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Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
And gloomed by itself apart;

145 The season brimmed all other things up
Full as the rain fills the pitcher plant's cup.



As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate,

He was ware of a leper, crouched by the same, Who begged with his hand and moaned as he


And a loathing over Sir Launfal came;

The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,

The flesh 'neath his armor 'gan shrink and crawl, And midway its leap his heart stood still

Like a frozen waterfall;

155 For this man so foul and bent of stature,

Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,
So he tossed him a piece of gold in scorn.


The leper raised not the gold from the dust: 160 "Better to me the poor man's crust,

Better the blessing of the poor,

Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is not true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold

Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives a slender mite,
And gives to that which is out of sight,
That thread of the all sustaining Beauty
Which runs through all and doth all unite,
The hand cannot clasp the whole of his alms,
The heart outstretches its eager palms,
For a god goes with it and makes it store
To the soul that was starving in darkness before."


Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak, From the snow five thousand summers old;

An open wold and hill top bleak,

It had gathered all the cold,

And whirled it like sleet on the wanderer's cheek;
It carried a shiver everywhere

From the unleafed boughs and pastures bare;
The little brook heard it and built a roof
'Neath which he could house him, winter proof;
All night by the white stars' frosty gleams
He groined his arches1 and matched his beams;
Slender and clear were his crystal spars
As the lashes of light that trim the stars;
He sculptured every summer delight
In his halls and chambers out of sight;
Sometimes his tinkling waters slipt

1 Groined his arches, constructed them in a regular way,






190 Down through a frost-leaved forest crypt,1
Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees
Bending to counterfeit a breeze;
Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew
But silvery mosses that downward grew;
195 Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief
With quaint arabesques 2 of ice fern leaf;
Sometimes it was simply smooth and clear
For the gladness of heaven to shine through, and here
He had caught the nodding bulrush tops

200 And hung them thickly with diamond drops, That crystaled the beams of moon and sun, And made a star of every one:


No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter palace of ice;
205 'Twas as if every image that mirrored lay
In his depths serene through the summer day,
Each fleeting shadow of earth and sky,

Lest the happy model should be lost, Had been mimicked in fairy masonry By the elfin builders of the frost.

Within the hall are song and laughter,

The cheeks of Christmas glow red and jolly, And sprouting is every corbel3 and rafter With lightsome green and ivy and holly;

1 Forest crypt, a dark, gloomy place, formed by the forest trees, resembling a crypt, or deep cell.

2 Arabesque, a kind of ornamental work, taken from the Arabs or Moors. 3 Corbel, bracket,

Through the deep gulf of the chimney wide
Wallows the Yule log's1 roaring tide;
The broad flame pennons droop and flap

And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
Like a locust shrills the imprisoned sap,
Hunted to death in its galleries blind;
And swift little troops of silent sparks,

Now pausing, now scattering away as in fear,
Go threading the soot-forest's tangled darks,
Like herds of startled deer.

But the wind without was eager and sharp,
Of Sir Launfal's gray hair it makes a harp,
And rattles and wrings

The icy strings,

Singing, in dreary monotone,

A Christmas carol of its own,

Whose burden still, as he might guess,

Was "Shelterless, Shelterless, Shelterless!"

The voice of the seneschal 2 flared like a torch,
As he shouted the wanderer away from the porch,
And he sat in the gateway and saw all night
The great hall fire, so cheery and bold,
Through the window slits of the castle old,
Built out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.

1 Yule log, especially devoted to Christmas.

2 Seneschal, watchman.








240 There was never a leaf on bush or tree, The bare boughs rattled shudderingly; The river was numb and could not speak,


For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun; A single crow on the tree top bleak

From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun. Again it was morning, but shrunk and cold,

As if her veins were sapless and old,

And she rose up decrepitly

For a last dim look at earth and sea.


250 Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,
For another heir in his earldom sate; -
An old, bent man, worn out and frail,
He came back from seeking the Holy Grail;
Little he recked of his earldom's loss,

255 No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross,
But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.


Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbéd air,
260 For it was just at the Christmas time;
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,

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