« PreviousContinue »
1 effect? On
more or less
of the aged
antithesis? ard guise?
worn over earer. A
What makes the beauty of the last four lines? In what sense did the "signal of palms " belong to the little spring? What is the artistic effect of this tropical picture amid these winter scenes?
Stanza IV. Who interrupts the knight's reverie ?
In what sense is the leper as lone and white as the "iceisles of the northern seas"?
What is the effect of the stanza?
Stanza V. Contrast with Part I., stanza v. What feeling has Sir Launfal for the leper, that was wholly lacking before? Who is addressed in lines 280-5? In lines 286-7 ?
Stanza VI. Is the first line an exaggeration ?
The old spelling of "leprosie" gives an antique flavor and makes a stronger rhyme syllable.
What is the force of the figure in line 294 ?
In what three significant points does this second gift to the leper differ from that in Part I., stanza v. ?
Why does Sir Launfal divide the crust?
What gives truth and beauty to the last four lines?
Stanza VII. Contrast with Part I. stanza vi. Compare with Longfellow's Legend Beautiful and the legend of Saint Christopher.
Beautiful Gate. See John x., 7.
Temple of God in Man. See I. Cor. iii., 16, 17; vi., 19.
Stanza VIII. What makes the melody and beauty of the first four lines?
What fitness in "softer than leaves from the pine"? "Shaggy unrest ?
Had Sir Launfal's quest been wholly in vain ?
Has the Holy Grail ever been found by one seeking it for his own glory?
Compare the last lines of this stanza with Part I., stanza vi. and Part II., stanza vi., lines 298–301.
Which lines give the keynote of the poem in the noblest language? Compare Mat. x., 42, and xxv., 40.
Stanza IX. Swound. Swoon, trance.
Compare line 329 with the experience of King Arthur in the last stanzas of Tennyson's Holy Grail.
What lesson is taught by the fact that the grail is found in his own castle ?
What was defective in Sir Launfal's mail? What kind of armor is needed in this quest? See Eph. vi., 11-17.
Contrast with Part I., stanza ii. What had made the change in the castle? What simile illustrates its hospitality?
Hangbird. Common name for oriole, so called from the shape of its nest.
What shows that Sir Launfal had learned the lesson of the vision?
What word expresses the poet's ideal of the holy quest?
In this general summary of the poem and its structure the ultimate end in the study of literature, "the spiritual discernment and appropriation of truth and beauty," should be kept steadily in view. Poetry is to be studied first of all as literature, not merely for the purpose of illustrating rhetoric, grammar, or philology. For in the language of Wordsworth, "Poetry is the breath and finer spirit of all knowledge," and the higher should not be subordinated to the lower. Yet some attention to the lower knowledge rightly pursued, need not necessarily be antagonistic to the higher uses of poetry. Study which makes the student appreciative of the choice of words or aware of poetic artifice or responsive to poetic effects may appropriately have a place. Even the study of figures may be made an aid to the full appreciation of poetic language, if it is remembered that to feel the force and beauty of a figure is more important than to name it.
I. Structure of the poem. What part in the harmony of the poem has the "musing organist"? Why is the poem called a "vision"? What has the description of summer and winter to do with the plan? Of what is each the symbol? Where in the poem do you find the first suggestion of the contrast between youth and old age? Trace the contrast through the poem, noting the correspondence and symbolism.
II. Subjects for short themes or discussion.
1. How does Lowell make this old-world legend with its
feudal setting illustrate the American principle of democracy and equality?
2. What do you learn of the poet's love of nature from this poem ?
3. Is Lowell's analogy between his winter imagery and Sir Launfal's old age and inward beauty too elaborate and farfetched to be artistically good? In this connection note the kind of figures most used and most effective.
4. Compare Lowell's poem, The Search, with Sir Launfal. 5. Compare with Tennyson's The Holy Grail and Sir Galahad, or Wagner's Parsifal.
As a final exercise encourage the pupil to commit his favorite stanzas. For the memorizing of a poem "that its virtue may gradually distil into the mind and become a force in the unconscious life," says Professor Bates, "is most desirable wherever it is possible to train the student to learn poetry by heart and not by rote. The slavish and mechanical engrossing of words, lines, and stanzas upon some blank tablet of the brain, is of questionable benefit; but where the student is able to learn the poem as a poem, not as a column of versesto possess himself, by the powers of attention and analysis, of the sequence of events and grouping of images, remembering these in the poet's own language because on trial he finds that language the most natural and best; this surpasses for poetic education every exercise that the ingenuity of a teacher can devise."
The following poems of Lowell contributing to his own biography may be read with profit in connection with the life.
Threnodia. Irené. My Love. A Prayer. She Came and
A Fable for
Went. The Changeling. Sonnets III., VIII., IX.