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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 124 pages of information about Narrative and Lyric Poems (first series) for use in the Lower School.

  There was never a leaf on bush or tree 240
  The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
  The river was dumb and could not speak,
    For the frost’s swift shuttles its shroud had spun;
  A single crow on the tree-top bleak
  From his shining feathers shed off the cold sun; 245
  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.

  II

  Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate, 250
  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,
  No more on his surcoat[27] was blazoned the cross, 255
  But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
  The badge of the suffering and the poor.

  III

  Sir Launfal’s raiment thin and spare
  Was idle mail ’gainst the barbed air,
  For it was just at the Christmas time; 260
  So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
  And sought for a shelter from cold and snow
  In the light and warmth of long ago;[28]
  He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
  O’er the edge of the desert, black and small, 265
  Then nearer and nearer, till, 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, 270
  And with its own self like an infant played,
  And waved its signal of palms.

  IV

  “For Christ’s sweet sake, I beg an alms;”
  The happy camels may reach the spring,
  But Sir Launfal sees naught save the
      grewsome thing,[29] 275
  The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone,
  That cowered beside him, a thing as lone
  And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas
  In the desolate horror of his disease.

  V

  And Sir Launfal said,—­“I behold in thee 280
  An image of Him who died on the tree;[30]
  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; 285
  Mild Mary’s Son, acknowledge me;
  Behold, through him, I give to thee!”

  VI

  Then the soul of the leper stood up in his eyes
    And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightway he
  Remembered in what a haughtier guise 290
    He had flung an alms to leprosie,
  “When he caged his young life up in gilded mail
  And set forth in search of the Holy Grail,
  The heart within him was ashes and dust;
  He parted in twain his single crust, 295
  He broke the ice on the streamlet’s

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