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What lines explain why Sir Launfal “ remembered the keeping of his vow " ?
Notice that to the poet's mind the awakening of nature indicated in the " high tide of the year," is both a cause and a symbol of the quickening of noble impulse in the soul as typified in the keeping of the knight's vow.
Stanza I. Mail. The defensive armor of a knight often adorned with gold and precious stones. Sir Launfal wore his richest mail in honor of the high quest which he had vowed. Compare the preparations with those of the nun, Sir Percivale's sister, and of Sir Galahad, in Tennyson's Holy Grail, stanzas IX., X., XI., XIII., XVII., XXV. Here the nun fasted and prayed and enjoined the same upon the knights.
Rushes were used in olden times to strew the floors of halls and courts.
Recall the first stanza of the poem. What lines suggest and harmonize with the dream-world into which the poet now leads us ?
Stanza II. Note the drowsy effect, especially in the first seven and last three lines. How is it produced? How does it harmonize with Sir Launfal's condition?
In what respect is winter a type of feudal society when sharp lines marked the division between lord and peasant, and summer of the modern spirit and the brotherhood of man?
North Countree means the north of England. The old form makes a better rhyme syllable and harmonizes with the picture of feudal life,
Note the effect of the alliteration in lines 119-121.
The expression "churlish " emphasizes the inaccessibility of the castle. Is its use literal?
What familiar objects are spoken of as "pavilions tall" in the last six lines?
Stanza III. Maiden Knight. Maiden, as here used, means fresh, unspotted, untried. So also "maiden mail."
The poet had probably observed that the foliage of the locust sways in the lightest breeze because of its compound leaf of small thin leaflets, and slender petiole.
Stanza IV. What lines are thrown into contrast? Are "gloomed " and "brimmed up " expressive terms? Stanza V. Explain how Sir Launfal "made morn ? How do the first four lines compare with previous stanzas in melody and poetic expression? Select some words that seem to you unpoetical.
Was it a defect of character or a lack of experience of suffering that made Sir Launfal shrink from the leper?
Stanza VI. Whence did the leper learn his wisdom?
What is contrasted with gold? What lines of stanza iv., Prelude, suggest a similar thought?
Whence comes the suggestion of the "slender mite"? See Luke xxi., 1-4.
What lines are in apposition with the clause "that which is out of sight"?
Paraphrase lines 168-9.
Store. Supply, plenty.
Note that lines 170-3 are in contrast to lines 164-5 and complete the thought.
What lines in the stanza suggest the keynote of the poem ?
PRELUDE TO PART II.
Stanza I. It is hardly possible for a person unfamiliar with a winter landscape and the fairy workmanship of the frost to appreciate fully the truth to nature of this beautiful winter picture. These cold beauties appear to have held a peculiar charm for Lowell, judging from their frequent mention in his prose and verse. We read in his note-book, "What a cunning silversmith is frost ! . . . . Fernwork, and lacework, and filigree in endless variety, and under it all the water trinkles like a distant guitar, or drums like a tambourine, or gurgles like the Tokay of an anchorite's dream. Beyond doubt there is a fairy procession marching along those frail arcades and translucent corridors."
More snow falls each winter in the regions of perpetual snow than melts the following summer, so that the snow might be literally five thousand summers old. Why is "summers" better than winters? Note the cold, bleak effect of lines 174–180. What picture makes the beauty of this stanza ? What is the figure in line 181? How far carried? Select some of the more appropriate epithets in this description.
What concrete examples of "summer delights" does the poet name?
Groined. Groin in architecture is an angular curve made by the intersection of two arches.
Crypt. The pillared basement of a church. What points of similarity between the crypt of a church and a forest? Does the epithet "steel-stemmed" strengthen or weaken the description?
Relief in sculpture is the projection of figures from the plane
on which they are formed. Arabesque. A style of decoration. first used by the Arabs, consisting of foliage, flowers, and fruits curiously interwoven.
What is the prevailing color-effect in the stanza ?
Stanza II. Corbel. The support of the spring of an arch in Gothic architecture often elaborately carved.
Yule-log. The great log laid across the hearth fire at Christmas Eve with much ceremony and merry-making. Yule. Christmas. Flame-pennons. Flags or streamers of flame. Belly. To swell out.
Note the change of subject and the contrast between stanzas i. and ii. What effect has the contrast upon the picture of Christmas cheer? Of what country is the poet thinking?
What figure predominates ?
Is the word "darks" common? effective ?
Stanza III. Compare the Christmas carol described here with the "song and laughter" of stanza ii.
Burden. Repeated words or sentiments at the end of each verse or division of a song or poem: the refrain.
Seneschal. An officer who has charge of feasts or ceremonies in the house of a great lord or prince. What is the force of the figure in line 233 ?
What contrast intensifies the loneliness and cold of this stanza ?
Window-slits. Long narrow openings in the castle wall serving the purpose of windows.
Stanza I. Contrast this winter picture with that in the first
stanza of the prelude. What is the difference in effect? On which day do you think the sun shone brighter?
Does the "single crow" make the picture more or less lonely and dreary ?
Why is this picture an effective introduction of the aged knight?
Stanza II. Of what stanza in Part I. is this the antithesis? What change has taken place in the knight's outward guise ? What in his soul?
Recked. Heeded, cared for.
Surcoat. The long, flowing garment of a knight worn over the armor and emblazoned with the arms of the wearer. crusader or a knight who undertook any holy quest wore the cross upon his surcoat.
Stanza III. Idle mail. Useless protection. Barbed air. Sharp, piercing. Note the implied comparison with a sharp weapon.
In what did the desolate knight seek comfort? Compare lines 261-3 with Lowell's poem, Aladdin.
"When I was a beggarly boy,
I had not a friend nor a toy,
What land is pictured in lines 264-272? custom may have suggested to the poet that the knight had What mediæval been in the East?