serve you duly."

So Harpagus answered him. When the baby was given him, all decked out for his death, Harpagus went weeping to his house, and on coming there he told his wife all the story that Astyages had told him. "And now what is in your mind to do?" she asked. "Certainly not what Astyages has ordered me," was his answer; "not though he shall be even more frantic and mad than now he is will I fall in with his judgment and be his servant in such a murder. There are many reasons why I will not murder the child: because he is akin to me and because Astyages is an old man and childless in male issue. If it should happen that after his death the crown should devolve upon his daughter, whose son Astyages has killed by my hands, what is left for me, from then on, but the greatest peril? Yet for my own safety the child must die; but it must be one of Astyages' folk that will be its murderer and none of mine."

So he said and at once sent a messenger to that one of Astyages' herdsmen whom he knew to graze his flocks in the pastures most suitable for his purpose and in mountains where wild beasts were most common. The man's name was Mitradates, and he lived with a woman who was a slave like himself and was called in Greek Cyno and in Median Spako; for the Medians call a bitch Spako. The foothills where this herdsman grazed his cattle were to the north of Ecbatana and toward the Euxine Sea; for at this point the country of the Medes, toward the Saspires, is hilly, high, and with dense thickets, but all the rest of Media is a flat plain. When the herdsman arrived in great haste at his summons, Harpagus said: "It is Astyages' command to you that you take this child and expose it on the loneliest part of the hills, that it may the soonest perish; and he has ordered me to tell you that if you do not kill it, but in any way bear a hand in its survival, he will cause you yourself to die the most terrible of deaths. I myself have instructions to supervise the child's exposure."

When the herdsman heard this, he took up the baby and went the same road home until he came to his homestead. Now his own wife was near her time all that day, and, as God would somehow have it so, she gave birth when her husband had gone to the city. They were much in one another's thoughts, these two; for the man was afraid for his wife in labor, and the woman for her man, whom Harpagus, in so unaccustomed a fashion, had summoned to his presence. Then he came back and stood before her, and the woman, as the sight of him was unexpected, was the first to ask him why Harpagus had been so instant in sending for him. The herdsman said: "Wife, I came to the city and saw and heard something I wish I had not seen nor that it should have happened to our masters. For the whole house of Harpagus was in a tumult of lamentation, and I went into it bewildered. When I came in, I saw a baby lying there, struggling and crying; he was decked out with gold ornaments, and his clothes were finely embroidered. When Harpagus saw me, he bade me take up the child speedily and go and expose it on the hills where the beasts are thickest; he said it was Astyages who had laid these commands on me, and he added many threats if I should disobey. I took up the child and bore it here, thinking it must be from one of the household, since I had no inkling where it should have come from. But I marveled to see the gold and the raiment and the lamentation so manifest in Harpagus' house. As I came along the road, I learned the whole story from one of the servants, who escorted me out of the city and put the baby into my hands. He said it was the child of Mandane, the daughter of Astyages and of Cambyses, son of Cyrus, and that it was Astyages' command that it should be killed. So now, here he is."

Even as he spoke, the herdsman took the covering from the baby and showed it to her. When his wife saw the child so big and beautiful, she burst into tears, and taking her man by the knees she besought him by no means to expose it. He said he could not do otherwise; for spies were to come from Harpagus to oversee the matter, and the herdsman would die a cruel death if he disobeyed. So when the woman could not persuade her man, she said next, "Since I cannot persuade you not to expose it, you must do this--if a child must necessarily be seen exposed. I, too, have given birth, and the baby I bore was dead. Take then the dead boy and expose it, and let us bring up, as our own, this child of Astyages' daughter. So you will not be detected in cheating our masters, and we shall ourselves have arranged our business well enough. For the dead child will have a royal burial, and the survivor will not lose his life."

The herdsman thought that his wife counseled very well in his present trouble, and he immediately did as she said. The child he had brought and of whom he should have been the deathman he confided to his wife; but his own child that was dead he took up and placed in the box wherein he had brought the other. He put on the dead body all the ornaments of that other child and bore it off to the loneliest part of the hills and left it there. When the third day came on the exposed child, the herdsman went to the city, leaving one of his underlings to guard it, and came to the house of Harpagus and said he was ready to show him the body. Harpagus sent some of the trustiest of his bodyguard, and through their agency saw and buried the body that was the herdsman's child. So that one was buried, and he that was afterwards called Cyrus was taken over by the herdsman's wife and brought up by her, though of course she put another name on him and not Cyrus.

