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The season brimmed all other things up
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 sate;
And a loathing over Sir Launfal came;
The flesh 'neath his armor 'gan shrink and crawl, And midway its leap his heart stood still
Like a frozen waterfall;
The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
Who gives from a sense of duty;
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." .
PRELUDE TO PART SECOND
Down swept the chill wind from the mountain peak,
From the snow five thousand summers old; On open wold and hilltop 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 bough 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 arches 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 Down through a frost-leaved forest-crypt, Long, sparkling aisles of steel-stemmed trees Bending to counterfeit a breeze; Sometimes the roof no fretwork knew But silvery mosses that downward grew; Sometimes it was carved in sharp relief With quaint arabesques 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 And hung them thickly with diamond-drops,
That crystalled the beams of moon and sun,
Lest the happy model should be lost,
By the elfin builders of the frost.
Within the hall are song and laughter,
The cheeks of Christmas grow red and jolly, And sprouting is every corbel and rafter
With lightsome green of ivy and holly;
And belly and tug as a flag in the wind;
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.
And rattles and wrings
Singing, in dreary monotone,
Was "Shelterless, shelterless, shelterless!”
The great hall-fire, so cheery and bold,
Through the window-slits of the castle old, Build out its piers of ruddy light
Against the drift of the cold.
There was never a leaf on bush or tree,
For the weaver Winter its shroud had spun;
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.
Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,