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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

Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
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.

Then the soul of the leper stood up in his

eyes And looked at Sir Launfal, and straightRemembered in what a haughtier guise

He had flung an alms to leprosie, When he girt 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, He broke the ice on the streamlet's brink, And

gave the leper to eat and drink, ’T was a mouldy crust of coarse brown

bread, 'T was water out of a wooden bowl, Yet with fine wheaten bread was the leper

fed, And 't was red wine he drank with his

thirsty soul.



Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare
Was idle mail 'gainst the barbëd air,
For it was just at the Christmas time;
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
And sought for a shelter from cold and
In the light and warmth of long-ago;
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
O'er the edge of the desert, black and

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, And with its own self like an infant played, And waved its signal of palms.


As Sir Launfal mused with a downcast

A light shone round about the place;
The leper no longer crouched at his side,
But stood before him glorified,
Shining and tall and fair and straight
As the pillar that stood by the Beautiful

Himself the Gate whereby men can
Enter the temple of God in Man.



“For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms ;” The happy camels may reach the spring, But Sir Launfal sees only the grewsome

thing, The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone, That cowers beside him, a thing as lone And white as the ice - isles of Northern

seas In the desolate horror of his disease.


And Sir Launfal said, “I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;
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: Mild Mary's Son, acknowledge me; Behold, through him, I give to thee !”

His words were shed softer than leaves

from the pine, And they fell on Sir Launfal as snows on

the brine, That mingle their softness and quiet in one With the shaggy unrest they float down

upon; And the voice that was softer than silence

said, "Lo, it is I, be not afraid ! In many climes, without avail, Thou hast spent thy life for the Holy Grail; Behold, it is here, — this cup which thou Didst fill at the streamlet for me but now; This crust is my body broken for thee, This water bis blood that died on the tree; The Holy Supper is kept, indeed, In whatso we share with another's d; Not what we give, but what we share,

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, And mastered the fortress by surprise; There is no spot she loves so well on

For the gift without the giver is bare; Who gives himself with his alms feeds three, Himself, his bungering neighbor, and me.

Sir Launfal awoke as from a swound:
“ The Grail in my castle here is found !
Hang my idle armor up on the wall,
Let it be the spider's banquet-ball;
He must be fenced with stronger mail
Who would seek and find the Holy Grail.”

The castle gate stands open now,

And the wanderer is welcome to the hall As the hangbird is to the elm-tree bough;


She lingers and smiles there the whole year

round; The meanest serf on Sir Launfal's land Has hall and bower at his command; And there's no poor man in the North

Countree But is lord of the earldom as much as he.

LETTER FROM BOSTON This letter was written to Mr. James Miller of The Pennsylvania Freeman, where the verses McKim, who had succeeded Whittier as editor were first published.

December, 1846. DEAR M

By way of saving time, I'll do this letter up in rhyme, Whose slim stream through four pages flows Ere one is packed with tight-screwed prose, Threading the tube of an epistle, Smooth as a child's breath through a whistle. The great attraction now of all Is the “ Bazaar" at Faneuil Hall, Where swarm the anti-slavery folks As thick, dear Miller, as your jokes. There's GARRISON, his features very Benign for an incendiary, Beaming forth sunshine through his glasses On the surrounding lads and lasses, (No bee could blither be, or brisker,) À Pickwick somehow turned John Ziska, His bump of firmness swelling up Like a rye cupcake from its cup. And there, too, was his English tea-set, Which in his ear a kind of flea set His Uncle Samuel for its beauty Demanding sixty dollars duty, ('T was natural Sam should serve his trunk

With her swift eyes of clear steel-blue,
The coiled-up mainspring of the Fair,
Originating everywhere
The expansive force without a sound
That whirls a hundred wbeels around,
Herself meanwhile as calm and still
As the bare crown of Prospect Hill;
A noble woman, brave and apt,
Cumæan sibyl not more rapt,
Who might, with those fair tresses shorn,
The Maid of Orleans' casque have worn,
Herself the Joan of our Ark,
For every shaft a shining mark.

And there, too, was Eliza FOLLEN,
Who scatters fruit-creating pollen
Where'er a blossom she can find
Hardy enough for Truth's north wind,
Each several point of all her face
Tremblingly bright with the inward grace,
As if all motion gave it light
Like phosphorescent seas at night.
There jokes our EDMUND, plainly son
Of him who bearded Jefferson,
A non-resistant by conviction,
But with a bump in contradiction,
So that whene'er it gets a chance

pen delights to play the lance, And

- you may doubt it, or believe it -
Full at the head of Joshua Leavitt
The very calumet he'd launch,
And scourge him with the olive branch.
A master with the foils of wit,


For G., you know, has cut his uncle,)
Whereas, had he but once made tea in't,
His uncle's ear had had the flea in 't,
There being not a cent of duty
On any pot that ever drew tea.

