Lesson Four Wisdom of Bear Wood Michael Welzenbach: Lesson Four Wisdom of Bear Wood Michael Welzenbach Slide2: Pre-class work
Do you think people who are very different in age can develop a rewarding friendship? Do you have such friends? Have you heard of such cases? Tell the class if you do.
About the author
Michael Welzenbach (1954---2001) was an art critic as
well as a poet and a novelist. He wrote some of the most
stimulating criticism of art and music for the Washington Post
Michael Welzenbach, 'Mythic Proportions: Three Artists at
WPA's 'Dream On...'.'The Washington Post: May 18, 1989
Michael Welzenbach, 'Mixing Media andamp; Imagery,' Washington
Post, July 7
Michael Welzenbach, 'Mirrors of Their Souls' Washington
Post (July 20, 1991)
About the Story
The story is about a friendship between two souls who are 'seemingly different' in every way: one is an American boy of twelve; and the other is an old English woman. Slide4: Detailed Discussion of the Text
Para 1 wrench sb/sth away--- twist or pull sb/sth violently away from sth
eg: 1)He wrenched his arm away.
2)He managed to wrench himself free.
If someone is wrenched from people whom they like or love, they are taken away from them suddenly, which causes them great unhappiness.
eg: At the age of eight, she was wrenched from her foster
parents and sent to live with another family.
Slide5: Para 2
a patchwork of farms--- farms that look like small pieces of cloth of different colors when seen from far above
woodland--- a piece of land covered with trees verge against--- to be close to; to be at the edge or border of
The preposition 'against' is used to mean 'next to', 'touching or hitting the surface of'
eg: 1)A heavy rain was
pattering against the windows.
2)The policeman was
leaning against the door. Slide6: a network of--- a system of lines, wires, roads, etc that cross each other and are connected to each other
…and pheasants rocketed off--- …and pheasants went off like rockets
pheasant--- a large bird with a long tail, often shot for food
1)He tried to worm into that organization. ( He tried to get into
that organization like a worm.)
2)It could snowball into a serious conflict. ( It could gradually
develop into a serious conflict like a snowball.)
3)He was wolfing it down as if he had not eaten for
days. ( He was eating it very quickly like a wolf.) Slide7: Slide8: laurel---a small tree with smooth shiny dark green leaves that don’t fall in winter
Laurel leaves are also used in the Olympic symbol, and laurel leaves were once woven into wreaths by the ancient Greeks to crown victors in various contests. This is also the origin of the term 'laurels', which is used to indicate fame, honor and victory. Slide9: Slide10: Para 3
roam---[ Ipr,Ip,Tn] walk or travel without any definite aim or destination
The sentence means that I spent most of my time walking in the woods without any clear purpose or definite destination.
idiomatic use of 'roam' as a transitive word. Normally it is used as an intransitive verb as in 'roam about' or 'roam around'
eg:1)roam through the deserted village
2)just roaming around
3)He used to roam the streets for hours on end. Robin Hood--- A legendary English outlaw of the 12th century,
hero of many ballads, who robbed the rich to give to the poor;
a popular model of courage, generosity and justice, as well as
of skill in archery, he lived and presided over his band of
followers chiefly in Sherwood Forest. Slide11: Everyone has heard of Robin Hood, Nottinghamshire's most famous son and the world's favourite folk hero. His adventures have been told and retold down the generations, from medieval ballad to Hollywood movie.
Tradition tells that Robin Hood was an outlaw who poached the king's deer in the royal hunting forest of Sherwood. Stories relate how travelers through the forest provided rich pickings We hear how he tricked and outwitted the evil Sheriff of Nottingham for the gentleman robber and his band of 'Merry Men', turning the tables on corrupt churchmen and officials who abused their power over an oppressed peasantry. Slide12: Robin Hood Slide13: A famous outlaw and romantic hero of the Middle Ages. Whether he was a living man or only a legend is uncertain. Old ballads relate that Robin Hood and his followers roamed the green depths of Sherwood Forest, near Nottingham, in the center of England. There they lived a carefree life, passing the time playing games of archery, hunting the king's deer, and robbing the rich. They shared their spoils with the poor and never injured women or children.
