Poems That Every Child Should Know/The Tournament

The Tournament.

There are several of Sidney Lanier's (1842-81) poems that children love to learn. "Tampa Robins," "The Tournament" (Joust I.), "Barnacles," "The Song of the Chattahoochee," and "The First Steamboat Up the Alabama" are among them. At our "poetry contests" the children have plainly demonstrated that this great poet has reached his hand down to the youngest. The time will doubtless come when it will be a part of education to be acquainted with Lanier, as it is now to be acquainted with Longfellow or Tennyson.

I.

Bright shone the lists, blue bent the skies,
And the knights still hurried amain
To the tournament under the ladies' eyes,
Where the jousters were Heart and Brain.


II.

Flourished the trumpets, entered Heart,
A youth in crimson and gold;
Flourished again; Brain stood apart,
Steel-armoured, dark and cold.


III.

Heart's palfrey caracoled gaily round,
Heart tra-li-ra'd merrily;
But Brain sat still, with never a sound,
So cynical-calm was he.


IV.

Heart's helmet-crest bore favours three
From his lady's white hand caught.
While Brain wore a plumeless casque; not he
Or favour gave or sought.


V.

The trumpet blew; Heart shot a glance
To catch his lady's eye,
But Brain gazed straight ahead, his lance
To aim more faithfully.


VI.

They charged, they struck; both fell, both bled;
Brain rose again, ungloved;
Heart, dying, smiled and faintly said,
"My love to my beloved."

Sidney Lanier.