There was MARIA CHAPMAN, too,

'Tis natural he should love a hit;

His words are red hot iron searers, A gentleman, withal, and scholar,

And nightmare-like he mounts his hearers, Only base things excite his choler,

Spurring them like avenging Fate, or
And then his satire's keen and thin

As Waterton his alligator.
As the lithe blade of Saladin.
Good letters are a gift apart,

Hard by, as calm as summer even,
And his are gems of Flemish art,

Smiles the reviled and pelted STEPHEN,
True offspring of the fireside Muse, The unappeasable Boanerges
Not a rag-gathering of news

To all the Churches and the Clergies,
Like a new hopfield which is all poles, The grim savant who, to complete
But of one blood with Horace Walpole's. His own peculiar cabinet,

Contrived to label 'mong his kicks
There, with one hand behind his back, One from the followers of Hicks;
Stands PHILLIPS buttoned in a sack, Who studied mineralogy
Our Attic orator, our Chatham;

Not with soft book upon the knee,
Old fogies, when he lightens at 'em, But learned the properties of stones
Shrives like leaves; to him 't is granted By contact sharp of flesh and bones,
Always to say the word that 's wanted, And made the experimentum crucis
So that he seems but speaking clearer With his own body's vital juices;
The tiptop thought of every hearer; A man with caoutchouc endurance,
Each flash his brooding heart lets fall A perfect gem for life insurance,
Fires what's combustible in all,

A kind of maddened John the Baptist, And sends the applauses bursting in

To whom the harshest word comes aptest, Like an exploded magazine.

Who, struck by stone or brick ill-starred, His eloquence no frothy show,

Hurls back an epithet as hard, The gutter's street-polluted flow,

Which, deadlier than stone or brick, No Mississippi's yellow flood

Has a propensity to stick. Whose shoalness can't be seen for mud; His oratory is like the scream So simply clear, serenely deep,

Of the iron-horse's frenzied steam So silent-strong its graceful sweep,

Which warns the world to leave wide space None measures its unrippling force

For the black engine's swerveless race. Who has not striven to stem its course; Ye men with neckcloths white, I warn How fare their barques who think to play

With smooth Niagara's mane of spray, Habet a whole haymow in cornu.
Let Austin's total shipwreck say.
He never spoke a word too much

A Judith, there, turned Quakeress,
Except of Story, or some such,

Sits ABBY in her modest dress,
Whom, though condemned by ethics strict, Serving a table quietly,
The heart refuses to convict.

As if that inild and downcast eye

Flashed never, with its scorn intense, Beyond, a crater in each eye,

More than Medea's eloquence.
Sways brown, broad - shouldered PILLS- So the same force which shakes its dread

Far-blazing blocks o'er Ætna's head,
Who tears up words like trees by the roots, Along the wires in silence fares
A Theseus in stout cow-hide boots,

And messages of commerce bears.
The wager of eternal war

No nobler gift of heart and brain, Against that loathsome Minotaur

No life more white from spot or stain, To whom we sacrifice each year

Was e'er on Freedom's altar laid The best blood of our Athens here,

Than hers, the simple Quaker maid. (Dear M., pray brush up your Lempriere.) À terrible denouncer he,

These last three (leaving in the lurch Old Sinai burns unquenchably

Some other themes) assault the Church, Upon his lips; he well might be a

Who therefore writes them in her lists Hot-blazing soul from fierce Judea,

As Satan's limbs and atheists; Habakkuk, Ezra, or Hosea.

For each sect has one argument

Whereby the rest to hell are sent,
Which serve them like the Graiæ's tooth,
Passed round in turn from mouth to

If any ism should arise,
Then look on it with constable's eyes,
Tie round its neck a heavy athe-,
And give it kittens' hydropathy.
This trick with other (useful very) tricks
Is laid to the Babylonian meretrix,
But ’t was in vogue before her day
Wherever priesthoods had their way,
And Buddha's Popes with this struck dumb
The followers of Fi and Fum.

Quite backward reads his Gospel meek,
(As 't were in Hebrew writ, not Greek,)
Fencing the gallows and the sword
With conscripts drafted from his word,
And makes one gate of Heaven so wide
That the rich orthodox might ride
Through on their camels, while the poor
Squirm through the scant, unyielding door,
Which, of the Gospel's straitest size,
Is narrower than bead-needles' eyes,
What wonder World and Church should

The true faith atheistical ?

Well, if the world, with prudent fear
Pay God a seventh of the year,
And as a Farmer, who would pack
All his religion in one stack,
For this world works six days in seven
And idles on the seventh for Heaven,
Expecting, for his Sunday's sowing,
In the next world to go a-mowing
The crop of all his meeting-going;
If the poor Church, by power enticed,
Finds none so infidel as Christ,

Yet, after all, 'twixt you and me,
Dear Miller, I could never see
That Sin's and Error's ugly smirch
Stained the walls only of the Church;
There are good priests, and men who take
Freedom's torn cloak for lucre's sake;
I can't believe the Church so strong,
As some men do, for Right or Wrong.
But, for this subject (long and vext)
I must refer you to my next,
As also for a list exact
Of goods with which the Hall was packed.