According to some versions of the legend, Robin Hood became an outlaw by killing a deer on a wager. Then he had slain one of the king's foresters who threatened his life. A price was set on Robin's head, and he went into hiding. Soon there gathered about him other bold men who had been outlawed or deprived of their inheritances. Some of them hated the hard rule of the barons. Others loved the free life of the outdoors. More than once a man won an honored place in the band by defeating Robin Hood himself in a fair fight.
One day, when Robin was about to cross a narrow bridge, a stranger seven feet tall blocked the way. The two men fought with quarterstaves (long, stout sticks), and Robin Hood was knocked into the stream. As soon as he could scramble out of the water and catch his breath, Robin Hood praised this stranger and asked him to join his band. Thus Little John, so called because of his great size, became Robin Hood's right-hand man. Will Scarlet and Arthur-a-Bland, a tanner, also fought their way into the band. Others whose names often occur in the ballads are Will Stutely; Much, or Midge, a miller's son; and the romantic minstrel Alan-a-Dale. Robin Hood's chaplain and confessor was the fat and jovial Friar Tuck. Slide14: In later ballads Robin's sweetheart, Maid Marian, was introduced. When Robin Hood was outlawed, she dressed as a page and went to seek him in Sherwood Forest. At last they met. Both were disguised, and neither recognized the other. They fought until Robin, admiring her skill, invited Marian to join his band. Then she recognized his voice.
Robin Hood's greatest enemy was the sheriff of Nottingham. The sheriff tried by force and trickery to bring the outlaw to justice. He was always outwitted. He even announced a shooting match, feeling sure that Robin Hood would appear to show his skill as an archer. The outlaw did appear, but in disguise. He won the prize, a golden arrow, which was handed to him by the sheriff himself. Not until Robin was once more safe in Sherwood Forest did the sheriff learn how he had been deceived.
Although Robin Hood lived on the king's deer, the ballads say that the outlaw 'loved no man in the world so much as his king.' According to one tale King Richard the Lion-Hearted went in disguise to Sherwood Forest and, having tested Robin Hood's loyalty, granted him a royal pardon.
The Robin Hood legends may have grown up about some actual victim of the harsh forest laws of old England. Robin Hood is said to have lived from 1160 to 1247. Some accounts state that he was created earl of Huntingdon by Richard the Lion-Hearted. Most of the legends say that Robin Hood died at Kirklees Priory, in Yorkshire. Near the ruins of this priory is a grave supposed to be Robin's. The epitaph (with the spelling modernized) reads: Slide15: 'Here underneath this little stone Lies Robert, Earl of Huntingdon. Ne'er archer was as he so good And people called him Robin Hood. Such outlaws as he and his men Will England never see again.'
Below is a statement that Robin died in 1247. Some believe the inscription, which is in 18th-century lettering, is a copy from an earlier and genuine stone. Most scholars, however, doubt this. An argument against the hero's existence is the fact that he is mentioned by no historian of the time during which he is supposed to have lived. The events referred to in the stories could not all have occurred in his lifetime.
Robin Hood probably was a mythical character, first introduced into England in connection with the May-Day celebrations. The earliest record of a 'Robin' associated with such festivities is in the rustic plays given at Whitsuntide in France in the 13th century. The hero was called Robin des Bois (Robin of the Woods). An old English spelling of 'wood' was whode, which could easily have become hode, or hood. At any rate, in the 15th century and later the May-Day celebrations in England were called 'Robin Hood's Festivals.' Garlands of flowers, a Maypole, morris dances, archery contests, and bonfires were features of the celebrations. Robin Hood was king of May, and Maid Marian was his queen.
Robin Hood represents the ideal of the common people of England in the later Middle Ages. He stands for liberty and the rights of the people against unjust laws and the tyranny of the nobles.
