Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

  • Feb: Keats writes poetry, mainly influenced by Spenser
  • March: registered as a dresser for a surgeon, Guy’s Hospital, London; medical and traingin duties increase; has some immature poetic pretenses; writes a flimsy opening for a chivalric poem, Calidore; dresses in a somewhat pretentiously artistic, somewhat Byronic way—the persona of a poet; writes Woman! When I behold thee…
  • April: takes poetry seriously, April onwards; meets Severn, date uncertain, likely this spring, through his brother, George
  • May: first published poem, To Solitude; Abbey becomes sole trustee for family estate
  • June: writing sonnets; poem: To one who has been long in city pent
  • July: qualifies as apothecary
  • Aug-Sept: Keats holidays at Margate with brother Tom; begins some lingering obsession with poetic greatness
  • Aug: poem: To My Brother George (sonnet); To My Brother George (epistle)
  • Sept: poem: To Charles Cowden Clarke: moves to 8 Dean Street, Southwark, with his brothers
  • Oct: writes poem Chapman’s Homer; on the prospect of meeting Leigh Hunt: it will be an Era in my existence; very keen to meet Men who in the admiration of Poetry do not jumble together Shakespeare and Darwin; meets Hunt via Clarke, who calls it a red-letter day: Hunt says he becomes intimate on the spot with Keats; meets Reynolds and glorious Haydon; during the month he likely writes Keen, Fitful Gusts and On Leaving Some Friends
  • Oct-Dec: poems: Sleep and Poetry; I stood tip-toe
  • Nov: lives 76 Cheapside, London; I particularly want to look into the beautiful Scenery—for poetical purposes; Haydon says he is going to send some of Keats’s poetry to Wordsworth—Keats is breathless; poem: Great spirits now on earth are sojourning; 18 Nov: Keats’s youngest brother, Tom, turns seventeen
  • Dec: Keats listed as certified apothecary; Haydon sketches Keats and makes life-mask; publicly noted as a new young poet, with Chapman’s Homer published; drops medical career, which Abbey calls foolhardy; poems: To G. A. W., To Kosciusko, Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition, perhaps On Receiving a Laurel Crown from Leigh Hunt and To the Ladies Who Saw Me Crown’d
  • 1816: Spa Field Riots, London; Lord Byron leaves England (April) to avoid scandal, lives in Italy; Byron publishes Canto III of Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage; Percy Shelley with Mary Godwin and Claire Clairmont leave for Switzerland, where they meet Byron (Shelley marries Mary in December); Shelley publishes his Alastor collection; Beau Brummell leaves England to avoid scandal; Elgin Marbles purchased by the nation; Shelley publishes Alastor collection; Hunt publishes Rimini; Coleridge publishes Christabel, Kubla Khan, The Pains of Sleep; birth of Charlotte Brontë; Vauxhall Bridge opens; very unfavorable weather, some crop failure, some famine (a.k.a. The Year Without a Summer, likely due to the huge volcanic eruption in Indonesia); the year of the Great Re-coinage to reestablish currency stability; Humphry Davy tests lamp for coal mining; stethoscope invented (France); divorce abolished in France; in London, The Society for the Promotion of Permanent and Universal Peace established; first performance of Rossini’s comic opera The Barber of Seville (in Rome)

25 July 1816: Keats Passes Medical Exams

Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London

Click the map to see a larger version.true
Click the map to see a larger version.

Thursay, 25 July 1816: Twenty-year-old Keats passes his medical exams at Apothecaries’ Hall to qualify as an apothecary. It is neither an easy qualification nor a rubber-stamping examining process, and only a minority of the students were permitted to sit the exam. The exercise of regulated qualification was intended, as the July 1815 Act states, for better regulating the Practice of Apothecary in England and Wales. The premise for the Act, then, was about building credibility and consistency in the medical practices of the age. There were simply too many bogus claimers, shady practitioners, and miracle cures clamouring to separate the downhearted, suffering, or desperate from their money. Newspapers, magazines, and pamphlets were full of products and practices in the rapidly expanding market place of health restoration. Certification of those genuinely trained was seen to be imperative for the medical profession.

By December, Keats’s name appears as certified in the London Medical Repository. Against his family trustee’s strong advice (Richard Abbey), Keats begins to nix the possibility of a medical profession. The pull of poetry is too strong, and his appearance in Leigh Hunt’s Examiner in May 1816 with his first published poem—O Solitude—likely seals the poetic deal for Keats, though he will continue a little further with his medical training into 1817.

Interestingly, in September 1819, and just at the period he has hit his stride as an exceptional poet, and while thinking of a career to maintain himself (perhaps as a journalist or reviewer), he writes to very close friend Charles Brown, In no period of my life have I acted with any self will, but in throwing up the apothecary-profession (22 September).

1816 marks the year that, despite his medical qualification, his writing begins to take over his energies, and by the end of the year he is fully thrown into a mainly liberal-progressive literary network—channeled mainly through Leigh Hunt—that further propels his poetic aspirations and directions. Though his literary path seems set, Keats seems to have remained in the position of surgical dresser until very early March 1817. A few years later, when family funds (based mainly on credit) begin to dry up, and when his poetical career seems not to result in any pecuniary gain, he will in passing vaguely entertain returning to a medical career. [For more on Keats’s medical training, see 15 October 1815.]

By the end year, Keats will have composed all the poetry that goes into his first collection, Poems, by John Keats, published (on commission) March 1817 by C. & J. Ollier. The volume will contain thirty-one poems, including seventeen sonnets. It will be dedicated to Hunt, and a quotation from Spenser will appear on the title page. In fact, these two figures—Hunt and Spencer—are highly influential in this first phase of Keats’s poetic career. And both are conspicuously, and intentionally, for the most part left behind as Keats (spurred by a fully developed poetics) finds a stronger, more original poetic voice through late 1818 into 1819. That is, though Spenserian romance and the prettifications of Huntian suburban poetry are largely jettisoned, they linger here and there in wording or phrases in a some of Keats’s best work; in fact, Keats’s very last significant poem, The Jealousies, marks a light-spirited and mischievous return to aspects of Spenser—perhaps later he becomes master of Spenser’s poetic spirit, rather than being mastered by it. There is the fact, then, that Keats’s first and last known poems—the 1814 Imitation of Spenser and late 1819 The Jealousies—variously embody the spirit of Spenser. But it is in what takes place in between, in grappling with the likes of Wordsworth, Milton, and Shakespeare, we most clearly see Keats’s remarkable poetical advancement.

Apothecaries Hall, London
Apothecaries Hall, London
🗙

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell

  • O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
  • Let it not be among the jumbled heap
  • Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
  • Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
  • Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
  • May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
  • ’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
  • Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
  • But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
  • Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
  • Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
  • Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
  • Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
  • When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
🗙

The Cap And Bells; Or, The Jealousies: A Faery Tale — Unfinished

1

  • In midmost Ind, beside Hydaspes cool,
  • There stood, or hover’d, tremulous in the air,
  • A faery city ’neath the potent rule
  • Of Emperor Elfinan; fam’d ev’rywhere
  • For love of mortal women, maidens fair,
  • Whose lips were solid, whose soft hands were made
  • Of a fit mould and beauty, ripe and rare,
  • To tamper his slight wooing, warm yet staid:
  • He lov’d girls smooth as shades, but hated a mere shade.

2

  • This was a crime forbidden by the law;
  • And all the priesthood of his city wept,
  • For ruin and dismay they well foresaw,
  • If impious prince no bound or limit kept,
  • And faery Zendervester overstept;
  • They wept, he sin’d, and still he would sin on,
  • They dreamt of sin, and he sin’d while they slept;
  • In vain the pulpit thunder’d at the throne,
  • Caricature was vain, and vain the tart lampoon.

3

  • Which seeing, his high court of parliament
  • Laid a remonstrance at his Highness’ feet,
  • Praying his royal senses to content
  • Themselves with what in faery land was sweet,
  • Befitting best that shade with shade should meet:
  • Whereat, to calm their fears, he promis’d soon
  • From mortal tempters all to make retreat, —
  • Aye, even on the first of the new moon,
  • An immaterial wife to espouse as heaven’s boon.

4

  • Meantime he sent a fluttering embassy
  • To Pigmio, of Imaus sovereign,
  • To half beg, and half demand, respectfully,
  • The hand of his fair daughter Bellanaine;
  • An audience had, and speeching done, they gain
  • Their point, and bring the weeping bride away;
  • Whom, with but one attendant, safely lain
  • Upon their wings, they bore in bright array,
  • While little harps were touch’d by many a lyric fay.

5

  • As in old pictures tender cherubim
  • A child’s soul thro’ the sapphir’d canvas bear,
  • So, thro’ a real heaven, on they swim
  • With the sweet princess on her plumag’d lair,
  • Speed giving to the winds her lustrous hair;
  • And so she journey’d, sleeping or awake,
  • Save when, for healthful exercise and air,
  • She chose to ‘promener à l’aile,’ or take
  • A pigeon’s somerset, for sport or change’s sake.

6

  • ‘Dear Princess, do not whisper me so loud,’
  • Quoth Corallina, nurse and confidant,
  • ‘Do not you see there, lurking in a cloud,
  • Close at your back, that sly old Crafticant?
  • He hears a whisper plainer than a rant:
  • Dry up your tears, and do not look so blue;
  • He’s Elfinan’s great state-spy militant,
  • His running, lying, flying foot-man too,--
  • Dear mistress, let him have no handle against you!

7

  • ‘Show him a mouse’s tail, and he will guess,
  • With metaphysic swiftness, at the mouse;
  • Show him a garden, and with speed no less,
  • He’ll surmise sagely of a dwelling house,
  • And plot, in the same minute, how to chouse
  • The owner out of it; show him a’ --- ‘Peace!
  • Peace! nor contrive thy mistress’ ire to rouse!’
  • Return’d the Princess, ‘my tongue shall not cease
  • Till from this hated match I get a free release.

8

  • ‘Ah, beauteous mortal!’ ‘Hush!’ quoth Coralline,
  • ‘Really you must not talk of him, indeed.’
  • ‘You hush!’ reply’d the mistress, with a shinee
  • Of anger in her eyes, enough to breed
  • In stouter hearts than nurse’s fear and dread:
  • ‘Twas not the glance itself made nursey flinch,
  • But of its threat she took the utmost heed;
  • Not liking in her heart an hour-long pinch,
  • Or a sharp needle run into her back an inch.

9

  • So she was silenc’d, and fair Bellanaine,
  • Writhing her little body with ennui,
  • Continued to lament and to complain,
  • That Fate, cross-purposing, should let her be
  • Ravish’d away far from her dear countree;
  • That all her feelings should be set at nought,
  • In trumping up this match so hastily,
  • With lowland blood; and lowland blood she thought
  • Poison, as every staunch true-born Imaian ought.

10

  • Sorely she griev’d, and wetted three or four
  • White Provence rose-leaves with her faery tears,
  • But not for this cause; —alas! she had more
  • Bad reasons for her sorrow, as appears
  • In the fam’d memoirs of a thousand years,
  • Written by Crafticant, and published
  • By Parpaglion and Co., (those sly compeers
  • Who rak’d up ev’ry fact against the dead,)
  • In Scarab Street, Panthea, at the Jubal’s Head.

11

  • Where, after a long hypercritic howl
  • Against the vicious manners of the age,
  • He goes on to expose, with heart and soul,
  • What vice in this or that year was the rage,
  • Backbiting all the world in every page;
  • With special strictures on the horrid crime,
  • (Section’d and subsection’d with learning sage,)
  • Of faeries stooping on their wings sublime
  • To kiss a mortal’s lips, when such were in their prime.

12

  • Turn to the copious index, you will find
  • Somewhere in the column, headed letter B,
  • The name of Bellanaine, if you’re not blind;
  • Then pray refer to the text, and you will see
  • An article made up of calumny
  • Against this highland princess, rating her
  • For giving way, so over fashionably,
  • To this new-fangled vice, which seems a burr
  • Stuck in his moral throat, no coughing e’er could stir.

13

  • There he says plainly that she lov’d a man!
  • That she around him flutter’d, flirted, toy’d,
  • Before her marriage with great Elfinan;
  • That after marriage too, she never joy’d
  • In husband’s company, but still employ’d
  • Her wits to ’scape away to Angle-land;
  • Where liv’d the youth, who worried and annoy’d
  • Her tender heart, and its warm ardours fann’d
  • To such a dreadful blaze, her side would scorch her hand.

14

  • But let us leave this idle tittle-tattle
  • To waiting-maids, and bed-room coteries,
  • Nor till fit time against her fame wage battle.
  • Poor Elfinan is very ill at ease,
  • Let us resume his subject if you please:
  • For it may comfort and console him much,
  • To rhyme and syllable his miseries;
  • Poor Elfinan! whose cruel fate was such,
  • He sat and curs’d a bride he knew he could not touch.