In a Prefatory Note which Mr. Lowell prefixed to a later issue of this poem, the history of its inception and publication is thus briefly told: “This jeu d'esprit was extemporized, I may fairly say, so rapidly was it written, purely for my own amusement and with no thought of publication. I sent daily instalments of it to a friend in New York, the late Charles F. Briggs. He urged me to let it be printed, and I at last consented to its anonymous publication. The secret was kept till after several persons had laid claim to its authorship.” In the Letters it is possible to get a closer view of the author at work. In a letter to Mr. Briggs, written November 13, 1847, he says: “My satire remains just as it was. About six hundred lines I think are written. I left it because I wished to finish it in one mood of mind, and not to get that and my serious poems in the new volume entangled. It is a rambling, disjointed affair, and I may alter the form of it, but if I can get it read, I know it will take. I intend to give it some serial title and continue it at intervals." On the last day of the same year, he writes to his

correspondent: “I have been hard at work copying my satire, that I might get it (what was finished of it, at least) to you by New-Year's Day as a present. As it is, I can only send the first part. It was all written with one impulse and was the work of not a great many hours, but it was written in good spirits (con amore, as Leupp said he used to smoke), and therefore seems to me to have a hearty and easy swing about it that is pleasant. But I was interrupted midway by being obliged to get ready the copy for my volume, and I have never been able to weld my present mood upon the old one without making an ugly swelling at the joint.

“I wish you to understand that I make you a New Year's gift, not of the manuscript, but of the thing itself. I wish you to get it printed (if you think the sale will warrant it) for your own benefit. At the same time I am desirous of retaining my copyright, in order that, if circumstances render it desirable, I may still possess a control over it. Therefore, if you think it would repay publishing (I have no doubt of it, or I should not offer it to you) I wish you would enter the copyright in your own name, and then make a transfer to me in consideration of,' etc.

“I am making as particular directions as if I were drawing my will, but I have a sort of presentiment (which I never had in regard to anything else) that this little bit of pleasantry will take. Perhaps have said too much of the Centurion. But it was only the comicality of his character that attracted me — - for the man himself personally never entered my head. But the sketch is clever ? ?"

Again under date of March 26, 1848: “Since I sent you the first half, I have written something about Willis and about Longfellow and I am waiting for pleasanter weather in order to finish it. I want to get my windows open and to write in the fresh air. I ought not to have sent you any part of it till I had finished it entirely. I feel a sense of responsibility which hinders my pen from running along as it ought in such a theme. I wish the last half to be as jolly and unconstrained as the first. If you had not praised what I sent you, I dare say you would have had the whole of it ere this. Praise is the only thing that can make me feel any doubt of myself. Six

weeks later he wrote, May 12: “When I can sit at my open window and my friendly leaves hold their hands before my eyes to prevent their wandering to the landscape, I can sit down and write. I have begun upon the Fable again fairly, and am making some head, way. I think with what I sent you (which I believe was about five hundred lines) it will make something over a thousand. I have done, since I sent the first half, Willis, Longfellow, Bryant, Miss Fuller, and Mrs. Child. In Longfellow's case I have attempted no characterization. _ The same (in a degree) may be said of S.M. F. With her I have been perfectly good-humored, but I have a fancy that what I say will stick uncomfortably. It will make you laugh. So will L. M. C. After S. M. F. I make a short digression on bores in general, which has some drollery. Willis I think good. Bryant is funny, and as fair as I could make it, immitigably just. Indeed I have endeavored to be so in all."

The volume was affectionately inscribed to Charles F. Briggs, and furnished with the following rhymed title page and preliminary note, a second note being prefixed to a second edition.

Reader! walk up at once (it will soon be too late),

and buy at a perfectly ruinous rale








It being the commonest mode of proced

ure, I premise a few candid remarks TO THE READER :

This trifle, begun to please only myself and my own private fancy, was laid on the shelf. But some friends, who had seen it, induced me, by dint of saying they liked it, to put it in print. That is, having come to that very conclusion, I asked their advice when 't would make no confusion. For though (in the gentlest of ways) they had hinted it was scarce worth the while, I should doubtless have printed it.

I began it, intending a Fable, a frail, slender thing, rhyme-ywinged, with a sting in its tail. But, by addings and alterings not previously planned, digressions chancehatched, like birds' eggs in the sand, and dawdlings to suit every whimsey's demand (always freeing the bird which I held in my hand, for the two perched, perhaps out of reach, in the tree), - it grew by degrees to the size which you see.

I was like the old woman that carried the calf, and my neighbors, like hers, no doubt, wonder and laugh; and when, my strained arms with their grown burthen full, I call it my Fable, they call it a bull.





Bp 4 Wonderful quiz,



Set forth in October, the 21st day, In the year '48, G. P. Putnam, Broadway.

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