Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

  • Jan: Keats’s younger brother George returns from America, seeking family money; Upon the whole I dislike Mankind; I am very idle; Otho the Great rejected for early production, now submitted to Covent Garden, to be turned down; T wang-dillo-dee; feels the vapidness of the routine of society; poem: Ode on a Grecian Urn published
  • Feb: hemorrhage: Keats worries it is a death-warrant; to Fanny Brawne: a rush of blood came to my Lungs . . . at that moment thought of nothing but you; thinks about annulling engagement to Fanny; I am recommended not even to read poetry much less write it. I wish I had a little hope; I have left no immortal work behind me—nothing to make my friends proud of my memory—but I have lov’d the principle of beauty in all things; claims he has not had a tranquil day for six months; fevered, depressed, and anxious
  • Feb-May: Keats’s longing and sometimes agonizing letters to Fanny Brawne: to Fanny in Feb: all we have to do is be patient; to Fanny: How illness stands as barrier betwixt me and you!
  • March-April: fever, heart palpitations, tight chest, anxiety, nervousness, depression
  • March: Brown: Poor Keats will be unable to prepare his Poems for the Press for a long time; Brown reports that Keats desires to be remembered; poem: works a little on Lamia
  • April: doctor tells Keats there is nothing the matter with me except nervous irritability and a general weakness of the whole system which has proceeded from my anxiety of mind of late years and the too great excitement of poetry
  • April-May: Keats: tight chest; bad medical diagnosis: illness is due to anxiety associated with writing poetry, not a real illness
  • May: poem: La Belle Dame sans Merci published; moves to Kentish Town; to Fanny Brawne: I am greedy of you
  • June: Keats: serious hemorrhages; moves to live with Leigh Hunt, to be taken care of; entertains taking up medical profession; upset with preface to final collection, written by others; increasing money difficulties
  • July: 1 July: publication of Keats’s last collection, published by John Taylor & James Hessey; great worries about his health; advised to relocate to Italy
  • July-Aug: jealous, fevered feelings about Fanny Brawne: I have been occupied with nothing but you [ . . . ] You are to me an object intensely desirable [ . . . ] I cannot live without you; Nothing is so bad as want of health
  • Aug: I should like to die [ . . . ] the world is too brutal for me; acknowledges the kindness of the Hunts; moves back to Wentworth Place, cared for by the Brawnes; in a very anxious condition and precarious health; makes a will; A winter in England would . . . kill me; decides to go to Italy, hopes Brown can go with him July; Shelley invites Keats to winter in Italy with him, Keats declines; has hopes of cheating the Consumption; My Imagination is a Monastery and I am its Monk; to Shelley: an artist must serve Mammon—he must have self concentration selfishness perhaps
  • Sept: positive reviews of Keats’s last volume are appearing; assigns copyright of his three volumes to Taylor & Hessey, receives some money; Keats: I wish for death every day and night to deliver my from these pains; sails to Italy, with Severn; pained by separation from Fanny Brawne, wishes for death
  • Oct: Keats: his condition declining, more hemorrhaging; arrives in Naples, Italy, with Severn; I do not feel in the world; O what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints; his ship quarantined
  • Nov: Keats: fears, anxiety, unrelenting fever; arrives in Rome, takes rooms with Severn; I will endeavor to bear my miseries patiently [ . . . ] It surprised me that the human heart is capable of containing and bearing so much misery; I have an habitual feeling of my real life having past, and that I am leading a posthumous existence; despair is forced upon me as a habit; last known letter (to Brown) ends, I can scarcely bid you good bye even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow. / God bless you! John Keats
  • Nov-Dec: Keats extremely ill, suffering, vomiting blood; Severn, increasingly stressed, exhausted, cares for Keats
  • Dec: according to Severn, Keats says the continued stretch of his imagination has already killed him
  • 1820: death of King George III—his son, the Prince Regent, becomes George IV; trial of Queen Caroline so that George IV can divorce her (acquitted); failure of the Cato Street Conspiracy and other civil unrest, including the Radical War; London Magazine first published; Hunt publishes The Indicator; general election increases Tory majority; Regent’s Canal completed; Shelley publishes Prometheus Unbound and writes To a Skylark; Blake completes his prophetic books; Wordsworth tours Switzerland and Italy, publishes The River Duddon, Miscellaneous Poems (4 vols.), and second edition of The Excursion; Florence Nightingale and Friedrich Engels born; revolts in Portugal, Spain, Italy, and Greece; Antarctica discovered; first digital mechanical calculator patented (the Arithmometer)

3 February 1820: Consumption: That Drop of Blood; I Wish I had a little Hope

Wentworth Place, Hampstead

Click the map to see a larger versiontrue
Click the map to see a larger version

Late evening, 3 February 1820. Freezing weather has gripped England. After travelling in an open carriage from London to Hampstead with the bitter wind coming at him (and without his new heavy coat), Keats arrives home both chilled and fevered. Upon immediately getting into bed, Keats coughs a little blood onto his pillow. He asks for candle light. His very close friend and roommate at Wentworth Place, Charles Brown, recalls what Keats says, though some of Keats’s actual wording might be slightly magnified by Brown:

I know the colour of that blood;—it is arterial blood;—I cannot be deceived by that colour;—that drop of blood is my death-warrant;—I must die.

