Thursday, June 9, 2011

The Poet: James Russell Lowell, "The Vision of Sir Launfal, Prelude to Part First"

“Earth gets its price for what Earth gives us;
     The beggar is taxed for a corner to die in,
The priest hath his fee who comes and shrives us,
     We bargain for the graves we lie in;
At the devil's booth are all things sold,
     Each ounce of dross costs its ounce of gold;
For a cap and bells our lives we pay,
     Bubbles we buy with a whole soul's tasking:
'T is heaven alone that is given away,
     'T is only God may be had for the asking;
No price is set on the lavish summer;
June may be had by the poorest comer.

And what is so rare as a day in June?
     Then, if ever, come perfect days;
Then Heaven tries the earth if it be in tune,
     And over it softly her warm ear lays:
Whether we look, or whether we listen,
We hear life murmur, or see it glisten;
Every clod feels a stir of might,
     An instinct within it that reaches and towers,
And, groping blindly above it for light,
     Climbs to a soul in grass and flowers;
The flush of life may well be seen
     Thrilling back over hills and valleys;
The cowslip startles in meadows green,
     The buttercup catches the sun in its chalice,
And there's never a leaf nor a blade too mean
     To be some happy creature's palace;
The little bird sits at his door in the sun,
     Atilt like a blossom among the leaves,
And lets his illumined being o'errun
     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;
He sings to the wide world, and she to her nest,-
In the nice ear of Nature which song is the best?”

- James Russell Lowell,
"The Vision of Sir Launfal, Prelude to Part First"
http://www.kellscraft.com/Launfal/launfalcontent.html

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