Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Places mentioned

  • Ambleside: 27 June 1919: Keats and Brown are on their northern walking tour. Keats sees his first waterfall. The landscape gives Keats pause to contemplate its impressive countenance relative to the power of the imagination. He feels his poetry will profit from such an encounter.
  • Angel Inn, The Strand: An old public house, not destroyed by the Great Fire of London. Keats will take an early coach from here to Chichester, 18 January 1819.
  • Apothecaries’ Hall, Black Friars Lane, London: Here Keats will take his apothecaries examination, 25 July 1816. He passes.
  • Auchencairn, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Here he writes Old Meg she was a gipsey.
  • Ayr, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They visit the cottage where Burns was born, drink some whiskey; Keats and Brown not impressed with the drunken landlord, and Keats is not impressed with his own poem about being there: This mortal body of a thousand days.
  • Ballantrae: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Here Keats writes Ah! ken ye what I met the day. He says the poem was partly inspired by a local wedding he chanced upon.
  • Beauly Abbey, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He sees Beauly Abbey (established c.1200), where he sees some skulls. Based on this, Keats and Brown jointly write On Some Skulls in Beauley Abbey, near Inverness.
  • Bedhampton, Hampshire: Along with Chichester, Keats visits here in January 1819 with his good friend Charles Brown. In the background: Keats works on The Eve of St Agnes.
  • Belfast, Ireland: 7 July 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown; they make a trip to Ireland via Donaghadee, with a quick turn-around. They are struck by the poverty, the distances, and the expense.
  • Bell & Crown, Holborn: April 1817: an inn/pub, at one time situated at 113 Holborn. Keats leaves from here on his way to the Isle of Wight. He tries Shanklin (on the sea), but moves inland to Carisbrooke, where it is less expensive. He writes On the Sea.
  • Ben Nevis, Scotland: 2 August 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He scales Ben Nevis (4413 feet) with Brown and writes a sonnet: Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud.
  • Bo-Peep (now St. Leonards-on-Sea): small town near Hastings. Here Keats meets an older woman, a certain Mrs. Isabella Jones, with whom he shares, it seems, some passing physical affection.
  • 91 (New) Bond Street, London: The address of Keats’s good friend and co-publisher, John Taylor.
  • Bowness: 26 June 1818: Leaving Kendal, Keats is on the first leg of an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They supper on trout at Bowness. They are in Wordsworth territory, but will not see him. Keats brings his poem Isabella and reads it to Brown. They enjoy the landscape.
  • Bridport: 4 or 5 May 1818: With younger brother Tom, Keats is leaving Teignmouth on their way to London. They stay the night in Bridport. At this point, Keats is thinking deeply into what it is we can see in life—into life—and in particular, into life’s darker experience.
  • British Gallery, No. 52 Pall Mall, London: This the location of the building and galleries of the British Institution.
  • British Museum, London: Where Keats sees the Elgin Marbles with Benjamin Robert Haydon, immediately resulting to two poems, composed 1 or 2 March 1817: On Seeing the Elgin Marbles and To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles.
  • Burford Bridge: November 1817: Keats gets to Dorking 22 November 1817, and stays at Burford Bridge. He completes the final book of Endymion. And here, importantly, he thinks deeply into the truthful power of the imagination.
  • Cairndow, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Writes All gentle folks who owe a grudge. Has a swim in a loch.
  • Canterbury: Visits Canterbury third week of May 1817, hoping for Chaucerian inspiration.
  • Carisbrooke, Isle of Wight: Keats writes On the Sea and he begins his biggest poetic project, Endymion.
  • 62 Cheapside, London: Keats with his brothers move here late 1816.
  • 76 Cheapside, London: November 1816. Where Keats lives with his brothers toward the end of 1816. Keats writes To My Brothers to celebrate his youngest brother’s (Tom) birthday. Much poetry is written while at this address and between mid-1816 until March 1817, when he moves to Hampstead (1 Well Walk). His social and cultural circle expands enormously.
  • Church Row, Hampstead: Home of the Davenports, with whom Keats does some socializing.
  • 7 Church Street, Edmonton: 1805: Where, after the death of their maternal grandfather, John Jennings, in March 1805, the young Keats children move to stay with their maternal grandmother, Alice Jennings. Edmonton is also where Keats serves a medical apprenticeship, 1811-1815.
  • City Road, near Bunhill Fields Cemetery, London: 15 April 1804: Keats’s father (aged 31) has a riding accident and soon after dies. Keats and his siblings move to Ponders end to live with their maternal grandparents. (Keats’s youngest brother, Edward, is buried in the cemetery; he passes before his second birthday, in 1802.)
  • Cladich, Scotland: 18 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Brown suffers from bad blistering. He contemplates the purpose of the expedition.
  • 25 College Street, Westminster, London: Keats briefly stays here in October 1819.
  • Covent Garden (theatre and district), London: An area of London and also a nominal reference to one of the major theaters in London, Theatre Royal. Keats sees a number of productions here. With his good friend Charles Brown, they send a play they have written to be staged; it doesn’t happen.
  • Craven Street, off City Road (now Cranwood Street), London: 15 April 1804: Where Keats’s father, Thomas, aged 30 (or 31) has a riding accident and dies shortly after. Everything for Keats changes.
  • Crawley Hunt, Sussex: 5 December. Where Keats sees a world-class prize fight: Jack Randall versus Ned Turner. This may have been set up by Keats’s friends as a diversion for Keats, after the death of his brother, Tom, a few days earlier.
  • Cromarty, Scotland: 8 August 1818: Keats has just concluded an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He’s not feeling well. He takes a boat from Cromarty to London, arriving 18 August.
  • Crown Inn, Liverpool: Keats and his close friend Charles Brown stay at the Crown Inn, Liverpool, in June 1818, prior to beginning their northern walking tour. They say goodbye to Keats’s brother George, 21, who, with his new wife, Georgiana, are shortly off to America from Liverpool.
  • Dalbeattie, Scotland: 2 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. After seeing poor, smokey cottages, having a bit of whiskey (mixed with sugar—toddy), and Keats picking up his repaired coat, they stay the night in Dalbeattie.
  • Derwent Water [or Derwentwater]: 28 June 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He hopes the impressive scenery will poetically benefit him. They have just stopped by Wordsworth’s residence (Rydal Mount, where Wordsworth lives until his death in 1850), but the older poet is out doing some political socializing with the Lowther family, which disappoints Keats greatly.
  • Donaghadee, Ireland: 8 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He returns from a short stop in Ireland via Donaghadee. Struck by the site of an old, squalid ape-like woman.
  • Dorking: 22 November 1817: Keats has just reached Dorking, working on the final portion of Endymion. Keats is thinking deeply upon the truth of the imagination and its connection with knowing, sensation, and thought.
  • Drury Lane Theatre, London: Prominent London theatre, rebuilt in 1812. Here Keats sees a number of productions, including Edmund Kean in Richard III.
  • Dumbarton, Scotland: 15 July 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. After a few days in Glasgow, they leave and probably make it to Dumbarton.
  • Dumfries, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. On 1 July he writes On Visiting the Tomb of Burns. Burns’s tomb is not to his taste.
  • Eglantine Cottage, Shanklin, Isle of Wight: July-August 1819: Keats stays in this lodging-house in the hope of completing a play—Otho the Great—with his very good friend, Charles Brown. He hopes for profit and popularity via the play. While here, Keats also works on Lamia. He also likely works on his Hyperion project, though he will give up on it by the end of September. Money troubles increase.
  • Egyptian Hall, Piccadilly, London: 25 March 1820: Where, at a private exhibition at the Egyptian Hall, Keats sees the completed historical painting Christ’s Entry into Jerusalem, a huge canvas painted (over a period of about six years) by his good friend, Benjamin Robert Haydon.
  • Elm Cottage, Hampstead: Where the Brawne family live; during the period they are there, Keats and Fanny Brawne may have fallen in love.
  • Endmoor: 26 June 1818. Keats has just begun an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They walk from Lancaster to Endmoor and leave Endmoor on the morning of the 26th.
  • Enfield, Clarke’s Academy: The progressive, independent school that Keats and his brothers attend. Keats’s maternal grandparents also live in Enfield, at Ponders end; the children will call this their home for a short period in 1804 after their father dies and their mother has a period of instability.
  • Exeter: 6 March 1818. On his way through Devon to meet his brother Tom in Teignmouth, Keats, in stormy weather, passes through Exeter.
  • Featherstone Buildings, London: Where Keats’s friend Charles Wells resides.
  • 93 Fleet Street, London: Where Taylor & Hessey, Keats’s friends and publishers, since set up their business and home; they receive many famous personages of the era.
  • Ford, Scotland: 19 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Going along Loch Awe, they make their way to Ford. Wonderful views. Brown is suffering from blisters. Keats has been thinking how he hopes the expedition will harden him as well as strengthen and widen his poetic potential.
  • Fort William, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown.
  • Foyers, Scotland: 1 August 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Weather not great at this point.
  • Gatehouse of Fleet, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown.
  • Girvan, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Here Keats writes To Ailsa Rock.
  • Glasgow, Scotland: 13-15 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Keats feels like they are somewhat out of place in Glasgow. Mildly accosted by a drunk and visit the cathedral.
  • Glen Luce (or Glenluce), Scotland: 6 July 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Sees abbey ruins.
  • Glen More, Mull, Scotland: 22 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. After crossing to Mull and making they way through extremely rocky and boggy territory, they come to the smoky cottage of a friendly shepherd and his family who speak only Gaelic.
  • 34 Gloucester Street, London: October 1818: With Mrs. Isabella Jones, a somewhat affectionate friend met earlier, Keats walks with her to this address and then goes into here tasty digs. Keats might have been hoping for bit more further romance, but nothing happens.
  • 6 Goswell Street Road, London: Where Keats’s acquaintance, the young painter Joseph Severn, lives. Later they will becomes intimates when Severn accompanies Keats to Rome. He will witness Keats die.
  • 112 Goswell Street, London: Home of the four Mathew sisters, likely met through one of his younger brothers, George.
  • Grasmere: 27 June 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They make their way from Ambleside and Wythburn to the Vale of Grasmere. They are impressed by waterfalls.
  • 41 Great Marlborough Street, London: Where Benjamin Robert Haydon, the well-known historical painter, has his studio. Initially Keats is an intimate friend with Haydon after they meet in late 1816.
  • Highgate in a lane by Lord Mansfield’s Park: 11 April 1819: Keats while walking catches up to Coleridge, also on a walk with someone Keat knew from medical school. Coleridge gives an impressive, unstoppable, wandering talk about almost everything.
  • Horsemonger Lane Gaol (Surrey County Gaol): Where, in 1813, Keats’s early mentor Leigh Hunt is incarcerated for libelling the Prince Regent, and where Hunt cultured a kind of coterie of visitors.
  • Inveraray, Scotland: 17/18 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Brown suffering with new shoes. Keats sees a play (Kotzebue’s The Stranger) and he writes a poem about it: Of late two dainties were before me.
  • Inverness, Scotland: 6 August 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He is in Inverness toward the end of the expedition. His is plagued by his chronic sore throat. He will return to London by boat in a few days. Brown continues on.
  • Iona, Scotland: small island (3.4 sq. miles) in the Hebrides, famous for its ancient abbey, which, historically had been subject to many raids and the massacre of monks; some of the Book of Kels may have been produced there. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown when he visits Iona
  • Ireby: 30 June 1818: Keats and his friend Charles Brown have begun their northern walking tour, which takes them from Ireby to Wigton, and from Wigton to Carlisle. At Ireby, Keats feels a touch of patriotism.
  • Isle of Wight to Winchester: Keats leaves Shanklin on the Isle of Wight for Winchester.
  • Kendal: 26 June 1818: Keats and Brown on their northern walking tour breakfast at Kendal. They are in Wordsworth territory; they make their way to Windermere, and are greatly impressed by the landscape.
  • Kerrera, Scotland: 22 July 1816: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They boat to the island of Kerrera on their way to Mull.
  • Keswick: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They are in Wordsworth territory. Keats writes Sweet, sweet is the greeting of eyes in a letter to George and Georgiana Keats—they are newly married and off to America to try their fortunes.
  • Kilmeford, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown.
  • Kirkcudbright, Scotland: 3 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Here he writes There was a naughty boy,which Keats says is about himself.
  • Kirkoswald, Scotland: 11 July 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. On the day they sightsee some ruins and a castle. Keats in a letter to brother Tom speculates on the differences between the Scots and the Irish.
  • Lake District: Strongly associated with William Wordsworth, whom Keats hopes visit while on his extended northern walking expedition into Scotland. He does not see him.
  • 19 Lamb’s Conduit Street, London:
  • Lancaster: 24 June 1818: Keats and Brown at the beginning of their northern walking tour. Accommodation is hard to find during election time. Lots of rain.
  • Leigh Hunt’s Cottage, Hampstead: One of the centers for Keats’s circle of friends that he gains in meeting Leigh Hunt. Initially, Keats feels very much welcomed and at home.
  • Letterfinlay, Scotland: 3 August 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He writes Upon my life, Sir Nevis in a letter to his brother, Tom.
  • Lincluden (Abbey), Scotland: 2 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They visit the ruins of Lincluden Abbey. They see poverty in the form of dilapidated cottages.
  • 22 Lisson Grove North (now No. 1 Rossmore Road), London: Where Keats’s good friend, Benjamin Robert Haydon, lives, October 1817.
  • Little Britain (street), adjacent to Christ’s Hospital, London: Where the Reynolds family resides (his friend is John Hamilton Reynolds). Keats does some socializing here.
  • Lodore: Lodore Falls, near Keswick, 28 June 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Keats slips on a rock into a soggy hole climbing up the cataracts.
  • London Bridge: Worn out, Keats will sail back from Scotland after his northern walking tour with Charles Brown and arrive at London Docks, 7-8 August 1818. Keats will leave for Italy from docks by London Bridge in September 1820.
  • London Coffee Club, 11 Ludgate Hill, London: Keats does some socializing and dancing here.
  • 19 Mabledon Place, Islington: Where Keats’s acquaintances the Shelleys (Percy and Mary) stay, and are visited by Keats. Met via Leigh Hunt.
  • Magdalen Hall, Oxford: Keats visits in September 1817 and stays with Benjamin Bailey. Works on Book III of Endymion. Works and studies hard, but also enjoys Oxford and Bailey.
  • Margate: With brother Tom, Keats visits Margate in August 1816. Much composition. Visits again, in April 1817, but has some regrets in going.
  • Maybole, Scotland: 11 July 1818: Here Keats dines while on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown.
  • Mermaid Tavern, Cheapside, London: The famous London tavern, which it is believed to have been frequented by famous writers like Ben Jonson, Shakespeare, and others. Keats writes lines about the Mermaid circa January 1818.
  • Montagu House, British Museum, London: Officially opened to the public as the British Museum in 1759. Where Keats sees the Elgin Marbles with Haydon and Reynolds.
  • 48 Mortimer Street, Cavendish Square: Where, in very early 1818, Keats has a brief meeting with Wordsworth.
  • Mortimer Terrace and Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town: June 1820, Keats lives at 2 Wesleyan Place, close to Leigh Hunt, who lives at Mortimer Terrace. Keats is quite ill. He moves in with the Hunts about 23 June, and is temporarily taken care of.
  • Newport, Isle of Wight: Keats crosses through Newport on his way to Shanklin. He stays a night there, 15 April 1817.
  • Newton Stewart, Scotland: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He mails a letter to sister Fanny from Newton Stewart 5 July 1818.
  • Catherine Street (the Strand), London: Offices of The Examiner at No. 19, and the Minor Theatre is also on Catherine Street.
  • No. 15, Beaufort Buildings, London: The offices of the newspaper important to launching Keats’s career as a poet and also generally signalling his political stance: Leigh and John Hunt’s The Examiner.
  • No. 3 Knightsbridge Terrace (“the island”), London:
  • No. 8, Dean Street, Southwark: By October 1816, Keats lodges here. Keats finds the area beastly.
  • Oban, Scotland: 21 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. The food has been bad lately. The going is wet to Oban—rain. Next day they ferry to Kerra then over to Mull.
  • 125 Pall Mall, London: 20 December 1818: Benjamin West’s gallery, where Keats views West’s painting Death on the Pale Horse.
  • 4 Pancras Lane (The Poultry): The offices of Richard Abbey, tea merchant, and guardian of the Keats family estate.
  • 47 Paternoster Row, London: Where the London publishing takes place of Blackwood’s Edinburgh Magazine: Baldwin, Cradock, and Joy, 47 Paternoster Row.
  • 26 Piazza di Spagna, Rome: The final dwelling place Keats, who dies here in February in 1821. Now Keats-Shelley House, a museum.
  • 50 Poland Street, London: Where Keats’s much respected, supportive, and witty friend James Rice, an attorney, lives. Shelley’s friend and fellow poet shortly lives in at 15 Poland Street in 1811.
  • 7 Pond Street, Hampstead: 1816: Where Benjamin Robert Haydon, the well-known historical painter, temporarily lives, apparently because of eye troubles, which he attempts to remedy by rest.
  • Port-in-Sherrich, Scotland: 19 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. He passes through Port-in-Sherrich on his way to Ford.
  • Portpatrick, Scotland: 6 July 1818. Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They pass through Portpatrick and catch a mail-boat to Ireland.
  • Royal Academy (Somerset House, the Strand), London: Fully central to the art scene in London. Keats’s close friends, like Severn and Haydon, had connections to the Academy.
  • Shanklin, Isle of Wight: Keats stays in Shanklin July-August 1819, first with his friend James Rice and then with close friend Charles Brown. He works on a play with Brown, was well as Lamia.
  • Southampton: 15 April 1817: Keats is on this way to Shanklin on the Isle of Wight. 12 August 1819: With his good friend Charles Brown, he is on his way to Winchester after staying in Shanklin, where they have been working on a play.
  • St. Botolph’s Church, Bishopsgate: Where Keats is baptised.
  • St. George’s Church, Hanover Square, London: Where Keats’s parents, Frances and Thomas, are married, 1794.
  • St. Leonard’s Church, Shoreditch: Where Keats’s brothers are baptised, 24 September 1801.
  • St. Margaret’s Church, Westminster, London: Where Keats’s younger brother, George, marries Georgiana Wylie, 28 May 1818.
  • St. Stephen’s (church), Coleman Street: 25 February 1774: Keats’s maternal grandparents—Alice Whalley and John Jennings—are married here. The capital they develop from their very successful livery stable business enables Keats to take up medical training medical and to create time for him to become a poet without being otherwise employed.
  • 28 St. Thomas’s Street, London: In October 1815, Keats lodges here while attending medical school at Guy’s Hospital.
  • Staffa, Scotland: ?24-26 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Keats visits the famous Fingal’s Cave on the island of Staffa. Keats is fascinated with the cave and is impressed with its darkness, lurking gloom, and size. However, he finds Staffa itself a somewhat fashionable destination. He writes Not Aladdin magian.
  • Stranraer, Scotland: 9 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. They walk twenty-seven miles from Portpatrick to Stanaer; they see Ailsa Rock, which Keats will write about in Girvan the next day: To Ailsa Rock.
  • Stratford-on-Avon: 2 October 1817: Keats visits with Benjamin Bailey (at the time he is staying with Bailey in Oxford). Sees Shakespeare’s birthplace and church.
  • Surrey Institution, Blackfriars Road, London: Founded 1808; closed 1823. An organization based on and supporting all kinds of knowledge with, in Keats’s era, generally liberal sympathies and geared toward a larger public. Well known for wide-ranging lectures by important people. Keats attended some.
  • Swan and Hoop, 24 Moorfields Pavement Row: The business north of London successfully developed by Keats’s maternal grandparents. Keats, born on the site, inherits a portion of the money it generates, enables him to attend school, take medical training, and it creates time for him to develop his poetry while not having to work.
  • Swan With Two Necks, Lad Lane, London:
  • Redbourne, Hertfordshire:
  • Tarbet, Scotland: 16 July 1818: Keats is on an extended northern walking tour with his good friend, Charles Brown. Going north past Loch Lomond they go to Tarbet. Impressive sunset and northern views.
  • Teignmouth, Devon: 4 March-3/4 May 1818: Keats is in Teignmouth with his brother, Tom, who, initially, is not well. He troubles over writing a preface for Endymion. And advanced copy of the poem is sent to Keats.
  • The Minor Theatre, Catherine Street, London:
  • The Morning Chronicle, 332 The Strand, London: A major London newspaper of the era, mainly reflecting liberal sympathies. Hazlitt gets his journalistic start with the newspaper.
  • The Non-Catholic (Protestant) Cemetery, Testaccio, Rome: Where Keats is buried.
  • The Vale of Health, Hampstead: Slightly north of Hampstead. Where Keats’s friend and early poetic mentor lives, 1816-1821.
  • Vauxhall Pleasure Gardens, London: Where Londoners of the time want to see and be seen; a huge variety of entertainments.
  • 3 Welbeck Street, Cavendish Square, London: The address of publishers C. & J. Ollier (brothers), who publish Keats’s first collection.
  • 1 Well Walk, Hampstead: With his brothers, Keats moves here March 1817. His first collection of poems is just published.
  • Wentworth Place, Hampstead: A double house, built over 1814-1816, where Keats stays on a few occasions. Keats has two close friend who each own a half: Charles Wentworth Dilke and Charles Brown. It first opened as a museum in 1925. Today it is a fine museum that celebrates Keats and his circle.
  • 2 Wesleyan Place, Kentish Town: Keats is very ill. From here, he will move to Leigh Hunt’s house in June, to be taken care of.
  • Wigton to Carlisle: 30 June 1818: Keats and his very good friend Charles Brown are on an extended northern walking tour. They walk from Ireby to Wigton on their way to Carlisle.
  • Winchester: August-September/October 1819: Keats pleased to have left Shanklin. He likes Winchester. Still at work on a play with Charles Brown. Finances stretched. Has thoughts about being a popular writer, but remains dedicated to serious poetry. Warm, fine weather. Writes To Autumn.
  • Wythburn: 27 June 1818: Keats and Brown are on an extended northern walking tour. They are in Wordsworth territory, but disappointed at Wordsworth’s political affiliation with the Lowther family during this election time. He had hoped to meet with Wordsworth. Sees waterfalls. Writes Give me your patience, sister, while I frame. Sent in a letter to George and Georgiana—the opening letters of the poem’s lines spell out Georgiana’s new married name.
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This mortal body of a thousand days