Brown runs for surgeon, who decides to bleed Keats. He’s then placed on a starvation diet and told to rest. This is not good.

Keats, with his medical training—and from seeing his younger brother, Tom, through the illness of consumption until Tom’s death in late 1818—recognizes from the colour of the blood (being oxygenated, and therefore a brighter red) that it comes from the lungs, and not, for example, from his throat, which would be of a darker colour (known as venous blood). Keats had also witnessed his mother die from consumption. In short, Keats knew something about his condition. Keats, then, recognizes that the coughed-up blood does indeed likely signal consumption, the slow, nasty illness also sometimes referred to as the white plague or white death (the disease also gained the mantle of the robber of youth), but what we know as tuberculosis—TB. No one yet knew with any certainty that it was an infectious, airborne disease. Many thought it was inherited, or that it was something like cancer. About one out of four/five deaths in Keats’s time was caused by consumption (with an even higher rate in London at the time), and it is almost certainly the most deadly pathogen in human history.

From John Reid’s 1806 A Treatise on the Origin, Progress, Prevention, and
          Treatment, of Consumption. Click to enlarge.true
From John Reid’s 1806 A Treatise on the Origin, Progress, Prevention, and Treatment, of Consumption. Click to enlarge.

Keats disagrees with a shortly-following diagnosis by a doctor that his lungs are clear. He will receive the same and obviously incorrect assessment later in the month, with one diagnosis suggesting that Keats’s illness might be psychosomatic. A week or so later after his hemorrhage, Keats describes that night, when so violent a rush of blood came to my Lungs that I felt nearly suffocated (?10 Feb, to Fanny Brawne). To his younger sister, Fanny, he writes about his carelessness in being caught out in cold: From impudently leaving off my great coat [which in late December a doctor advises him to buy] in the thaw I caught cold which flew to my Lungs (6 Feb). Keats has for some time feared the bad weather, and a chronic sore throat and occasional fevers have plagued him for more than a year and a half, and may have been lingering signs of the illness—it can infect and then linger (wax and wane) for up to a few years before it fully shows itself. There is a reasonable chance that his chronic sore throat involved TB in his larynx.*

And to Fanny Brawne, his betrothed, who lives next door in the other half of Wentworth Place—quite literally, on the other side of the wall, where he could not just imagine her presence but constantly hear it and on occasion see her—he writes a note the day after the hemorrhage: They say I must remain confined to this room for some time. The consciousness that you love me will make a pleasant prison of the house next to yours.

But being next door to Fanny also grows to have the opposite effect: anxieties, uncertainties, and fears will come to conflate with love, passion, and guilt—guilt for confining her because of his condition, and then putting upon her his dark fate. Keats refers to his nervousness, anxiety, and depressed state of mind throughout the month. He suggests to Fanny that they break off their engagement. Illness, he writes, stands as a barrier betwixt me and you!

Wentworth Place
Wentworth Place

With the presence of Fanny and the possibility of death before him—and with his brother George now once more recently departed for America; with Tom having passed away just over a year ago dying from the same illness he likely has; with his finances dire; with his younger sister sometimes sequestered from him by the family guardian; with public indifference to his poetry; with tiring of some of his friends despite their acknowledged kindnesses; and with having loved the principle of beauty in all things, anxious thoughts understandably press upon him in the middle of the night: he fears he has left no immortal work behind me, he writes in a note to Fanny Brawne. How wrong he is.

Poetry, then, is not part of this month, and neither is much hope, even if he does think of completing his comic fairy poem, The Cap and Bells; Or, The Jealousies, at some future date (he doesn’t). In a note to Fanny Brawne written during February, he says, I am recommended not even to read poetry much less write it. I wish I had a little hope. Keats muses upon how he has, for the last six months or so, lost his feeling for natural beauty, but now he affectionately thinks about the beauties of Natureon every flower I have known from my infancy—while he watches the comings-and-goings outside his parlour window (letters, 14 Feb). Some of this is slightly overstated, since at least in Winchester in August and September he is greatly touched and inspired by Autumn’s warm, even chaste, beauties (letters, 21 Sept). But that must seem like years ago, given his condition and circumstances.

By the end of month, Keats reports feeling somewhat better; but this is only a brief reprieve from the horrible disease, one that takes its time, that comes and goes, as it wastes away—consumes—its victims. So as the illness steadily progresses, Keats’s own poetic progress ends; his reputation as an exceptional poet, however, is just beginning, and unlike the characteristic feature of his illness, it will not, over time, waste away.