15

  • Soon as (according to his promises)
  • The bridal embassy had taken wing,
  • And vanish’d, bird-like, o’er the suburb trees,
  • The Emperor, empierc’d with the sharp sting
  • Of love, retired, vex’d and murmuring
  • Like any drone shut from the fair bee-queen,
  • Into his cabinet, and there did fling
  • His limbs upon a sofa, full of spleen,
  • And damn’d his House of Commons, in complete chagrin.

16

  • “I’ll trounce some of the members,” cry’d the Prince,
  • “I’ll put a mark against some rebel names,
  • I’ll make the opposition-benches wince,
  • I’ll show them very soon, to all their shames,
  • What ’tis to smother up a Prince’s flames;
  • That ministers should join in it, I own,
  • Surprises me! —they too at these high games!
  • Am I an Emperor? Do I wear a crown?
  • Imperial Elfinan, go hang thyself or drown!

17

  • “I’ll trounce ‘em! —there’s the square-cut chancellor,
  • His son shall never touch that bishopric;
  • And for the nephew of old Palfior,
  • I’ll show him that his speeches made me sick,
  • And give the colonelcy to Phalaric;
  • The tiptoe marquis, mortal and gallant,
  • Shall lodge in shabby taverns upon tick;
  • And for the Speaker’s second cousin’s aunt,
  • She sha’n’t be maid of honour, — by heaven that she sha’n’t!

18

  • ‘I’ll shirk the Duke of A.; I’ll cut his brother;
  • I’ll give no garter to his eldest son;
  • I won’t speak to his sister or his mother!
  • The Viscount B. shall live at cut-and-run;
  • But how in the world can I contrive to stun
  • That fellow’s voice, which plagues me worse than any,
  • That stubborn fool, that impudent state-dun,
  • Who sets down ev’ry sovereign as a zany, —
  • That vulgar commoner, Esquire Biancopany?

19

  • “Monstrous affair! Pshaw! pah! what ugly minx
  • Will they fetch from Imaus for my bride?
  • Alas! my wearied heart within me sinks,
  • To think that I must be so near ally’d
  • To a cold dullard fay, —ah, woe betide!
  • Ah, fairest of all human loveliness!
  • Sweet Bertha! what crime can it be to glide
  • About the fragrant plaintings of thy dress,
  • Or kiss thine eyes, or count thy locks, tress after tress?”

20

  • So said, one minute’s while his eyes remaind’
  • Half lidded, piteous, languid, innocent;
  • But, in a wink, their splendour they regain’d,
  • Sparkling revenge with amorous fury blent.
  • Love thwarted in bad temper oft has vent:
  • He rose, he stampt his foot, he rang the bell,
  • And order’d some death-warrants to be sent
  • For signature: —somewhere the tempest fell,
  • As many a poor felon does not live to tell.

21

  • “At the same time, Eban,” —(this was his page,
  • A fay of colour, slave from top to toe,
  • Sent as a present, while yet under age,
  • From the Viceroy of Zanguebar, —wise, slow,
  • His speech, his only words were “yes” and “no,”
  • But swift of look, and foot, and wing was he, —)
  • “At the same time, Eban, this instant go
  • To Hum the soothsayer, whose name I see
  • Among the fresh arrivals in our empery.

22

  • “Bring Hum to me! But stay — here, take my ring,
  • The pledge of favour, that he not suspect
  • Any foul play, or awkward murdering,
  • Tho’ I have bowstrung many of his sect;
  • Throw in a hint, that if he should neglect
  • One hour, the next shall see him in my grasp,
  • And the next after that shall see him neck’d,
  • Or swallow’d by my hunger-starved asp, —
  • And mention (’tis as well) the torture of the wasp.”

23

  • These orders given, the Prince, in half a pet,
  • Let o’er the silk his propping elbow slide,
  • Caught up his little legs, and, in a fret,
  • Fell on the sofa on his royal side.
  • The slave retreated backwards, humble-ey’d,
  • And with a slave-like silence clos’d the door,
  • And to old Hun thro’ street and alley hied;
  • He “knew the city,” as we say, of yore,
  • And for short cuts and turns, was nobody knew more.

24

  • It was the time when wholesale dealers close
  • Their shutters with a moody sense of wealth,
  • But retail dealers, diligent, let loose
  • The gas (objected to on score of health),
  • Convey’d in little solder’d pipes by stealth,
  • And make it flare in many a brilliant form,
  • That all the powers of darkness it repell’th,
  • Which to the oil-trade doth great scaith and harm,
  • And superseded quite the use of the glow-worm.

25

  • Eban, untempted by the pastry-cooks,
  • (Of pastry he got store within the palace,)
  • With hasty steps, wrapp’d cloak, and solemn looks,
  • Incognito upon his errand sallies,
  • His smelling-bottle ready for the allies;
  • He pass’d the Hurdy-gurdies with disdain,
  • Vowing he’d have them sent on board the gallies;
  • Just as he made his vow; it ’gan to rain,
  • Therefore he call’d a coach, and bade it drive amain.

26

  • “I’ll pull the string,” said he, and further said,
  • “Polluted Jarvey! Ah, thou filthy hack!
  • Whose springs of life are all dry’d up and dead,
  • Whose linsey-woolsey lining hangs all slack,
  • Whose rug is straw, whose wholeness is a crack;
  • And evermore thy steps go clatter-clitter;
  • Whose glass once up can never be got back,
  • Who prov’st, with jolting arguments and bitter,
  • That ’tis of modern use to travel in a litter.

27

  • “Thou inconvenience! thou hungry crop
  • For all corn! thou snail-creeper to and fro,
  • Who while thou goest ever seem’st to stop,
  • And fiddle-faddle standest while you go;
  • I’ the morning, freighted with a weight of woe,
  • Unto some lazar-house thou journeyest,
  • And in the evening tak’st a double row
  • Of dowdies, for some dance or party drest,
  • Besides the goods meanwhile thou movest east and west.

28

  • “By thy ungallant bearing and sad mien,
  • An inch appears the utmost thou couldst budge;
  • Yet at the slightest nod, or hint, or sign,
  • Round to the curb-stone patient dost thou trudge,
  • School’d in a beckon, learned in a nudge,
  • A dull-ey’d Argus watching for a fare;
  • Quiet and plodding, thou dost bear no grudge
  • To whisking Tilburies, or Phaetons rare,
  • Curricles, or Mail-coaches, swift beyond compare.”

29

  • Philosophizing thus, he pull’d the check,
  • And bade the Coachman wheel to such a street,
  • Who, turning much his body, more his neck,
  • Louted full low, and hoarsely did him greet:
  • “Certes, Monsieur were best take to his feet,
  • Seeing his servant can no further drive
  • For press of coaches, that to-night here meet,
  • Many as bees about a straw-capp’d hive,
  • When first for April honey into faint flowers they dive.”

30

  • Eban then paid his fare, and tiptoe went
  • To Hum’s hotel; and, as he on did pass
  • With head inclin’d, each dusky lineament
  • Show’d in the pearl-pav’d street, as in a glass;
  • His purple vest, that ever peeping was
  • Rich from the fluttering crimson of his cloak,
  • His silvery trowsers, and his silken sash
  • Tied in a burnish’d knot, their semblance took
  • Upon the mirror’d walls, wherever he might look.

31

  • He smil’d at self, and, smiling, show’d his teeth,
  • And seeing his white teeth, he smil’d the more;
  • Lifted his eye-brows, spurn’d the path beneath,
  • Show’d teeth again, and smil’d as heretofore,
  • Until he knock’d at the magician’s door;
  • Where, till the porter answer’d, might be seen,
  • In the clear panel more he could adore, —
  • His turban wreath’d of gold, and white, and green,
  • Mustachios, ear-ring, nose-ring, and his sabre keen.

32

  • “Does not your master give a rout to-night?”
  • Quoth the dark page. “Oh, no!” return’d the Swiss,
  • “Next door but one to us, upon the right,
  • The Magazin des Modes now open is
  • Against the Emperor’s wedding; —and, sir, this
  • My master finds a monstrous horrid bore;
  • As he retir’d, an hour ago I wis,
  • With his best beard and brimstone, to explore
  • And cast a quiet figure in his second floor.

33

  • “Gad! he’s oblig’d to stick to business!
  • For chalk, I hear, stands at a pretty price;
  • And as for aqua vitae — there’s a mess!
  • The dentes sapientiae of mice,
  • Our barber tells me too, are on the rise, —
  • Tinder’s a lighter article, — nitre pure
  • Goes off like lightning, — grains of Paradise
  • At an enormous figure! — stars not sure! —
  • Zodiac will not move without a slight douceur!

34

  • “Venus won’t stir a peg without a fee,
  • And master is too partial, entre nous,
  • To” — “Hush — hush!” cried Eban, “sure that is he
  • Coming down stairs, — by St. Bartholomew!
  • As backwards as he can, — is’t something new?
  • Or is’t his custom, in the name of fun?’
  • “He always comes down backward, with one shoe” —
  • Return’d the porter — “off, and one shoe on,
  • Like, saving shoe for sock or stocking, my man John!”

35

  • It was indeed the great Magician,
  • Feeling, with careful toe, for every stair,
  • And retrograding careful as he can,
  • Backwards and downwards from his own two pair:
  • “Salpietro!” exclaim’d Hum, “is the dog there?
  • He’s always in my way upon the mat!’
  • “He’s in the kitchen, or the Lord knows where,” —
  • Reply’d the Swiss, — “the nasty, yelping brat!”
  • “Don’t beat him!” return’d Hum, and on the floor came pat.

36

  • Then facing right about, he saw the Page,
  • And said: “Don’t tell me what you want, Eban;
  • The Emperor is now in a huge rage, —
  • ‘Tis nine to one he’ll give you the rattan!
  • Let us away!” Away together ran
  • The plain-dress’d sage and spangled blackamoor,
  • Nor rested till they stood to cool, and fan,
  • And breathe themselves at th’ Emperor’s chamber door,
  • When Eban thought he heard a soft imperial snore.

37

  • “I thought you guess’d, foretold, or prophesy’d,
  • That’s Majesty was in a raving fit?”
  • “He dreams,” said Hum, “or I have ever lied,
  • That he is tearing you, sir, bit by bit.”
  • “He’s not asleep, and you have little wit,”
  • Reply’d the page; “that little buzzing noise,
  • Whate’er your palmistry may make of it,
  • Comes from a play-thing of the Emperor’s choice,
  • From a Man-Tiger-Organ, prettiest of his toys.”

38

  • Eban then usher’d in the learned Seer:
  • Elfinan’s back was turn’d, but, ne’ertheless,
  • Both, prostrate on the carpet, ear by ear,
  • Crept silently, and waited in distress,
  • Knowing the Emperor’s moody bitterness;
  • Eban especially, who on the floor ’gan
  • Tremble and quake to death, — he feared less
  • A dose of senna-tea or nightmare Gorgon
  • Than the Emperor when he play’d on his Man-Tiger-Organ.

39

  • They kiss’d nine times the carpet’s velvet face
  • Of glossy silk, soft, smooth, and meadow-green,
  • Where the close eye in deep rich fur might trace
  • A silver tissue, scantly to be seen,
  • As daisies lurk’d in June-grass, buds in green;
  • Sudden the music ceased, sudden the hand
  • Of majesty, by dint of passion keen,
  • Doubled into a common fist, went grand,
  • And knock’d down three cut glasses, and his best ink-stand.

40

  • Then turning round, he saw those trembling two:
  • “Eban,” said he, “as slaves should taste the fruits
  • Of diligence, I shall remember you
  • To-morrow, or next day, as time suits,
  • In a finger conversation with my mutes, —
  • Begone! — for you, Chaldean! here remain!
  • Fear not, quake not, and as good wine recruits
  • A conjurer’s spirits, what cup will you drain?
  • Sherry in silver, hock in gold, or glass’d champagne?”

41

  • “Commander of the faithful!” answer’d Hum,
  • “In preference to these, I’ll merely taste
  • A thimble-full of old Jamaica rum.”
  • “A simple boon!” said Elfinan; “thou may’st
  • Have Nantz, with which my morning-coffee’s lac’d.”
  • “I’ll have a glass of Nantz, then,” — said the Seer, —
  • “Made racy — (sure my boldness is misplac’d!) —
  • With the third part — (yet that is drinking dear!) —
  • Of the least drop of crème de citron, crystal clear.”

42

  • “I pledge you, Hum! and pledge my dearest love,
  • My Bertha!” “Bertha! Bertha!” cry’d the sage,
  • “I know a many Berthas!” “Mine’s above
  • All Berthas!” sighed the Emperor. “I engage,”
  • Said Hum, “in duty, and in vassalage,
  • To mention all the Berthas in the earth; —
  • There’s Bertha Watson, — and Miss Bertha Page, —
  • This fam’d for languid eyes, and that for mirth, —
  • There’s Bertha Blount of York, — and Bertha Knox of Perth.”