  • This mortal body of a thousand days
  • Now fills, O Burns, a space in thine own room,
  • Where thou didst dream alone on budded bays,
  • Happy and thoughtless of thy day of doom!
  • My pulse is warm with thine old barley-bree,
  • My head is light with pledging a great soul,
  • My eyes are wandering, and I cannot see,
  • Fancy is dead and drunken at its goal;
  • Yet can I stamp my foot upon thy floor,
  • Yet can I ope thy window-sash to find
  • The meadow thou hast tramped o’er and o’er, —
  • Yet can I think of thee till thought is blind, —
  • Yet can I gulp a bumper to thy name, —
  • O smile among the shades, for this is fame!
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On Some Skulls in Beauley Abbey, near Inverness

  • 1
  • In silent barren synod met
  • Within these roofless walls, where yet,
  • The shafted arch and carved fret
  • Cling to the rain
  • The brethren’s skulls mourn, dewy wet,
  • Their creed’s undoing.
  • 2
  • The mitred ones of Nice and Trent
  • Were not so tongue-tied — no, they went
  • Hot to their Councils, scarce content
  • With orthodoxy;
  • But ye, poor tongueless things, were meant
  • To speak by proxy.
  • 3
  • Your chronicles no more exist,
  • Since Knox, the revolutionist,
  • Destroy’d the work of every fist
  • That scrawl’d black letter;
  • Well! I’m a craniologist,
  • And may do better.
  • 4
  • This skull-cap wore the cowl from sloth,
  • Or discontent, perhaps from both;
  • And yet one day, against his oath,
  • He tried escaping,
  • For men, though idle, may be loth
  • To live on gaping.
  • 5
  • A toper this! he plied his glass
  • More strictly than he said the mass,
  • And lov’d to see a tempting lass,
  • Come to confession
  • Letting her absolution pass
  • O’er fresh transgression.
  • 6
  • This crawl’d through life in feebleness,
  • Boasting he never knew excess,
  • Cursing those crimes he scarce could guess,
  • Or feel but faintly,
  • With prayers that heaven would cease to bless
  • Men so unsaintly.
  • 7
  • Here’s a true churchman! he’d affect
  • Much charity, and ne’er neglect
  • To pray for mercy on th’ elect
  • But thought no evil
  • In sending heathen, Turk, and sect
  • All to the devil!
  • 8
  • Poor skull, thy fingers set ablaze,
  • With silver saint in golden rays,
  • The holy missal; thou did’st craze
  • ’Mid bead and spangle,
  • While others pass’d their idle days
  • In coil and wrangle.
  • 9
  • Long time this sconce a helmet wore,
  • But sickness smites the conscience sore;
  • He broke his sword, and hither bore
  • His gear and plunder,
  • Took to the cowl, — then rav’d and swore
  • At his damn’d blunder!
  • 10
  • This lily-colour’d skull, with all
  • The teeth complete, so white and small,
  • Belong’d to one whose early pall
  • A lover shaded;
  • He died ere superstition’s gall
  • His heart invaded.
  • 11
  • Ha! here is “undivulged crime”!
  • Despair forbad his soul to climb
  • Beyond this world, this mortal time
  • Of fever’d sadness,
  • Until their monkish pantomime
  • Dazzled his madness!
  • 12
  • A younger brother this! a man
  • Aspiring as a Tartar khan,
  • But, curb’d and baffled, he began
  • The trade of frightening;
  • It smack’d of power! — and here he ran
  • To deal heaven’s lightening.
  • 13
  • This ideot-skull belong’d to one,
  • A buried miser’s only son,
  • Who, penitent ere he’d begun,
  • To taste of pleasure,
  • And hoping heaven’s dread wrath to shun
  • Gave hell his treasure.
  • 14
  • Here is the forehead of an ape,
  • A robber’s mark, —and near the nape
  • That bone, fie on’t, bears just the shape
  • Of carnal passion;
  • Ah! he was one for theft and rape
  • In monkish fashion!
  • 15
  • This was the porter! — he could sing,
  • Or dance, or play, do any thing,
  • And what the friars bade him bring,
  • They ne’er were balk’d of;
  • Matters not worth remembering,
  • And seldom talk’d of.
  • 16
  • Enough! why need I further pore?
  • This corner holds at least a score,
  • And yonder twice as many more
  • Of reverend brothers;
  • ’Tis the same story o’er and o’er, —
  • They’re like the others!
×

The Eve of St. Agnes

1

  • St. Agnes’ Eve-Ah, bitter chill it was!
  • The owl, for all it his feathers, was a-cold;
  • The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
  • And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
  • Numb were the Beadsman’s fingers, while he told
  • His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
  • Like pious incense from a censer old,
  • Seem’d taking flight for heaven, without a death,
  • Past the sweet Virgin’s picture, while his prayer he saith.

2

  • His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;
  • Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
  • And back returnth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
  • Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
  • The sculptur’d dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
  • Emprison’d in black, purgatorial rails:
  • Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat’ries,
  • He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
  • To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.

3

  • Northward he turneth through a little door,
  • And scarce three steps, ere Music’s golden tongue
  • Flatter’d to the tears this aged man and poor;
  • But no-already had his deathbell rung;
  • The joys of all his life were said and sung:
  • His was harsh penance on St. Agnes’ Eve:
  • Another way he went,and soon among
  • Rough ashes sat he for his soul’s reprieve,
  • And all night kept awake, for sinners’ sake to grieve

4

  • The ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
  • And so it chanc’d, for many a door was wide,
  • From a hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,
  • The silver, snarling trumpets’ gan to chide:
  • The level chambers,ready with their pride,
  • Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
  • The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,
  • Star’d, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
  • With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts.

5

  • At length burst in the argent revelry,
  • With plume, tiara,and all rich array,
  • Numerous as the shadows haunting fairily
  • The brain, new stuff’d, in youth, with triumphs gay
  • Of old romance. These let us wish away,
  • And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there,
  • Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
  • On love, and wing’d St. Agnes’ saintly care,
  • As she had heard old dames full many times declare.

6

  • They told her how, upon St. Agnes’ Eve,
  • Young virgins might have visions of delight,
  • And soft adorings from their loves receive
  • Upon the honey’d middle of the night,
  • If the ceremonies due they did aright;
  • As, supperless to bed they must retire,
  • And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
  • Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
  • Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.

7

  • Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
  • The music, yearning like a God in pain,
  • She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
  • Fix’d on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
  • Pass by-she heeded not at all: in vain
  • Came many a tiptoe,amorous cavalier,
  • And back retir’d; not cool’d by high disdain,
  • But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere:
  • She sigh’d for Agnes’ dreams, the sweetest of the year.

8

  • She danc’d along with vague, regardless eyes,
  • Anxious lips, her breathing quick and short:
  • The hallow’d hour was near at hand: she sighs
  • Amid the timbrels, and the throng’d resort
  • Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
  • ‘Mid looks of love, defiance,hate and scorn,
  • Hoodwink’d with faery fancy; all amort,
  • Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
  • And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.

9

  • So, purposing each moment to retire,
  • She linger’d still. Meantime,across the moors,
  • Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
  • For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
  • Buttress’d from moonlight, stands he, and implores
  • All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
  • But for one moment in the tedious hours,
  • That he might gaze and worship all unseen;
  • Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss- in sooth such thing have been.

10

  • He ventures in: let no buzz’d whisper tell:
  • All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
  • Will storm his heart, Love’s fev’rous citadel:
  • For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
  • Hyena foeman, and hot-blooded lords,
  • Whose very dogs would execrations howl
  • Against his lineage: not one breast affords
  • Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
  • Save one old beldame, weak in body and soul.

11

  • Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
  • Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
  • To where he stood, hid from the torch’s flame,
  • Behind a broad half-pillar, far beyond
  • The sound of merriment and chorus bland:
  • He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
  • And grasp’s his fingers in her palsied hand,
  • Saying, ″Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;
  • They are all here to-night, the whole bloody thirsty race!

12

  • ″Get hence! get hence! there’s dwarfish Hildebrand;
  • He had a fever late, and in the fit
  • He cursed three and thine, both the house and land:
  • Then there’s that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
  • More tame for his gray hairs- Alas me! flit!
  • Flit like a ghost away. Ah,″-‶ Gossip dear,
  • We’re safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
  • And tell me how″-‶Good Saints! not here, not here;
  • Follow me,child, or else these stones will be thy bier.‶

13

  • He follow’d through a lowly arched way,
  • Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,
  • And as she mutter’d ″Well-a-well-a-day!″
  • He found him in a little moonlight room,
  • Pale, lattic’d, chill, and silent as a tomb.
  • ″Now tell me, where is Madeline,″ said he,
  • ″O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
  • Which non but secret sisterhood may see,
  • When they St. Agnes’ wool are we having piously.″

14

  • ″St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes’ Eve-
  • Yet men will murder upon holy days:
  • Thou must hold water in a witch’ s sieve,
  • And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
  • To venture so: it fills me with amaze
  • To see thee, Porphyro!- St. Agnes’ Eve!
  • God’s help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
  • This very night: good angels her deceive!
  • But let me laugh awhile, I’ve mickle time to grieve.″

15

  • Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
  • While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
  • Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
  • Who keepeth clos’d a wond’rous riddle-book,
  • As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
  • But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
  • His lady’s purpose; and he scarce could brook
  • Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold,
  • And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.

16

  • Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
  • Flushing his brow, and in his painted heart
  • Made purple riot: then doth he purpose
  • A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
  • “A cruel man and impious thou art:
  • Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep and dream
  • Alone with her good angles, far apart
  • From wicked men like thee. Go, go!-I deem
  • Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem.”

17

  • “I will not harm her, by all the saints I swear,‶
  • Quoth Porphyro: ″O may I ne′er find grace
  • When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
  • If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
  • Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
  • Good Angela, believe me by these tears;
  • Or will, even in a moment′s space,
  • Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen′s ears,
  • And beard them, though they be more fang′d than wolves and bears.”

18

  • “Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
  • A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing,
  • Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll;
  • Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
  • Were never miss’d” - Thus plaining, doth she bring
  • A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
  • So woful, and of such deep sorrowing,
  • That Angela gives promise she will do
  • Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.

19

  • Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
  • Even to Madeline’s chamber, and there hide
  • Him in closet, of such privacy
  • That he might see her beauty unespy’d,
  • And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
  • While legion’d faeries pac’d the coverlet,
  • And pale enchantment held her sleepy-eyed.
  • Never on such a night have lovers met,
  • Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt.

20

  • “It shall be as thou wishest,” said the Dame:
  • “All cates and dainties shall be stored there
  • Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
  • Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
  • For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
  • On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
  • Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
  • The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
  • Or may I never leave my grave among the dead.”

21

  • So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear.
  • The lover’s endless minutes slowly pass’d;
  • The dame return’d, and whisper’d in his ear
  • To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
  • From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
  • Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
  • The maiden’s chamber, silken, hush’d, and chaste;
  • Where Porphyro took covert, pleas’d amain.
  • His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.

22

  • Her falt’ring hand upon the balustrade,
  • Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
  • When Madeline, St. Agnes’ charmed maid,
  • Rose, like a mission’d spirit, unaware:
  • With silver taper’s light, and pious care,
  • She turn’d, and down the aged gossip led
  • To a safe level matting. Now prepare,
  • Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed;
  • She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray’d and fled.

23

  • Out went the taper as she hurried in;
  • Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died:
  • She clos’d the door, she panted, all akin
  • To spirits of the air, and visions wide:
  • No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
  • But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
  • Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
  • As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
  • Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.

24

  • A casement high and triple-arch’d there was,
  • All garlanded with carven imag’ries
  • Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,
  • And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
  • Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
  • As are the tiger-moth’s deep-damask’d wings;
  • And in the midst, ‘mong thousand heraldries,
  • And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
  • A shielded scutcheon blush’d with blood of queens and kings.

25

  • Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
  • And threw warm gules on Madeline’s fair breast,
  • As down she knelt for heaven’s grace and boon;
  • Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,
  • And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
  • And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
  • She seem’d a splendid angel, newly drest,
  • Save wings, for heaven:—Porphyro grew faint:
  • She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.

26

  • Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
  • Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
  • Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
  • Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
  • Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:
  • Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
  • Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
  • In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
  • But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.

27

  • Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
  • In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex’d she lay,
  • Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress’d
  • Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
  • Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
  • Blissfully haven’d both from joy and pain;
  • Clasp’d like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
  • Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
  • As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.

28

  • Stol’n to this paradise, and so entranced,
  • Porphyro gaz’d upon her empty dress,
  • And listen’d to her breathing, if it chanced
  • To wake into a slumberous tenderness;
  • Which when he heard, that minute did he bless,
  • And breath’d himself: then from the closet crept,
  • Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness,
  • And over the hush’d carpet, silent, stept,
  • And ‘tween the curtains peep’d, where, lo!—how fast she slept.

29

  • Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
  • Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
  • A table, and, half anguish’d, threw thereon
  • A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and jet:—
  • O for some drowsy Morphean amulet!
  • The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion,
  • The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarinet,
  • Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:—
  • The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone.

30

  • And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
  • In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender’d,
  • While he forth from the closet brought a heap
  • Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
  • With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
  • And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
  • Manna and dates, in argosy transferr’d
  • From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
  • From silken Samarcand to cedar’d Lebanon.

31

  • These delicates he heap’d with glowing hand
  • On golden dishes and in baskets bright
  • Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand
  • In the retired quiet of the night,
  • Filling the chilly room with perfume light.—
  • “And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake!
  • Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite:
  • Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes’ sake,
  • Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache.”

32

  • Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm
  • Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream
  • By the dusk curtains:—’twas a midnight charm
  • Impossible to melt as iced stream:
  • The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam;
  • Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies:
  • It seem’d he never, never could redeem
  • From such a stedfast spell his lady’s eyes;
  • So mus’d awhile, entoil’d in woofed phantasies.

33

  • Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,—
  • Tumultuous,—and, in chords that tenderest be,
  • He play’d an ancient ditty, long since mute,
  • In Provence call’d, “La belle dame sans mercy”:
  • Close to her ear touching the melody;—
  • Wherewith disturb’d, she utter’d a soft moan:
  • He ceas’d—she panted quick—and suddenly
  • Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone:
  • Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone.

34

  • Her eyes were open, but she still beheld,
  • Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep:
  • There was a painful change, that nigh expell’d
  • The blisses of her dream so pure and deep
  • At which fair Madeline began to weep,
  • And moan forth witless words with many a sigh;
  • While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep;
  • Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye,
  • Fearing to move or speak, she look’d so dreamingly.

35

  • “Ah, Porphyro!” said she, “but even now
  • Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear,
  • Made tuneable with every sweetest vow;
  • And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear:
  • How chang’d thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear!
  • Give me that voice again, my Porphyro,
  • Those looks immortal, those complainings dear!
  • Oh leave me not in this eternal woe,
  • For if thy diest, my Love, I know not where to go.”

36

  • Beyond a mortal man impassion’d far
  • At these voluptuous accents, he arose
  • Ethereal, flush’d, and like a throbbing star
  • Seen mid the sapphire heaven’s deep repose;
  • Into her dream he melted, as the rose
  • Blendeth its odour with the violet,—
  • Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
  • Like Love’s alarum pattering the sharp sleet
  • Against the window-panes; St. Agnes’ moon hath set.

37

  • ‘Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
  • “This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!”
  • ‘Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat:
  • “No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine!
  • Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.—
  • Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring?
  • I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine,
  • Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;—
  • A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing.”

38

  • “My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
  • Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
  • Thy beauty’s shield, heart-shap’d and vermeil dyed?
  • Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
  • After so many hours of toil and quest,
  • A famish’d pilgrim,—sav’d by miracle.
  • Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest
  • Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think’st well
  • To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel.

39

  • “Hark! ‘tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
  • Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
  • Arise—arise! the morning is at hand;—
  • The bloated wassaillers will never heed:—
  • Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
  • There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,—
  • Drown’d all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
  • Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,
  • For o’er the southern moors I have a home for thee.”

