Sir Hornbook

or
Childe Launcelot's Expedition

A GRAMMATICO-ALLEGORICAL BALLAD

by Thomas Love Peacock
1814
with his endnotes

I |II | III | IV | V | VI | VII

I.

O'er bush and briar Childe Launcelot sprung1
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.


1. Childe, in our old ballads, often signifies a knight.

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