43

  • “You seem to know” — “I do know,” answer’d Hum,
  • “Your Majesty’s in love with some fine girl
  • Named Bertha; but her surname will not come,
  • Without a little conjuring.” “’Tis Pearl,
  • ‘Tis Bertha Pearl! What makes my brain so whirl?
  • And she is softer, fairer than her name!”
  • “Where does she live?” ask’d Hum. “Her fair locks curl
  • So brightly, they put all our fays to shame! —
  • Live? — O! at Canterbury, with her old grand-dame.”

44

  • “Good! good!” cried Hum, “I’ve known her from a child!
  • She is a changeling of my management;
  • She was born at midnight in an Indian wild;
  • Her mother’s screams with the striped tiger’s blent,
  • While the torch-bearing slaves a halloo sent
  • Into the jungles; and her palanquin,
  • Rested amid the desert’s dreariment,
  • Shook with her agony, till fair were seen
  • The little Bertha’s eyes ope on the stars serene.”

45

  • “I can’t say,” said the monarch; “that may be
  • Just as it happen’d, true or else a bam!
  • Drink up your brandy, and sit down by me,
  • Feel, feel my pulse, how much in love I am;
  • And if your science is not all a sham.
  • Tell me some means to get the lady here.’
  • “Upon my honour!” said the son of Cham,
  • “She is my dainty changeling, near and dear,
  • Although her story sounds at first a little queer.”

46

  • “Convey her to me, Hum, or by my crown,
  • My sceptre, and my cross-surmounted globe,
  • I’ll knock you” — “Does your majesty mean — down?
  • No, no, you never could my feelings probe
  • To such a depth!” The Emperor took his robe,
  • And wept upon its purple palatine,
  • While Hum continued, shamming half a sob, —
  • “In Canterbury doth your lady shine?
  • But let me cool your brandy with a little wine.”

47

  • Whereat a narrow Flemish glass he took,
  • That since belong’d to Admiral De Witt,
  • Admir’d it with a connoisseuring look,
  • And with the ripest claret crowned it,
  • And, ere the lively bead could burst and flit,
  • He turn’d it quickly, nimbly upside down,
  • His mouth being held conveniently fit
  • To catch the treasure: “Best in all the town!”
  • He said, smack’d his moist lips, and gave a pleasant frown.

48

  • “Ah! good my Prince, weep not!” And then again
  • He filled a bumper. “Great Sire, do not weep!
  • Your pulse is shocking, but I’ll ease your pain.”
  • “Fetch me that Ottoman, and prithee keep
  • Your voice low,” said the Emperor; “and steep
  • Some lady’s-fingers nice in Candy wine;
  • And prithee, Hum, behind the screen do peep
  • For the rose-water vase, magician mine!
  • And sponge my forehead, — so my love doth make me pine.”

49

  • “Ah, cursed Bellanaine!” “Don’t think of her,”
  • Rejoin’d the Mago, “but on Bertha muse;
  • For, by my choicest best barometer,
  • You shall not throttled be in marriage noose;
  • I’ve said it, Sire; you only have to choose
  • Bertha or Bellanaine.” So saying, he drew
  • From the left pocket of his threadbare hose,
  • A sampler hoarded slyly, good as new,
  • Holding it by his thumb and finger full in view.

50

  • “Sire, this is Bertha Pearl’s neat handy-work,
  • Her name, see here, Midsummer, ninety-one.”
  • Elfinan snatch’d it with a sudden jerk,
  • And wept as if he never would have done,
  • Honouring with royal tears the poor homespun;
  • Whereon were broider’d tigers with black eyes,
  • And long-tail’d pheasants, and a rising sun,
  • Plenty of posies, great stags, butterflies
  • Bigger than stags, — a moon, — with other mysteries.

51

  • The monarch handled o’er and o’er again
  • Those day-school hieroglyphics with a sigh;
  • Somewhat in sadness, but pleas’d in the main,
  • Till this oracular couplet met his eye
  • Astounded — Cupid, I / do thee defy!
  • It was too much. He shrunk back in his chair,
  • Grew pale as death, and fainted — very nigh!
  • “Pho! nonsense!” exclaim’d Hum, “now don’t despair;
  • She does not mean it really. Cheer up, hearty — there!

52

  • “And listen to my words. You say you won’t,
  • On any terms, marry Miss Bellanaine;
  • It goes against your conscience — good! Well, don’t.
  • You say you love a mortal. I would fain
  • Persuade your honour’s highness to refrain
  • From peccadilloes. But, Sire, as I say,
  • What good would that do? And, to be more plain,
  • You would do me a mischief some odd day,
  • Cut off my ears and limbs, or head too, by my fay!

53

  • “Besides, manners forbid that I should pass any
  • Vile strictures on the conduct of a prince
  • Who should indulge his genius, if he has any,
  • Not, like a subject, foolish matters mince.
  • Now I think on’t, perhaps I could convince
  • Your Majesty there is no crime at all
  • In loving pretty little Bertha, since
  • She’s very delicate, — not over tall, —
  • A fairy’s hand, and in the waist why — very small.”

54

  • “Ring the repeater, gentle Hum!” “’Tis five,”
  • Said the gentle Hum; “the nights draw in apace;
  • The little birds I hear are all alive;
  • I see the dawning touch’d upon your face;
  • Shall I put out the candles, please your Grace?”
  • “Do put them out, and, without more ado,
  • Tell me how I may that sweet girl embrace, —
  • How you can bring her to me.” “That’s for you,
  • Great Emperor! to adventure, like a lover true.”

55

  • “I fetch her!” — “Yes, an’t like your Majesty;
  • And as she would be frighten’d wide awake
  • To travel such a distance through the sky,
  • Use of some soft manoeuvre you must make,
  • For your convenience, and her dear nerves’ sake;
  • Nice way would be to bring her in a swoon,
  • Anon, I’ll tell what course were best to take;
  • You must away this morning.” “Hum! so soon?”
  • “Sire, you must be in Kent by twelve o’clock at noon.”

56

  • At this great Caesar started on his feet,
  • Lifted his wings, and stood attentive-wise.
  • “Those wings to Canterbury you must beat,
  • If you hold Bertha as a worthy prize.
  • Look in the Almanack — Moore never lies —
  • April the twenty- fourth, — this coming day,
  • Now breathing its new bloom upon the skies,
  • Will end in St. Mark’s Eve; — you must away,
  • For on that eve alone can you the maid convey.”

57

  • Then the magician solemnly ’gan to frown,
  • So that his frost-white eyebrows, beetling low,
  • Shaded his deep green eyes, and wrinkles brown
  • Plaited upon his furnace-scorched brow:
  • Forth from his hood that hung his neck below,
  • He lifted a bright casket of pure gold,
  • Touch’d a spring-lock, and there in wool or snow,
  • Charm’d into ever freezing, lay an old
  • And legend-leaved book, mysterious to behold.

58

  • “Take this same book, — it will not bite you, Sire;
  • There, put it underneath your royal arm;
  • Though it’s a pretty weight it will not tire,
  • But rather on your journey keep you warm:
  • This is the magic, this the potent charm,
  • That shall drive Bertha to a fainting fit!
  • When the time comes, don’t feel the least alarm,
  • But lift her from the ground, and swiftly flit
  • Back to your palace, where I wait for guerdon fit.”

59

  • “What shall I do with that same book?” “Why merely
  • Lay it on Bertha’s table, close beside
  • Her work-box, and ’twill help your purpose dearly;
  • I say no more.” “Or good or ill betide,
  • Through the wide air to Kent this morn I glide!”
  • Exclaim’d the Emperor. “When I return,
  • Ask what you will, — I’ll give you my new bride!
  • And take some more wine, Hum; — O Heavens! I burn
  • To be upon the wing! Now, now, that minx I spurn!”

60

  • “Leave her to me,” rejoin’d the magian:
  • “But how shall I account, illustrious fay!
  • For thine imperial absence? Pho! I can
  • Say you are very sick, and bar the way
  • To your so loving courtiers for one day;
  • If either of their two archbishops’ graces
  • Should talk of extreme unction, I shall say
  • You do not like cold pig with Latin phrases,
  • Which never should be used but in alarming cases.”

61

  • “Open the window, Hum; I’m ready now!”
  • “Zooks!” exclaim’d Hum, as up the sash he drew.
  • “Behold, your Majesty, upon the brow
  • Of yonder hill, what crowds of people!” “Whew!
  • The monster’s always after something new,”
  • Return’d his Highness, “they are piping hot
  • To see my pigsney Bellanaine. Hum! do
  • Tighten my belt a little, — so, so, — not
  • Too tight, — the book! — my wand! — so, nothing is forgot.”

62

  • “Wounds! how they shout!” said Hum, “and there, — see, see!
  • Th’ ambassador’s return’d from Pigmio!
  • The morning’s very fine, — uncommonly!
  • See, past the skirts of yon white cloud they go,
  • Tinging it with soft crimsons! Now below
  • The sable-pointed heads of firs and pines
  • They dip, move on, and with them moves a glow
  • Along the forest side! Now amber lines
  • Reach the hill top, and now throughout the valley shines.”

63

  • “Why, Hum, you’re getting quite poetical!
  • Those nows you managed in a special style.”
  • “If ever you have leisure, Sire, you shall
  • See scraps of mine will make it worth your while,
  • Tid-bits for Phoebus! — yes, you well may smile.
  • Hark! hark! the bells!” “A little further yet,
  • Good Hum, and let me view this mighty coil.”
  • Then the great Emperor full graceful set
  • His elbow for a prop, and snuff’d his mignonnette.

64

  • The morn is full of holiday; loud bells
  • With rival clamours ring from every spire;
  • Cunningly-station’d music dies and swells
  • In echoing places; when the winds respire,
  • Light flags stream out like gauzy tongues of fire;
  • A metropolitan murmur, lifeful, warm,
  • Comes from the northern suburbs; rich attire
  • Freckles with red and gold the moving swarm;
  • While here and there clear trumpets blow a keen alarm.

65

  • And now the fairy escort was seen clear,
  • Like the old pageant of Aurora’s train,
  • Above a pearl-built minister, hovering near;
  • First wily Crafticant, the chamberlain,
  • Balanc’d upon his grey-grown pinions twain,
  • His slender wand officially reveal’d;
  • Then black gnomes scattering sixpences like rain;
  • Then pages three and three; and next, slave-held,
  • The Imaian ’scutcheon bright, — one mouse in argent field.

66

  • Gentlemen pensioners next; and after them,
  • A troop of winged Janizaries flew;
  • Then slaves, as presents bearing many a gem;
  • Then twelve physicians fluttering two and two;
  • And next a chaplain in a cassock new;
  • Then Lords in waiting; then (what head not reels
  • For pleasure?) — the fair Princess in full view,
  • Borne upon wings, — and very pleas’d she feels
  • To have such splendour dance attendance at her heels.

67

  • For there was more magnificence behind:
  • She wav’d her handkerchief. “Ah, very grand!”
  • Cry’d Elfinan, and clos’d the window-blind;
  • “And, Hum, we must not shilly-shally stand, —
  • Adieu! adieu! I’m off for Angle-land!
  • I say, old Hocus, have you such a thing
  • About you, — feel your pockets, I command, —
  • I want, this instant, an invisible ring, —
  • Thank you, old mummy! — now securely I take wing.”

68

  • Then Elfinan swift vaulted from the floor,
  • And lighted graceful on the window-sill;
  • Under one arm the magic book he bore,
  • The other he could wave about at will;
  • Pale was his face, he still look’d very ill;
  • He bow’d at Bellanaine, and said — “Poor Bell!
  • Farewell! farewell! and if for ever! still
  • For ever fare thee well!” — and then he fell
  • A laughing! — snapp’d his fingers! — shame it is to tell!

69

  • “By’r Lady! he is gone!” cries Hum, “and I —
  • (I own it) — have made too free with his wine;
  • Old Crafticant will smoke me. By-the-bye!
  • This room is full of jewels as a mine, —
  • Dear valuable creatures, how ye shine!
  • Sometime to-day I must contrive a minute,
  • If Mercury propitiously incline,
  • To examine his scutoire, and see what’s in it,
  • For of superfluous diamonds I as well may thin it.

70

  • “The Emperor’s horrid bad; yes, that’s my cue!”
  • Some histories say that this was Hum’s last speech;
  • That, being fuddled, he went reeling through
  • The corridor, and scarce upright could reach
  • The stair-head; that being glutted as a leech,
  • And us’d, as we ourselves have just now said,
  • To manage stairs reversely, like a peach
  • Too ripe, he fell, being puzzled in his head
  • With liquor and the staircase: verdict — found stone dead.