40

  • She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
  • For there were sleeping dragons all around,
  • At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears—
  • Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.—
  • In all the house was heard no human sound.
  • A chain-droop’d lamp was flickering by each door;
  • The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
  • Flutter’d in the besieging wind’s uproar;
  • And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.

41

  • They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
  • Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
  • Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl,
  • With a huge empty flaggon by his side:
  • The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
  • But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
  • By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide:—
  • The chains lie silent on the footworn stones;—
  • The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.

42

  • And they are gone: ay, ages long ago
  • These lovers fled away into the storm.
  • That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
  • And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
  • Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
  • Were long be-nightmar’d. Angela the old
  • Died palsy-twitch’d, with meagre face deform;
  • The Beadsman, after thousand aves told,
  • For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold.
×

On the sea

  • It keeps eternal whisperings around
  • Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
  • Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
  • Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
  • Often ’tis in such gentle temper found,
  • That scarcely will the very smallest shell
  • Be moved for days from where it sometime fell,
  • When last the winds of Heaven were unbound.
  • Oh, ye! who have your eyeballs vexed and tir’d,
  • Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea;
  • Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
  • Or fed too much with cloying melody—
  • Sit ye near some old Cavern’s Mouth and brood,
  • Until ye start, as if the sea nymphs quired!
×

Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud

  • Read me a lesson, Muse, and speak it loud
  • Upon the top of Nevis, blind in mist!
  • I look into the chasms, and a shroud
  • Vaporous doth hide them; just so much I wist
  • Mankind do know of hell: I look o’erhead,
  • And there is sullen mist; even so much
  • Mankind can tell of heaven: mist is spread
  • Before the earth, beneath me; even such,
  • Even so vague is man’s sight of himself.
  • Here are the craggy stones beneath my feet;
  • Thus much I know that, a poor witless elf,
  • I tread on them; that all my eye doth meet
  • Is mist and crag — not only on this height,
  • But in the world of thought and mental might.
×

Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil

1

  • Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
  • Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love’s eye!
  • They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
  • Without some stir of heart, some malady;
  • They could not sit at meals but feel how well
  • It soothed each to be the other by;
  • They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
  • But to each other dream, and nightly weep.

2

  • With every morn their love grew tenderer,
  • With every eve deeper and tenderer still;
  • He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
  • But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
  • And his continual voice was pleasanter
  • To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
  • Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
  • She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.

3

  • He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
  • Before the door had given her to his eyes;
  • And from her chamber-window he would catch
  • Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;
  • And constant as her vespers would he watch,
  • Because her face was turn’d to the same skies;
  • And with sick longing all the night outwear,
  • To hear her morning-step upon the stair.

4

  • A whole long month of May in this sad plight
  • Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
  • “To-morrow will I bow to my delight,
  • To-morrow will I ask my lady’s boon. ” —
  • “O may I never see another night,
  • Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love’s tune. ” —
  • So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
  • Honeyless days and days did he let pass;

5

  • Until sweet Isabella’s untouch’d cheek
  • Fell sick within the rose’s just domain,
  • Fell thin as a young mother’s, who doth seek
  • By every lull to cool her infant’s pain:
  • “How ill she is, ” said he, “ I may not speak,
  • And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
  • If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
  • And at the least ’twill startle off her cares.”

6

  • So said he one fair morning, and all day
  • His heart beat awfully against his side;
  • And to his heart he inwardly did pray
  • For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
  • Stifled his voice, and puls’d resolve away —
  • Fever’d his high conceit of such a bride,
  • Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
  • Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!

7

  • So once more he had wak’d and anguished
  • A dreary night of love and misery,
  • If Isabel’s quick eye had not been wed
  • To every symbol on his forehead high;
  • She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
  • And straight all flush’d; so, lisped tenderly,
  • “Lorenzo! ” — here she ceas’d her timid quest,
  • But in her tone and look he read the rest.

8

  • “O Isabella, I can half perceive
  • That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
  • If thou didst ever any thing believe,
  • Believe how I love thee, believe how near
  • My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
  • Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
  • Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
  • Another night, and not my passion shrive.

9

  • “Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
  • Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
  • And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
  • In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time.”
  • So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
  • And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:
  • Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
  • Grew, like a lusty flower in June’s caress.

10

  • Parting they seem’d to tread upon the air,
  • Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
  • Only to meet again more close, and share
  • The inward fragrance of each other’s heart.
  • She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
  • Sang, of delicious love and honey’d dart;
  • He with light steps went up a western hill,
  • And bade the sun farewell, and joy’d his fill.

11

  • All close they met again, before the dusk
  • Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
  • All close they met, all eves, before the dusk
  • Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil
  • Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
  • Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
  • Ah! better had it been for ever so,
  • Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.

12

  • Were they unhappy then? — It cannot be —
  • Too many tears for lovers have been shed,
  • Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
  • Too much of pity after they are dead,
  • Too many doleful stories do we see,
  • Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
  • Except in such a page where Theseus’ spouse
  • Over the pathless waves towards him bows.

13

  • But, for the general award of love,
  • The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
  • Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
  • And Isabella’s was a great distress,
  • Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
  • Was not embalm’d, this truth is not the less —
  • Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
  • Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.

14

  • With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
  • Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
  • And for them many a weary hand did swelt
  • In torched mines and noisy factories,
  • And many once proud-quiver’d loins did melt
  • In blood from stinging whip; — with hollow eyes
  • Many all day in dazzling river stood,
  • To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.

15

  • For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
  • And went all naked to the hungry shark;
  • For them his ears gush’d blood; for them in death
  • The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
  • Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
  • A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
  • Half-ignorant, they turn’d an easy wheel,
  • That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.

16

  • Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
  • Gush’d with more pride than do a wretch’s tears? —
  • Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
  • Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs? —
  • Why were they proud? Because red-lin’d accounts
  • Were richer than the songs of Grecian years? —
  • Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
  • Why in the name of Glory were they proud?

17

  • Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
  • In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
  • As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
  • Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies;
  • The hawks of ship-mast forests — the untired
  • And pannier’d mules for ducats and old lies — .
  • Quick cat’s-paws on the generous stray-away, —
  • Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

18

  • How was it these same ledger-men could spy
  • Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
  • How could they find out in Lorenzo’s eye
  • A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt’s pest
  • Into their vision covetous and sly!
  • How could these money-bags see east and west? —
  • Yet so they did — and every dealer fair
  • Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

19

  • O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
  • Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon,
  • And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
  • And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
  • And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
  • Now they can no more hear thy ghittern’s tune,
  • For venturing syllables that ill beseem
  • The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

20

  • Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
  • Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
  • There is no other crime, no mad assail
  • To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
  • But it is done — succeed the verse or fail —
  • To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
  • To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
  • An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

21

  • These brethren having found by many signs
  • What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
  • And how she lov’d him too, each unconfines
  • His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
  • That he, the servant of their trade designs,
  • Should in their sister’s love be blithe and glad,
  • When ’twas their plan to coax her by degrees
  • To some high noble and his olive-trees.

22

  • And many a jealous conference had they,
  • And many times they bit their lips alone,
  • Before they fix’d upon a surest way
  • To make the youngster for his crime atone;
  • And at the last, these men of cruel clay
  • Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
  • For they resolved in some forest dim
  • To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.

23

  • So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
  • Into the sun-rise, o’er the balustrade
  • Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
  • Their footing through the dews; and to him said,
  • “You seem there in the quiet of content,
  • Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
  • Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
  • Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.

24

  • “To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
  • To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
  • Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
  • His dewy rosary on the eglantine.”
  • Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
  • Bow’d a fair greeting to these serpents’ whine;
  • And went in haste, to get in readiness,
  • With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman’s dress.

25

  • And as he to the court-yard pass’d along,
  • Each third step did he pause, and listen’d oft
  • If he could hear his lady’s matin-song,
  • Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
  • And as he thus over his passion hung,
  • He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
  • When, looking up, he saw her features bright
  • Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.

26

  • “Love, Isabel!” said he, “I was in pain
  • Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow:
  • Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
  • I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
  • Of a poor three hours’ absence? but we’ll gain
  • Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
  • Good bye! I’ll soon be back.” — “Good bye!” said she —
  • And as he went she chanted merrily.

27

  • So the two brothers and their murder’d man
  • Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno’s stream
  • Gurgles through straiten’d banks, and still doth fan
  • Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
  • Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
  • The brothers’ faces in the ford did seem,
  • Lorenzo’s flush with love. — They pass’d the water
  • Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.

28

  • There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
  • There in that forest did his great love cease;
  • Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
  • It aches in loneliness — is ill at peace
  • As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
  • They dipp’d their swords in the water, and did tease
  • Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
  • Each richer by his being a murderer.

29

  • They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
  • Lorenzo had ta’en ship for foreign lands,
  • Because of some great urgency and need
  • In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
  • Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow’s weed,
  • And ’scape at once from Hope’s accursed bands;
  • To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
  • And the next day will be a day of sorrow.

30

  • She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
  • Sorely she wept until the night came on,
  • And then, instead of love, O misery!
  • She brooded o’er the luxury alone:
  • His image in the dusk she seem’d to see,
  • And to the silence made a gentle moan,
  • Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
  • And on her couch low murmuring “Where? O where?”

31

  • But Selfishness, Love’s cousin, held not long
  • Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
  • She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
  • Upon the time with feverish unrest —
  • Not long — for soon into her heart a throng
  • Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
  • Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
  • And sorrow for her love in travels rude.

32

  • In the mid days of autumn, on their eves,
  • The breath of Winter comes from far away,
  • And the sick west continually bereaves
  • Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
  • Of death among the bushes and the leaves
  • To make all bare before he dares to stray
  • From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
  • By gradual decay from beauty fell,

33

  • Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
  • She ask’d her brothers, with an eye all pale,
  • Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
  • Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale
  • Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
  • Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom’s vale;
  • And every night in dreams they groan’d aloud,
  • To see their sister in her snowy shroud.

34

  • And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
  • But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
  • It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
  • Which saves a sick man from the feather’d pall
  • For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
  • Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall
  • With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
  • Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.

35

  • It was a vision. — In the drowsy gloom,
  • The dull of midnight, at her couch’s foot
  • Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
  • Had marr’d his glossy hair which once could shoot
  • Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
  • Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
  • From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
  • Had made a miry channel for his tears.

36

  • Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
  • For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
  • To speak as when on earth it was awake,
  • And Isabella on its music hung:
  • Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
  • As in a palsied Druid’s harp unstrung;
  • And through it moan’d a ghostly under-song,
  • Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.

37

  • Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
  • With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof
  • From the poor girl by magic of their light,
  • The while it did unthread the horrid woof
  • Of the late darken’d time, — the murderous spite
  • Of pride and avarice, — the dark pine roof
  • In the forest, — and the sodden turfed dell,
  • Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.

38

  • Saying moreover, “Isabel, my sweet!
  • Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
  • And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
  • Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed
  • Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
  • Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
  • Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
  • And it shall comfort me within the tomb.

39

  • “I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
  • Upon the skirts of Human-nature dwelling
  • Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
  • While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
  • And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
  • And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,
  • Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
  • And thou art distant in Humanity.

40

  • “I know what was, I feel full well what is,
  • And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
  • Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
  • That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
  • A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
  • To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
  • Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
  • A greater love through all my essence steal.”

41

  • The Spirit mourn’d “Adieu!” — dissolv’d, and left
  • The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
  • As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
  • Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
  • We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
  • And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
  • It made sad Isabella’s eyelids ache,
  • And in the dawn she started up awake;

42

  • “Ha! ha! ” said she, “ I knew not this hard life,
  • I thought the worst was simple misery;
  • I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
  • Portion’d us — happy days, or else to die;
  • But there is crime — a brother’s bloody knife!
  • Sweet Spirit, thou hast school’d my infancy:
  • I’ll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
  • And greet thee morn and even in the skies.”

43

  • When the full morning came, she had devised
  • How she might secret to the forest hie;
  • How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
  • And sing to it one latest lullaby;
  • How her short absence might be unsurmised,
  • While she the inmost of the dream would try.
  • Resolv’d, she took with her an aged nurse,
  • And went into that dismal forest-hearse.

44

  • See, as they creep along the river side,
  • How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
  • And, after looking round the champaign wide,
  • Shows her a knife. — “What feverous hectic flame
  • “Burns in thee, child? — What good can thee betide,
  • That thou should’st smile again?” — The evening came,
  • And they had found Lorenzo’s earthy bed;
  • The flint was there, the berries at his head.

45

  • Who hath not loiter’d in a green church-yard,
  • And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
  • Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
  • To see scull, coffin’d bones, and funeral stole;
  • Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr’d,
  • And filling it once more with human soul?
  • Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
  • When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.

46

  • She gaz’d into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
  • One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
  • Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
  • Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
  • Upon the murderous spot she seem’d to grow,
  • Like to a native lily of the dell:
  • Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
  • To dig more fervently than misers can.

47

  • Soon she turn’d up a soiled glove, whereon
  • Her silk had play’d in purple phantasies,
  • She kiss’d it with a lip more chill than stone,
  • And put it in her bosom, where it dries
  • And freezes utterly unto the bone
  • Those dainties made to still an infant’s cries:
  • Then ’gan she work again; nor stay’d her care,
  • But to throw back at times her veiling hair.

48

  • That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
  • Until her heart felt pity to the core
  • At sight of such a dismal labouring,
  • And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,
  • And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
  • Three hours they labour’d at this travail sore;
  • At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
  • And Isabella did not stamp and rave.

49

  • Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
  • Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
  • O for the gentleness of old Romance,
  • The simple plaining of a minstrel’s song!
  • Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
  • For here, in truth, it doth not well belong
  • To speak: — O turn thee to the very tale,
  • And taste the music of that vision pale.

50

  • With duller steel than the Persean sword
  • They cut away no formless monster’s head,
  • But one, whose gentleness did well accord
  • With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
  • Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
  • If Love impersonate was ever dead,
  • Pale Isabella kiss’d it, and low moan’d.
  • ’Twas love; cold, — dead indeed, but not dethroned.

51

  • In anxious secrecy they took it home,
  • And then the prize was all for Isabel:
  • She calm’d its wild hair with a golden comb,
  • And all around each eye’s sepulchral cell
  • Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
  • With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
  • She drench’d away: — and still she comb’d, and kept
  • Sighing all day — and still she kiss’d, and wept.

52

  • Then in a silken scarf, — sweet with the dews
  • Of precious flowers pluck’d in Araby,
  • And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
  • Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully, —
  • She wrapp’d it up; and for its tomb did choose
  • A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
  • And cover’d it with mould, and o’er it set
  • Sweet basil, which her tears kept ever wet.

53

  • And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
  • And she forgot the blue above the trees,
  • And she forgot the dells where waters run,
  • And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
  • She had no knowledge when the day was done,
  • And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
  • Hung over her sweet basil evermore,
  • And moisten’d it with tears unto the core.

54

  • And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
  • Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
  • So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
  • Of basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
  • Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
  • From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
  • So that the jewel, safely casketed,
  • Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

55

  • O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
  • O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
  • O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
  • Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us — O sigh!
  • Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
  • Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
  • And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
  • Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

56

  • Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
  • From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
  • Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
  • And touch the strings into a mystery;
  • Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
  • For simple Isabel is soon to be
  • Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
  • Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.

57

  • O leave the palm to wither by itself;
  • Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour! —
  • It may not be — those Baalites of pelf,
  • Her brethren, noted the continual shower
  • From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
  • Among her kindred, wonder’d that such dower
  • Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
  • By one mark’d out to be a noble’s bride.

58

  • And, furthermore, her brethren wonder’d much
  • Why she sat drooping by the basil green,
  • And why it flourish’d, as by magic touch;
  • Greatly they wonder’d what the thing might mean:
  • They could not surely give belief, that such
  • A very nothing would have power to wean
  • Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
  • And even remembrance of her love’s delay.

59

  • Therefore they watch’d a time when they might sift
  • This hidden whim; and long they watch’d in vain;
  • For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
  • And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
  • And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
  • As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;
  • And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there
  • Beside her basil, weeping through her hair.

60

  • Yet they contriv’d to steal the basil-pot,
  • And to examine it in secret place:
  • The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
  • And yet they knew it was Lorenzo’s face:
  • The guerdon of their murder they had got,
  • And so left Florence in a moment’s space,
  • Never to turn again. — Away they went,
  • With blood upon their heads, to banishment.

61

  • O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
  • O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
  • O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
  • From isles Lethean, sigh to us — o sigh!
  • Spirits of grief, sing not you “ Well-a-way!”
  • For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
  • Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
  • Now they have ta’en away her basil sweet.

62

  • Piteous she look’d on dead and senseless things,
  • Asking for her lost basil amorously;
  • And with melodious chuckle in the strings
  • Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
  • After the pilgrim in his wanderings,
  • To ask him where her basil was; and why
  • ’Twas hid from her: “ For cruel ’tis, ” said she,
  • “To steal my basil-pot away from me.”