Between 30 and 40 Robin Hood ballads have been preserved. Some date from the 14th century. He is referred to in 'The Vision of William Concerning Piers the Plowman', by William Langland (about 1400). A life of the hero in verse, entitled the 'Little Gest [tale of adventures] of Robin Hood', was compiled from a number of the older ballads and printed about 1500. A ballad, 'Robin Hood and Guy of Gisborne', is given in Thomas Percy's 'Reliques of Ancient English Poetry' (1765). Slide16: Keeping to myself was my way of not forming attachments that I would only have to abandon the next time we moved.
The sentence means that I did not try to make many friends because in that way I did not have to give up my friendship the next time I had to move.
keep oneself to oneself--- to live a very quiet and private life and not do many things involving other people; to remain private; avoid meeting other people
eg: 1)She doesn’t go out much, she likes to keep herself to herself.
2)A person who always keeps himself to himself is very likely to have psychological problems.
3)Being too shy, the little girl kept herself to herself watching other kids playing on the lawn.
attached--- full of affection for sb/sth
eg: The children are very attached to (=love) their grandparents.
through no design of my own--- not that I intended to do it; not that I planned it that way; just by chance Slide17: para 4
an almost impenetrable stand of trees--- trees growing so thick that they are impossible to go through or enter into stand--- a large structure at a sports ground, usu with a sloping floor and sometimes a roof, where people either stand or sit to watch a sports event. Here refers to trees growing in a given area
enter or go through penetrate--- to move into or through sth
eg: When an X-ray beam penetrates the
body, part is absorbed and part
passes through. Slide18: I’d leave the… for a softly carpeted floor.
Note the metaphor. The writer compares Bear Wood to a largely beautifully
decorated stone church, likening its tree trunks to the church’s pillars and its
thickly covered ground to the carpeted floor.
Note the use of 'for' to make a comparison between the qualities of the wood
and those of a church.
The twitter and rustle--- onomatopoeia My own breathing rang in my ears… echoed through this private
The sentence means that I could even hear my own breathing,
and even the lightest movement of any bird or animal in the
wood can be heard throughout this paradise. eg：the twitter of birds; the gurgle of the water; the cracking of the fire; the rumbling of the waves; the tick-tock of the clock. Slide19: Para 6
frail--- thin and weak, esp because you have become old
eg: At 85, Doris, single, diabetic and living alone, was becoming
increasingly forgetful and frail. run into--- meet sb by chance
eg: 1) I ran into a good friend of mine in the street the other day.
2) (fig.) We’ve run into bad weather/debt/trouble/difficulties.
instinctively touching her throat with her hand
instinctively--- based on instinct; based on natural tendency
eg: Instinctively, he flung up his hand to protect his eyes.
ease---freedom from difficulty, effort, pain etc
eg: 1) He immediately felt completely at ease (=relaxed and able to talk
2) She soon put/set me at ease (=made me relaxed and able to talk
dangle--- hang or swing loosely
eg: 1) She had big earrings dangling from her ear.
2) A loose electric wire was dangling from the wall. Slide20: Para 11
wary--- careful, cautious, watchful, suspicious, alert
eg: 1) I’m a bit wary of/about giving people my address when
I don’t know them very well.
2) She’s been a bit wary of dogs ever since one bit her as a
gamekeeper--- someone whose job is to look after birds and animals that are kept to be hunted on private land. Notice the use of the word 'game' to refer to the animals, birds, and fish that are hunted for food or as a sport.
to be introduced--- to be brought into this place from somewhere else for the first time
eg: 1) When we introduced this system, no one believed it
2) Such unpopular legislation is unlikely to be introduced
before the next election. Slide21: Para 12
cool--- this informal word is hard to define nowadays. It is loosely used to mean attractive, fashionable, relaxed, etc in a way people, esp young people admire
trespass--- go onto someone’s private land without their
eg: I hope this is a public footpath and we’re not trespassing
on someone’s land. Slide22: Para 13
Would you care to join me?--- this is considered polite but formal, and is used to ask if sb wants to do sth Slide23: Para 14
warn--- to make someone aware of a possible danger or problem, esp one
in the future
eg: 1) Scientists have warned that further extremely high winds are likely.
[ + that clause]
2) We were warned not to eat the fish which might give us a slight
stomach upset. [ T+obj+to infinitive]
3) Have you warned them that there will be an extra person for dinner?