71

  • This as a falsehood Crafticanto treats;
  • And as his style is of strange elegance,
  • Gentle and tender, full of soft conceits,
  • (Much like our Boswell’s,) we will take a glance
  • At his sweet prose, and, if we can, make dance
  • His woven periods into careless rhyme;
  • O, little faery Pegasus! rear — prance —
  • Trot round the quarto — ordinary time!
  • March, little Pegasus, with pawing hoof sublime!

72

  • Well, let us see, — tenth book and chapter nine, —
  • Thus Crafticant pursues his diary: —
  • “’Twas twelve o’clock at night, the weather fine,
  • Latitude thirty-six; our scouts descry
  • A flight of starlings making rapidly
  • Towards Thibet. Mem.: — birds fly in the night;
  • From twelve to half-past — wings not fit to fly
  • For a thick fog — the Princess sulky quite;
  • Call’d for an extra shawl, and gave her nurse a bite.

73

  • “Five minutes before one — brought down a moth
  • With my new double-barrel — stew’d the thighs
  • And made a very tolerable broth —
  • Princess turn’d dainty, to our great surprise,
  • Alter’d her mind, and thought it very nice;
  • Seeing her pleasant, try’d her with a pun,
  • She frown’d; a monstrous owl across us flies
  • About this time, — a sad old figure of fun;
  • Bad omen — this new match can’t be a happy one.

74

  • “From two to half-past, dusky way we made,
  • Above the plains of Gobi, — desert, bleak;
  • Beheld afar off, in the hooded shade
  • Of darkness, a great mountain (strange to speak),
  • Spitting, from forth its sulphur-baken peak,
  • A fan-shap’d burst of blood-red, arrowy fire,
  • Turban’d with smoke, which still away did reek,
  • Solid and black from that eternal pyre,
  • Upon the laden winds that scantly could respire.

75

  • “Just upon three o’clock a falling star
  • Created an alarm among our troop,
  • Kill’d a man-cook, a page, and broke a jar,
  • A tureen, and three dishes, at one swoop,
  • Then passing by the princess, singed her hoop:
  • Could not conceive what Coralline was at,
  • She clapp’d her hands three times and cry’d out ‘Whoop!’
  • Some strange Imaian custom. A large bat
  • Came sudden ’fore my face, and brush’d against my hat.

76

  • “Five minutes thirteen seconds after three,
  • Far in the west a mighty fire broke out,
  • Conjectur’d, on the instant, it might be,
  • The city of Balk — ’twas Balk beyond all doubt:
  • A griffin, wheeling here and there about,
  • Kept reconnoitring us — doubled our guard —
  • Lighted our torches, and kept up a shout,
  • Till he sheer’d off — the Princess very scar’d —
  • And many on their marrow-bones for death prepar’d.

77

  • “At half-past three arose the cheerful moon —
  • Bivouack’d for four minutes on a cloud —
  • Where from the earth we heard a lively tune
  • Of tambourines and pipes, serene and loud,
  • While on a flowery lawn a brilliant crowd
  • Cinque-parted danc’d, some half asleep reposed
  • Beneath the green-fan’d cedars, some did shroud
  • In silken tents, and ’mid light fragrance dozed,
  • Or on the opera turf their soothed eyelids closed.

78

  • “Dropp’d my gold watch, and kill’d a kettledrum —
  • It went for apoplexy — foolish folks! —
  • Left it to pay the piper — a good sum —
  • (I’ve got a conscience, maugre people’s jokes,)
  • To scrape a little favour; ’gan to coax
  • Her Highness’ pug-dog — got a sharp rebuff —
  • She wish’d a game at whist — made three revokes —
  • Turn’d from myself, her partner, in a huff;
  • His majesty will know her temper time enough.

79

  • “She cry’d for chess — I play’d a game with her —
  • Castled her king with such a vixen look,
  • It bodes ill to his Majesty — (refer
  • To the second chapter of my fortieth book,
  • And see what hoity-toity airs she took).
  • At half-past four the morn essay’d to beam —
  • Saluted, as we pass’d, an early rook —
  • The Princess fell asleep, and, in her dream,
  • Talk’d of one Master Hubert, deep in her esteem.

80

  • “About this time, — making delightful way, —
  • Shed a quill-feather from my larboard wing —
  • Wish’d, trusted, hop’d ’twas no sign of decay --
  • Thank heaven, I’m hearty yet! — ’twas no such thing: —
  • At five the golden light began to spring,
  • With fiery shudder through the bloomed east;
  • At six we heard Panthea’s churches ring —
  • The city wall his unhiv’d swarms had cast,
  • To watch our grand approach, and hail us as we pass’d.

81

  • “As flowers turn their faces to the sun,
  • So on our flight with hungry eyes they gaze,
  • And, as we shap’d our course, this, that way run,
  • With mad-cap pleasure, or hand-clasp’d amaze;
  • Sweet in the air a mild-ton’d music plays,
  • And progresses through its own labyrinth;
  • Buds gather’d from the green spring’s middle-days,
  • They scatter’d, — daisy, primrose, hyacinth, —
  • Or round white columns wreath’d from capital to plinth.

82

  • “Onward we floated o’er the panting streets,
  • That seem’d throughout with upheld faces paved;
  • Look where we will, our bird’s-eye vision meets
  • Legions of holiday; bright standards waved,
  • And fluttering ensigns emulously craved
  • Our minute’s glance; a busy thunderous roar,
  • From square to square, among the buildings raved,
  • As when the sea, at flow, gluts up once more
  • The craggy hollowness of a wild reefed shore.

83

  • “And ‘Bellanaine for ever!’ shouted they,
  • While that fair Princess, from her winged chair,
  • Bow’d low with high demeanour, and, to pay
  • Their new-blown loyalty with guerdon fair,
  • Still emptied at meet distance, here and there,
  • A plenty horn of jewels. And here I
  • (Who wish to give the devil her due) declare
  • Against that ugly piece of calumny,
  • Which calls them Highland pebble-stones not worth a fly.

84

  • “Still ‘Bellanaine!’ they shouted, while we glide
  • ‘Slant to a light Ionic portico,
  • The city’s delicacy, and the pride
  • Of our Imperial Basilic; a row
  • Of lords and ladies, on each hand, make show
  • Submissive of knee-bent obeisance,
  • All down the steps; and, as we enter’d, lo!
  • The strangest sight — the most unlook’d for chance —
  • All things turn’d topsy-turvy in a devil’s dance.

85

  • “‘Stead of his anxious Majesty and court
  • At the open doors, with wide saluting eyes,
  • Congèes and scrape-graces of every sort,
  • And all the smooth routine of gallantries,
  • Was seen, to our immoderate surprise,
  • A motley crowd thick gather’d in the hall,
  • Lords, scullions, deputy-scullions, with wild cries
  • Stunning the vestibule from wall to wall,
  • Where the Chief Justice on his knees and hands doth crawl.

86

  • “Counts of the palace, and the state purveyor
  • Of moth’s-down, to make soft the royal beds,
  • The Common Council and my fool Lord Mayor
  • Marching a-row, each other slipshod treads;
  • Powder’d bag-wigs and ruffy-tuffy heads
  • Of cinder wenches meet and soil each other;
  • Toe crush’d with heel ill-natur’d fighting breeds,
  • Frill-rumpling elbows brew up many a bother,
  • And fists in the short ribs keep up the yell and pother.

87

  • “A Poet, mounted on the Court-Clown’s back,
  • Rode to the Princess swift with spurring heels,
  • And close into her face, with rhyming clack,
  • Began a Prothalamion; — she reels,
  • She falls, she faints! while laughter peels
  • Over her woman’s weakness. ‘Where!’ cry’d I,
  • ‘Where is his Majesty?’ No person feels
  • Inclin’d to answer; wherefore instantly
  • I plung’d into the crowd to find him or die.

88

  • “Jostling my way I gain’d the stairs, and ran
  • To the first landing, where, incredible!
  • I met, far gone in liquor, that old man,
  • That vile impostor Hum. ——”
  • So far so well, —
  • For we have prov’d the Mago never fell
  • Down stairs on Crafticanto’s evidence;
  • And therefore duly shall proceed to tell,
  • Plain in our own original mood and tense,
  • The sequel of this day, though labour ’tis immense!

89

  • Now Hum, new fledg’d with high authority,
  • Came forth to quell the hubbub in the hall.
🗙

Imitation of Spenser

  • Now Morning from her orient chamber came,
  • And her first footsteps touch’d a verdant hill;
  • Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame,
  • Silv’ring the untainted gushes of its rill;
  • Which, pure from mossy beds, did down distill,
  • And after parting beds of simple flowers,
  • By many streams a little lake did fill,
  • Which round its marge reflected woven bowers,
  • And, in its middle space, a sky that never lowers.
  • There the king-fisher saw his plumage bright
  • Vieing with fish of brilliant dye below;
  • Whose silken fins, and golden scales light
  • Cast upward, through the waves, a ruby glow:
  • There saw the swan his neck of arched snow,
  • And oar’d himself along with majesty;
  • Sparkled his jetty eyes; his feet did show
  • Beneath the waves like Afric’s ebony,
  • And on his back a fay reclined voluptuously.
  • Ah! could I tell the wonders of an isle
  • That in that fairest lake had placed been,
  • I could e’en Dido of her grief beguile;
  • Or rob from aged Lear his bitter teen:
  • For sure so fair a place was never seen,
  • Of all that ever charm’d romantic eye:
  • It seem’d an emerald in the silver sheen
  • Of the bright waters; or as when on high,
  • Through clouds of fleecy white, laughs the coerulean sky.
  • And all around it dipp’d luxuriously
  • Slopings of verdure through the glassy tide,
  • Which, as it were in gentle amity,
  • Rippled delighted up the flowery side;
  • As if to glean the ruddy tears, it tried,
  • Which fell profusely from the rose-tree stem!
  • Haply it was the workings of its pride,
  • In strife to throw upon the shore a gem
  • Outvieing all the buds in Flora’s diadem.
🗙