63

  • And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
  • Imploring for her basil to the last.
  • No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
  • In pity of her love, so overcast.
  • And a sad ditty of this story born
  • From mouth to mouth through all the country pass’d:
  • Still is the burthen sung — “ O cruelty,
  • “To steal my basil-pot away from me!”
×

On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

  • My spirit is too weak — mortality
  • Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
  • And each imagin’d pinnacle and steep
  • Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
  • Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
  • Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
  • That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
  • Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
  • Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
  • Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
  • So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
  • That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
  • Wasting of old time — with a billowy main —
  • A sun — a shadow of a magnitude.
×

To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles

  • Haydon! forgive me that I cannot speak
  • Definitively on these mighty things;
  • Forgive me that I have not eagle’s wings —
  • That what I want I know not where to seek:
  • And think that I would not be overmeek
  • In rolling out upfollow’d thunderings,
  • Even to the steep of Heliconian springs,
  • Were I of ample strength for such a freak.
  • Think too, that all those numbers should be thine;
  • Whose else? In this who touch thy vesture’s hem?
  • For when men star’d at what was most divine
  • With browless idiotism —o’erweening phlegm —
  • Thou hadst beheld the Hesperean shine
  • Of their star in the east and gone to worship them.
×

Endymion: A Poetic Romance BOOK IV

  • Muse of my native land! loftiest Muse!
  • O first-born on the mountains! by the hues
  • Of heaven on the spiritual air begot:
  • Long didst thou sit alone in northern grot,
  • While yet our England was a wolfish den;
  • Before our forests heard the talk of men;
  • Before the first of Druids was a child; —
  • Long didst thou sit amid our regions wild
  • Rapt in a deep prophetic solitude.
  • There came an eastern voice of solemn mood: —
  • Yet wast thou patient. Then sang forth the Nine,
  • Apollo’s garland: —yet didst thou divine
  • Such home-bred glory, that they cry’d in vain,
  • “Come hither, Sister of the Island!” Plain
  • Spake fair Ausonia; and once more she spake
  • A higher summons: — still didst thou betake
  • Thee to thy native hopes. O thou hast won
  • A full accomplishment! The thing is done,
  • Which undone, these our latter days had risen
  • On barren souls. Great Muse, thou know’st what prison,
  • Of flesh and bone curbs, and confines, and frets
  • Our spirit’s wings: despondency besets
  • Our pillows; and the fresh to-morrow morn
  • Seems to give forth its light in very scorn
  • Of our dull, uninspired, snail-paced lives.
  • Long have I said, how happy he who shrives
  • To thee! But then I thought on poets gone,
  • And could not pray: —nor can I now —so on
  • I move to the end in lowliness of heart. —
  • “Ah, woe is me! that I should fondly part
  • From my dear native land! Ah, foolish maid!
  • Glad was the hour, when, with thee, myriads bade
  • Adieu to Ganges and their pleasant fields!
  • To one so friendless the clear freshet yields
  • A bitter coolness; the ripe grape is sour:
  • Yet I would have, great gods! but one short hour
  • Of native air — let me but die at home.”
  • Endymion to heaven’s airy dome
  • Was offering up a hecatomb of vows,
  • When these words reach’d him. Whereupon he bows
  • His head through thorny-green entanglement
  • Of underwood, and to the sound is bent,
  • Anxious as hind towards her hidden fawn.
  • “Is no one near to help me? No fair dawn
  • Of life from charitable voice? No sweet saying
  • To set my dull and sadden’d spirit playing?
  • No hand to toy with mine? No lips so sweet
  • That I may worship them? No eyelids meet
  • To twinkle on my bosom? No one dies
  • Before me, till from these enslaving eyes
  • Redemption sparkles! —I am sad and lost.”
  • Thou, Carian lord, hadst better have been tost
  • Into a whirlpool. Vanish into air,
  • Warm mountaineer! for canst thou only bear
  • A woman’s sigh alone and in distress?
  • See not her charms! Is Phoebe passionless?
  • Phoebe is fairer far —O gaze no more: —
  • Yet if thou wilt behold all beauty’s store,
  • Behold her panting in the forest grass!
  • Do not those curls of glossy jet surpass
  • For tenderness the arms so idly lain
  • Amongst them? Feelest not a kindred pain,
  • To see such lovely eyes in swimming search
  • After some warm delight, that seems to perch
  • Dovelike in the dim cell lying beyond
  • Their upper lids? —Hist!
  • “O for Hermes’ wand,
  • To touch this flower into human shape!
  • That woodland Hyacinthus could escape
  • From his green prison, and here kneeling down
  • Call me his queen, his second life’s fair crown!
  • Ah me, how I could love! — My soul doth melt
  • For the unhappy youth — Love! I have felt
  • So faint a kindness, such a meek surrender
  • To what my own full thoughts had made too tender,
  • That but for tears my life had fled away! —
  • Ye deaf and senseless minutes of the day,
  • And thou, old forest, hold ye this for true,
  • There is no lightning, no authentic dew
  • But in the eye of love: there’s not a sound,
  • Melodious howsoever, can confound
  • The heavens and earth in one to such a death
  • As doth the voice of love: there’s not a breath
  • Will mingle kindly with the meadow air,
  • Till it has panted round, and stolen a share
  • Of passion from the heart!”—
  • Upon a bough
  • He leant, wretched. He surely cannot now
  • Thirst for another love: O impious,
  • That he can even dream upon it thus! —
  • Thought he, “Why am I not as are the dead,
  • Since to a woe like this I have been led
  • Through the dark earth, and through the wondrous sea?
  • Goddess! I love thee not the less: from thee
  • By Juno’s smile I turn not — no, no, no —
  • While the great waters are at ebb and flow. —
  • I have a triple soul! O fond pretence —
  • For both, for both my love is so immense,
  • I feel my heart is cut for them in twain.”
  • And so he groan’d, as one by beauty slain.
  • The lady’s heart beat quick, and he could see
  • Her gentle bosom heave tumultuously.
  • He sprang from his green covert: there she lay,
  • Sweet as a muskrose upon new-made hay;
  • With all her limbs on tremble, and her eyes
  • Shut softly up alive. To speak he tries.
  • “Fair damsel, pity me! forgive that I
  • Thus violate thy bower’s sanctity!
  • O pardon me, for I am full of grief —
  • Grief born of thee, young angel! fairest thief!
  • Who stolen hast away the wings wherewith
  • I was to top the heavens. Dear maid, sith
  • Thou art my executioner, and I feel
  • Loving and hatred, misery and weal,
  • Will in a few short hours be nothing to me,
  • And all my story that much passion slew me;
  • Do smile upon the evening of my days:
  • And, for my tortur’d brain begins to craze,
  • Be thou my nurse; and let me understand
  • How dying I shall kiss that lily hand. —
  • Dost weep for me? Then should I be content.
  • Scowl on, ye fates! until the firmament
  • Outblackens Erebus, and the full-cavern’d earth
  • Crumbles into itself. By the cloud girth
  • Of Jove, those tears have given me a thirst
  • To meet oblivion.” — As her heart would burst
  • The maiden sobb’d awhile, and then replied:
  • “Why must such desolation betide
  • As that thou speak’st of? Are not these green nooks
  • Empty of all misfortune? Do the brooks
  • Utter a gorgon voice? Does yonder thrush,
  • Schooling its half-fledg’d little ones to brush
  • About the dewy forest, whisper tales? —
  • Speak not of grief, young stranger, or cold snails
  • Will slime the rose to night. Though if thou wilt,
  • Methinks ’twould be a guilt — a very guilt —
  • Not to companion thee, and sigh away
  • The light — the dusk — the dark — till break of day! ”
  • “Dear lady,” said Endymion, “’tis past:
  • I love thee! and my days can never last.
  • That I may pass in patience still speak:
  • Let me have music dying, and I seek
  • No more delight — I bid adieu to all.
  • Didst thou not after other climates call,
  • And murmur about Indian streams?” — Then she,
  • Sitting beneath the midmost forest tree,
  • For pity sang this roundelay —
  • “ O Sorrow,
  • Why dost borrow
  • The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips? —
  • To give maiden blushes
  • To the white rose bushes?
  • Or is’t thy dewy hand the daisy tips?
  • “O Sorrow,
  • Why dost borrow
  • The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye? —
  • To give the glow-worm light?
  • Or, on a moonless night,
  • To tinge, on syren shores, the salt sea-spry?
  • “O Sorrow,
  • Why dost borrow
  • The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue? —
  • To give at evening pale
  • Unto the nightingale,
  • That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?
  • “O Sorrow,
  • Why dost borrow
  • Heart’s lightness from the merriment of May? —
  • A lover would not tread
  • A cowslip on the head,
  • Though he should dance from eve till peep of day —
  • Nor any drooping flower
  • Held sacred for thy bower,
  • Wherever he may sport himself and play.
  • “To Sorrow,
  • I bade good-morrow,
  • And thought to leave her far away behind;
  • But cheerly, cheerly,
  • She loves me dearly;
  • She is so constant to me, and so kind:
  • I would deceive her
  • And so leave her,
  • But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
  • “Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
  • I sat a weeping: in the whole world wide
  • There was no one to ask me why I wept, —
  • And so I kept
  • Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
  • Cold as my fears.
  • “Beneath my palm trees, by the river side,
  • I sat a weeping: what enamour’d bride,
  • Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
  • But hides and shrouds
  • Beneath dark palm trees by a river side?
  • “And as I sat, over the light blue hills
  • There came a noise of revellers: the rills
  • Into the wide stream came of purple hue —
  • ’Twas Bacchus and his crew!
  • The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
  • From kissing cymbals made a merry din —
  • ’Twas Bacchus and his kin!
  • Like to a moving vintage down they came,
  • Crown’d with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
  • All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
  • To scare thee, Melancholy!
  • O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
  • And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
  • By shepherds is forgotten, when, in June,
  • Tall chesnuts keep away the sun and moon: —
  • I rush’d into the folly!
  • “Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
  • Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
  • With sidelong laughing;
  • And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
  • His plump white arms, and shoulders, enough white
  • For Venus’ pearly bite:
  • And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
  • Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
  • Tipsily quaffing.
  • “Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye!
  • So many, and so many, and such glee?
  • Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
  • Your lutes, and gentler fate? —
  • We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
  • A conquering!
  • Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
  • We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide: —
  • Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
  • To our wild minstrelsy! ”
  • “Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye!
  • So many, and so many, and such glee?
  • Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
  • Your nuts in oak-tree cleft? —
  • For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
  • For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
  • And cold mushrooms;
  • For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
  • Great God of breathless cups and chirping mirth! —
  • Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
  • To our mad minstrelsy!”
  • “Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
  • And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
  • Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
  • With Asian elephants:
  • Onward these myriads — with song and dance,
  • With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians’ prance,
  • Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
  • Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
  • Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
  • Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers’ toil:
  • With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
  • Nor care for wind and tide.
  • “Mounted on panthers’ furs and lions’ manes,
  • From rear to van they scour about the plains;
  • A three days’ journey in a moment done:
  • And always, at the rising of the sun,
  • About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn,
  • On spleenful unicorn.
  • “I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
  • Before the vine-wreath crown!
  • I saw parch’d Abyssinia rouse and sing
  • To the silver cymbals’ ring!
  • I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
  • Old Tartary the fierce!
  • The kings of Inde their jewel-sceptres vail,
  • And from their treasures scatter pearled hail;
  • Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
  • And all his priesthood moans;
  • Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale. —
  • Into these regions came I following him,
  • Sick hearted, weary — so I took a whim
  • To stray away into these forests drear
  • Alone, without a peer:
  • And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.
  • “Young stranger!
  • I’ve been a ranger
  • In search of pleasure throughout every clime:
  • Alas! ’tis not for me!
  • Bewitch’d I sure must be,
  • To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.
  • “Come then, Sorrow!
  • Sweetest Sorrow!
  • Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
  • I thought to leave thee
  • And deceive thee,
  • But now of all the world I love thee best.
  • “There is not one,
  • No, no, not one
  • But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
  • Thou art her mother,
  • And her brother,
  • Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade.”
  • O what a sigh she gave in finishing,
  • And look, quite dead to every worldly thing!
  • Endymion could not speak, but gazed on her;
  • And listened to the wind that now did stir
  • About the crisped oaks full drearily,
  • Yet with as sweet a softness as might be
  • Remember’d from its velvet summer song.
  • At last he said: “Poor lady, how thus long
  • Have I been able to endure that voice?
  • Fair Melody! kind Syren! I’ve no choice;
  • I must be thy sad servant evermore:
  • I cannot choose but kneel here and adore.
  • Alas, I must not think — by Phoebe, no!
  • Let me not think, soft Angel! shall it be so?
  • Say, beautifullest, shall I never think?
  • O thou could’st foster me beyond the brink
  • Of recollection! make my watchful care
  • Close up its bloodshot eyes, nor see despair!
  • Do gently murder half my soul, and I
  • Shall feel the other half so utterly! —
  • I’m giddy at that cheek so fair and smooth;
  • O let it blush so ever! let it soothe
  • My madness! let it mantle rosy-warm
  • With the tinge of love, panting in safe alarm. —
  • This cannot be thy hand, and yet it is;
  • And this is sure thine other softling — this
  • Thine own fair bosom, and I am so near!
  • Wilt fall asleep? O let me sip that tear!
  • And whisper one sweet word that I may know
  • This is this world — sweet dewy blossom!” — Woe!
  • Woe! Woe to that Endymion! Where is he? —
  • Even these words went echoing dismally
  • Through the wide forest — a most fearful tone,
  • Like one repenting in his latest moan;
  • And while it died away a shade pass’d by,
  • As of a thunder cloud. When arrows fly
  • Through the thick branches, poor ring-doves sleek forth
  • Their timid necks and tremble; so these both
  • Leant to each other trembling, and sat so
  • Waiting for some destruction — when lo,
  • Foot-feather’d Mercury appear’d sublime
  • Beyond the tall tree tops; and in less time
  • Than shoots the slanted hail-storm, down he dropt
  • Towards the ground; but rested not, nor stopt
  • One moment from his home: only the sward
  • He with his wand light touch’d, and heavenward
  • Swifter than sight was gone — even before
  • The teeming earth a sudden witness bore
  • Of his swift magic. Diving swans appear
  • Above the crystal circlings white and clear;
  • And catch the cheated eye in wide surprise,
  • How they can dive in sight and unseen rise —
  • So from the turf outsprang two steeds jet-black,
  • Each with large dark blue wings upon his back.
  • The youth of Caria plac’d the lovely dame
  • On one, and felt himself in spleen to tame
  • The other’s fierceness. Through the air they flew,
  • High as the eagles. Like two drops of dew
  • Exhal’d to Phoebus’ lips, away they are gone,
  • Far from the earth away — unseen, alone,
  • Among cool clouds and winds, but that the free,
  • The buoyant life of song can floating be
  • Above their heads, and follow them untir’d. —
  • Muse of my native land, am I inspir’d?
  • This is the giddy air, and I must spread
  • Wide pinions to keep here; nor do I dread
  • Or height, or depth, or width, or any chance
  • Precipitous: I have beneath my glance
  • Those towering horses and their mournful freight.
  • Could I thus sail, and see, and thus await
  • Fearless for power of thought, without thine aid? —
  • There is a sleepy dusk, an odorous shade
  • From some approaching wonder, and behold
  • Those winged steeds, with snorting nostrils bold
  • Snuff at its faint extreme, and seem to tire,
  • Dying to embers from their native fire!
  • There curl’d a purple mist around them; soon,
  • It seem’d as when around the pale new moon
  • Sad Zephyr droops the clouds like weeping willow:
  • ’Twas Sleep slow journeying with head on pillow.
  • For the first time, since he came nigh dead born
  • From the old womb of night, his cave forlorn
  • Had he left more forlorn; for the first time,
  • He felt aloof the day and morning’s prime —
  • Because into his depth Cimmerian
  • There came a dream, shewing how a young man,
  • Ere a lean bat could plump its wintery skin,
  • Would at high Jove’s empyreal footstool win
  • An immortality, and how espouse
  • Jove’s daughter, and be reckon’d of his house.
  • Now was he slumbering towards heaven’s gate,
  • That he might at the threshold one hour wait
  • To hear the marriage melodies, and then
  • Sink downward to his dusky cave again.
  • His litter of smooth semilucent mist
  • Diversely ting’d with rose and amethyst,
  • Puzzled those eyes that for the centre sought;
  • And scarcely for one moment could be caught
  • His sluggish form reposing motionless.
  • Those two on winged steeds, with all the stress
  • Of vision search’d for him, as one would look
  • Athwart the sallows of a river nook
  • To catch a glance at silver throated eels, —
  • Or from old Skiddaw’s top, when fog conceals
  • His rugged forehead in a mantle pale,
  • With an eye-guess towards some pleasant vale
  • Descry a favourite hamlet faint and far.
  • These raven horses, though they foster’d are
  • Of earth’s splenetic fire, dully drop
  • Their full-veined ears, nostrils blood wide, and stop;
  • Upon the spiritless mist have they outspread
  • Their ample feathers, are in slumber dead, —
  • And on those pinions, level in mid air,
  • Endymion sleepeth and the lady fair.
  • Slowly they sail, slowly as icy isle
  • Upon a calm sea drifting: and meanwhile
  • The mournful wanderer dreams. Behold! he walks
  • On heaven’s pavement; brotherly he talks
  • To divine powers: from his hand full fain
  • Juno’s proud birds are pecking pearly grain:
  • He tries the nerve of Phoebuts golden bow,
  • And asketh where the golden apples grow:
  • Upon his arm he braces Pallas’ shield,
  • And strives in vain to unsettle and wield
  • A Jovian thunderbolt: arch Hebe brings
  • A full-brimm’d goblet, dances lightly, sings
  • And tantalizes long; at last he drinks,
  • And lost in pleasure at her feet he sinks,
  • Touching with dazzled lips her starlight hand.
  • He blows a bugle, — an ethereal band
  • Are visible above: the Seasons four, —
  • Green-kyrtled Spring, flush Summer, golden store
  • In Autumn’s sickle, Winter frosty hoar,
  • Join dance with shadowy Hours; while still the blast,
  • In swells unmitigated, still doth last
  • To sway their floating morris. “Whose is this?
  • Whose bugle?” he inquires: they smile — “O Dis!
  • Why is this mortal here? Dost thou not know
  • Its mistress’ lips? Not thou? — ’Tis Dian’s: lo!
  • She rises crescented!” He looks, ’tis she,
  • His very goddess: good-bye earth, and sea,
  • And air, and pains, and care, and suffering;
  • Good-bye to all but love! Then doth he spring
  • Towards her, and awakes — and, strange, o’erhead,
  • Of those same fragrant exhalations bred,
  • Beheld awake his very dream: the gods
  • Stood smiling; merry Hebe laughs and nods;
  • And Phoebe bends towards him crescented.
  • O state perplexing! On the pinion bed,
  • Too well awake, he feels the panting side
  • Of his delicious lady. He who died
  • For soaring too audacious in the sun,
  • When that same treacherous wax began to run,
  • Felt not more tongue-tied than Endymion.
  • His heart leapt up as to its rightful throne,
  • To that fair shadow’d passion puls’d its way —
  • Ah, what perplexity! Ah, well a day!
  • So fond, so beauteous was his bed-fellow,
  • He could not help but kiss her: then he grew
  • Awhile forgetful of all beauty save
  • Young Phoebe’s, golden hair’d; and so ’gan crave
  • Forgiveness: yet he turn’d once more to look
  • At the sweet sleeper, — all his soul was shook, —
  • She press’d his hand in slumber; so once more
  • At this the shadow wept, melting away.
  • The Latmian started up: “Bright goddess, stay!
  • Search my most hidden breast! By truth’s own tongue,
  • I have no daedale heart: why is it wrung
  • To desperation? Is there nought for me,
  • Upon the bourne of bliss, but misery?”
  • These words awoke the stranger of dark tresses:
  • Her dawning love-look rapt Endymion blesses
  • With ’haviour soft. Sleep yawned from underneath.
  • “Thou swan of Ganges, let us no more breathe
  • This murky phantasm! thou contented seem’st
  • Pillow’d in lovely idleness, nor dream’st
  • What horrors may discomfort thee and me.
  • Ah, shouldst thou die from my heart-treachery! —
  • Yet did she merely weep — her gentle soul
  • Hath no revenge in it: as it is whole
  • In tenderness, would I were whole in love!
  • Can I prize thee, fair maid, all price above,
  • Even when I feel as true as innocence?
  • I do, I do. — What is this soul then? Whence
  • Came it? It does not seem my own, and I
  • Have no self-passion or identity.
  • Some fearful end must be: where, where is it?
  • By Nemesis, I see my spirit flit
  • Alone about the dark — Forgive me, sweet:
  • Shall we away?” He rous’d the steeds: they beat
  • Their wings chivalrous into the clear air,
  • Leaving old Sleep within his vapoury lair.
  • The good-night blush of eve was waning slow,
