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THE VISION OF SIR LAUNFAL.

PRELUDE TO PART FIRST.

OVER his keys the musing organist,

Beginning doubtfully and far away, First lets his fingers wander as they list,

And builds a bridge from Dreamland for his lay : Then, as the touch of his loved instrument

Gives hope and fervor, nearer draws his theme, First guessed by faint auroral flushes sent

Along the wavering vista of his dream.

Not only around our infancy
Doth heaven with all its splendors lie;
Daily, with souls that cringe and plot,
We Sinais climb and know it not.

Over our manhood bend the skies ;

Against our fallen and traitor lives The great winds utter prophecies;

With our faint hearts the mountain strives ; Its arms outstretched, the druid wood

Waits with its benedicite; And to our age's drowsy blood

Still shouts the inspiring sea.

Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us ;

The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in, The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,

For a cap

We bargain for the graves we lie in ;
At the devil's booth are all things sold,
Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold ;

and bells our lives we pay, Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking :

'Tis heaven alone that is given away, 'T is only God may be had for the asking; No price is set on the lavish summer; June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June ?

Then, if ever, come perfect days; Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,

And over it softly her warm ear lays :
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,

An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
Climbs to a soul in

grass

and flowers; The flush of life may well be seen

Thrilling back over hills and valleys ; The cowslip startles in meadows green,

The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice, And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean

To be some happy creature's palace; The little bird sits at his door in the sun,

Atilt like a blossom among the leaves, And lets his illumined being o'errun

With the deluge of summer it receives; His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings, And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings; He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest, — In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?

Now is the high-tide of the year,

And whatever of life hath ebbed away Comes flooding back with a ripply cheer,

Into every bare inlet and creek and bay; Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it, We are happy now because God wills it; No matter how barren the past may have been, 'T is enough for us now that the leaves are green; We sit in the warm shade and feel right well How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell; We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing That skies are clear and grass is growing; The breeze comes whispering in our ear, That dandelions are blossoming near,

That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the river is bluer than the sky,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
And if the breeze kept the good news back,
For other couriers we should not lack;

We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing, –
And hark! how clear bold chanticleer,
Warmed with the new wine of the year,

Tells all in his lusty crowing !

Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how ;
Everything is happy now,

Everything is upward striving ;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for grass to be green or skies to be blue, —

'Tis the natural way of living: Who knows whither the clouds have fled ?

In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake; And the eyes forget the tears they have shed,

The heart forgets its sorrow and ache;

The soul partakes the season's youth,

And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,

Like burnt-out craters healed with snow. What wonder if Sir Launfal now Remembered the keeping of his vow?

PART FIRST.

I.

“My golden spurs now bring to me,

And bring to me my richest mail, For to-morrow

I

go over land and sea
In search of the Holy Grail ;
Shall never a bed for me be spread,
Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
Till I begin my vow to keep;
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true
Ere day create the world anew.”

Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim,

Slumber fell like a cloud on him, And into his soul the vision flew.

II. The crows flapped over by twos and threes, In the pool drowsed the cattle up to their knees,

The little birds sang as if it were

The one day of summer in all the year, And the very leaves seemed to sing on the trees : The castle alone in the landscape lay Like an outpost of winter, dull and gray : ’T was the proudest hall in the North Countree,

And never its gates might opened be,
Save to lord or lady of high degree;
Summer besieged it on every side,
But the churlish stone her assaults defied;
She could not scale the chilly wall,
Though around it for leagues her pavilions tall
Stretched left and right,
Over the hills and out of sight;

Green and broad was every tent,

And out of each a murmur went Till the breeze fell off at night.

III.

The drawbridge dropped with a surly clang,
And through the dark arch a charger sprang,
Bearing Sir Launfal, the maiden knight,
In his gilded mail, that flamed so bright
It seemed the dark castle had gathered all
Those shafts the fierce sun had shot over its wall

In his siege of three hundred summers long, And, binding them all in one blazing sheaf,

Had cast them forth : so, young and strong, And lightsome as a locust-leaf, Sir Launfal flashed forth in his maiden mail, To seek in all climes for the Holy Grail.

IV.

It was morning on hill and stream and tree,

And morning in the young knight's heart;
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,

And gloomed by itself apart;
The season brimmed all other things up
Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.

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