The Vision of Sir Launfal eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 124 pages of information about The Vision of Sir Launfal.

    The castle gate stands open now,
      And the wanderer is welcome to the hall 335
    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,
    She entered with him in disguise, 340
    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
    Has hall and bower at his command; 345
    And there’s no poor man in the North Countree
    But is lord of the earldom as much as he.


[On the 21st of July, 1865, Harvard University welcomed back those of its students and graduates who had fought in the war for the Union.  By exercises in the church and at the festival which followed, the services of the dead and the living were commemorated.  It was on this occasion that Mr. Lowell recited the following ode.]


Weak-winged is song,
Nor aims at that clear-ethered height
Whither the brave deed climbs for light: 
We seem to do them wrong,
Bringing our robin’s-leaf to deck their hearse 5
Who in warm life-blood wrote their nobler verse,
Our trivial song to honor those who come
With ears attuned to strenuous trump and drum,
And shaped in squadron-strophes their desire,
Live battle-odes whose lines were steel and fire:  10
Yet sometimes feathered words are strong,
A gracious memory to buoy up and save
From Lethe’s dreamless ooze, the common grave
Of the unventurous throng.


To-day our Reverend Mother welcomes back 15
Her wisest Scholars, those who understood
The deeper teaching of her mystic tome,
And offered their fresh lives to make it good: 
No lore of Greece or Rome,
No science peddling with the names of things, 20
Or reading stars to find inglorious fates,
Can lift our life with wings
Far from Death’s idle gulf that for the many waits,
And lengthen out our dates
With that clear fame whose memory sings 25
In manly hearts to come, and nerves them and dilates: 
Nor such thy teaching, Mother of us all! 
Not such the trumpet-call
Of thy diviner mood,
That could thy sons entice 30
From happy homes and toils, the fruitful nest
Of those half-virtues which the world calls best,
Into War’s tumult rude;
But rather far that stern device
The sponsors chose that round thy cradle stood 35
In the dim, unventured wood,
The VERITAS that lurks beneath[6]
The letter’s unprolific sheath,
Life of whate’er makes life worth living,
Seed-grain of high emprise, immortal food, 40
One heavenly thing whereof earth hath the giving.

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The Vision of Sir Launfal from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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