Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

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

V

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 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;
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.

VI

The leper raised not the gold from the dust:
“Better to me the poor man's crust,
Better the blessing of the poor,
Though I turn me empty from his door;
That is no true alms which the hand can hold;
He gives nothing but worthless gold

Who gives from a sense of duty;
But he who gives but a slender mite,
* And gives to that which is out of sight,

[graphic][subsumed][subsumed][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

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,
And made a star of every one:
No mortal builder's most rare device
Could match this winter-palace of ice;
'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 grow red and jolly, And sprouting is every corbel and rafter

With lightsome green of ivy and holly;
Through the deep gulf of the chimney wida
Wallows the Yule-log's 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 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, Build out its piers of ruddy light

Against the drift of the cold.

PART SECOND

I

There was never a leaf on bush or tree,
The bare boughs rattled shudderingly;
The river was dumb 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.

II

Sir Launfal turned from his own hard gate,
For another heir in his earldom sate;

« ElőzőTovább »