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And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
In the light and warmth of long ago —
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and small,
Then nearer and nearer, one by one,
He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass,
The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade,
And with its own self like an infant played,
And waved its signal of palms.

270

IV

275

“For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms;”?
The happy camels may reach the spring,
But Sir Launfal sees only the gruesome thing,
The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
That cowers beside him, a thing as lone
And white as the ice isles of Northern seas,
In the desolate horror of his disease.
And Sir Launfal said, -"I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
Thou also hast had thy crown of thorns,
Thou also hast had the world's buffets and scorns,
And to thy life were not denied
The wounds in the hands and feet and side;
Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me;
Behold, through him, I give to thee !"

280

285

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Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes

And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he 290 Remembered in what a haughtier guise

He had flung an alms to leprosie,
When he girt his young life up in gilded mail
And set forth in search of the Holy Grail.

The heart within him was ashes and dust; 295 He parted in twain his single crust,

He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink,
And

gave the leper to eat and drink;
'Twas a moldy crust of coarse brown bread,

'Twas water out of a wooden bowl,
300 Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper fed,

And 'twas red wine he drank with his thirsty soul.

VI

As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast face,
A light shone round about the place;

The leper no longer crouched at his side, 305 But stood before him glorified,

Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful Gate,
Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.

1 The Beautiful Gate, one of the gates of the temple at Jerusalem.

VII

315

His words were shed softer than leaves from the pine, 310
And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on the brine,
Which mingle their softness and quiet in one
With the shaggy unrest they float down upon;
And the voice that was calmer than silence said,
“Lo, it is I, be not afraid !
In many climes, without avail,
Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail;
Behold, it is here, - this cup which thou

-
Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now;
This crust is my body broken for thee,
This water His blood that died on the tree;
The Holy Supper is kept, indeed,
In whatso we share with another's need,
Not what we give, but what we share,
For the gift without the giver is bare;
Who gives himself with his alms feeds three,
Himself, his hungering neighbor, and me.”

320

325

VIII

330

Sir Launfal awoke, as from a swound;
“The Grail in my castle here is found !
Hang my idle armor up on the wall,
Let it be the spider's banquet hall;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail.”

IX

The castle gate stands open now,
335 And the wanderer is welcome to the hall
As the hangbird is to the elm tree bough;

No longer scowl the turrets tall,
The Summer's long siege at last is o'er;

When the first poor outcast went in at the door, 340 She entered with him in disguise,

And mastered the fortress by surprise;
There is no spot she loves so well on ground,
She lingers and smiles there the whole year round;

The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land 345 Has hall and bower at his command;

And there's no poor man in the North Countree
But is lord of the earldom as much as he.

JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL.

QUESTIONS FOR STUDY

What relation have the first eight lines to the rest of the poem?

Explain line 4, line 11, line 12.

Note the change in verse at line 9. Why is it made ?

Is this supposed to be a story of what happened to Sir Launfal, or a dream?

Line 20. Do you see the relation between the poet's reference to nature and the moral vigor of

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the whole poem as contrasted with the visionary character of medieval ideals as shown in the stories of Arthur's knights ?

Lines 33-79. Memorize ten or more lines.
Point out all the figures of speech that you see in

this passage.

Which one, in your judgment, is best ?
Do

you see that, beginning with nature, the poet's thought is that the service of others is the highest ideal of all ?

Where in the poem do you first find this ?

Does Sir Launfal as portrayed in Canto V have the real spirit of Sir Galahad ?

Where does he first show his real selfishness?

Which description do you like the better, that of June or that of winter?

Memorize the passage of the latter that you like best.

How did Sir Launfal learn his mistake?
What is the lesson of the poem as a whole ?

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