*My sincere thanks to Dr. Marc Lipman for his consultation about the symptoms and onset of tuberculosis and Keats’s account of it. Dr Lipman: Certainly the natural history of untreated TB was one of waxing and waning for many people—and this could be for years. Hence it may be that Keats had TB involving his larynx, which gave him the sore throats, as well some disease in his lungs (the chest infections). What then probably happened, when he found (bright red) blood on his pillow, was that his TB had progressed to develop cavities in the lungs, and one of these had eroded into a blood vessel that was being supplied by arterial blood, which is a brighter red than venous blood as it contains more oxygen, and at a higher pressure than the rest of the blood vessels in the lung. As a medical trainee, he recognised this—and its significance: namely that the bleeding was likely to be of much greater consequence if it continued. Hence his comment that he was done for. This also fits with the findings of extensive disease reported following his autopsy (where, incidentally, his lungs would have been very infectious to others). Marc Lipman is Professor of Medicine at University College London and Consultant in Respiratory & HIV Medicine and Royal Free London NHS Foundation Trust. He is Director of UCL-TB, UCL’s cross-disciplinary TB research grouping.


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


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • ‘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!


  • ‘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.


  • ‘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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • “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!


  • “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!


  • ‘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?


  • “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?”


  • 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.


  • “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.


  • “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.”


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.”


  • 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.”


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • “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.


  • “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!


  • “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!”


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • “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.”


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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?”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • 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.


  • “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.”


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • 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!


  • “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!


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • 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.”


  • 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.


  • “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.”


  • “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!”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.”


  • “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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.”


  • 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!


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • 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!


  • 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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “‘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.


  • “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.


  • “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.


  • “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!


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

Ode on a Grecian Urn


  • Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness, 
  • Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, 
  • Sylvan historian, who canst thus express 
  • A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
  • What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape 
  • Of deities or mortals, or of both, 
  • In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
  • What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
  • What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
  • What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?


  • Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard 
  • Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; 
  • Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d, 
  • Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
  • Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave 
  • Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; 
  • Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, 
  • Though winning near the goal—yet, do not grieve; 
  • She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, 
  • For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!


  • Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed 
  • Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
  • And, happy melodist, unwearied, 
  • For ever piping songs for ever new; 
  • More happy love! more happy, happy love! 
  • For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d, 
  • For ever panting, and for ever young;
  • All breathing human passion far above, 
  • That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,
  • A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 


  • Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
  • To what green altar, O mysterious priest, 
  • Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, 
  • And all her silken flanks with garlands dressed? 
  • What little town by river or sea shore, 
  • Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel, 
  • Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn? 
  • And, little town, thy streets for evermore 
  • Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
  • Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.


  • O Attic shape! Fair attitude! With brede 
  • Of marble men and maidens overwrought, 
  • With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
  • Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought 
  • As doth eternity. Cold Pastoral! 
  • When old age shall this generation waste, 
  • Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe 
  • Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st, 
  • “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,”—that is all 
  • Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

[Text based on the published version in Keats’s 1820 collection.]


La Belle Dame sans Merci:
A Ballad


  • Oh, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
  • Alone and palely loitering?
  • The sedge has withered from the Lake,
  • And no birds sing!


  • Oh, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
  • So haggard and so woe-begone?
  • The squirrel’s granary is full,
  • And the harvest’s done.


  • I see a lily on thy brow,
  • With anguish moist and fever-dew,
  • And on thy cheeks a fading rose
  • Fast withereth too.


  • I met a Lady in the Meads,
  • Full beautiful, a faery’s child,
  • Her hair was long, her foot was light,
  • And her eyes were wild.


  • I made a Garland for her head,
  • And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
  • She looked at me as she did love,
  • And made sweet moan.


  • I set her on my pacing steed,
  • And nothing else saw all day long;
  • For sidelong would she bend, and sing
  • A faery’s song—


  • She found me roots of relish sweet,
  • And honey wild and manna dew,
  • And sure in language strange she said—
  • I love thee true.


  • She took me to her elfin grot,
  • And there she wept and sigh’d full sore,
  • And there I shut her wild wild eyes
  • With kisses four.


  • And there she lullèd me asleep,
  • And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!—
  • The latest dream I ever dream’d
  • On the cold hill side.


  • I saw pale kings, and princes too,
  • Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
  • They cried—‘La belle dame sans merci
  • Thee hath in thrall!’


  • I saw their starv’d lips in the gloam
  • With horrid warning gapèd wide,
  • And I awoke, and found me here
  • On the cold hill’s side.


  • And this is why I sojourn here,
  • Alone and palely loitering,
  • Though the sedge is withered from the lake,
  • And no birds sing.

× Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Blank, G. Kim. “3 February 1820: Consumption: That Drop of Blood; I Wish I had a little Hope.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology. Edition 3.26 , University of Victoria, 12 July 2023.

Chicago Style: Note

G. Kim Blank, “3 February 1820: Consumption: That Drop of Blood; I Wish I had a little Hope,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Blank, G. Kim. “3 February 1820: Consumption: That Drop of Blood; I Wish I had a little Hope.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.26 , last modified 12th July 2023.