Calidore: A Fragment

  • Young Calidore is paddling o’er the lake;
  • His healthful spirit eager and awake
  • To feel the beauty of a silent eve,
  • Which seem’d full loath this happy world to leave;
  • The light dwelt o’er the scene so lingeringly.
  • He bares his forehead to the cool blue sky,
  • And smiles at the far clearness all around,
  • Until his heart is well nigh over wound,
  • And turns for calmness to the pleasant green
  • Of easy slopes, and shadowy trees that lean
  • So elegantly o’er the waters’ brim
  • And show their blossoms trim.
  • Scarce can his clear and nimble eye-sight follow
  • The freaks, and dartings of the black-wing’d swallow,
  • Delighting much, to see it half at rest,
  • Dip so refreshingly its wings, and breast
  • ’Gainst the smooth surface, and to mark anon,
  • The widening circles into nothing gone.
  • And now the sharp keel of his little boat
  • Comes up with ripple, and with easy float,
  • And glides into a bed of water lillies:
  • Broad leav’d are they and their white canopies
  • Are upward turn’d to catch the heavens’ dew.
  • Near to a little island’s point they grew;
  • Whence Calidore might have the goodliest view
  • Of this sweet spot of earth. The bowery shore
  • Went off in gentle windings to the hoar
  • And light blue mountains: but no breathing man
  • With a warm heart, and eye prepared to scan
  • Nature’s clear beauty, could pass lightly by
  • Objects that look’d out so invitingly
  • On either side. These, gentle Calidore
  • Greeted, as he had known them long before.
  • The sidelong view of swelling leafiness,
  • Which the glad setting sun in gold doth dress;
  • Whence ever and anon the jay outsprings,
  • And scales upon the beauty of its wings.
  • The lonely turret, shatter’d, and outworn,
  • Stands venerably proud; too proud to mourn
  • Its long lost grandeur: fir trees grow around,
  • Aye dropping their hard fruit upon the ground.
  • The little chapel with the cross above
  • Upholding wreaths of ivy; the white dove,
  • That on the window spreads his feathers light,
  • And seems from purple clouds to wing its flight.
  • Green tufted islands casting their soft shades
  • Across the lake; sequester’d leafy glades,
  • That through the dimness of their twilight show
  • Large dock leaves, spiral foxgloves, or the glow
  • Of the wild cat’s eyes, or the silvery stems
  • Of delicate birch trees, or long grass which hems
  • A little brook. The youth had long been viewing
  • These pleasant things, and heaven was bedewing
  • The mountain flowers, when his glad senses caught
  • A trumpet’s silver voice. Ah! it was fraught
  • With many joys for him: the warder’s ken
  • Had found white coursers prancing in the glen:
  • Friends very dear to him he soon will see;
  • So pushes off his boat most eagerly,
  • And soon upon the lake he skims along,
  • Deaf to the nightingale’s first under-song;
  • Nor minds he the white swans that dream so sweetly:
  • His spirit flies before him so completely.
  • And now he turns a jutting point of land,
  • Whence may be seen the castle gloomy, and grand:
  • Nor will a bee buzz round two swelling peaches,
  • Before the point of his light shallop reaches
  • Those marble steps that through the water dip:
  • Now over them he goes with hasty trip,
  • And scarcely stays to ope the folding doors:
  • Anon he leaps along the oaken floors
  • Of halls and corridors.
  • Delicious sounds! those little bright-eyed things
  • That float about the air on azure wings,
  • Had been less heartfelt by him than the clang
  • Of clattering hoofs; into the court he sprang,
  • Just as two noble steeds, and palfreys twain,
  • Were slanting out their necks with loosened rein;
  • While from beneath the threat’ning portcullis
  • They brought their happy burthens. What a kiss,
  • What gentle squeeze he gave each lady’s hand!
  • How tremblingly their delicate ancles spann’d!
  • Into how sweet a trance his soul was gone,
  • While whisperings of affection
  • Made him delay to let their tender feet
  • Come to the earth; with an incline so sweet
  • From their low palfreys o’er his neck they bent
  • And whether there were tears of languishment,
  • Or that the evening dew had pearl’d their tresses,
  • He feels a moisture on his cheek, and blesses
  • With lips that tremble, and with glistening eye,
  • All the soft luxury
  • That nestled in his arms. A dimpled hand,
  • Fair as some wonder out of fairy land,
  • Hung from his shoulder like the drooping flowers
  • Of whitest cassia, fresh from summer showers:
  • And this he fondled with his happy cheek
  • As if for joy he would no further seek;
  • When the kind voice of good Sir Clerimond
  • Came to his ear, like something from beyond
  • His present being: so he gently drew
  • His warm arms, thrilling now with pulses new,
  • From their sweet thrall, and forward gently bending,
  • Thank’d heaven that his joy was never ending;
  • While ’gainst his forehead he devoutly press’d
  • A hand heaven made to succour the distress’d;
  • A hand that from the world’s bleak promontory
  • Had lifted Calidore for deeds of glory.
  • Amid the pages, and the torches’ glare,
  • There stood a knight, patting the flowing hair
  • Of his proud horse’s mane: he was withal
  • A man of elegance, and stature tall:
  • So that the waving of his plumes would be
  • High as the berries of a wild ash tree,
  • Or as the winged cap of Mercury.
  • His armour was so dexterously wrought
  • In shape, that sure no living man had thought
  • It hard, and heavy steel: but that indeed
  • It was some glorious form, some splendid weed,
  • In which a spirit new come from the skies
  • Might live, and show itself to human eyes.
  • ’Tis the far-fam’d, the brave Sir Gondibert,
  • Said the good man to Calidore alert;
  • While the young warrior with a step of grace
  • Came up, — a courtly smile upon his face,
  • And mailed hand held out, ready to greet
  • The large-eyed wonder, and ambitious heat
  • Of the aspiring boy; who as he led
  • Those smiling ladies, often turned his head
  • To admire the visor arched so gracefully
  • Over a knightly brow; while they went by
  • The lamps that from the high-roof’d hall were pendent,
  • And gave the steel a shining quite transcendent.
  • Soon in a pleasant chamber they are seated;
  • The sweet-lipp’d ladies have already greeted
  • All the green leaves that round the window clamber,
  • To show their purple stars, and bells of amber.
  • Sir Gondibert has doff’d his shining steel,
  • Gladdening in the free, and airy feel
  • Of a light mantle; and while Clerimond
  • Is looking round about him with a fond,
  • And placid eye, young Calidore is burning
  • To hear of knightly deeds, and gallant spurning
  • Of all unworthiness; and how the strong of arm
  • Kept off dismay, and terror, and alarm
  • From lovely woman: while brimful of this,
  • He gave each damsel’s hand so warm a kiss,
  • And had such manly ardour in his eye,
  • That each at other look’d half staringly;
  • And then their features started into smiles
  • Sweet as blue heavens o’er enchanted isles.
  • Softly the breezes from the forest came,
  • Softly they blew aside the taper’s flame;
  • Clear was the song from Philomel’s far bower;
  • Grateful the incense from the lime-tree flower;
  • Mysterious, wild, the far heard trumpet’s tone;
  • Lovely the moon in ether, all alone:
  • Sweet too the converse of these happy mortals,
  • As that of busy spirits when the portals
  • Are closing in the west; or that soft humming
  • We hear around when Hesperus is coming.
  • Sweet be their sleep.
🗙

Woman, when I behold thee flippant, vain

  • Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,
  • Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;
  • Without that modest softening that enhances
  • The downcast eye, repentant of the pain
  • That its mild light creates to heal again:
  • E’en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,
  • E’en then my soul with exultation dances
  • For that to love, so long, I’ve dormant lain:
  • But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,
  • Heavens! how desperately do I adore
  • Thy winning graces;—to be thy defender
  • I hotly burn—to be a Calidore—
  • A very Red Cross Knight—a stout Leander—
  • Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.
  • Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;
  • Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,
  • Are things on which the dazzled senses rest
  • Till the fond, fixed eyes forget they stare.
  • From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare
  • To turn my admiration, though unpossess’d
  • They be of what is worthy,—though not drest
  • In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.
  • Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;
  • These lures I straight forget,—e’en ere I dine,
  • Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark
  • Such charms with mild intelligences shine,
  • My ear is open like a greedy shark,
  • To catch the tunings of a voice divine.
  • Ah! who can e’er forget so fair a being?
  • Who can forget her half retiring sweets?
  • God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats
  • For man’s protection. Surely the All-seeing,
  • Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,
  • Will never give him pinions, who intreats
  • Such innocence to ruin,—who vilely cheats
  • A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing
  • One’s thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear
  • A lay that once I saw her hand awake,
  • Her form seems floating palpable, and near;
  • Had I e’er seen her from an arbour take
  • A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,
  • And o’er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.
🗙

To one who has been long in city pent

  • To one who has been long in city pent,
  • ’Tis very sweet to look into the fair
  • And open face of heaven, — to breathe a prayer
  • Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
  • Who is more happy, when, with heart’s content,
  • Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
  • Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
  • And gentle tale of love and languishment?
  • Returning home at evening, with an ear
  • Catching the notes of Philomel, — an eye
  • Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
  • He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
  • E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
  • That falls through the clear ether silently.
🗙

To My Brother George [1]

  • Many the wonders I this day have seen:
  • The sun, when first he kist away the tears
  • That fill’d the eyes of morn; — the laurel’d peers
  • Who from the feathery gold of evening lean; —
  • The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
  • Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears, —
  • Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
  • Must think on what will be, and what has been.
  • E’en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
  • Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
  • So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
  • And she her half-discover’d revels keeping.
  • But what, without the social thought of thee,
  • Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?
🗙

To My Brother George [2]

  • Full many a dreary hour have I past,
  • My brain bewilder’d, and my mind o’ercast
  • With heaviness; in seasons when I’ve thought
  • No spherey strains by me could e’er be caught
  • From the blue dome, though I to dimness gaze
  • On the far depth where sheeted lightning plays;
  • Or, on the wavy grass outstretch’d supinely,
  • Pry ’mong the stars, to strive to think divinely:
  • That I should never hear Apollo’s song,
  • Though feathery clouds were floating all along
  • The purple west, and, two bright streaks between,
  • The golden lyre itself were dimly seen:
  • That the still murmur of the honey bee
  • Would never teach a rural song to me:
  • That the bright glance from beauty’s eyelids slanting
  • Would never make a lay of mine enchanting,
  • Or warm my breast with ardour to unfold
  • Some tale of love and arms in time of old.
  • But there are times, when those that love the bay,
  • Fly from all sorrowing far, far away;
  • A sudden glow comes on them, nought they see
  • In water, earth, or air, but poesy.
  • It has been said, dear George, and true I hold it,
  • (For knightly Spenser to Libertas told it,)
  • That when a Poet is in such a trance,
  • In air he sees white coursers paw, and prance,
  • Bestridden of gay knights, in gay apparel,
  • Who at each other tilt in playful quarrel,
  • And what we, ignorantly, sheet-lightning call,
  • Is the swift opening of their wide portal,
  • When the bright warder blows his trumpet clear,
  • Whose tones reach nought on earth but Poet’s ear.
  • When these enchanted portals open wide,
  • And through the light the horsemen swiftly glide,
  • The Poet’s eye can reach those golden halls,
  • And view the glory of their festivals:
  • Their ladies fair, that in the distance seem
  • Fit for the silv’ring of a seraph’s dream;
  • Their rich brimm’d goblets, that incessant run
  • Like the bright spots that move about the sun;
  • And, when upheld, the wine from each bright jar
  • Pours with the lustre of a falling star.
  • Yet further off, are dimly seen their bowers,
  • Of which, no mortal eye can reach the flowers;
  • And ’tis right just, for well Apollo knows
  • ’Twould make the Poet quarrel with the rose.
  • All that’s reveal’d from that far seat of blisses,
  • Is, the clear fountains’ interchanging kisses,
  • As gracefully descending, light and thin,
  • Like silver streaks across a dolphin’s fin,
  • When he upswimmeth from the coral caves,
  • And sports with half his tail above the waves.
  • These wonders strange he sees, and many more,
  • Whose head is pregnant with poetic lore.
  • Should he upon an evening ramble fare
  • With forehead to the soothing breezes bare,
  • Would he naught see but the dark, silent blue
  • With all its diamonds trembling through and through?
  • Or the coy moon, when in the waviness
  • Of whitest clouds she does her beauty dress,
  • And staidly paces higher up, and higher,
  • Like a sweet nun in holy-day attire?
  • Ah, yes! much more would start into his sight —
  • The revelries, and mysteries of night:
  • And should I ever see them, I will tell you
  • Such tales as needs must with amazement spell you.
  • These are the living pleasures of the bard:
  • But richer far posterity’s award.
  • What does he murmur with his latest breath,
  • While his proud eye looks through the film of death?
  • “What though I leave this dull, and earthly mould,
  • Yet shall my spirit lofty converse hold
  • With after times. — The patriot shall feel
  • My stern alarum, and unsheath his steel;
  • Or, in the senate thunder out my numbers
  • To startle princes from their easy slumbers.
  • The sage will mingle with each moral theme
  • My happy thoughts sententious; he will teem
  • With lofty periods when my verses fire him,
  • And then I’ll stoop from heaven to inspire him.
  • Lays have I left of such a dear delight
  • That maids will sing them on their bridal night.
  • Gay villagers, upon a morn of May,
  • When they have tired their gentle limbs with play,
  • And form’d a snowy circle on the grass,
  • And plac’d in midst of all that lovely lass
  • Who chosen is their queen, — with her fine head
  • Crowned with flowers purple, white, and red:
  • For there the lily, and the musk-rose, sighing,
  • Are emblems true of hapless lovers dying:
  • Between her breasts, that never yet felt trouble,
  • A bunch of violets full blown, and double,
  • Serenely sleep: — she from a casket takes
  • A little book, — and then a joy awakes
  • About each youthful heart, — with stifled cries,
  • And rubbing of white hands, and sparkling eyes:
  • For she’s to read a tale of hopes, and fears;
  • One that I foster’d in my youthful years:
  • The pearls, that on each glist’ning circlet sleep,
  • Gush ever and anon with silent creep,
  • Lured by the innocent dimples. To sweet rest
  • Shall the dear babe, upon its mother’s breast,
  • Be lull’d with songs of mine. Fair world, adieu!
  • Thy dales, and hills, are fading from my view:
  • Swiftly I mount, upon wide spreading pinions,
  • Far from the narrow bounds of thy dominions.
  • Full joy I feel, while thus I cleave the air,
  • That my soft verse will charm thy daughters fair,
  • And warm thy sons!” Ah, my dear friend and brother,
  • Could I, at once, my mad ambition smother,
  • For tasting joys like these, sure I should be
  • Happier, and dearer to society.
  • At times, ’tis true, I’ve felt relief from pain
  • When some bright thought has darted through my brain:
  • Through all that day I’ve felt a greater pleasure
  • Than if I’d brought to light a hidden treasure.
  • As to my sonnets, though none else should heed them,
  • I feel delighted, still, that you should read them.
  • Of late, too, I have had much calm enjoyment,
  • Stretch’d on the grass at my best lov’d employment
  • Of scribbling lines for you. These things I thought
  • While, in my face, the freshest breeze I caught.
  • E’en now I’m pillow’d on a bed of flowers
  • That crowns a lofty clift, which proudly towers
  • Above the ocean-waves. The stalks, and blades,
  • Chequer my tablet with their quivering shades.
  • On one side is a field of drooping oats,
  • Through which the poppies show their scarlet coats;
  • So pert and useless, that they bring to mind
  • The scarlet coats that pester human-kind.
  • And on the other side, outspread, is seen
  • Ocean’s blue mantle streak’d with purple, and green.
  • Now ’tis I see a canvass’d ship, and now
  • Mark the bright silver curling round her prow.
  • I see the lark down-dropping to his nest,
  • And the broad winged sea-gull never at rest;
  • For when no more he spreads his feathers free,
  • His breast is dancing on the restless sea.
  • Now I direct my eyes into the west,
  • Which at this moment is in sunbeams drest:
  • Why westward turn? ’Twas but to say adieu!
  • ’Twas but to kiss my hand, dear George, to you!
  • August, 1816
🗙