When the child was ten years old, the following thing happened to him and revealed him. He was playing in the village where the herdsmen's houses were, playing in the road with other children of the same age. The children in their play chose him for their king--him who was called the cowherd's son. So he made his several orders for all of them to build houses and those to be bodyguards, and one of them, I suppose, to be the King's Eye. And to another he assigned the privilege of carrying messages to him. To each of them he gave his special function. One of the children the boy played with was the son of Artembares, a man of distinction among the Medes. This boy refused to discharge an order of Cyrus, at which Cyrus bade the other children arrest him; and when they obeyed him, he treated the rebel very roughly and had him whipped. As soon as he was let go, the child became even angrier (for he felt that he had suffered in a way unbefitting his rank) and went back to the town and complained to his father of how he had been dealt with by Cyrus, though of course he did not call him "Cyrus" (since that was not yet his name) but "the son of Astyages' herdsman." Artembares was very angry indeed and went to Astyages, taking his son with him and declaring that what he had suffered was not to be borne. "My lord," he said, "it is at the hands of your slave, the cowherd's child, that we have endured such insults as this," and he pointed to his son's shoulders.

Astyages listened to him and saw what had been done and wished to avenge Artembares' son, because of Artembares' high position, and so he sent for the cowherd and his son. When they both came before him, Astyages glanced at Cyrus and said, "You are the son of such a father as this, and did you dare to chastise so shamefully the son of one who is of the first honor with me?" The boy answered him: "Master, I did this to him, and with justice I did it. For the children of the village, of whom he was one, in their play made me their king; they judged that I was the most suited to the office. All the other boys did what I bade them do, but this one was deaf to my orders and would none of them, until finally he was punished for it. So if for this I deserve to suffer some ill, here am I to take it."

As the boy spoke, Astyages was visited by a kind of recognition; besides, the look on the boy's face seemed to him to resemble his own and his style of answering to be too free for what he appeared to be; also, the date of the exposure seemed to jibe with this boy's age. The king was thunderstruck by all this and for a time could say nothing. Hardly, at last, he rallied himself and--anxious to get rid of Artembares so that he could examine the cowherd privately--he said, "Artembares, I will so deal with this matter that neither you nor your son will have grounds of complaint." So he sent Artembares off; and the servants, at Astyages' command, took Cyrus inside. Then, when the king and the cowherd were quite alone, Astyages put his question to him: "Where did you get this child, and who gave him to you?" The man said that the child was his own and that his mother was still at home. Astyages said: "You are not well advised to want to bring yourself to the extremity of what you may suffer," and with these words he gave a sign to his bodyguards to seize the man. The cowherd in his desperation told the real story. He began at the beginning, followed the truth of it right through, and ended with entreaties, begging Astyages to pardon him.

When the cowherd revealed the truth, Astyages took less account of him then and there; but he was furious with Harpagus and bade the bodyguards summon him. When Harpagus came, Astyages asked him, "Harpagus, what sort of death did you use to destroy my daughter's child, whom I entrusted to you?" Now Harpagus saw the cowherd in the house, so he did not turn to the road of lies, in which he would surely be discovered and refuted, but said: "My lord, when I received the child, I debated with myself how I might do your pleasure and be clear of offense toward you but also how I might not be a murderer in your daughter's sight and in your own. This is what I did. I summoned this cowherd here and gave him the child, saying that it was your command to kill it. And in so saying I told no lie; for you had indeed given that order. So I gave it to him with instructions in this sense, that he should expose it on a lonely mountain and stand by and watch it till it died; and I used a world of threats if he should not do all of this. He did my commands; the child died, and I sent the trustiest of my eunuchs; and by their means I saw him dead and buried him. This, my lord, is exactly how it was, and this is how the child died."

So Harpagus told the story straightly; but Astyages concealed the anger he felt at what had happened, and first of all he told over to Harpagus what he had heard from the herdsman in the matter, and afterwards, when it had all been told twice, he ended by saying that the child was alive and that the business was well enough. "For I suffered greatly," he went on to say, "at what was done to this child, and I took it as no light thing to be estranged from my daughter. So since the luck has turned out well, will you send your son here to join this newcomer among us and will you yourself come to dinner? For I propose to celebrate a ceremonial sacrifice to those gods to whom honor is due for this saving of my grandchild."