  • And Vesper, risen star, began to throe
  • In the dusk heavens silverly, when they
  • Thus sprang direct towards the Galaxy.
  • Nor did speed hinder converse soft and strange —
  • Eternal oaths and vows they interchange,
  • In such wise, in such temper, so aloof
  • Up in the winds, beneath a starry roof,
  • So witless of their doom, that verily
  • ’Tis well nigh past man’s search their hearts to see;
  • Whether they wept, or laugh’d, or griev’d, or toy’d —
  • Most like with joy gone mad, with sorrow cloy’d.
  • Full facing their swift flight, from ebon streak,
  • The moon put forth a little diamond peak,
  • No bigger than an unobserved star,
  • Or tiny point of fairy scymetar;
  • Bright signal that she only stoop’d to tie
  • Her silver sandals, ere deliciously
  • She bow’d into the heavens her timid head.
  • Slowly she rose, as though she would have fled,
  • While to his lady meek the Carian turn’d
  • To mark if her dark eyes had yet discern’d
  • This beauty in its birth — Despair! despair!
  • He saw her body fading gaunt and spare
  • In the cold moonshine. Straight he seiz’d her wrist;
  • It melted from his grasp: her hand he kiss’d,
  • And, horror! kiss’d his own — he was alone.
  • Her steed a little higher soar’d, and then
  • Dropt hawkwise to the earth.
  • There lies a den,
  • Beyond the seeming confines of the space
  • Made for the soul to wander in and trace
  • Its own existence, of remotest glooms.
  • Dark regions are around it, where the tombs
  • Of buried griefs the spirit sees, but scarce
  • One hour doth linger weeping, for the pierce
  • Of new-born woe it feels more inly smart:
  • And in these regions many a venom’d dart
  • At random flies; they are the proper home
  • Of every ill: the man is yet to come
  • Who hath not journeyed in this native hell.
  • But few have ever felt how calm and well
  • Sleep may be had in that deep den of all
  • There anguish does not sting; nor pleasure pall:
  • Woe-hurricanes beat ever at the gate,
  • Yet all is still within and desolate.
  • Beset with painful gusts, within ye hear
  • No sound so loud as when on curtain’d bier
  • The death-watch tick is stifled. Enter none
  • Who strive therefore: on the sudden it is won.
  • Just when the sufferer begins to burn,
  • Then it is free to him; and from an urn,
  • Still fed by melting ice, he takes a draught —
  • Young Semele such richness never quaft
  • In her maternal longing! Happy gloom!
  • Dark paradise! where pale becomes the bloom
  • Of health by due; where silence dreariest
  • Is most articulate; where hopes infest;
  • Where those eyes are the brightest far that keep
  • Their lids shut longest in a dreamless sleep.
  • O happy spirit-home! O wondrous soul!
  • Pregnant with such a den to save the whole
  • In thine own depth. Hail, gentle Carian!
  • For, never since thy griefs and woes began,
  • Hast thou felt so content: a grievous feud
  • Hath led thee to this Cave of Quietude.
  • Aye, his lull’d soul was there, although upborne
  • With dangerous speed: and so he did not mourn
  • Because he knew not whither he was going.
  • So happy was he, not the aerial blowing
  • Of trumpets at clear parley from the east
  • Could rouse from that fine relish, that high feast.
  • They stung the feather’d horse: with fierce alarm
  • He flapp’d towards the sound. Alas, no charm
  • Could lift Endymion’s head, or he had view’d
  • A skyey masque, a pinion’d multitude, —
  • And silvery was its passing: voices sweet
  • Warbling the while as if to lull and greet
  • The wanderer in his path. Thus warbled they,
  • While past the vision went in bright array.
  • “Who, who from Dian’s feast would be away?
  • For all the golden bowers of the day
  • Are empty left? Who, who away would be
  • From Cynthia’s wedding and festivity?
  • Not Hesperus: lo! upon his silver wings
  • He leans away for highest heaven and sings,
  • Snapping his lucid fingers merrily! —
  • Ah, Zephyrus! art here, and Flora too!
  • Ye tender bibbers of the rain and dew,
  • Young playmates of the rose and daffodil,
  • Be careful, ere ye enter in, to fill
  • Your baskets high
  • With fennel green, and balm, and golden pines,
  • Savory, latter-mint, and columbines,
  • Cool parsley, basil sweet, and sunny thyme;
  • Yea, every flower and leaf of every clime,
  • All gather’d in the dewy morning: hie
  • Away! fly, fly! —
  • Crystalline brother of the belt of heaven,
  • Aquarius! to whom king Jove has given
  • Two liquid pulse-streams ’stead of feather’d wings,
  • Two fan-like fountains, — thine illuminings
  • For Dian play:
  • Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
  • Let thy white shoulders silvery and bare
  • Shew cold through watery pinions; make more bright
  • The Star-Queen’s crescent on her marriage night:
  • Haste, haste away! —
  • Castor has tamed the planet Lion, see!
  • And of the Bear has Pollux mastery:
  • A third is in the race! who is the third,
  • Speeding away swift as the eagle bird?
  • The ramping Centaur!
  • The Lion’s mane’s on end: the Bear how fierce!
  • The Centaur’s arrow ready seems to pierce
  • Some enemy: far forth his bow is bent
  • Into the blue of heaven. He’ll be shent,
  • Pale unrelentor,
  • When he shall hear the wedding lutes a playing. —
  • Andromeda! sweet woman! why delaying
  • So timidly among the stars: come hither!
  • Join this bright throng, and nimbly follow whither
  • They all are going.
  • Danae’s Son, before Jove newly bow’d,
  • Has wept for thee, calling to Jove aloud.
  • Thee, gentle lady, did he disenthral:
  • Ye shall for ever live and love, for all
  • Thy tears are flowing. —
  • By Daphne’s fright, behold Apollo! — ”
  • More
  • Endymion heard not: down his steed him bore,
  • Prone to the green head of a misty hill.
  • His first touch of the earth went nigh to kill.
  • “Alas!” said he, “were I but always borne
  • Through dangerous winds, had but my footsteps worn
  • A path in hell, for ever would I bless
  • Horrors which nourish an uneasiness
  • For my own sullen conquering: to him
  • Who lives beyond earth’s boundary, grief is dim,
  • Sorrow is but a shadow: now I see
  • The grass; I feel the solid ground — Ah, me!
  • It is thy voice — divinest! Where? — who? who
  • Left thee so quiet on this bed of dew?
  • Behold upon this happy earth we are;
  • Let us aye love each other; let us fare
  • On forest-fruits, and never, never go
  • Among the abodes of mortals here below,
  • Or be by phantoms duped. O destiny!
  • Into a labyrinth now my soul would fly,
  • But with thy beauty will I deaden it.
  • Where didst thou melt to? by thee will I sit
  • For ever: let our fate stop here — a kid
  • I on this spot will offer: Pan will bid
  • Us live in peace, in love and peace among
  • His forest wildernesses. I have clung
  • To nothing, lov’d a nothing, nothing seen
  • Or felt but a great dream! O I have been
  • Presumptuous against love, against the sky,
  • Against all elements, against the tie
  • Of mortals each to each, against the blooms
  • Of flowers, rush of rivers, and the tombs
  • Of heroes gone! Against his proper glory
  • Has my own soul conspired: so my story
  • Will I to children utter, and repent.
  • There never liv’d a mortal man, who bent
  • His appetite beyond his natural sphere,
  • But starv’d and died. My sweetest Indian, here,
  • Here will I kneel, for thou redeemed hast
  • My life from too thin breathing: gone and past
  • Are cloudy phantasms. Caverns lone, farewel!
  • And air of visions, and the monstrous swell
  • Of visionary seas! No, never more
  • Shall airy voices cheat me to the shore
  • Of tangled wonder, breathless and aghast.
  • Adieu, my daintiest Dream! although so vast
  • My love is still for thee. The hour may come
  • When we shall meet in pure elysium.
  • On earth I may not love thee; and therefore
  • Doves will I offer up, and sweetest store
  • All through the teeming year: so thou wilt shine
  • On me, and on this damsel fair of mine,
  • And bless our simple lives. My Indian bliss!
  • My river-lily bud! one human kiss!
  • One sigh of real breath — one gentle squeeze,
  • Warm as a dove’s nest among summer trees,
  • And warm with dew at ooze from living blood!
  • Whither didst melt? Ah, what of that! — all good
  • We’ll talk about — no more of dreaming. — Now,
  • Where shall our dwelling be? Under the brow
  • Of some steep mossy hill, where ivy dun
  • Would hide us up, although spring leaves were none;
  • And where dark yew trees, as we rustle through,
  • Will drop their scarlet berry cups of dew?
  • O thou wouldst joy to live in such a place;
  • Dusk for our loves, yet light enough to grace
  • Those gentle limbs on mossy bed reclin’d:
  • For by one step the blue sky shouldst thou find,
  • And by another, in deep dell below,
  • See, through the trees, a little river go
  • All in its mid-day gold and glimmering.
  • Honey from out the gnarled hive I’ll bring,
  • And apples, wan with sweetness, gather thee, —
  • Cresses that grow where no man may them see,
  • And sorrel untorn by the dew-claw’d stag:
  • Pipes will I fashion of the syrinx flag,
  • That thou mayst always know whither I roam,
  • When it shall please thee in our quiet home
  • To listen and think of love. Still let me speak;
  • Still let me dive into the joy I seek, —
  • For yet the past doth prison me. The rill,
  • Thou haply mayst delight in, will I fill
  • With fairy fishes from the mountain tarn,
  • And thou shalt feed them from the squirrel’s barn.
  • Its bottom will I strew with amber shells,
  • And pebbles blue from deep enchanted wells.
  • Its sides I’ll plant with dew-sweet eglantine,
  • And honeysuckles full of clear bee-wine.
  • I will entice this crystal rill to trace
  • Love’s silver name upon the meadow’s face.
  • I’ll kneel to Vesta, for a flame of fire;
  • And to god Phoebus, for a golden lyre;
  • To Empress Dian, for a hunting spear;
  • To Vesper, for a taper silver-clear,
  • That I may see thy beauty through the night;
  • To Flora, and a nightingale shall light
  • Tame on thy finger; to the River-gods,
  • And they shall bring thee taper fishing-rods
  • Of gold, and lines of Naiads’ long bright tress.
  • Heaven shield thee for thine utter loveliness!
  • Thy mossy footstool shall the altar be
  • ’Fore which I’ll bend, bending dear love, to thee:
  • Those lips shall be my Delphos, and shall speak
  • Laws to my footsteps, colour to my cheek,
  • Trembling or stedfastness to this same voice,
  • And of three sweetest pleasurings the choice:
  • And that affectionate light, those diamond things,
  • Those eyes, those passions, those supreme pearl springs,
  • Shall be my grief, or twinkle me to pleasure.
  • Say, is not bliss within our perfect seisure?
  • O that I could not doubt!”
  • The mountaineer
  • Thus strove by fancies vain and crude to clear
  • His briar’d path to some tranquillity.
  • It gave bright gladness to his lady’s eye,
  • And yet the tears she wept were tears of sorrow;
  • Answering thus, just as the golden morrow
  • Beam’d upward from the vallies of the east:
  • “O that the flutter of this heart had ceas’d,
  • Or the sweet name of love had pass’d away.
  • Young feather’d tyrant! by a swift decay
  • Wilt thou devote this body to the earth:
  • And I do think that at my very birth
  • I lisp’d thy blooming titles inwardly;
  • For at the first, first dawn and thought of thee,
  • With uplift hands I blest the stars of heaven
  • Art thou not cruel? Ever have I striven
  • To think thee kind, but ah, it will not do!
  • When yet a child, I heard that kisses drew
  • Favour from thee, and so I kisses gave
  • To the void air, bidding them find out love:
  • But when I came to feel how far above
  • All fancy, pride, and fickle maidenhood,
  • All earthly pleasure, all imagin’d good,
  • Was the warm tremble of a devout kiss, —
  • Even then, that moment, at the thought of this,
  • Fainting I fell into a bed of flowers,
  • And languish’d there three days. Ye milder powers,
  • Am I not cruelly wrong’d? Believe, believe
  • Me, dear Endymion, were I to weave
  • With my own fancies garlands of sweet life,
  • Thou shouldst be one of all. Ah, bitter strife!
  • I may not be thy love: I am forbidden —
  • Indeed I am — thwarted, affrighted, chidden,
  • By things I trembled at, and gorgon wrath.
  • Twice hast thou ask’d whither I went: henceforth
  • Ask me no more! I may not utter it,
  • Nor may I be thy love. We might commit
  • Ourselves at once to vengeance; we might die;
  • We might embrace and die: voluptuous thought!
  • Enlarge not to my hunger, or I’m caught
  • In trammels of perverse deliciousness.
  • No, no, that shall not be: thee will I bless,
  • And bid a long adieu.”
  • The Carian
  • No word return’d: both lovelorn, silent, wan,
  • Into the vallies green together went.
  • Far wandering, they were perforce content
  • To sit beneath a fair lone beechen tree;
  • Nor at each other gaz’d, but heavily
  • Por’d on its hazle cirque of shedded leaves.
  • Endymion! unhappy! it nigh grieves
  • Me to behold thee thus in last extreme:
  • Ensky’d ere this, but truly that I deem
  • Truth the best music in a first-born song.
  • Thy lute-voic’d brother will I sing ere long,
  • And thou shalt aid — hast thou not aided me?
  • Yes, moonlight Emperor! felicity
  • Has been thy meed for many thousand years;
  • Yet often have I, on the brink of tears,
  • Mourn’d as if yet thou wert a forester; —
  • Forgetting the old tale.
  • He did not stir
  • His eyes from the dead leaves, or one small pulse
  • Of joy he might have felt. The spirit culls
  • Unfaded amaranth, when wild it strays
  • Through the old garden-ground of boyish days.
  • A little onward ran the very stream
  • By which he took his first soft poppy dream;
  • And on the very bark ’gainst which he leant
  • A crescent he had carv’d, and round it spent
  • His skill in little stars. The teeming tree
  • Had swollen and green’d the pious charactery,
  • But not ta’en out. Why, there was not a slope
  • Up which he had not fear’d the antelope;
  • And not a tree, beneath whose rooty shade
  • He had not with his tamed leopards play’d:
  • Nor could an arrow light, or javelin,
  • Fly in the air where his had never been —
  • And yet he knew it not.
  • O treachery!
  • Why does his lady smile, pleasing her eye
  • With all his sorrowing? He sees her not.
  • But who so stares on him? His sister sure!
  • Peona of the woods! — Can she endure —
  • Impossible — how dearly they embrace!
  • His lady smiles; delight is in her face;
  • It is no treachery.
  • “Dear brother mine!
  • Endymion, weep not so! Why shouldst thou pine
  • When all great Latmos so exalt will be?
  • Thank the great gods, and look not bitterly;
  • And speak not one pale word, and sigh no more.
  • Sure I will not believe thou hast such store
  • Of grief, to last thee to my kiss again.
  • Thou surely canst not bear a mind in pain,
  • Come hand in hand with one so beautiful.
  • Be happy both of you! for I will pull
  • The flowers of autumn for your coronals.
  • Pan’s holy priest for young Endymion calls;
  • And when he is restor’d, thou, fairest dame,
  • Shalt be our queen. Now, is it not a shame
  • To see ye thus, — not very, very sad?
  • Perhaps ye are too happy to be glad:
  • O feel as if it were a common day;
  • Free-voic’d as one who never was away.
  • No tongue shall ask, whence come ye? but ye shall
  • Be gods of your own rest imperial.
  • Not even I, for one whole month, will pry
  • Into the hours that have pass’d us by,
  • Since in my arbour I did sing to thee.
  • O Hermes! on this very night will be
  • A hymning up to Cynthia, queen of light;
  • For the soothsayers old saw yesternight
  • Good visions in the air, — whence will befal,
  • As say these sages, health perpetual
  • To shepherds and their flocks; and furthermore,
  • In Dian’s face they read the gentle lore:
  • Therefore for her these vesper-carols are.
  • Our friends will all be there from nigh and far.
  • Many upon thy death have ditties made;
  • And many, even now, their foreheads shade
  • With cypress, on a day of sacrifice.
  • New singing for our maids shalt thou devise,
  • And pluck the sorrow from our huntsmen’s brows.
  • Tell me, my lady-queen, how to espouse
  • This wayward brother to his rightful joys!
  • His eyes are on thee bent, as thou didst poise
  • His fate most goddess-like. Help me, I pray,
  • To lure — Endymion! dear brother, say
  • What ails thee?” He could bear no more, and so
  • Bent his soul fiercely like a spiritual bow,
  • And twang’d it inwardly, and calmly said:
  • “I would have thee my only friend, sweet maid!
  • My only visitor! not ignorant though,
  • That those deceptions which for pleasure go
  • ’Mong men, are pleasures real as real may be:
  • But there are higher ones I may not see,
  • If impiously an earthly realm I take.
  • Since I saw thee, I have been wide awake
  • Night after night, and day by day, until
  • Of the empyrean I have drunk my fill.
  • Let it content thee, sister, seeing me
  • More happy than betides mortality.
  • A hermit young, I’ll live in mossy cave,
  • Where thou alone shalt come to me, and lave
  • Thy spirit in the wonders I shall tell.
  • Through me the shepherd realm shall prosper well;
  • For to thy tongue will I all health confide.
  • And, for my sake, let this young maid abide
  • With thee as a dear sister. Thou alone,
  • Peona, mayst return to me. I own
  • This may sound strangely: but when, dearest girl,
  • Thou seest it for my happiness, no pearl
  • Will trespass down those cheeks. Companion fair!
  • Wilt be content to dwell with her, to share
  • This sister’s love with me?” Like one resign’d
  • And bent by circumstance, and thereby blind
  • In self-commitment, thus that meek unknown:
  • “Aye, but a buzzing by my ears has flown,
  • Of jubilee to Dian: — truth I heard?
  • Well then, I see there is no little bird,
  • Tender soever, but is Jove’s own care.
  • Long have I sought for rest, and, unaware,
  • Behold I find it! so exalted too!
  • So after my own heart! I knew, I knew
  • There was a place untenanted in it:
  • In that same void white Chastity shall sit,
  • And monitor me nightly to lone slumber.
  • With sanest lips I vow me to the number
  • Of Dian’s sisterhood; and, kind lady,
  • With thy good help, this very night shall see
  • My future days to her fane consecrate.”
  • As feels a dreamer what doth most create
  • His own particular fright, so these three felt:
  • Or like one who, in after ages, knelt
  • To Lucifer or Baal, when he’d pine
  • After a little sleep: or when in mine
  • Far under-ground, a sleeper meets his friends
  • Who know him not. Each diligently bends
  • Towards common thoughts and things for very fear;
  • Striving their ghastly malady to cheer,
  • By thinking it a thing of yes and no
  • That housewives talk of. But the spirit-blow
  • Was struck, and all were dreamers. At the last
  • Endymion said: “Are not our fates all cast?
  • Why stand we here? Adieu, ye tender pair!
  • Adieu!” Whereat those maidens, with wild stare,
  • Walk’d dizzily away. Pained and hot
  • His eyes went after them, until they got
  • Near to a cypress grove, whose deadly maw,
  • In one swift moment, would what then he saw
  • Engulph for ever. “Stay!” he cried, “ah, stay!
  • Turn, damsels! hist! one word I have to say.
  • Sweet Indian, I would see thee once again.
  • It is a thing I dote on: so I’d fain,
  • Peona, ye should hand in hand repair
  • Into those holy groves, that silent are
  • Behind great Dian’s temple. I’ll be yon,
  • At Vesper’s earliest twinkle — they are gone —
  • But once, once, once again —” At this he press’d
  • His hands against his face, and then did rest
  • His head upon a mossy hillock green,
  • And so remain’d as he a corpse had been
  • All the long day; save when he scantly lifted
  • His eyes abroad, to see how shadows shifted
  • With the slow move of time, — sluggish and weary
  • Until the poplar tops, in journey dreary,
  • Had reach’d the river’s brim. Then up he rose,
  • And, slowly as that very river flows,
  • Walk’d towards the temple grove with this lament:
  • “Why such a golden eve? The breeze is sent
  • Careful and soft, that not a leaf may fall
  • Before the serene father of them all
  • Bows down his summer head below the west.
  • Now am I of breath, speech, and speed possest,
  • But at the setting I must bid adieu
  • To her for the last time. Night will strew
  • On the damp grass myriads of lingering leaves,
  • And with them shall I die; nor much it grieves
  • To die, when summer dies on the cold sward.
  • Why, I have been a butterfly, a lord
  • Of flowers, garlands, love-knots, silly posies,
  • Groves, meadows, melodies, and arbour roses;
  • My kingdom’s at its death, and just it is
  • That I should die with it: so in all this
  • We miscal grief, bale, sorrow, heartbreak, woe,
  • What is there to plain of? By Titan’s foe
  • I am but rightly serv’d.” So saying, he
  • Tripp’d lightly on, in sort of deathful glee;
  • Laughing at the clear stream and setting sun,
  • As though they jests had been: nor had he done
  • His laugh at nature’s holy countenance,
  • Until that grove appear’d, as if perchance,
  • And then his tongue with sober seemlihed
  • Gave utterance as he entered: “Ha! I said,
  • “King of the butterflies; but by this gloom,
  • And by old Rhadamanthus’ tongue of doom,
  • This dusk religion, pomp of solitude,
  • And the Promethean clay by thief endued,
  • By old Saturnus’ forelock, by his head
  • Shook with eternal palsy, I did wed
  • Myself to things of light from infancy;
  • And thus to be cast out, thus lorn to die,
  • Is sure enough to make a mortal man
  • Grow impious.” So he inwardly began
  • On things for which no wording can be found;
  • Deeper and deeper sinking, until drown’d
  • Beyond the reach of music: for the choir
  • Of Cynthia he heard not, though rough briar
  • Nor muffling thicket interpos’d to dull
  • The vesper hymn, far swollen, soft and full,
  • Through the dark pillars of those sylvan aisles.
  • He saw not the two maidens, nor their smiles,
  • Wan as primroses gather’d at midnight
  • By chilly finger’d spring. “Unhappy wight!
  • Endymion!” said Peona, “we are here!
  • What wouldst thou ere we all are laid on bier?”
  • Then he embrac’d her, and his lady’s hand
  • Press’d, saying: “Sister, I would have command,
  • If it were heaven’s will, on our sad fate.”
  • At which that dark-eyed stranger stood elate
  • And said, in a new voice, but sweet as love,
  • To Endymion’s amaze: “By Cupid’s dove,
  • And so thou shalt! and by the lily truth
  • Of my own breast thou shalt, beloved youth!”
  • And as she spake, into her face there came
  • Light, as reflected from a silver flame:
  • Her long black hair swell’d ampler, in display
  • Full golden; in her eyes a brighter day
  • Dawn’d blue and full of love. Aye, he beheld
  • Phoebe, his passion! joyous she upheld
  • Her lucid bow, continuing thus: “Drear, drear
  • Has our delaying been; but foolish fear
  • Withheld me first; and then decrees of fate;
  • And then ’twas fit that from this mortal state
  • Thou shouldst, my love, by some unlook’d for change
  • Be spiritualiz’d. Peona, we shall range
  • These forests, and to thee they safe shall be
  • As was thy cradle; hither shalt thou flee
  • To meet us many a time.” Next Cynthia bright
  • Peona kiss’d, and bless’d with fair good night:
  • Her brother kiss’d her too, and knelt adown
  • Before his goddess, in a blissful swoon.
  • She gave her fair hands to him, and behold,
  • Before three swiftest kisses he had told,
  • They vanish’d far away! — Peona went
  • Home through the gloomy wood in wonderment.
×

