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And what is so rare as a day in June?1
35 Then Heaven tries earth if it be in tune,
40 An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
Thrilling back over hills and valleys; 45 The cowslip startles in meadows green,
The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
The little bird 2 sits at his door in the sun,
With the deluge of summer it receives;
His mate feels the eggs beneath her wings,
And the heart in her dumb breast flutters and sings;
55 He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?
Now is the high-tide of the year,
And whatever of life hath ebbed away
Comes flooding back, with a ripply cheer
60 Into every bare inlet and creek and bay;
Now the heart is so full that a drop overfills it,
1 In this description of June, what lines move most smoothly? Notice how the first stanza of the description appeals to sight and the second to sound.
2 Compare with the third, fourth, and fifth stanzas of Bryant's "Robert of Lincoln." What answer does the question imply?
3 In what sense is the word nice here used?
4 Look up the exact significance of cheer.
No matter how barren the past may have been, 'Tis enough for us now that the leaves are green; 65 We sit in the warm shade and feel right well How the sap creeps up and the blossoms swell; We may shut our eyes, but we cannot help knowing That skies are clear and grass is growing;
The breeze comes whispering in our ear 70 That dandelions are blossoming near,
That maize has sprouted, that streams are flowing,
That the robin is plastering his house hard by;
We could guess it all by yon heifer's lowing,—
80 Joy comes, grief goes, we know not how; Everything is happy now,
Everything is upward striving;
'Tis as easy now for the heart to be true
As for the grass to be green or skies to be blue,—
Who knows whither the clouds have fled?
In the unscarred heaven they leave no wake;
90 The soul partakes the season's youth,
And the sulphurous rifts of passion and woe
How has Lowell
1 What is the effect of the changing movement of these lines? secured his effects in this description-by the use of especially appropriate words, or by the selection of typical details?
Lie deep 'neath a silence pure and smooth,
PART FIRST 2
My golden spurs 3 now bring to me,
100 Shall never a bed for me be spread,
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true 105 Ere day create the world anew.”
Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim,
Slumber fell like a cloud on him,
And into his soul the vision flew.5
The crows flapped over by twos and threes, 110 In the pool drowsed the cattle up to their knees, The little birds sang as if it were
The one day of summer in all the year,
And the very leaves seemed to sing on the trees:
1 Why does Lowell begin to speak of Sir Launfal suddenly, without telling us who and what he was?
2 Show how this section sustains the spirit of the prelude.
3 Golden spurs were the symbol of knighthood. When a knight disgraced himself
his golden spurs were hacked off his heels by the cook's cleaver.
4 What is the significance of Sir Launfal's sleeping on the rushes?
5 What is the purpose of this appeal to sounds dying into silence at the close of the stanza?
The castle alone in the landscape lay
115 Like an outpost of winter, dull and gray;
"Twas the proudest hall in the North Countree,1
And never its gates might opened be,
120 But the churlish stone her assaults defied;
Though round it for leagues her pavilions tall
Over the hills and out of sight;
Green and broad was every tent,
And out of each a murmur went
The drawbridge dropped with a surly clang,
Sir Launfal flashed forth in his unscarred mail,
140 It was morning on hill and stream and tree, And morning in the young knight's heart;
1 What rhyme of "The Ancient Mariner" is here recalled?
2 What is the idea of this and the few following lines? Cf. 11. 140-144.
3 What other notable instances of personification do you find in the poem ?
4 Point out some good examples of alliteration in this stanza.
Only the castle moodily
Rebuffed the gifts of the sunshine free,
And gloomed by itself apart;
145 The season brimmed all other things up Full as the rain fills the pitcher-plant's cup.
As Sir Launfal made morn through the darksome gate
The sunshine went out of his soul with a thrill,
Like a frozen waterfall;
155 For this man, so foul and bent of stature,
Rasped harshly against his dainty nature,
And seemed the one blot on the summer morn,—
The leper raised not the gold from the dust: 160 "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; 2
But he who gives a slender mite,3
And gives to that which is out of sight,
1 How did Christ once receive a leper?
2 Do the gloomy castle and the brilliant Sir Launfal stand for the same thing in the poet's mind?
3 What biblical story is here suggested'?