Harpagus, on hearing this, did obeisance; and regarding it as a great thing that his offense had come out so well, and appositely, and that he was invited to dinner on such a fortunate occasion, went to his house. As he came in, he met his only son, a boy of about thirteen years, and sent him off to Astyages, telling him to go there and do whatever the king ordered him. And in his delight he told his wife all that had happened. When Harpagus' son came to Astyages, the king cut his throat and chopped him limb from limb, and some of him he roasted and some he stewed and, having dressed all, held it in readiness. When it was the dining hour and the other guest had come, then for those other guests and for Astyages himself there were set tables full of mutton, but, before Harpagus, the flesh of his own son, all save for the head and the extremities of the hands and the feet; these were kept separate, covered up in a basket. When it seemed that Harpagus had had enough of his meal, Astyages asked him how he liked the feast. "Very much indeed," said Harpagus; and then those whose instruction it was brought in the head and the hands and the feet of his son, covered; these men stood before Harpagus and bade him uncover and take what he pleased from it. Harpagus did so and, uncovering, saw the remains of his son. But when he saw them, he gave no signs of disturbance and remained quite himself. Astyages asked him if he new what wild thing it was whose flesh he had been eating. "Yes," he said, "I know; whatsoever my lord the king does is pleasing." So he answered and, taking up what was left of the flesh, went home, resolved, I suppose, to gather all together and bury it.

This was the penalty Astyages laid upon Harpagus; but when he came to think about Cyrus, he summoned those same Magi who had expounded his dream in their sense. When they came, Astyages asked them how it was that they had expounded the dream. They answered in the same terms as before, declaring that had the boy survived and not died first, he must needs have become king. At this he answered them: "The boy lives, he has survived; and when he was living out in the country, the children in the village made him their king. He did all the things that real kings do: he appointed bodyguards and sentries and messengers and made all the other arrangements, and so he ruled. Now I would know toward what you think all these things tend." The Magi said: "If indeed the boy survives and has become king with no connivance, be of good cheer and good heart: he will not come to rule a second time. Some, even of our prophecies, issue in very small matters, and in all that pertains to dreams the fulfillment is often in something trifling." Said Astyages: "I am myself strongly of your opinion, Magi--that since the child has been called king, the dream has come out, and so the boy will be no future threat to me. Yet I would have you counsel me carefully, with heedful concern for what will be safest for my house and for yourselves." The Magi answered, "My lord, that your rule should stand safely is of the utmost importance to ourselves. For otherwise the crown will fall into alien hands; it will devolve on this boy, who is Persian, and we, being Medes, will be enslaved by the Persians and become of no consequence with relation to them, since we will be foreigners in our own land. But so long as you are king, who are our countryman, we have our share in the rule and great honor from you. So we must certainly look out for you and for your authority. If now we saw anything to be feared in this matter, we would have told you everything. As it is, the dream has issued in something trifling; we are ourselves quite confident and bid you be the same. So send the boy away from your sight to the Persians and his parents."

When Astyages heard this, he was very glad and summoned Cyrus and said to him, "My boy, I did you a wrong because of a vision I saw in a dream, a vision that found no fulfillment; but through your own destiny you have survived. Go then, and fare you well, to the Persians, and I will send an escort with you. When you get there, you will find a father and mother of different style from Mitradates, the cowherd, and his wife."

With these words Astyages sent Cyrus away. When the boy came to the house of Cambyses, his parents received him; and after they had received him, they heard all; their welcome was full of joy, for they had understood him to have died so long ago; and they questioned him as to how he had survived. He told them, saying that until now he had himself not known of it but was greatly astray, but that on the road he had learned all that had happened him; he had believed that he was the son of Astyages' cowherd, but as he had traveled thither he had heard the whole story from his escort. He had been raised by the cowherd's wife, he said, and, as he told it, he was continually praising her, and indeed, in the tale he told, everything was Cyno. His parents caught at the name, and, so as to make the Persians think that their son's survival was even more a thing of God's contriving, they spread the rumor that Cyrus, exposed, had been suckled by a bitch.

From this, then, that legend has grown. But when Cyrus had become a young man and, indeed, of all those of his age the bravest and the most loved, Harpagus courted him with gifts, for he was eager to take his own vengeance on Astyages. He saw no possibility of any punishment coming upon the king from one who was only a private person, but, as he observed Cyrus growing up, he tried to make an ally of him; for in the shape of Cyrus' sufferings he saw his own.


Past and Present


Thomas Hood

[Note:  This poem--perhaps one of the most touching in the English language--was published in 1826]

I remember, I remember,
The house where I was born,
The little window where the sun
Came peeping in at morn;
He never came a wink too soon,
Nor brought too long a day,
But now, I often wish the night
Had borne my breath away!

I remember, I remember,
The roses, red and white,
The vi'lets, and the lily-cups,
Those flowers made of light!
The lilacs where the robin built,
And where my brother set
The laburnum on his birthday,--
The tree is living yet!

I remember, I remember,
Where I was used to swing,
And thought the air must rush as fresh
To swallows on the wing;
My spirit flew in feathers then,
That is so heavy now,
And summer pools could hardly cool
The fever on my brow!

I remember, I remember,
The fir trees dark and high;
I used to think their slender tops
Were close against the sky:
It was a childish ignorance,
But now 'tis little joy
To know I'm farther off from heav'n
Than when I was a boy.