[ T+obj+that clause]
4) I was warned against/off going to the east coast because it was so full of
go off with sb --- leave one’s husband, wife, lover, etc in order to have a
relationship with sb else
eg: He went off with his best friend’s wife.
go off with sth ---leave a place with sth that does not belong to one
eg: He went off with $10 000 of the company’s money.
Slide24: Para 15
extending her fine hand--- offering to shake hands with the boy. 'Fine' here means small and attractively shaped, looking rather delicate. Remember the woman is old and weak.
extend--- to give or offer (help, friendship, etc) to sb
eg: 1) I would like to extend my warm welcome to all of you.
2) I would like to extend a warm welcome to our visitors. Slide25: Para 17
wistful--- sad and thinking about sth that is impossible or past
eg: She cast a wistful glance at her friend’s invitation and wished she had been invited to the party.
to walk the fields--- Notice that the word 'walk' is usually used as an intransitive verb except in some idiomatic expressions. 'To walk the fields' is one of them, which means to go over or along on foot. Other common expressions in which 'walk' is used as a transitive verb:
eg: 1) When people walk their dog, I wonder whether they ever
realize that the dog will be much happier completely free
in nature than just being allowed a little walk every day.
2) It’s dark outside. I’ll walk you home. Slide26: Para 18
Soon I saw a small brick cottage that glowed pinkly in the westering sun.--- Soon I saw a small brick cottage shining with a pink color in the sun that was moving toward the west.
to glow---(synonyms): blaze, burn, flare, flicker, gleam,
glimmer, quiver, shine, flash, glitter, beam, spark,
twinkle case--- a container or box or shelf for storing things
figure--- a painting , drawing or model of a person or an
ivory--- the hard white substance from which the tusks (=
long teeth growing outside the mouth) of some
animals such as elephants are made Slide27: cabinets full of fossils, trays of pinned butterflies
cabinet--- a piece of furniture with shelves, cupboards,
or drawers which is used for storing or
showing decorative things
Slide28: Slide29: Slide30: Para 21
between mouthfuls of tea and jam tart--- while eating jam tart and drinking tea Slide31: Para 24
and my well of knowledge about natural history began to brim over--- I began to know much about natural history, too much for a boy of my age.
Notice the figurative use of the word 'well' and the exaggeration of having knowledge 'brimming over'
Metaphor: the boy’s knowledge about natural history is likened to a well in which there was too much water
brim over--- to have so much of sth that it begins to flow over
the edge of the container
eg: The sink is brimming over.
The phrasal verb can also be used figuratively, meaning ' to become full of good feelings'
eg:1) At the wedding the bride and bridegroom were brimming
over with happiness.
2) She was brimming over with confidence before the
speech contest. Slide32: earn--- (1) to receive a certain amount of money for the work
eg:1) How much do you earn, if you don’t mind me asking?
2) You can’t expect to earn a living (=be paid enough money to live on) from your painting.
(2) to get sth you deserve
eg:1) This economist has earned great respect for his expertise.
2) It’s been a tough six months and I feel I’ve earned a few weeks off.
bully--- a rough and threatening man, esp one paid by someone
to hurt or frighten other people
(v.) to hurt or frighten other people often forcing them to do
sth they do not want to do
eg:1) Our survey indicates that one in four children is bullied
2) Don’t let anyone bully you into doing something you
don’t want to do. Slide33: identify--- to recognize and correctly name someone or sth, or
to discover the nature and origin of the thing
eg: The two witnesses who saw the shootings were able to
identify who had fired first.
eg: The man’s identity was being kept secret while he was
helping the police with information about the murder.
identification--- official papers or cards that can show who you
eg: Do you have any identifications? Passport? Driver’s license?
identical--- exactly the same Slide34: munch--- to eat noisily and without trying to be quiet
eg:1) He was munching an apple. [T]
2) We watched her munch through two packets of
peanuts. [I] Para 25
blissfully--- in a happy and enjoyable way
eg: They were blissfully happy together.
shortbread---a hard, sweet biscuit made with a lot of butter Slide35: Para 26
incline---to think that a particular belief or opinion is most
likely to be right
eg:1) Most people incline to the belief that globalization is a
good thing to have.
