Friday, October 17, 2014

Sir Launfal's Dream: Seated Knight with a Lance and Shield

Sir Launfal's Dream
Seated Knight with Lance
Stamped and Tinted Brass
Japanned Back
NBS Small, 5/8"
c1880s



Sir Launfal's Dream - Back

When I purchased this button, the dealer described it as Sir Renfel's Dream. I've since learned the button is correctly known as Sir Launfal's Dream after a collection of poems and a specific poem by James Russell Lowell titled The Vision of Sir Launfal, written by Lowell in 1848.

The
Internet Archive describes it as "a narrative poem about a proud medieval knight who spends his life seeking abroad for the Holy Grail in vain, only to find it at home when he humbly gives a crust of bread and cup of water to a leper." The Archive contains several editions of the poetry collection, with differing introductions about Lowell and his work.

This is an NBS small, two part picture button, made of stamped and tinted brass. The name of the button, alone, is intriguing, but the image of the dreaming knight, seated before the castle walls, fully armored right down to his spurs, his shield emblazoned with a star and a moon, clutching his lance in the crook of his arm, makes me glad I found his story. This button's detail is not sharp, but the image is evocative.

You can read the text of the poem and see engraved illustrations from an early edition by clicking on this link:
The Vision of Sir Launfal.

Here's a wonderful excerpt from the text of the poem, which is a great companion to the design of the button:

"My golden spurs now bring to me,
And bring to me my richest mail,
For to-morrow I go over land and sea
In search of the Holy Grail;
Shall never a bed for me be spread,
Nor shall a pillow be under my head,
Till I begin my vow to keep;
Here on the rushes will I sleep,
And perchance there may come a vision true
Ere day create the world anew."
Slowly Sir Launfal's eyes grew dim,
Slumber fell like a cloud on him,
And into his soul the vision flew.
Image and Text © 2010 Once Upon A Button