All gentle folks who owe a grudge

  • All gentle folks who owe a grudge
  • To any living thing,
  • Open your ears and stay your trudge
  • Whilst I in dudgeon sing.
  • The gadfly he hath stung me sore —
  • O may he ne’er sting you!
  • But we have many a horrid bore
  • He may sting black and blue.
  • Has any here an old grey mare
  • With three legs all her store?
  • O put it to her buttocks bare
  • And straight she’ll run on four.
  • Has any here a lawyer suit
  • Of 1743?
  • Take lawyer’s nose and put it to’t
  • And you the end will see.
  • Is there a man in Parliament
  • Dumbfounder’d in his speech?
  • O let his neighbour make a rent
  • And put one in his breech.
  • O Lowther, how much better thou
  • Hadst figur’d t’ other day,
  • When to the folks thou mad’st a bow
  • And hadst no more to say,
  • If lucky gadfly had but ta’en
  • His seat upon thine a — e
  • And put thee to a little pain
  • To save thee from a worse.
  • Better than Southey it had been,
  • Better than Mr. D — ,
  • Better than Wordsworth too, I ween,
  • Better than Mr. V — .
  • Forgive me pray, good people all,
  • For deviating so;
  • In spirit sure I had a call —
  • And now I on will go.
  • Has any here a daughter fair
  • Too fond of reading novels,
  • Too apt to fall in love with care
  • And charming Mister Lovels?
  • O put a gadfly to that thing
  • She keeps so white and pert —
  • I mean the finger for the ring —
  • And it will breed a wert.
  • Has any here a pious spouse
  • Who seven times a day
  • Scolds as King David pray’d, to chouse
  • And have her holy way?
  • O let a gadfly’s little sting
  • Persuade her sacred tongue
  • That noises are a common thing
  • But that her bell has rung.
  • And as this is the summum bo-
  • Num of all conquering,
  • I leave withouten wordes mo
  • The gadfly’s little sting.
×

ENDYMION: A Poetic Romance.

[from the title page:]

“THE STRETCHED METRE OF AN ANTIQUE SONG”

[from the dedication page:]

INSCRIBED TO THE MEMORY OF THOMAS CHATTERTON.

PREFACE.

[on pages vii-ix of the original text]

KNOWING within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.

What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they if I thought a year’s castigation would do them any good;—it will not: the foundations are too sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.

This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honour of English literature.

The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted: thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.

I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece and dulled its brightness: for I wish to try once more, before I bid it farewel [sic].

Teignmouth,
April 10, 1818.

ENDYMION

BOOK 1.