To Charles Cowden Clarke

  • Oft have you seen a swan superbly frowning,
  • And with proud breast his own white shadow crowning;
  • He slants his neck beneath the waters bright
  • So silently, it seems a beam of light
  • Come from the Galaxy anon he sports,—
  • With outspread wings the Naiad Zephyr courts,
  • Or ruffles all the surface of the lake
  • In striving from its crystal face to take
  • Some diamond water drops, and them to treasure
  • In milky nest, and sip them off at leisure.
  • But not a moment can he there insure them,
  • Nor to such downy rest can he allure them;
  • For down they rush as though they would be free,
  • And drop like hours into eternity.
  • Just like that bird am I in loss of time,
  • Whene’er I venture on the stream of rhyme;
  • With shatter’d boat, oar snapt, and canvass rent,
  • I slowly sail, scarce knowing my intent;
  • Still scooping up the water with my fingers,
  • In which a trembling diamond never lingers.
  • By this, friend Charles, you may full plainly see
  • Why I have never penn’d a line to thee
  • Because my thoughts were never free, and clear,
  • And little fit to please a classic ear;
  • Because my wine was of too poor a savour
  • For one whose palate gladdens in the flavour
  • Of sparkling Helicon — small good it were
  • To take him to a desert rude, and bare,
  • Who had on Baiae’s shore reclin’d at ease,
  • While Tasso’s page was floating in a breeze
  • That gave soft music from Armida’s bowers,
  • Mingled with fragrance from her rarest flowers
  • Small good to one who had by Mulla’s stream
  • Fondled the maidens with the breasts of cream;
  • Who had beheld Belphoebe in a brook,
  • And lovely Una in a leafy nook,
  • And Archimago leaning o’er his book
  • Who had of all that’s sweet tasted, and seen,
  • From silv’ry ripple, up to beauty’s queen;
  • From the sequester’d haunts of gay Titania,
  • To the blue dwelling of divine Urania
  • One, who, of late, had ta’en sweet forest walks
  • With him who elegantly chats, and talks —
  • The wrong’d Libertas, — who has told you stories
  • Of laurel chaplets, and Apollo’s glories;
  • Of troops chivalrous prancing through a city,
  • And tearful ladies made for love, and pity
  • With many else which I have never known.
  • Thus have I thought; and days on days have flown
  • Slowly, or rapidly — unwilling still
  • For you to try my dull, unlearned quill.
  • Nor should I now, but that I’ve known you long;
  • That you first taught me all the sweets of song
  • The grand, the sweet, the terse, the free, the fine;
  • What swell’d with pathos, and what right divine
  • Spenserian vowels that elope with ease,
  • And float along like birds o’er summer seas;
  • Miltonian storms, and more, Miltonian tenderness;
  • Michael in arms, and more, meek Eve’s fair slenderness.
  • Who read for me the sonnet swelling loudly
  • Up to its climax and then dying proudly?
  • Who found for me the grandeur of the ode,
  • Growing, like Atlas, stronger from its load?
  • Who let me taste that more than cordial dram,
  • The sharp, the rapier-pointed epigram?
  • Shew’d me that epic was of all the king,
  • Round, vast, and spanning all like Saturn’s ring?
  • You too upheld the veil from Clio’s beauty,
  • And pointed out the patriot’s stern duty;
  • The might of Alfred, and the shaft of Tell;
  • The hand of Brutus, that so grandly fell
  • Upon a tyrant’s head. Ah! had I never seen,
  • Or known your kindness, what might I have been?
  • What my enjoyments in my youthful years,
  • Bereft of all that now my life endears?
  • And can I e’er these benefits forget?
  • And can I e’er repay the friendly debt?
  • No, doubly no; — yet should these rhymings please,
  • I shall roll on the grass with two-fold ease
  • For I have long time been my fancy feeding
  • With hopes that you would one day think the reading
  • Of my rough verses not an hour misspent;
  • Should it e’er be so, what a rich content!
  • Some weeks have pass’d since last I saw the spires
  • In lucent Thames reflected — warm desires
  • To see the sun o’er peep the eastern dimness,
  • And morning shadows streaking into slimness
  • Across the lawny fields, and pebbly water;
  • To mark the time as they grow broad, and shorter;
  • To feel the air that plays about the hills,
  • And sips its freshness from the little rills;
  • To see high, golden corn wave in the light
  • When Cynthia smiles upon a summer’s night,
  • And peers among the cloudlet’s jet and white,
  • As though she were reclining in a bed
  • Of bean blossoms, in heaven freshly shed —
  • No sooner had I stepp’d into these pleasures
  • Than I began to think of rhymes and measures
  • The air that floated by me seem’d to say
  • Write! thou wilt never have a better day.
  • And so I did. When many lines I’d written,
  • Though with their grace I was not oversmitten,
  • Yet, as my hand was warm, I thought I’d better
  • Trust to my feelings, and write you a letter.
  • Such an attempt required an inspiration
  • Of peculiar sort, — a consummation; —
  • Which, had I felt, these scribblings might have been
  • Verses from which the soul would never wean
  • But many days have past since last my heart
  • Was warm’d luxuriously by divine Mozart;
  • By Arne delighted, or by Handel madden’d;
  • Or by the song of Erin pierc’d and sadden’d
  • What time you were before the music sitting,
  • And the rich notes to each sensation fitting;
  • Since I have walk’d with you through shady lanes
  • That freshly terminate in open plains,
  • And revel’d in a chat that ceased not
  • When at night-fall among your books we got
  • No, nor when supper came, nor after that, —
  • Nor when reluctantly I took my hat;
  • No, nor till cordially you shook my hand
  • Mid-way between our homes: — your accents bland
  • Still sounded in my ears, when I no more
  • Could hear your footsteps touch the grav’ly floor.
  • Sometimes I lost them, and then found again;
  • You chang’d the footpath for the grassy plain.
  • In those still moments I have wish’ed you joys
  • That well you know to honour: — “Life’s very toys
  • With him,” said I, “will take a pleasant charm;
  • It cannot be that ought will work him harm.
  • These thoughts now come o’er me with all their might —
  • Again I shake your hand, — friend Charles, good night.
  • September, 1816
🗙

On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

  • Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
  • And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
  • Round many western islands have I been
  • Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
  • Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
  • That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
  • Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
  • Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
  • Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
  • When a new planet swims into his ken;
  • Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
  • He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
  • Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
  • Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
🗙

Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there

  • Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there
  • Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;
  • The stars look very cold about the sky,
  • And I have many miles on foot to fare.
  • Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,
  • Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,
  • Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,
  • Or of the distance from home’s pleasant lair:
  • For I am brimfull of the friendliness
  • That in a little cottage I have found;
  • Of fair-hair’d Milton’s eloquent distress,
  • And all his love for gentle Lycid drown’d;
  • Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,
  • And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown’d.
🗙

On Leaving Some Friends at an Early Hour

  • Give me a golden pen, and let me lean
  • On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
  • Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
  • Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
  • The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
  • And let there glide by many a pearly car,
  • Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
  • And half discovered wings, and glances keen.
  • The while let music wander round my ears,
  • And as it reaches each delicious ending,
  • Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
  • And full of many wonders of the spheres:
  • For what a height my spirit is contending!
  • ’Tis not content so soon to be alone.
🗙

Sleep and Poetry

“As I lay in my bed slepe full unmete
Was unto me, but why that I ne might
Rest I ne wist, for there n’as erthly wight
[As I suppose] had more of hertis ese
Than I, for I n’ad sickness nor disese.”

