Sir Hornbook

I.

O'er bush and briar Childe Launcelot sprung
With ardent hopes elate,
And loudly blew the horn that hung
Before Sir Hornbook's gate.

The inner portals opened wide,
And forward strode the chief,
Arrayed in paper helmet's pride,
And arms of golden leaf.

--"What means,"--he cried,--"This daring noise,
That wakes the summer day?
I hate all idle truant boys:
Away, Sir Childe, away!"--

--"No idle, truant boy am I,"--
Childe Launcelot answered straight;
--"Resolved to climb this hill so high,
I seek thy castle gate.

"Behold the talisman I bear,
And aid my bold design:"--
Sir Hornbook gazed, and written there,
Knew Emulation's sign.

"If Emulation sent thee here,"
Sir Hornbook quick replied,
"My merrymen all shall soon appear,
To aid thy cause with shield and spear,
And I will head thy bold career,
And prove thy faithful guide."--

Loud rung the chains; the drawbridge fell;
The gates asunder flew:
The knight thrice beat the portal bell,
And thrice he call'd "Halloo."

And out, and out, in hasty rout,
By ones, twos, threes, and fours;
His merrymen rush'd the walls without,
And stood before the doors.

II.

Full six and twenty men were they,
In line of battle spread:
The first that came was mighty A,
The last was little Z.

Six Vocal men Sir Hornbook had,
Four Double men to boot,
And four were Liquids soft and sad,
And all the rest were Mute.

He called his Corporal, Syllable,
To range the scatter'd throng;
And Captain Word dispos'd them well
In bands compact and strong.

--"Now mark, Sir Childe,"--Sir Hornbook said:--
"These well-compacted powers,
Shall lead thy vent'rous steps to tread
Through all the Muses' bowers,

"If rightly thou thyself address,
To use their proffer'd aid:
Still unallur'd by idleness,
By labor undismay'd;

"For many troubles intervene,
And perils widely spread,
Around the groves of evergreen,
That crown this mountain's head:
But rich reward he finds, I ween,
Who through them all has sped."--

Childe Launcelot felt his bosom glow
At thought of noble deed;
Resolved through every path to go,
Where that bold knight should lead.

Sir Hornbook wound his bugle horn,
Full long, and loud, and shrill;
His merrymen all, for conquest born,
With armour glittering to the morn,
Went marching up the hill.

III.

--"What men are you beside the way?"--
The bold Sir Hornbook cried:
--"My name is The, my brother's A,"--
Sir Article replied.

"My brother's home is any where,
At large and undefin'd;
But I a preference ever bear
For one fix'd spot, and settle there;
Which speaks my constant mind."

--"What ho! Childe Launcelot! seize them there,
And look you have them sure!"--
--Sir Hornbook cried,--"my men shall bear
Your captives off secure."--

The twain were seized: Sir Hornbook blew
His bugle loud and shrill:
His merrymen all, so stout and true,
Went marching up the hill.

IV.

And now a wider space they gained,
A steeper, harder ground,
Where by one ample wall contained,
All earthly things they found:

All beings, rich, poor, weak, or wise,
Were there, full strange to see,
And attributes and qualities
Of high and low degree.

Before the circle stood a knight,
Sir Substantive his name,
With Adjective, his lady bright,
Who seemed a portly dame;

Yet only seemed; for whenso'er
She strove to stand alone,
She proved no more than smoke and air,
Who looked like flesh and bone.

And therefore to her husband's arm
She clung for evermore,
And lent him many a grace and charm
He had not known before;

Yet these the knight felt well advised,
He might have done without;
For lightly foreign help he prized
He was so staunch and stout.

Five sons had they, their dear delight,
Of different forms and faces;
And two of them were Numbers bright,
And three they christened Cases.

Now loudly rung Sir Hornbook's horn;
Childe Launcelot poised his spear;
And on they rushed, to conquest borne,
In swift and full career.

Sir Substantive kicked down the wall:
It fell with furious rattle:
And earthly things and beings all
Rushed forth to join the battle.

But earthly things and being
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Thomas Love Peacock

Thomas Love Peacock was an English novelist, poet, and official of the East India Company. more…

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"Sir Hornbook" Poetry.net. STANDS4 LLC, 2019. Web. 15 Nov. 2019. <https://www.poetry.net/poem/36758/sir-hornbook>.

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