  • A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
  • Its loveliness increases; it will never
  • Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
  • A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
  • Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
  • Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
  • A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
  • Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
  • Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
  • Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkened ways
  • Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
  • Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
  • From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
  • Trees old, and young sprouting a shady boon
  • For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
  • With the green world they live in; and clear rills
  • That for themselves a cooling covert make
  • ’Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
  • Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
  • And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
  • We have imagined for the mighty dead;
  • All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
  • An endless fountain of immortal drink,
  • Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
  • Nor do we merely feel these essences
  • For one short hour; no, even as the trees
  • That whisper round a temple become soon
  • Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
  • The passion poesy, glories infinite,
  • Haunt us till they become a cheering light
  • Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
  • That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,
  • They alway must be with us, or we die.
  • Therefore, ’tis with full happiness that I
  • Will trace the story of Endymion.
  • The very music of the name has gone
  • Into my being, and each pleasant scene
  • Is growing fresh before me as the green
  • Of our own vallies: so I will begin
  • Now while I cannot hear the city’s din;
  • Now while the early budders are just new,
  • And run in mazes of the youngest hue
  • About old forests; while the willow trails
  • Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
  • Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
  • Grows lush in juicy stalks, I’ll smoothly steer
  • My little boat, for many quiet hours,
  • With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
  • Many and many a verse I hope to write,
  • Before the daisies, vermeil rimm’d and white,
  • Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
  • Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
  • I must be near the middle of my story.
  • O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
  • See it half finished: but let autumn bold,
  • With universal tinge of sober gold,
  • Be all about me when I make an end.
  • And now at once, adventuresome, I send
  • My herald thought into a wilderness:
  • There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
  • My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
  • Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.
  • Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread
  • A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed
  • So plenteously all weed-hidden roots
  • Into o’er-hanging boughs, and precious fruits.
  • And it had gloomy shades, sequestered deep,
  • Where no man went; and if from shepherd’s keep
  • A lamb strayed far a-down those inmost glens,
  • Never again saw he the happy pens
  • Whither his brethren, bleating with content,
  • Over the hills at every nightfall went.
  • Among the shepherds, ’twas believed ever,
  • That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever
  • From the white flock, but pass’d unworried
  • By angry wolf, or pard with prying head,
  • Until it came to some unfooted plains
  • Where fed the herds of Pan: ay great his gains
  • Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many,
  • Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny,
  • And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly
  • To a wide lawn, whence one could only see
  • Stems thronging all around between the swell
  • Of turf and slanting branches: who could tell
  • The freshness of the space of heaven above,
  • Edg’d round with dark tree tops? through which a dove
  • Would often beat its wings, and often too
  • A little cloud would move across the blue.
  • Full in the middle of this pleasantness
  • There stood a marble altar, with a tress
  • Of flowers budded newly; and the dew
  • Had taken fairy phantasies to strew
  • Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve,
  • And so the dawned light in pomp receive.
  • For ’twas the morn: Apollo’s upward fire
  • Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
  • Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
  • A melancholy spirit well might win
  • Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
  • Into the winds: rain-scented eglantine
  • Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
  • The lark was lost in him; cold springs had run
  • To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass;
  • Man’s voice was on the mountains; and the mass
  • Of nature’s lives and wonders puls’d tenfold,
  • To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.
  • Now while the silent workings of the dawn
  • Were busiest, into that self-same lawn
  • All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped
  • A troop of little children garlanded;
  • Who gathering round the altar, seemed to pry
  • Earnestly round as wishing to espy
  • Some folk of holiday: nor had they waited
  • For many moments, ere their ears were sated
  • With a faint breath of music, which ev’n then
  • Fill’d out its voice, and died away again.
  • Within a little space again it gave
  • Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave,
  • To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking
  • Through copse-clad vallies, — ere their death, o’ertaking
  • The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.
  • And now, as deep into the wood as we
  • Might mark a lynx’s eye, there glimmered light
  • Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
  • Plainer and plainer shewing, till at last
  • Into the widest alley they all past,
  • Making directly for the woodland altar.
  • O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue faulter
  • In telling of this goodly company,
  • Of their old piety, and of their glee:
  • But let a portion of ethereal dew
  • Fall on my head, and presently unmew
  • My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
  • To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.
  • Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
  • Bearing the burden of a shepherd song;
  • Each having a white wicker over brimm’d
  • With April’s tender younglings: next, well trimm’d,
  • A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
  • As may be read of in Arcadian books;
  • Such as sat listening round Apollo’s pipe,
  • When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
  • Let his divinity o’er-flowing die
  • In music, through the vales of Thessaly:
  • Some idly trailed their sheep-hooks on the ground,
  • And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
  • With ebon-tipped flutes: close after these,
  • Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
  • A venerable priest full soberly,
  • Begirt with ministring looks: alway his eye
  • Stedfast upon the matted turf he kept,
  • And after him his sacred vestments swept.
  • From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
  • Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light;
  • And in his left he held a basket full
  • Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull:
  • Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
  • Than Leda’s love, and cresses from the rill.
  • His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
  • Seem’d like a poll of ivy in the teeth
  • Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
  • Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud
  • Their share of the ditty. After them appear’d,
  • Up-followed by a multitude that rear’d
  • Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car,
  • Easily rolling so as scarce to mar
  • The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown:
  • Who stood therein did seem of great renown
  • Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
  • Shewing like Ganymede to manhood grown;
  • And, for those simple times, his garments were
  • A chieftain king’s: beneath his breast, half bare,
  • Was hung a silver bugle, and between
  • His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
  • A smile was on his countenance; he seem’d,
  • To common lookers on, like one who dream’d
  • Of idleness in groves Elysian:
  • But there were some who feelingly could scan
  • A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
  • And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
  • Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh,
  • And think of yellow leaves, of owlet’s cry,
  • Of logs piled solemnly. — Ah, well-a-day,
  • Why should our young Endymion pine away!
  • Soon the assembly, in a circle rang’d,
  • Stood silent round the shrine: each look was chang’d
  • To sudden veneration: women meek
  • Beckon’d their sons to silence; while each cheek
  • Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear.
  • Endymion too, without a forest peer,
  • Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face,
  • Among his brothers of the mountain chase.
  • In midst of all, the venerable priest
  • Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least,
  • And, after lifting up his aged hands,
  • Thus spake he: “Men of Latmos! shepherd bands!
  • Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks:
  • Whether descended from beneath the rocks
  • That overtop your mountains; whether come
  • From vallies where the pipe is never dumb;
  • Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
  • Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze
  • Buds lavish gold; or ye, whose precious charge
  • Nibble their fill at ocean’s very marge,
  • Whose mellow reeds are touch’d with sounds forlorn
  • By the dim echoes of old Triton’s horn:
  • Mothers and wives! who day by day prepare
  • The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air;
  • And all ye gentle girls who foster up
  • Udderless lambs, and in a little cup
  • Will put choice honey for a favoured youth:
  • Yea, every one attend! for in good truth
  • Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan.
  • Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than
  • Night-swollen mushrooms? Are not our wide plains
  • Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains
  • Green’d over April’s lap? No howling sad
  • Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had
  • Great bounty from Endymion our lord.
  • The earth is glad: the merry lark has pour’d
  • His early song against yon breezy sky,
  • That spreads so clear o’er our solemnity.”
  • Thus ending, on the shrine he heap’d a spire
  • Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire;
  • Anon he stain’d the thick and spongy sod
  • With wine, in honour of the shepherd-god.
  • Now while the earth was drinking it, and while
  • Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile,
  • And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright
  • ’Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light
  • Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang:
  • “O thou, whose mighty palace roof doth hang
  • From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
  • Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death
  • Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness;
  • Who lov’st to see the hamadryads dress
  • Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken;
  • And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
  • The dreary melody of bedded reeds —
  • In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
  • The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth;
  • Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth
  • Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx — do thou now,
  • By thy love’s milky brow!
  • By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
  • Hear us, great Pan!
  • “O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles
  • Passion their voices cooingly ’mong myrtles,
  • What time thou wanderest at eventide
  • Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side
  • Of thine enmossed realms: O thou, to whom
  • Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom
  • Their ripen’d fruitage; yellow girted bees
  • Their golden honeycombs; our village leas
  • Their fairest blossom’d beans and poppied corn;
  • The chuckling linnet its five young unborn,
  • To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries
  • Their summer coolness; pent up butterflies
  • Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year
  • All its completions — be quickly near,
  • By every wind that nods the mountain pine,
  • O forester divine!
  • “Thou, to whom every faun and satyr flies
  • For willing service; whether to surprise
  • The squatted hare while in half sleeping fit;
  • Or upward ragged precipices flit
  • To save poor lambkins from the eagle’s maw;
  • Or by mysterious enticement draw
  • Bewildered shepherds to their path again;
  • Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
  • And gather up all fancifullest shells
  • For thee to tumble into Naiads’ cells,
  • And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping;
  • Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
  • The while they pelt each other on the crown
  • With silvery oak apples, and fir cones brown —
  • By all the echoes that about thee ring,
  • Hear us, O satyr king!
  • “O Hearkener to the loud clapping shears,
  • While ever and anon to his shorn peers
  • A ram goes bleating: Winder of the horn,
  • When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn
  • Anger our huntsmen: Breather round our farms,
  • To keep off mildews, and all weather harms:
  • Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds,
  • That come a swooning over hollow grounds,
  • And wither drearily on barren moors:
  • Dread opener of the mysterious doors
  • Leading to universal knowledge — see,
  • Great son of Dryope,
  • The many that are come to pay their vows
  • With leaves about their brows!
  • “Be still the unimaginable lodge
  • For solitary thinkings; such as dodge
  • Conception to the very bourne of heaven,
  • Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven,
  • That spreading in this dull and clodded earth
  • Gives it a touch ethereal — a new birth:
  • Be still a symbol of immensity;
  • A firmament reflected in a sea;
  • An element filling the space between;
  • An unknown — but no more: we humbly screen
  • With uplift hands our foreheads, lowly bending,
  • And giving out a shout most heaven rending,
  • Conjure thee to receive our humble paean,
  • Upon thy Mount Lycean!”
  • Even while they brought the burden to a close,
  • A shout from the whole multitude arose,
  • That lingered in the air like dying rolls
  • Of abrupt thunder, when Ionian shoals
  • Of dolphins bob their noses through the brine.
  • Meantime, on shady levels, mossy fine,
  • Young companies nimbly began dancing
  • To the swift treble pipe, and humming string.
  • Aye, those fair living forms swam heavenly
  • To tunes forgotten — out of memory:
  • Fair creatures! whose young childrens’ children bred
  • Thermopylae its heroes — not yet dead,
  • But in old marbles ever beautiful.
  • High genitors, unconscious did they cull
  • Time’s sweet first-fruits — they danc’d to weariness,
  • And then in quiet circles did they press
  • The hillock turf, and caught the latter end
  • Of some strange history, potent to send
  • A young mind from its bodily tenement.
  • Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
  • On either side; pitying the sad death
  • Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
  • Of Zephyr slew him, — Zephyr penitent,
  • Who now, ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
  • Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.
  • The archers too, upon a wider plain,
  • Beside the feathery whizzing of the shaft,
  • And the dull twanging bowstring, and the raft
  • Branch down sweeping from a tall ash top,
  • Call’d up a thousand thoughts to envelope
  • Those who would watch. Perhaps, the trembling knee
  • And frantic gape of lonely Niobe,
  • Poor, lonely Niobe! when her lovely young
  • Were dead and gone, and her caressing tongue
  • Lay a lost thing upon her paly lip,
  • And very, very deadliness did nip
  • Her motherly cheeks. Arous’d from this sad mood
  • By one, who at a distance loud halloo’d,
  • Uplifting his strong bow into the air,
  • Many might after brighter visions stare:
  • After the Argonauts, in blind amaze
  • Tossing about on Neptune’s restless ways,
  • Until, from the horizon’s vaulted side,
  • There shot a golden splendour far and wide,
  • Spangling those million poutings of the brine
  • With quivering ore: ’twas even an awful shine
  • From the exaltation of Apollo’s bow;
  • A heavenly beacon in their dreary woe.
  • Who thus were ripe for high contemplating
  • Might turn their steps towards the sober ring
  • Where sat Endymion and the aged priest
  • ’Mong shepherds gone in eld, whose looks increas’d
  • The silvery setting of their mortal star.
  • There they discours’d upon the fragile bar
  • That keeps us from our homes ethereal;
  • And what our duties there: to nightly call
  • Vesper, the beauty-crest of summer weather;
  • To summon all the downiest clouds together
  • For the sun’s purple couch; to emulate
  • In ministring the potent rule of fate
  • With speed of fire-tailed exhalations;
  • To tint her pallid cheek with bloom, who cons
  • Sweet poesy by moonlight: besides these,
  • A world of other unguess’d offices.
  • Anon they wander’d, by divine converse,
  • Into Elysium; vieing to rehearse
  • Each one his own anticipated bliss.
  • One felt heart-certain that he could not miss
  • His quick gone love, among fair blossom’d boughs,
  • Where every zephyr-sigh pouts, and endows
  • Her lips with music for the welcoming.
  • Another wish’d, mid that eternal spring,
  • To meet his rosy child, with feathery sails,
  • Sweeping, eye-earnestly, through almond vales:
  • Who, suddenly, should stoop through the smooth wind,
  • And with the balmiest leaves his temples bind;
  • And, ever after, through those regions be
  • His messenger, his little Mercury.
  • Some were athirst in soul to see again
  • Their fellow huntsmen o’er the wide champaign
  • In times long past; to sit with them, and talk
  • Of all the chances in their earthly walk;
  • Comparing, joyfully, their plenteous stores
  • Of happiness, to when upon the moors,
  • Benighted, close they huddled from the cold,
  • And shar’d their famish’d scrips. Thus all out-told
  • Their fond imaginations, — saving him
  • Whose eyelids curtain’d up their jewels dim,
  • Endymion: yet hourly had he striven
  • To hide the cankering venom, that had riven
  • His fainting recollections. Now indeed
  • His senses had swoon’d off: he did not heed
  • The sudden silence, or the whispers low,
  • Or the old eyes dissolving at his woe,
  • Or anxious calls, or close of trembling palms,
  • Or maiden’s sigh, that grief itself embalms:
  • But in the self-same fixed trance he kept,
  • Like one who on the earth had never stept —
  • Aye, even as dead-still as a marble man,
  • Frozen in that old tale Arabian.
  • Who whispers him so pantingly and close?
  • Peona, his sweet sister: of all those,
  • His friends, the dearest. Hushing signs she made,
  • And breath’d a sister’s sorrow to persuade
  • A yielding up, a cradling on her care.
  • Her eloquence did breathe away the curse:
  • She led him, like some midnight spirit nurse
  • Of happy changes in emphatic dreams,
  • Along a path between two little streams, —
  • Guarding his forehead, with her round elbow,
  • From low-grown branches, and his footsteps slow
  • From stumbling over stumps and hillocks small;
  • Until they came to where these streamlets fall,
  • With mingled bubblings and a gentle rush,
  • Into a river, clear, brimful, and flush
  • With crystal mocking of the trees and sky.
  • A little shallop, floating there hard by,
  • Pointed its beak over the fringed bank;
  • And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank,
  • And dipt again, with the young couple’s weight, —
  • Peona guiding, through the water straight,
  • Towards a bowery island opposite;
  • Which gaining presently, she steered light
  • Into a shady, fresh, and ripply cove,
  • Where nested was an arbour, overwove
  • By many a summer’s silent fingering;
  • To whose cool bosom she was used to bring
  • Her playmates, with their needle broidery,
  • And minstrel memories of times gone by.
  • So she was gently glad to see him laid
  • Under her favourite bower’s quiet shade,
  • On her own couch, new made of flower leaves,
  • Dried carefully on the cooler side of sheaves
  • When last the sun his autumn tresses shook,
  • And the tann’d harvesters rich armfuls took.
  • Soon was he quieted to slumbrous rest:
  • But, ere it crept upon him, he had prest
  • Peona’s busy hand against his lips,
  • And still, a sleeping, held her finger-tips
  • In tender pressure. And as a willow keeps
  • A patient watch over the stream that creeps
  • Windingly by it, so the quiet maid
  • Held her in peace: so that a whispering blade
  • Of grass, a wailful gnat, a bee bustling
  • Down in the blue-bells, or a wren light rustling
  • Among sere leaves and twigs, might all be heard.
  • O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
  • That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
  • Till it is hush’d and smooth! O unconfin’d
  • Restraint! imprisoned liberty! great key
  • To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy,
  • Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves,
  • Echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves
  • And moonlight; aye, to all the mazy world
  • Of silvery enchantment! — who, upfurl’d
  • Beneath thy drowsy wing a triple hour,
  • But renovates and lives? — Thus, in the bower,
  • Endymion was calm’d to life again.
  • Opening his eyelids with a healthier brain,
  • He said: “I feel this thine endearing love
  • All through my bosom: thou art as a dove
  • Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings
  • About me; and the pearliest dew not brings
  • Such morning incense from the fields of May,
  • As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray
  • From those kind eyes, — the very home and haunt
  • Of sisterly affection. Can I want
  • Aught else, aught nearer heaven, than such tears?
  • Yet dry them up, in bidding hence all fears
  • That, any longer, I will pass my days
  • Alone and sad. No, I will once more raise
  • My voice upon the mountain-heights; once more
  • Make my horn parley from their foreheads hoar:
  • Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll
  • Around the breathed boar: again I’ll poll
  • The fair-grown yew tree, for a chosen bow:
  • And, when the pleasant sun is getting low,
  • Again I’ll linger in a sloping mead
  • To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed
  • Our idle sheep. So be thou cheered, sweet,
  • And, if thy lute is here, softly intreat
  • My soul to keep in its resolved course.”
  • Hereat Peona, in their silver source,
  • Shut her pure sorrow drops with glad exclaim,
  • And took a lute, from which there pulsing came
  • A lively prelude, fashioning the way
  • In which her voice should wander. ’Twas a lay
  • More subtle cadenced, more forest wild
  • Than Dryope’s lone lulling of her child;
  • And nothing since has floated in the air
  • So mournful strange. Surely some influence rare
  • Went, spiritual, through the damsel’s hand;
  • For still, with Delphic emphasis, she spann’d
  • The quick invisible strings, even though she saw
  • Endymion’s spirit melt away and thaw
  • Before the deep intoxication.
  • But soon she came, with sudden burst, upon
  • Her self-possession — swung the lute aside,
  • And earnestly said: “Brother, ’tis vain to hide
  • That thou dost know of things mysterious,
  • Immortal, starry; such alone could thus
  • Weigh down thy nature. Hast thou sinn’d in aught
  • Offensive to the heavenly powers? Caught
  • A Paphian dove upon a message sent?
  • Thy deathful bow against some dear-herd bent,
  • Sacred to Dian? Haply, thou hast seen
  • Her naked limbs among the alders green;
  • And that, alas! is death. No, I can trace
  • Something more high perplexing in thy face!”
  • Endymion look’d at her, and press’d her hand,
  • And said, “Art thou so pale, who wast so bland
  • And merry in our meadows? How is this?
  • Tell me thine ailment: tell me all amiss! —
  • Ah! thou hast been unhappy at the change
  • Wrought suddenly in me. What indeed more strange?
  • Or more complete to overwhelm surmise?
  • Ambition is no sluggard: ’tis no prize,
  • That toiling years would put within my grasp,
  • That I have sigh’d for: with so deadly gasp
  • No man e’er panted for a mortal love.
  • So all have set my heavier grief above
  • These things which happen. Rightly have they done:
  • I, who still saw the horizontal sun
  • Heave his broad shoulder o’er the edge of the world,
  • Out-facing Lucifer, and then had hurl’d
  • My spear aloft, as signal for the chace —
  • I, who, for very sport of heart, would race
  • With my own steed from Araby; pluck down
  • A vulture from his towery perching; frown
  • A lion into growling, loth retire —
  • To lose, at once, all my toil breeding fire,
  • And sink thus low! but I will ease my breast
  • Of secret grief, here in this bowery nest.
  • “This river does not see the naked sky,
  • Till it begins to progress silverly
  • Around the western border of the wood,
  • Whence, from a certain spot, its winding flood
  • Seems at the distance like a crescent moon:
  • And in that nook, the very pride of June,
  • Had I been used to pass my weary eves;
  • The rather for the sun unwilling leaves
  • So dear a picture of his sovereign power,
  • And I could witness his most kingly hour,
  • When he doth tighten up the golden reins,
  • And paces leisurely down amber plains
  • His snorting four. Now when his chariot last
  • Its beams against the zodiac-lion cast,
  • There blossom’d suddenly a magic bed
  • Of sacred ditamy, and poppies red:
  • At which I wondered greatly, knowing well
  • That but one night had wrought this flowery spell;
  • And, sitting down close by, began to muse
  • What it might mean. Perhaps, thought I, Morpheus,
  • In passing here, his owlet pinions shook;
  • Or, it may be, ere matron Night uptook
  • Her ebon urn, young Mercury, by stealth,
  • Had dipt his rod in it: such garland wealth
  • Came not by common growth. Thus on I thought,
  • Until my head was dizzy and distraught.
  • Moreover, through the dancing poppies stole
  • A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul;
  • And shaping visions all about my sight
  • Of colours, wings, and bursts of spangly light;
  • The which became more strange, and strange, and dim,
  • And then were gulph’d in a tumultuous swim:
  • And then I fell asleep. Ah, can I tell
  • The enchantment that afterwards befel?
  • Yet it was but a dream: yet such a dream
  • That never tongue, although it overteem
  • With mellow utterance, like a cavern spring,
  • Could figure out and to conception bring
  • All I beheld and felt. Methought I lay
  • Watching the zenith, where the milky way
  • Among the stars in virgin splendour pours;
  • And travelling my eye, until the doors
  • Of heaven appear’d to open for my flight,
  • I became loth and fearful to alight
  • From such high soaring by a downward glance:
  • So kept me stedfast in that airy trance,
  • Spreading imaginary pinions wide.
  • When, presently, the stars began to glide,
  • And faint away, before my eager view:
  • At which I sigh’d that I could not pursue,
  • And dropt my vision to the horizon’s verge;
  • And lo! from the opening clouds, I saw emerge
  • The loveliest moon, that ever silver’d o’er
  • A shell for Neptune’s goblet: she did soar
  • So passionately bright, my dazzled soul
  • Commingling with her argent spheres did roll
  • Through clear and cloudy, even when she went
  • At last into a dark and vapoury tent —
  • Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train
  • Of planets all were in the blue again.
  • To commune with those orbs, once more I rais’d
  • My sight right upward: but it was quite dazed
  • By a bright something, sailing down apace,
  • Making me quickly veil my eyes and face:
  • Again I look’d, and, O ye deities,
  • Who from Olympus watch our destinies!
  • Whence that completed form of all completeness?
  • Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness?
  • Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, O where
  • Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair?
  • Not oat-sheaves drooping in the western sun;
  • Not — thy soft hand, fair sister! let me shun
  • Such follying before thee — yet she had,
  • Indeed, locks bright enough to make me mad;
  • And they were simply gordian’d up and braided,
  • Leaving, in naked comeliness, unshaded,
  • Her pearl round ears, white neck, and orbed brow;
  • The which were blended in, I know not how,
  • With such a paradise of lips and eyes,
  • Blush-tinted cheeks, half smiles, and faintest sighs,
  • That, when I think thereon, my spirit clings
  • And plays about its fancy, till the stings
  • Of human neighbourhood envenom all.
  • Unto what awful power shall I call?
  • To what high fane? — Ah! see her hovering feet,
  • More bluely vein’d, more soft, more whitely sweet
  • Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose
  • From out her cradle shell. The wind out-blows
  • Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion;
  • ’Tis blue, and over-spangled with a million
  • Of little eyes, as though thou wert to shed,
  • Over the darkest, lushest blue-bell bed,
  • Handfuls of daisies.” — “Endymion, how strange!
  • Dream within dream!” — “She took an airy range,
  • And then, towards me, like a very maid,
  • Came blushing, waning, willing, and afraid,
  • And press’d me by the hand: Ah! ’twas too much;
  • Methought I fainted at the charmed touch,
  • Yet held my recollection, even as one
  • Who dives three fathoms where the waters run
  • Gurgling in beds of coral: for anon,
  • I felt upmounted in that region
  • Where falling stars dart their artillery forth,
  • And eagles struggle with the buffeting north
  • That balances the heavy meteor-stone; —
  • Felt too, I was not fearful, nor alone,
  • But lapp’d and lull’d along the dangerous sky.
  • Soon, as it seem’d, we left our journeying high,
  • And straightway into frightful eddies swoop’d;
  • Such as aye muster where grey time has scoop’d
  • Huge dens and caverns in a mountain’s side:
  • There hollow sounds arous’d me, and I sigh’d
  • To faint once more by looking on my bliss —
  • I was distracted; madly did I kiss
  • The wooing arms which held me, and did give
  • My eyes at once to death: but ’twas to live,
  • To take in draughts of life from the gold fount
  • Of kind and passionate looks; to count, and count
  • The moments, by some greedy help that seem’d
  • A second self, that each might be redeem’d
  • And plunder’d of its load of blessedness.
  • Ah, desperate mortal! I ev’n dar’d to press
  • Her very cheek against my crowned lip,
  • And, at that moment, felt my body dip
  • Into a warmer air: a moment more,
  • Our feet were soft in flowers. There was store
  • Of newest joys upon that alp. Sometimes
  • A scent of violets, and blossoming limes,
  • Loiter’d around us; then of honey cells,
  • Made delicate from all white-flower bells;
  • And once, above the edges of our nest,
  • An arch face peep’d, — an Oread as I guess’d.
  • “Why did I dream that sleep o’er-power’d me
  • In midst of all this heaven? Why not see,
  • Far off, the shadows of his pinions dark,
  • And stare them from me? But no, like a spark
  • That needs must die, although its little beam
  • Reflects upon a diamond, my sweet dream
  • Fell into nothing — into stupid sleep.
  • And so it was, until a gentle creep,
  • A careful moving caught my waking ears,
  • And up I started: Ah! my sighs, my tears,
  • My clenched hands; — for lo! the poppies hung
  • Dew-dabbled on their stalks, the ouzel sung
  • A heavy ditty, and the sullen day
  • Had chidden herald Hesperus away,
  • With leaden looks: the solitary breeze
  • Bluster’d, and slept, and its wild self did teaze
  • With wayward melancholy; and I thought,
  • Mark me, Peona! that sometimes it brought
  • Faint fare-thee-wells, and sigh-shrilled adieus! —
  • Away I wander’d — all the pleasant hues
  • Of heaven and earth had faded: deepest shades
  • Were deepest dungeons; heaths and sunny glades
  • Were full of pestilent light; our taintless rills
  • Seem’d sooty, and o’er-spread with upturn’d gills
  • Of dying fish; the vermeil rose had blown
  • In frightful scarlet, and its thorns out-grown
  • Like spiked aloe. If an innocent bird
  • Before my heedless footsteps stirr’d, and stirr’d
  • In little journeys, I beheld in it
  • A disguis’d demon, missioned to knit
  • My soul with under darkness; to entice
  • My stumblings down some monstrous precipice:
  • Therefore I eager followed, and did curse
  • The disappointment. Time, that aged nurse,
  • Rock’d me to patience. Now, thank gentle heaven!
  • These things, with all their comfortings, are given
  • To my down-sunken hours, and with thee,
  • Sweet sister, help to stem the ebbing sea
  • Of weary life.”
  • Thus ended he, and both
  • Sat silent: for the maid was very loth
  • To answer; feeling well that breathed words
  • Would all be lost, unheard, and vain as swords
  • Against the enchased crocodile, or leaps
  • Of grasshoppers against the sun. She weeps,
  • And wonders; struggles to devise some blame;
  • To put on such a look as would say, Shame
  • On this poor weakness! but, for all her strife,
  • She could as soon have crush’d away the life
  • From a sick dove. At length, to break the pause,
  • She said with trembling chance: “Is this the cause?
  • This all? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas!
  • That one who through this middle earth should pass
  • Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave
  • His name upon the harp-string, should achieve
  • No higher bard than simple maidenhood,
  • Singing alone, and fearfully, — how the blood
  • Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray
  • He knew not where; and how he would say, nay,
  • If any said ’twas love: and yet ’twas love;
  • What could it be but love? How a ring-dove
  • Let fall a sprig of yew tree in his path;
  • And how he died: and then, that love doth scathe
  • The gentle heart, as northern blasts do roses;
  • And then the ballad of his sad life closes
  • With sighs, and an alas! — Endymion!
  • Be rather in the trumpet’s mouth, — anon
  • Among the winds at large — that all may hearken!
  • Although, before the crystal heavens darken,
  • I watch and dote upon the silver lakes
  • Pictur’d in western cloudiness, that takes
  • The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands,
  • Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands
  • With horses prancing o’er them, palaces
  • And towers of amethyst, — would I so tease
  • My pleasant days, because I could not mount
  • Into those regions? The Morphean fount
  • Of that fine element that visions, dreams,
  • And fitful whims of sleep are made of, streams
  • Into its airy channels with so subtle,
  • So thin a breathing, not the spider’s shuttle,
  • Circled a million times within the space
  • Of a swallow’s nest-door, could delay a trace,
  • A tinting of its quality: how light
  • Must dreams themselves be; seeing they’re more slight
  • Than the mere nothing that engenders them!
  • Then wherefore sully the entrusted gem
  • Of high and noble life with thoughts so sick?
  • Why pierce high-fronted honour to the quick
  • For nothing but a dream?” Hereat the youth
  • Look’d up: a conflicting of shame and ruth
  • Was in his plaited brow: yet, his eyelids
  • Widened a little, as when Zephyr bids
  • A little breeze to creep between the fans
  • Of careless butterflies: amid his pains
  • He seem’d to taste a drop of manna-dew,
  • Full palatable; and a colour grew
  • Upon his cheek, while thus he lifeful spake.
  • “Peona! ever have I long’d to slake
  • My thirst for the world’s praises: nothing base,
  • No merely slumberous phantasm, could unlace
  • The stubborn canvas for my voyage prepar’d —
  • Though now ’tis tatter’d; leaving my bark bar’d
  • And sullenly drifting: yet my higher hope
  • Is of too wide, too rainbow-large a scope,
  • To fret at myriads of earthly wrecks.
  • Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks
  • Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
  • A fellowship with essence; till we shine,
  • Full alchemiz’d, and free of space. Behold
  • The clear religion of heaven! Fold
  • A rose leaf round thy finger’s taperness,
  • And soothe thy lips: hist, when the airy stress
  • Of music’s kiss impregnates the free winds,
  • And with a sympathetic touch unbinds
  • Eolian magic from their lucid wombs:
  • Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs;
  • Old ditties sigh above their father’s grave;
  • Ghosts of melodious prophecyings rave
  • Round every spot where trod Apollo’s foot;
  • Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit,
  • Where long ago a giant battle was;
  • And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass
  • In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
  • Feel we these things? — that moment have we stept
  • Into a sort of oneness, and our state
  • Is like a floating spirit’s. But there are
  • Richer entanglements, enthralments far
  • More self-destroying, leading, by degrees,
  • To the chief intensity: the crown of these
  • Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
  • Upon the forehead of humanity.
  • All its more ponderous and bulky worth
  • Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth
  • A steady splendour; but at the tip-top,
  • There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop
  • Of light, and that is love: its influence,
  • Thrown in our eyes, genders a novel sense,
  • At which we start and fret; till in the end,
  • Melting into its radiance, we blend,
  • Mingle, and so become a part of it, —
  • Nor with aught else can our souls interknit
  • So wingedly: when we combine therewith,
  • Life’s self is nourish’d by its proper pith,
  • And we are nurtured like a pelican brood.
  • Aye, so delicious is the unsating food,
  • That men, who might have tower’d in the van
  • Of all the congregated world, to fan
  • And winnow from the coming step of time
  • All chaff of custom, wipe away all slime
  • Left by men-slugs and human serpentry,
  • Have been content to let occasion die,
  • Whilst they did sleep in love’s elysium.
  • And, truly, I would rather be struck dumb,
  • Than speak against this ardent listlessness:
  • For I have ever thought that it might bless
  • The world with benefits unknowingly;
  • As does the nightingale, upperched high,
  • And cloister’d among cool and bunched leaves —
  • She sings but to her love, nor e’er conceives
  • How tiptoe Night holds back her dark-grey hood.
  • Just so may love, although ’tis understood
  • The mere commingling of passionate breath,
  • Produce more than our searching witnesseth:
  • What I know not: but who, of men, can tell
  • That flowers would bloom, or that green fruit would swell
  • To melting pulp, that fish would have bright mail,
  • The earth its dower of river, wood, and vale,
  • The meadows runnels, runnels pebble-stones,
  • The seed its harvest, or the lute its tones,
  • Tones ravishment, or ravishment its sweet,
  • If human souls did never kiss and greet?
  • “Now, if this earthly love has power to make
  • Men’s being mortal, immortal; to shake
  • Ambition from their memories, and brim
  • Their measure of content; what merest whim,
  • Seems all this poor endeavour after fame,
  • To one, who keeps within his stedfast aim
  • A love immortal, an immortal too.
  • Look not so wilder’d; for these things are true,
  • And never can be born of atomies
  • That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies,
  • Leaving us fancy-sick. No, no, I’m sure,
  • My restless spirit never could endure
  • To brood so long upon one luxury,
  • Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
  • A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
  • My sayings will the less obscured seem,
  • When I have told thee how my waking sight
  • Has made me scruple whether that same night
  • Was pass’d in dreaming. Hearken, sweet Peona!
  • Beyond the matron-temple of Latona,
  • Which we should see but for these darkening boughs,
  • Lies a deep hollow, from whose ragged brows
  • Bushes and trees do lean all round athwart,
  • And meet so nearly, that with wings outraught,
  • And spreaded tail, a vulture could not glide
  • Past them, but he must brush on every side.
  • Some moulder’d steps lead into this cool cell,
  • Far as the slabbed margin of a well,
  • Whose patient level peeps its crystal eye
  • Right upward, through the bushes, to the sky.
  • Oft have I brought thee flowers, on their stalks set
  • Like vestal primroses, but dark velvet
  • Edges them round, and they have golden pits:
  • ’Twas there I got them, from the gaps and slits
  • In a mossy stone, that sometimes was my seat,
  • When all above was faint with mid-day heat.
  • And there in strife no burning thoughts to heed,
  • I’d bubble up the water through a reed;
  • So reaching back to boy-hood: make me ships
  • Of moulted feathers, touchwood, alder chips,
  • With leaves stuck in them; and the Neptune be
  • Of their petty ocean. Oftener, heavily,
  • When love-lorn hours had left me less a child,
  • I sat contemplating the figures wild
  • Of o’er-head clouds melting the mirror through.
  • Upon a day, while thus I watch’d, by flew
  • A cloudy Cupid, with his bow and quiver;
  • So plainly character’d, no breeze would shiver
  • The happy chance: so happy, I was fain
  • To follow it upon the open plain,
  • And, therefore, was just going; when, behold!
  • A wonder, fair as any I have told —
  • The same bright face I tasted in my sleep,
  • Smiling in the clear well. My heart did leap
  • Through the cool depth. — It moved as if to flee —
  • I started up, when lo! refreshfully,
  • There came upon my face, in plenteous showers,
  • Dew-drops, and dewy buds, and leaves, and flowers,
  • Wrapping all objects from my smothered sight,
  • Bathing my spirit in a new delight.
  • Aye, such a breathless honey-feel of bliss
  • Alone preserved me from the drear abyss
  • Of death, for the fair form had gone again.
  • Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain
  • Clings cruelly to us, like the gnawing sloth
  • On the deer’s tender haunches: late, and loth,
  • ’Tis scar’d away by slow returning pleasure.
  • How sickening, how dark the dreadful leisure
  • Of weary days, made deeper exquisite,
  • By a fore-knowledge of unslumbrous night!
  • Like sorrow came upon me, heavier still,
  • Than when I wander’d from the poppy hill:
  • And a whole age of lingering moments crept
  • Sluggishly by, ere more contentment swept
  • Away at once the deadly yellow spleen.
  • Yes, thrice have I this fair enchantment seen;
  • Once more been tortured with renewed life.
  • When last the wintry gusts gave over strife
  • With the conquering sun of spring, and left the skies
  • Warm and serene, but yet with moistened eyes
  • In pity of the shatter’d infant buds, —
  • That time thou didst adorn, with amber studs,
  • My hunting cap, because I laugh’d and smil’d,
  • Chatted with thee, and many days exil’d
  • All torment from my breast; — ’twas even then,
  • Straying about, yet, coop’d up in the den
  • Of helpless discontent, — hurling my lance
  • From place to place, and following at chance,
  • At last, by hap, through some young trees it struck,
  • And, plashing among bedded pebbles, stuck
  • In the middle of a brook, — whose silver ramble
  • Down twenty little falls, through reeds and bramble,
  • Tracing along, it brought me to a cave,
  • Whence it ran brightly forth, and white did lave
  • The nether sides of mossy stones and rock, —
  • ’Mong which it gurgled blythe adieus, to mock
  • Its own sweet grief at parting. Overhead,
  • Hung a lush screen of drooping weeds, and spread
  • Thick, as to curtain up some wood-nymph’s home.
  • `Ah! impious mortal, whither do I roam?’
  • Said I, low voic’d `ah, whither! ’tis the grot
  • Of Proserpine, when hell, obscure and hot,
  • Doth her resign; and where her tender hands
  • She dabbles, on the cool and sluicy sands:
  • Or ’tis the cell of Echo, where she sits,
  • And babbles thorough silence, till her wits
  • Are gone in tender madness, and anon,
  • Faints into sleep, with many a dying tone
  • Of sadness. O that she would take my vows,
  • And breathe them sighingly among the boughs,
  • To sue her gentle ears for whose fair head,
  • Daily, I pluck sweet flowerets from their bed,
  • And weave them dyingly — send honey-whispers
  • Round every leaf, that all those gentle lispers
  • May sigh my love unto her pitying!
  • O charitable Echo! hear, and sing
  • This ditty to her! — tell her’ — so I stay’d
  • My foolish tongue, and listening, half afraid,
  • Stood stupefied with my own empty folly,
  • And blushing for the freaks of melancholy.
  • Salt tears were coming, when I heard my name
  • Most fondly lipp’d, and then these accents came:
  • ’Endymion! the cave is secreter
  • Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir
  • No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise
  • Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys
  • And trembles through my labyrinthine hair.’
  • At that oppress’d I hurried in. — Ah! where
  • Are those swift moments? Whither are they fled?
  • I’ll smile no more, Peona; nor will wed
  • Sorrow the way to death; but patiently
  • Bear up against it: so farewel, sad sigh;
  • And come instead demurest meditation,
  • To occupy me wholly, and to fashion
  • My pilgrimage for the world’s dusky brink.
  • No more will I count over, link by link,
  • My chain of grief: no longer strive to find
  • A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind
  • Blustering about my ears: aye, thou shalt see,
  • Dearest of sisters, what my life shall be;
  • What a calm round of hours shall make my days.
  • There is a paly flame of hope that plays
  • Where’er I look: but yet, I’ll say ’tis naught —
  • And here I bid it die. Have not I caught,
  • Already, a more healthy countenance?
  • By this the sun is setting; we may chance
  • Meet some of our near-dwellers with my car.”
  • This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star
  • Through autumn mists, and took Peona’s hand:
  • They stept into the boat, and launch’d from land.
×