2) She is easily taken in. She inclines to take everything
people say at face value.
take sth/sb at face value--- assume that sth is genuinely what it,
he etc appears to be
to be inclined to do sth--- tending to
eg: Young people are often inclined to think that old people
to be musically ( artistically, linguistically, mathematically) inclined--- to be naturally interested in or good at music ( art, language, mathematics) Slide36: Familiarity sometimes makes people physically invisible, for you find yourself talking to the heart—to the essence, at it were, rather than to the face.
The sentence means that when people get to know each other really well, sometimes they don’t notice physical changes. The boy did not see that his friend, the old lady, was getting weaker and weaker because all the time he was talking to her heart, rather to her face.
Here 'the heart' and 'the face' form a pair of antitheses (direct opposites), the former referring to 'what is deep down', the latter 'what can be physically seen'.
essence--- the most important quality of sth; the thing that
makes sth what it is
Notice that 'to talk to sb’s essence' is not a common expression, but the author can’t think of a better word, that’s why he says 'as it were', which is used to comment on the speaker’s own choice of words, which may give only an approximate meaning
eg: She seemed very relaxed---in her natural setting as it were.
她似乎十分悠然自得---可以说是有自己随遇而安的天地 Slide37: suspect---(1) to think that sth is probably true or likely, esp
eg:1) We had no reason to suspect that he might try to kill himself.
2) We suspect that they have some secret dealings between
(2) to think that someone is probably guilty ( to
suspect someone of sth or doing sth)
eg:1) No one knows who killed her, but the police suspect her husband.
2) The police suspect him of carrying out two bomb attacks.
(3) to doubt the truth of sth
eg:1) I have no reason to suspect her honesty/loyalty.
2) We suspected his motives in making his offer.
suspect---(n.) someone who is thought to be guilty of a crime
eg: They arrested five suspects. But they still lacked
conclusive evidence. Slide38: Para 28
to eye sth/sb--- to observe or watch narrowly, often in
suspicion, jealousy, or in longing
eg:1) The policeman eyed me in suspicion. I think he thought
I was drunk.
2) She eyed (up) (=looked closely at ) the other passengers
她警惕/怀疑地注视着其他乘客。 Slide39: Para 29
My mother was regarding me with a strange gentleness.--- My mother was looking at me with a strange gentleness because she wanted to break the sad news gently so that I would not take it too hard.
regard--- (1) to look at attentively; to observe closely
eg:1) She sat there regarding him thoughtfully.
2) They all regarded her with great curiosity.
(2) to consider or look upon in a particular way
eg: Huangdi is regarded as the progenitor (始祖) of the Chinese people.
(3) to have great affection or admiration for
eg: She is highly regarded in the academic circles.
to give (send) one’s regards to sb
eg: Please give my best regards to all my friends there. I really miss them.
in this regard--- in this respect, in this matter
with regard to--- regarding; about; concerning
as regards--- as for
regardless of--- without paying attention to; in spite of the differences in
(These phrases are all formal) Slide40: Para 30
I could tell she was having difficulty--- I could see that she was having difficulty finding a suitable way to break the news. She wanted to break the news to me in a roundabout way so that it couldn’t hurt me too much. Slide41: Para 31
sting--- to hurt or make sth hurt with a sudden sharp
pain for a short time
eg: The mixture of industrial pollution and dust stung
her eyes. Slide42: Para 34
burst into, out of, through sth--- move suddenly and forcibly in the specified direction; appear suddenly from somewhere
eg:1) An angry crowd burst through the lines of
police and into the street.
2) The sun burst through the clouds.
太阳突然从云端里露出来 Slide43: Para 35
thanks to--- because of
eg: The play succeeded thanks to fine acting by all the cast.
Notice that this is sometimes used ironically
eg:1) Thanks to the bad weather, the match had been cancelled.
2) Thanks to his brilliant leadership, our company is now
and I should go and eat it like I always did on weekends ...
like---(conj.) (infml) in the same way as; as if
eg:1) Nobody makes chocolate cake like my grandma does.