Chaucer

  • What is more gentle than a wind in summer?
  • What is more soothing than the pretty hummer
  • That stays one moment in an open flower,
  • And buzzes cheerily from bower to bower?
  • What is more tranquil than a musk-rose blowing
  • In a green island, far from all men’s knowing?
  • More healthful than the leafiness of dales?
  • More secret than a nest of nightingales?
  • More serene than Cordelia’s countenance?
  • More full of visions than a high romance?
  • What, but thee Sleep? Soft closer of our eyes!
  • Low murmurer of tender lullabies!
  • Light hoverer around our happy pillows!
  • Wreather of poppy buds, and weeping willows!
  • Silent entangler of a beauty’s tresses!
  • Most happy listener! when the morning blesses
  • Thee for enlivening all the cheerful eyes
  • That glance so brightly at the new sun-rise.
  • But what is higher beyond thought than thee?
  • Fresher than berries of a mountain tree?
  • More strange, more beautiful, more smooth, more regal,
  • Than wings of swans, than doves, than dim-seen eagle?
  • What is it? And to what shall I compare it?
  • It has a glory, and nought else can share it:
  • The thought thereof is awful, sweet, and holy,
  • Chacing away all worldliness and folly;
  • Coming sometimes like fearful claps of thunder,
  • Or the low rumblings earth’s regions under;
  • And sometimes like a gentle whispering
  • Of all the secrets of some wond’rous thing
  • That breathes about us in the vacant air;
  • So that we look around with prying stare,
  • Perhaps to see shapes of light, aerial lymning,
  • And catch soft floatings from a faint-heard hymning;
  • To see the laurel wreath, on high suspended,
  • That is to crown our name when life is ended.
  • Sometimes it gives a glory to the voice,
  • And from the heart up-springs, rejoice! rejoice!
  • Sounds which will reach the Framer of all things,
  • And die away in ardent mutterings.
  • No one who once the glorious sun has seen,
  • And all the clouds, and felt his bosom clean
  • For his great Maker’s presence, but must know
  • What ’tis I mean, and feel his being glow:
  • Therefore no insult will I give his spirit,
  • By telling what he sees from native merit.
  • O Poesy! for thee I hold my pen
  • That am not yet a glorious denizen
  • Of thy wide heaven—Should I rather kneel
  • Upon some mountain-top until I feel
  • A glowing splendour round about me hung,
  • And echo back the voice of thine own tongue?
  • O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen
  • That am not yet a glorious denizen
  • Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer,
  • Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
  • Smoothed for intoxication by the breath
  • Of flowering bays, that I may die a death
  • Of luxury, and my young spirit follow
  • The morning sun-beams to the great Apollo
  • Like a fresh sacrifice; or, if I can bear
  • The o’erwhelming sweets, ’twill bring to me the fair
  • Visions of all places: a bowery nook
  • Will be elysium—an eternal book
  • Whence I may copy many a lovely saying
  • About the leaves, and flowers—about the playing
  • Of nymphs in woods, and fountains; and the shade
  • Keeping a silence round a sleeping maid;
  • And many a verse from so strange influence
  • That we must ever wonder how, and whence
  • It came. Also imaginings will hover
  • Round my fire-side, and haply there discover
  • Vistas of solemn beauty, where I’d wander
  • In happy silence, like the clear meander
  • Through its lone vales; and where I found a spot
  • Of awfuller shade, or an enchanted grot,
  • Or a green hill o’erspread with chequered dress
  • Of flowers, and fearful from its loveliness,
  • Write on my tablets all that was permitted,
  • All that was for our human senses fitted.
  • Then the events of this wide world I’d seize
  • Like a strong giant, and my spirit teaze
  • Till at its shoulders it should proudly see
  • Wings to find out an immortality.
  • Stop and consider! life is but a day;
  • A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
  • From a tree’s summit; a poor Indian’s sleep
  • While his boat hastens to the monstrous steep
  • Of Montmorenci. Why so sad a moan?
  • Life is the rose’s hope while yet unblown;
  • The reading of an ever-changing tale;
  • The light uplifting of a maiden’s veil;
  • A pigeon tumbling in clear summer air;
  • A laughing school-boy, without grief or care,
  • Riding the springy branches of an elm.
  • O for ten years, that I may overwhelm
  • Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed
  • That my own soul has to itself decreed.
  • Then will I pass the countries that I see
  • In long perspective, and continually
  • Taste their pure fountains. First the realm I’ll pass
  • Of Flora, and old Pan: sleep in the grass,
  • Feed upon apples red, and strawberries,
  • And choose each pleasure that my fancy sees;
  • Catch the white-handed nymphs in shady places,
  • To woo sweet kisses from averted faces,—
  • Play with their fingers, touch their shoulders white
  • Into a pretty shrinking with a bite
  • As hard as lips can make it: till agreed,
  • A lovely tale of human life we’ll read.
  • And one will teach a tame dove how it best
  • May fan the cool air gently o’er my rest;
  • Another, bending o’er her nimble tread,
  • Will set a green robe floating round her head,
  • And still will dance with ever varied ease,
  • Smiling upon the flowers and the trees:
  • Another will entice me on, and on
  • Through almond blossoms and rich cinnamon;
  • Till in the bosom of a leafy world
  • We rest in silence, like two gems upcurl’d
  • In the recesses of a pearly shell.
  • And can I ever bid these joys farewell?
  • Yes, I must pass them for a nobler life,
  • Where I may find the agonies, the strife
  • Of human hearts: for lo! I see afar,
  • O’er sailing the blue cragginess, a car
  • And steeds with streamy manes — the charioteer
  • Looks out upon the winds with glorious fear:
  • And now the numerous tramplings quiver lightly
  • Along a huge cloud’s ridge; and now with sprightly
  • Wheel downward come they into fresher skies,
  • Tipt round with silver from the sun’s bright eyes.
  • Still downward with capacious whirl they glide;
  • And now I see them on a green-hill’s side
  • In breezy rest among the nodding stalks.
  • The charioteer with wond’rous gesture talks
  • To the trees and mountains; and there soon appear
  • Shapes of delight, of mystery, and fear,
  • Passing along before a dusky space
  • Made by some mighty oaks: as they would chase
  • Some ever-fleeting music on they sweep.
  • Lo! how they murmur, laugh, and smile, and weep:
  • Some with upholden hand and mouth severe;
  • Some with their faces muffled to the ear
  • Between their arms; some, clear in youthful bloom,
  • Go glad and smilingly athwart the gloom;
  • Some looking back, and some with upward gaze;
  • Yes, thousands in a thousand different ways
  • Flit onward—now a lovely wreath of girls
  • Dancing their sleek hair into tangled curls;
  • And now broad wings. Most awfully intent
  • The driver of those steeds is forward bent,
  • And seems to listen: O that I might know
  • All that he writes with such a hurrying glow.
  • The visions all are fled—the car is fled
  • Into the light of heaven, and in their stead
  • A sense of real things comes doubly strong,
  • And, like a muddy stream, would bear along
  • My soul to nothingness: but I will strive
  • Against all doubtings, and will keep alive
  • The thought of that same chariot, and the strange
  • Journey it went.
  • Is there so small a range
  • In the present strength of manhood, that the high
  • Imagination cannot freely fly
  • As she was wont of old? prepare her steeds,
  • Paw up against the light, and do strange deeds
  • Upon the clouds? Has she not shewn us all?
  • From the clear space of ether, to the small
  • Breath of new buds unfolding? From the meaning
  • Of Jove’s large eye-brow, to the tender greening
  • Of April meadows? Here her altar shone,
  • E’en in this isle; and who could paragon
  • The fervid choir that lifted up a noise
  • Of harmony, to where it aye will poise
  • Its mighty self of convoluting sound,
  • Huge as a planet, and like that roll round,
  • Eternally around a dizzy void?
  • Ay, in those days the Muses were nigh cloy’d
  • With honors; nor had any other care
  • Than to sing out and sooth their wavy hair.
  • Could all this be forgotten? Yes, a schism
  • Nurtured by foppery and barbarism,
  • Made great Apollo blush for this his land.
  • Men were thought wise who could not understand
  • His glories: with a puling infant’s force
  • They sway’d about upon a rocking horse,
  • And thought it Pegasus. Ah dismal soul’d!
  • The winds of heaven blew, the ocean roll’d
  • Its gathering waves—ye felt it not. The blue
  • Bared its eternal bosom, and the dew
  • Of summer nights collected still to make
  • The morning precious: beauty was awake!
  • Why were ye not awake? But ye were dead
  • To things ye knew not of,—were closely wed
  • To musty laws lined out with wretched rule
  • And compass vile: so that ye taught a school
  • Of dolts to smooth, inlay, and clip, and fit,
  • Till, like the certain wands of Jacob’s wit,
  • Their verses tallied. Easy was the task:
  • A thousand handicraftsmen wore the mask
  • Of Poesy. Ill-fated, impious race!
  • That blasphemed the bright Lyrist to his face,
  • And did not know it,—no, they went about,
  • Holding a poor, decrepid standard out
  • Mark’d with most flimsy mottos, and in large
  • The name of one Boileau!
  • O ye whose charge
  • It is to hover round our pleasant hills!
  • Whose congregated majesty so fills
  • My boundly reverence, that I cannot trace
  • Your hallowed names, in this unholy place,
  • So near those common folk; did not their shames
  • Affright you? Did our old lamenting Thames
  • Delight you? Did ye never cluster round
  • Delicious Avon, with a mournful sound,
  • And weep? Or did ye wholly bid adieu
  • To regions where no more the laurel grew?
  • Or did ye stay to give a welcoming
  • To some lone spirits who could proudly sing
  • Their youth away, and die? ‘Twas even so:
  • But let me think away those times of woe:
  • Now ’tis a fairer season; ye have breathed
  • Rich benedictions o’er us; ye have wreathed
  • Fresh garlands: for sweet music has been heard
  • In many places;—some has been upstirr’d
  • From out its crystal dwelling in a lake,
  • By a swan’s ebon bill; from a thick brake,
  • Nested and quiet in a valley mild,
  • Bubbles a pipe; fine sounds are floating wild
  • About the earth: happy are ye and glad.
  • These things are doubtless: yet in truth we’ve had
  • Strange thunders from the potency of song;
  • Mingled indeed with what is sweet and strong,
  • From majesty: but in clear truth the themes
  • Are ugly clubs, the Poets Polyphemes
  • Disturbing the grand sea. A drainless shower
  • Of light is poesy; ’tis the supreme of power;
  • ’Tis might half slumb’ring on its own right arm.
  • The very archings of her eye-lids charm
  • A thousand willing agents to obey,
  • And still she governs with the mildest sway:
  • But strength alone though of the Muses born
  • Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,
  • Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
  • Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs,
  • And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
  • Of poesy, that it should be a friend
  • To sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.
  • Yet I rejoice: a myrtle fairer than
  • E’er grew in Paphos, from the bitter weeds
  • Lifts its sweet head into the air, and feeds
  • A silent space with ever sprouting green.
  • All tenderest birds there find a pleasant screen,
  • Creep through the shade with jaunty fluttering,
  • Nibble the little cupped flowers and sing.
  • Then let us clear away the choaking thorns
  • From round its gentle stem; let the young fawns,
  • Yeaned in after times, when we are flown,
  • Find a fresh sward beneath it, overgrown
  • With simple flowers: let there nothing be
  • More boisterous than a lover’s bended knee;
  • Nought more ungentle than the placid look
  • Of one who leans upon a closed book;
  • Nought more untranquil than the grassy slopes
  • Between two hills. All hail delightful hopes!
  • As she was wont, th’ imagination
  • Into most lovely labyrinths will be gone,
  • And they shall be accounted poet kings
  • Who simply tell the most heart-easing things.
  • O may these joys be ripe before I die.
  • Will not some say that I presumptuously
  • Have spoken? that from hastening disgrace
  • ’Twere better far to hide my foolish face?
  • That whining boyhood should with reverence bow
  • Ere the dread thunderbolt could reach? How!
  • If I do hide myself, it sure shall be
  • In the very fane, the light of Poesy:
  • If I do fall, at least I will be laid
  • Beneath the silence of a poplar shade;
  • And over me the grass shall be smooth shaven;
  • And there shall be a kind memorial graven.
  • But off Despondence! miserable bane!
  • They should not know thee, who athirst to gain
  • A noble end, are thirsty every hour.
  • What though I am not wealthy in the dower
  • Of spanning wisdom; though I do not know
  • The shiftings of the mighty winds that blow
  • Hither and thither all the changing thoughts
  • Of man: though no great minist’ring reason sorts
  • Out the dark mysteries of human souls
  • To clear conceiving: yet there ever rolls
  • A vast idea before me, and I glean
  • Therefrom my liberty; thence too I’ve seen
  • The end and aim of Poesy. ’Tis clear
  • As any thing most true; as that the year
  • Is made of the four seasons—manifest
  • As a large cross, some old cathedral’s crest,
  • Lifted to the white clouds. Therefore should I
  • Be but the essence of deformity,
  • A coward, did my very eye-lids wink
  • At speaking out what I have dared to think.
  • Ah! rather let me like a madman run
  • Over some precipice; let the hot sun
  • Melt my Dedalian wings, and drive me down
  • Convuls’d and headlong! Stay! an inward frown
  • Of conscience bids me be more calm awhile.
  • An ocean dim, sprinkled with many an isle,
  • Spreads awfully before me. How much toil!
  • How many days! what desperate turmoil!
  • Ere I can have explored its widenesses.
  • Ah, what a task! upon my bended knees,
  • I could unsay those—no, impossible!
  • Impossible!
  • For sweet relief I’ll dwell
  • On humbler thoughts, and let this strange assay
  • Begun in gentleness die so away.
  • E’en now all tumult from my bosom fades:
  • I turn full hearted to the friendly aids
  • That smooth the path of honour; brotherhood,
  • And friendliness the nurse of mutual good.
  • The hearty grasp that sends a pleasant sonnet
  • Into the brain ere one can think upon it;
  • The silence when some rhymes are coming out;
  • And when they’re come, the very pleasant rout:
  • The message certain to be done to-morrow.
  • ’Tis perhaps as well that it should be to borrow
  • Some precious book from out its snug retreat,
  • To cluster round it when we next shall meet.
  • Scarce can I scribble on; for lovely airs
  • Are fluttering round the room like doves in pairs;
  • Many delights of that glad day recalling,
  • When first my senses caught their tender falling.
  • And with these airs come forms of elegance
  • Stooping their shoulders o’er a horse’s prance,
  • Careless, and grand — fingers soft and round
  • Parting luxuriant curls; — and the swift bound
  • Of Bacchus from his chariot, when his eye
  • Made Ariadne’s cheek look blushingly.
  • Thus I remember all the pleasant flow
  • Of words at opening a portfolio.
  • Things such as these are ever harbingers
  • To trains of peaceful images: the stirs
  • Of a swan’s neck unseen among the rushes:
  • A linnet starting all about the bushes:
  • A butterfly, with golden wings broad parted,
  • Nestling a rose, convuls’d as though it smarted
  • With over pleasure — many, many more,
  • Might I indulge at large in all my store
  • Of luxuries: yet I must not forget
  • Sleep, quiet with his poppy coronet:
  • For what there may be worthy in these rhymes
  • I partly owe to him: and thus, the chimes
  • Of friendly voices had just given place
  • To as sweet a silence, when I ’gan retrace
  • The pleasant day, upon a couch at ease.
  • It was a poet’s house who keeps the keys
  • Of pleasure’s temple. Round about were hung
  • The glorious features of the bards who sung
  • In other ages—cold and sacred busts
  • Smiled at each other. Happy he who trusts
  • To clear Futurity his darling fame!
  • Then there were fauns and satyrs taking aim
  • At swelling apples with a frisky leap
  • And reaching fingers, ’mid a luscious heap
  • Of vine leaves. Then there rose to view a fane
  • Of liny marble, and thereto a train
  • Of nymphs approaching fairly o’er the sward:
  • One, loveliest, holding her white hand toward
  • The dazzling sun-rise: two sisters sweet
  • Bending their graceful figures till they meet
  • Over the trippings of a little child:
  • And some are hearing, eagerly, the wild
  • Thrilling liquidity of dewy piping.
  • See, in another picture, nymphs are wiping
  • Cherishingly Diana’s timorous limbs;—
  • A fold of lawny mantle dabbling swims
  • At the bath’s edge, and keeps a gentle motion
  • With the subsiding crystal: as when ocean
  • Heaves calmly its broad swelling smoothness o’er
  • Its rocky marge, and balances once more
  • The patient weeds; that now unshent by foam
  • Feel all about their undulating home.
  • Sappho’s meek head was there half smiling down
  • At nothing; just as though the earnest frown
  • Of over thinking had that moment gone
  • From off her brow, and left her all alone.
  • Great Alfred’s too, with anxious, pitying eyes,
  • As if he always listened to the sighs
  • Of the goaded world; and Kosciusko’s worn
  • By horrid suffrance—mightily forlorn.
  • Petrarch, outstepping from the shady green,
  • Starts at the sight of Laura; nor can wean
  • His eyes from her sweet face. Most happy they!
  • For over them was seen a free display
  • Of out-spread wings, and from between them shone
  • The face of Poesy: from off her throne
  • She overlook’d things that I scarce could tell.
  • The very sense of where I was might well
  • Keep Sleep aloof: but more than that there came
  • Thought after thought to nourish up the flame
  • Within my breast; so that the morning light
  • Surprised me even from a sleepless night;
  • And up I rose refresh’d, and glad, and gay,
  • Resolving to begin that very day
  • These lines; and howsoever they be done,
  • I leave them as a father does his son.
🗙