2) He spoke like he knows the queen.
These uses of 'like' are common but
not considered correct in formal written
English. Slide44: Para 36
in time--- after a certain amount of time has passed,
eventually, within an indefinite period
eg: Don’t worry. In time she’ll forget what has happened.
Cf. in time--- early or soon enough
eg: Thank goodness! We’ve just arrived in time. The train
will start in a few minutes.
odds and ends---small articles; bits and pieces of various
sorts, usu without much value
eg: He’s moved most of his stuff; there are just a few odds
and ends left. Slide45: Para 37
legacy--- money or property left to sb in a will
(fig.) thing passed to sb by predecessors or from earlier events
eg: the cultural legacy of the Renaissance
It is a wisdom tutored by nature itself, about the seen and the unseen, about things that change and things that are changeless, and about the fact that no matter how seemingly different two souls may be, they possess the potential for that most precious, rare thing---an enduring and rewarding friendship.
This is the theme of the story. It is summed up at the very end. It means that I learn a lot of knowledge, taught by nature itself, about the things I can see--- the birds, insects, trees, and flowers, and the things I cannot see--- ideas, scientific laws and principles. I also learn a lot about the things that change, including life itself, as well as the things that are changeless like friendship, love, care, concern, affection and many basic values Slide46: Conclusion:
Why can they become good friends?
They are both lonely: the boy is lonely because he is in a foreign country with his father, the woman is lonely because she has just lost her dear husband.
They have the common interest in nature and knowledge.
The shortbread the woman keeps supplying for the boy is also one of the reasons.
The real reason for their friendship is the old woman’s selfless interest in the boy. It is often said that true love is in the giving and not in the taking. So is friendship. The woman not only gives the boy good food to eat, she also gives him a new vision of the beautiful nature, the key to the treasury of human knowledge, and above all, her care, concern, love and affection. Does she get anything in return? Yes. Through giving, she cannot help receiving. Although totally unaware, the boy has given the woman great consolation too. He is the real good companion of the woman. He brings great happiness and consolation to the woman. That is what she really needs in her deep heart. Slide47: Questions for Discussion
1. Why did the boy say that the woods and fields in the neighborhood was a heaven for him?
2. Why did the boy remember so fondly his days in the Bear Wood? What did he mean when he talked about wisdom as a legacy? What are the 'seen and unseen'; 'things that change and things that are changeless'?
3. Why is it that two people as different from each other as the boy and the old woman could develop such an enduring and rewarding friendship? What have you learned from their friendship?
4. What is the essence of true friendship? Slide48: In this world, there are many things you can see and there are many things you can’t see, and friendship is what you can’t see, unlike your worldly belongings, because it exists deep in your heart. In this world there are also things that change and things that do not change, and true friendship does not change. It is rare and precious. It is enduring and rewarding.
In my opinion, as we get to know people we take into account things like age, race, economic condition, social position, and intelligence. Although these factors are not of prime importance, it is more difficult to get on with people when there is a marked difference in age and background.
Some friendly relationships can be kept on argument and discussion, but it is usual for close friends to have similar ideas and beliefs, to have attitudes and interests in common--- they often talk about 'being on the same wavelength'. It generally takes time to reach this point. And the more intimately involved people become, the more they rely on one another. People want to do friends favours and hate to break a promise. Equally, friends have to learn to put up with annoying habits and to tolerate differences of opinion.
In contrast with marriage, there are no friendship ceremonies to strengthen the association between two people. But the supporting and understanding of each other that results from shared experiences and emotions does seem to create a powerful bond, which can overcome differences in background, and break down barriers of age, class and race. Slide49: Some proverbs:
When in distress, we love to see a friend’s face. Both in trouble and in joy friendship is beneficial. Friendship reduces sorrow in times of pain and adds to joy in happy times. ---Ricci
In prosperity our friends know us; in adversity we know our friends. --- Collins
Better an open enemy than a false friend.--- Franklin
Misfortune tests the sincerity of friends. --- Maurois
Fire is the test of gold; adversity of friendship. --- Maurois