I stood tip-toe upon a little hill

Places of nestling green for Poets made

Story of Rimini

  • I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
  • The air was cooling, and so very still,
  • That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
  • Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
  • Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
  • Had not yet lost those starry diadems
  • Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
  • The clouds were pure and white as flocks new shorn,
  • And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept
  • On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept
  • A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
  • Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:
  • For not the faintest motion could be seen
  • Of all the shades that slanted o’er the green.
  • There was wide wand’ring for the greediest eye,
  • To peer about upon variety;
  • Far round the horizon’s crystal air to skim,
  • And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;
  • To picture out the quaint, and curious bending
  • Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;
  • Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,
  • Guess were the jaunty streams refresh themselves.
  • I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free
  • As though the fanning wings of Mercury
  • Had played upon my heels: I was light-hearted,
  • And many pleasures to my vision started;
  • So I straightway began to pluck a posey
  • Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.
  • A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
  • Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;
  • And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,
  • And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them
  • Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,
  • That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.
  • A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwined,
  • And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind
  • Upon their summer thrones; there too should be
  • The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,
  • That with a score of light green brethren shoots
  • From the quaint mossiness of aged roots:
  • Round which is heard a spring-head of clear waters
  • Babbling so wildly of its lovely daughters
  • The spreading blue bells: it may haply mourn
  • That such fair clusters should be rudely torn
  • From their fresh beds, and scattered thoughtlessly
  • By infant hands, left on the path to die.
  • Open afresh your round of starry folds,
  • Ye ardent marigolds!
  • Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,
  • For great Apollo bids
  • That in these days your praises should be sung
  • On many harps, which he has lately strung;
  • And when again your dewiness he kisses,
  • Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:
  • So haply when I rove in some far vale,
  • His mighty voice may come upon the gale.
  • Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:
  • With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,
  • And taper fulgent catching at all things,
  • To bind them all about with tiny rings.
  • Linger awhile upon some bending planks
  • That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,
  • And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:
  • They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings.
  • How silent comes the water round that bend;
  • Not the minutest whisper does it send
  • To the o’erhanging sallows: blades of grass
  • Slowly across the chequer’d shadows pass.
  • Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
  • To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach
  • A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;
  • Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
  • Staying their wavy bodies ‘gainst the streams,
  • To taste the luxury of sunny beams
  • Temper’d with coolness. How they ever wrestle
  • With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
  • Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
  • If you but scantily hold out the hand,
  • That very instant not one will remain;
  • But turn your eye, and they are there again.
  • The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,
  • And cool themselves among the em’rald tresses;
  • The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
  • And moisture, that the bowery green may live:
  • So keeping up an interchange of favours,
  • Like good men in the truth of their behaviours
  • Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
  • From low hung branches; little space they stop;
  • But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
  • Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:
  • Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
  • Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
  • Were I in such a place, I sure should pray
  • That nought less sweet, might call my thoughts away,
  • Than the soft rustle of a maiden’s gown
  • Fanning away the dandelion’s down;
  • Than the light music of her nimble toes
  • Patting against the sorrel as she goes.
  • How she would start, and blush, thus to be caught
  • Playing in all her innocence of thought.
  • O let me lead her gently o’er the brook,
  • Watch her half-smiling lips, and downward look;
  • O let me for one moment touch her wrist;
  • Let me one moment to her breathing list;
  • And as she leaves me may she often turn
  • Her fair eyes looking through her locks aubùrne.
  • What next? A tuft of evening primroses,
  • O’er which the mind may hover till it dozes;
  • O’er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,
  • But that ‘tis ever startled by the leap
  • Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting
  • Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;
  • Or by the moon lifting her silver rim
  • Above a cloud, and with a gradual swim
  • Coming into the blue with all her light.
  • O Maker of sweet poets, dear delight
  • Of this fair world, and all its gentle livers;
  • Spangler of clouds, halo of crystal rivers,
  • Mingler with leaves, and dew and tumbling streams,
  • Closer of lovely eyes to lovely dreams,
  • Lover of loneliness, and wandering,
  • Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!
  • Thee must I praise above all other glories
  • That smile us on to tell delightful stories.
  • For what has made the sage or poet write
  • But the fair paradise of Nature’s light?
  • In the calm grandeur of a sober line,
  • We see the waving of the mountain pine;
  • And when a tale is beautifully staid,
  • We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade:
  • When it is moving on luxurious wings,
  • The soul is lost in pleasant smotherings:
  • Fair dewy roses brush against our faces,
  • And flowering laurels spring from diamond vases;
  • O’er head we see the jasmine and sweet briar,
  • And bloomy grapes laughing from green attire;
  • While at our feet, the voice of crystal bubbles
  • Charms us at once away from all our troubles:
  • So that we feel uplifted from the world,
  • Walking upon the white clouds wreath’d and curl’d.
  • So felt he, who first told, how Psyche went
  • On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment;
  • What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips
  • First touch’d; what amorous, and fondling nips
  • They gave each other’s cheeks; with all their sighs,
  • And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:
  • The silver lamp,—the ravishment,—the wonder—
  • The darkness,—loneliness,—the fearful thunder;
  • Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,
  • To bow for gratitude before Jove’s throne.
  • So did he feel, who pull’d the boughs aside,
  • That we might look into a forest wide,
  • To catch a glimpse of Fawns, and Dryades
  • Coming with softest rustle through the trees;
  • And garlands woven of flowers wild, and sweet,
  • Upheld on ivory wrists, or sporting feet:
  • Telling us how fair, trembling Syrinx fled
  • Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.
  • Poor nymph,—poor Pan,—how he did weep to find,
  • Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind
  • Along the reedy stream; a half heard strain,
  • Full of sweet desolation—balmy pain.
  • What first inspired a bard of old to sing
  • Narcissus pining o’er the untainted spring?
  • In some delicious ramble, he had found
  • A little space, with boughs all woven round;
  • And in the midst of all, a clearer pool
  • Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool,
  • The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping
  • Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.
  • And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,
  • A meek and forlorn flower, with naught of pride,
  • Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness,
  • To woo its own sad image into nearness:
  • Deaf to light Zephyrus it would not move;
  • But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love.
  • So while the Poet stood in this sweet spot,
  • Some fainter gleamings o’er his fancy shot;
  • Nor was it long ere he had told the tale
  • Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s bale.
  • Where had he been, from whose warm head out-flew
  • That sweetest of all songs, that ever new,
  • That aye refreshing, pure deliciousness,
  • Coming ever to bless
  • The wanderer by moonlight? to him bringing
  • Shapes from the invisible world, unearthly singing
  • From out the middle air, from flowery nests,
  • And from the pillowy silkiness that rests
  • Full in the speculation of the stars.
  • Ah! surely he had burst our mortal bars;
  • Into some wond’rous region he had gone,
  • To search for thee, divine Endymion!
  • He was a Poet, sure a lover too,
  • Who stood on Latmus’ top, what time there blew
  • Soft breezes from the myrtle vale below;
  • And brought in faintness solemn, sweet, and slow
  • A hymn from Dian’s temple; while upswelling,
  • The incense went to her own starry dwelling.
  • But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,
  • Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,
  • The Poet wept at her so piteous fate,
  • Wept that such beauty should be desolate:
  • So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,
  • And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.
  • Queen of the wide air; thou most lovely queen
  • Of all the brightness that mine eyes have seen!
  • As thou exceedest all things in thy shine,
  • So every tale, does this sweet tale of thine.
  • O for three words of honey, that I might
  • Tell but one wonder of thy bridal night!
  • Where distant ships do seem to show their keels,
  • Phoebus awhile delayed his mighty wheels,
  • And turned to smile upon thy bashful eyes,
  • Ere he his unseen pomp would solemnize.
  • The evening weather was so bright, and clear,
  • That men of health were of unusual cheer;
  • Stepping like Homer at the trumpet’s call,
  • Or young Apollo on the pedestal:
  • And lovely women were as fair and warm,
  • As Venus looking sideways in alarm.
  • The breezes were ethereal, and pure,
  • And crept through half closed lattices to cure
  • The languid sick; it cool’d their fever’d sleep,
  • And soothed them into slumbers full and deep.
  • Soon they awoke clear eyed: nor burnt with thirsting,
  • Nor with hot fingers, nor with temples bursting:
  • And springing up, they met the wond’ring sight
  • Of their dear friends, nigh foolish with delight;
  • Who feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare,
  • And on their placid foreheads part the hair.
  • Young men, and maidens at each other gaz’d
  • With hands held back, and motionless, amaz’d
  • To see the brightness in each others’ eyes;
  • And so they stood, fill’d with a sweet surprise,
  • Until their tongues were loos’d in poesy.
  • Therefore no lover did of anguish die:
  • But the soft numbers, in that moment spoken,
  • Made silken ties, that never may be broken.
  • Cynthia! I cannot tell the greater blisses,
  • That follow’d thine, and thy dear shepherd’s kisses:
  • Was there a Poet born?—but now no more,
  • My wand’ring spirit must no further soar.—
🗙

Addressed to the Same

  • Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;
  • He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,
  • Who on Helvellyn’s summit, wide awake,
  • Catches his freshness from archangel’s wing:
  • He of the rose, the violet, the spring,
  • The social smile, the chain for freedom’s sake:
  • And lo! — whose stedfastness would never take
  • A meaner sound than Raphael’s whispering.
  • And other spirits there are standing apart
  • Upon the forehead of the age to come;
  • These, these will give the world another heart,
  • And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum
  • Of mighty workings? —
  • Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.
🗙

To G. A. W.

  • Nymph of the downward smile, and sidelong glance,
  • In what diviner moments of the day
  • Art thou most lovely? when gone far astray
  • Into the labyrinths of sweet utterance?
  • Or when serenely wand’ring in a trance
  • Of sober thought? or when starting away,
  • With careless robe, to meet the morning ray,
  • Thou spar’st the flowers in thy mazy dance?
  • Haply ’tis when thy ruby lips part sweetly,
  • And so remain, because thou listenest:
  • But thou to please wert nurtured so completely
  • That I can never tell what mood is best.
  • I shall as soon pronounce which Grace more neatly
  • Trips it before Apollo than the rest.
🗙

To Kosciusko

  • Good Kosciusko, thy great name alone
  • Is a full harvest whence to reap high feeling;
  • It comes upon us like the glorious pealing
  • Of the wide spheres — an everlasting tone.
  • And now it tells me, that in worlds unknown,
  • The names of heroes, burst from clouds concealing,
  • Are changed to harmonies, for ever stealing
  • Through cloudless blue, and round each silver throne.
  • It tells me too, that on a happy day,
  • When some good spirit walks upon the earth,
  • Thy name with Alfred’s and the great of yore
  • Gently commingling, gives tremendous birth
  • To a loud hymn, that sounds far, far away
  • To where the great God lives for evermore.
🗙

Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition

  • The church bells toll a melancholy round,
  • Calling the people to some other prayers,
  • Some other gloominess, more dreadful cares,
  • More heark’ning to the sermon’s horrid sound.
  • Surely the mind of man is closely bound
  • In some black spell; seeing that each one tears
  • Himself from fireside joys, and Lydian airs,
  • And converse high of those with glory crown’d.
  • Still, still they toll, and I should feel a damp,
  • A chill as from a tomb, did I not know
  • That they are dying like an outburnt lamp;
  • That ’tis their sighing, wailing ere they go
  • Into oblivion; — that fresh flowers will grow,
  • And many glories of immortal stamp.
🗙

On Receiving a Laurel Crown from Leigh Hunt

  • Minutes are flying swiftly; and as yet
  • Nothing unearthly has enticed my brain
  • Into a delphic labyrinth — I would fain
  • Catch an unmortal thought to pay the debt
  • I owe to the kind poet who has set
  • Upon my ambitious head a glorious gain —
  • Two bending laurel sprigs — ’tis nearly pain
  • To be conscious of such a coronet.
  • Still time is fleeting, and no dream arises
  • Gorgeous as I would have it — only I see
  • A trampling down of what the world most prizes,
  • Turbans and crowns, and blank regality;
  • And then I run into most wild surmises
  • Of all the many glories that may be.
🗙

To the Ladies Who Saw Me Crown’d

  • What is there in the universal earth
  • More lovely than a wreath from the bay tree?
  • Haply a halo round the moon — a glee
  • Circling from three sweet pair of lips in mirth;
  • And haply you will say the dewy birth
  • Of morning roses — riplings tenderly
  • Spread by the halcyon’s breast upon the sea —
  • But these comparisons are nothing worth.
  • Then is there nothing in the world so fair?
  • The silvery tears of April? — Youth of May?
  • Or June that breathes out life for butterflies?
  • No — none of these can from my favourite bear
  • Away the palm; yet shall it ever pay
  • Due reverence to your most sovereign eyes.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Blank, G. Kim. “25 July 1816: Keats Passes Medical Exams.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology. Edition 3.3 , University of Victoria, 5 September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/1816-07-25.html.

Chicago Style: Note

G. Kim Blank, “25 July 1816: Keats Passes Medical Exams,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/1816-07-25.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Blank, G. Kim. “25 July 1816: Keats Passes Medical Exams.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/1816-07-25.html.