To My Brothers

  • Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
  • And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep
  • Like whispers of the household gods that keep
  • A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.
  • And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
  • Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,
  • Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
  • That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
  • This is your birth-day, Tom, and I rejoice
  • That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.
  • Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise
  • May we together pass, and calmly try
  • What are this world’s true joys, — ere the great voice,
  • From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.
  • November 18, 1816
×

Lamia

PART I.

  • UPON a time, before the faery broods
  • Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
  • Before King Oberon’s bright diadem,
  • Sceptre, and mantle, clasp’d with dewy gem,
  • Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
  • From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip’d lawns,
  • The ever-smitten Hermes empty left
  • His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft:
  • From high Olympus had he stolen light,
  • On this side of Jove’s clouds, to escape the sight
  • Of his great summoner, and made retreat
  • Into a forest on the shores of Crete.
  • For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt
  • A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;
  • At whose white feet the languid Tritons poured
  • Pearls, while on land they wither’d and adored.
  • Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,
  • And in those meads where sometime she might haunt,
  • Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,
  • Though Fancy’s casket were unlock’d to choose.
  • Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!
  • So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat
  • Burnt from his winged heels to either ear,
  • That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,
  • Blush’d into roses ’mid his golden hair,
  • Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.
  • From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,
  • Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,
  • And wound with many a river to its head,
  • To find where this sweet nymph prepar’d her secret bed:
  • In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,
  • And so he rested, on the lonely ground,
  • Pensive, and full of painful jealousies
  • Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.
  • There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,
  • Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys
  • All pain but pity: thus the lone voice spake:
  • “When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
  • “When move in a sweet body fit for life,
  • “And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife
  • “Of hearts and lips! Ah, miserable me!”
  • The God, dove-footed, glided silently
  • Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,
  • The taller grasses and full-flowering weed,
  • Until he found a palpitating snake,
  • Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.
  • She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
  • Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
  • Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
  • Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr’d;
  • And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
  • Dissolv’d, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
  • Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries—
  • So rainbow-sided, touch’d with miseries,
  • She seem’d, at once, some penanced lady elf,
  • Some demon’s mistress, or the demon’s self.
  • Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
  • Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne’s tiar:
  • Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
  • She had a woman’s mouth with all its pearls complete:
  • And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
  • But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
  • As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
  • Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
  • Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love’s sake,
  • And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
  • Like a stoop’d falcon ere he takes his prey.
  • “Fair Hermes, crown’d with feathers, fluttering light,
  • “I had a splendid dream of thee last night:
  • “I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold,
  • “Among the Gods, upon Olympus old,
  • “The only sad one; for thou didst not hear
  • “The soft, lute-finger’d Muses chaunting clear,
  • “Nor even Apollo when he sang alone,
  • “Deaf to his throbbing throat’s long, long melodious moan.
  • “I dreamt I saw thee, robed in purple flakes,
  • “Break amorous through the clouds, as morning breaks,
  • “And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart,
  • “Strike for the Cretan isle; and here thou art!
  • “Too gentle Hermes, hast thou found the maid?”
  • Whereat the star of Lethe not delay’d
  • His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired:
  • “Thou smooth-lipp’d serpent, surely high inspired!
  • “Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes,
  • “Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise,
  • “Telling me only where my nymph is fled,—
  • “Where she doth breathe!” “Bright planet, thou hast said,”
  • Return’d the snake, “but seal with oaths, fair God!”
  • “I swear,” said Hermes, “by my serpent rod,
  • “And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown!”
  • Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms blown.
  • Then thus again the brilliance feminine:
  • “Too frail of heart! for this lost nymph of thine,
  • “Free as the air, invisibly, she strays
  • “About these thornless wilds; her pleasant days
  • “She tastes unseen; unseen her nimble feet
  • “Leave traces in the grass and flowers sweet;
  • “From weary tendrils, and bow’d branches green,
  • “She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen:
  • “And by my power is her beauty veil’d
  • “To keep it unaffronted, unassail’d
  • “By the love-glances of unlovely eyes,
  • “Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear’d Silenus’ sighs.
  • “Pale grew her immortality, for woe
  • “Of all these lovers, and she grieved so
  • “I took compassion on her, bade her steep
  • “Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep
  • “Her loveliness invisible, yet free
  • “To wander as she loves, in liberty.
  • “Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone,
  • “If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon!”
  • Then, once again, the charmed God began
  • An oath, and through the serpent’s ears it ran
  • Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian.
  • Ravish’d, she lifted her Circean head,
  • Blush’d a live damask, and swift-lisping said,
  • “I was a woman, let me have once more
  • “A woman’s shape, and charming as before.
  • “I love a youth of Corinth—O the bliss!
  • “Give me my woman’s form, and place me where he is.
  • “Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow,
  • “And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now.”
  • The God on half-shut feathers sank serene,
  • She breath’d upon his eyes, and swift was seen
  • Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green.
  • It was no dream; or say a dream it was,
  • Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass
  • Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.
  • One warm, flush’d moment, hovering, it might seem
  • Dash’d by the wood-nymph’s beauty, so he burn’d;
  • Then, lighting on the printless verdure, turn’d
  • To the swoon’d serpent, and with languid arm,
  • Delicate, put to proof the lythe Caducean charm.
  • So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent,
  • Full of adoring tears and blandishment,
  • And towards her stept: she, like a moon in wane,
  • Faded before him, cower’d, nor could restrain
  • Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower
  • That faints into itself at evening hour:
  • But the God fostering her chilled hand,
  • She felt the warmth, her eyelids open’d bland,
  • And, like new flowers at morning song of bees,
  • Bloom’d, and gave up her honey to the lees.
  • Into the green-recessed woods they flew;
  • Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do.
  • Left to herself, the serpent now began
  • To change; her elfin blood in madness ran,
  • Her mouth foam’d, and the grass, therewith besprent,
  • Wither’d at dew so sweet and virulent;
  • Her eyes in torture fix’d, and anguish drear,
  • Hot, glaz’d, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear,
  • Flash’d phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling tear.
  • The colours all inflam’d throughout her train,
  • She writh’d about, convuls’d with scarlet pain:
  • A deep volcanian yellow took the place
  • Of all her milder-mooned body’s grace;
  • And, as the lava ravishes the mead,
  • Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede;
  • Made gloom of all her frecklings, streaks and bars,
  • Eclips’d her crescents, and lick’d up her stars:
  • So that, in moments few, she was undrest
  • Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst,
  • And rubious-argent: of all these bereft,
  • Nothing but pain and ugliness were left.
  • Still shone her crown; that vanish’d, also she
  • Melted and disappear’d as suddenly;
  • And in the air, her new voice luting soft,
  • Cried, “Lycius! gentle Lycius!”—Borne aloft
  • With the bright mists about the mountains hoar
  • These words dissolv’d: Crete’s forests heard no more.
  • Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright,
  • A full-blown beauty new and exquisite?
  • She fled into that valley they pass o’er
  • Who go to Corinth from Cenchreas’ shore;
  • And rested at the foot of those wild hills,
  • The rugged founts of the Peræan rills,
  • And of that other ridge whose barren back
  • Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack,
  • South-westward to Cleone. There she stood
  • About a young bird’s flutter from a wood,
  • Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread,
  • By a clear pool, wherein she passioned
  • To see herself escap’d from so sore ills,
  • While her robes flaunted with the daffodils.
  • Ah, happy Lycius!—for she was a maid
  • More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
  • Or sigh’d, or blush’d, or on spring-flowered lea
  • Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy:
  • A virgin purest lipp’d, yet in the lore
  • Of love deep learned to the red heart’s core:
  • Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
  • To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
  • Define their pettish limits, and estrange
  • Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
  • Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
  • Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
  • As though in Cupid’s college she had spent
  • Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
  • And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.
  • Why this fair creature chose so fairily
  • By the wayside to linger, we shall see;
  • But first ’tis fit to tell how she could muse
  • And dream, when in the serpent prison-house,
  • Of all she list, strange or magnificent:
  • How, ever, where she will’d, her spirit went;
  • Whether to faint Elysium, or where
  • Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair
  • Wind into Thetis’ bower by many a pearly stair;
  • Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine,
  • Stretch’d out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine;
  • Or where in Pluto’s gardens palatine
  • Mulciber’s columns gleam in far piazzian line.
  • And sometimes into cities she would send
  • Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend;
  • And once, while among mortals dreaming thus,
  • She saw the young Corinthian Lycius
  • Charioting foremost in the envious race,
  • Like a young Jove with calm uneager face,
  • And fell into a swooning love of him.
  • Now on the moth-time of that evening dim
  • He would return that way, as well she knew,
  • To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew
  • The eastern soft wind, and his galley now
  • Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow
  • In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle
  • Fresh anchor’d; whither he had been awhile
  • To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there
  • Waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.
  • Jove heard his vows, and better’d his desire;
  • For by some freakful chance he made retire
  • From his companions, and set forth to walk,
  • Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
  • Over the solitary hills he fared,
  • Thoughtless at first, but ere eve’s star appeared
  • His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
  • In the calm’d twilight of Platonic shades.
  • Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near—
  • Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
  • His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
  • So neighbour’d to him, and yet so unseen
  • She stood: he pass’d, shut up in mysteries,
  • His mind wrapp’d like his mantle, while her eyes
  • Follow’d his steps, and her neck regal white
  • Turn’d—syllabling thus, “Ah, Lycius bright,
  • “And will you leave me on the hills alone?
  • “Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown.”
  • He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
  • But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
  • For so delicious were the words she sung,
  • It seem’d he had lov’d them a whole summer long:
  • And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
  • Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
  • And still the cup was full,—while he afraid
  • Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
  • Due adoration, thus began to adore;
  • Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
  • “Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
  • “Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
  • “For pity do not this sad heart belie—
  • “Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.
  • “Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
  • “To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
  • “Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
  • “Alone they can drink up the morning rain:
  • “Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
  • “Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
  • “Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
  • “So sweetly to these ravish’d ears of mine
  • “Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
  • “Thy memory will waste me to a shade:—
  • “For pity do not melt!”—“If I should stay,”
  • Said Lamia, “here, upon this floor of clay,
  • “And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
  • “What canst thou say or do of charm enough
  • “To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
  • “Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
  • “Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,—
  • “Empty of immortality and bliss!
  • “Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
  • “That finer spirits cannot breathe below
  • “In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
  • “What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
  • “My essence? What serener palaces,
  • “Where I may all my many senses please,
  • “And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
  • “It cannot be—Adieu!” So said, she rose
  • Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
  • The amorous promise of her lone complain,
  • Swoon’d, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
  • The cruel lady, without any show
  • Of sorrow for her tender favourite’s woe,
  • But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
  • With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
  • Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
  • The life she had so tangled in her mesh:
  • And as he from one trance was wakening
  • Into another, she began to sing,
  • Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
  • A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
  • While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires
  • And then she whisper’d in such trembling tone,
  • As those who, safe together met alone
  • For the first time through many anguish’d days,
  • Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
  • His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
  • For that she was a woman, and without
  • Any more subtle fluid in her veins
  • Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
  • Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
  • And next she wonder’d how his eyes could miss
  • Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
  • She dwelt but half retir’d, and there had led
  • Days happy as the gold coin could invent
  • Without the aid of love; yet in content
  • Till she saw him, as once she pass’d him by,
  • Where ’gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
  • At Venus’ temple porch, ’mid baskets heap’d
  • Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap’d
  • Late on that eve, as ’twas the night before
  • The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,
  • But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?
  • Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
  • To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
  • Then from amaze into delight he fell
  • To hear her whisper woman’s lore so well;
  • And every word she spake entic’d him on
  • To unperplex’d delight and pleasure known.
  • Let the mad poets say whate’er they please
  • Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
  • There is not such a treat among them all,
  • Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
  • As a real woman, lineal indeed
  • From Pyrrha’s pebbles or old Adam’s seed.
  • Thus gentle Lamia judg’d, and judg’d aright,
  • That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
  • So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
  • More pleasantly by playing woman’s part,
  • With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
  • That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
  • Lycius to all made eloquent reply,
  • Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh;
  • And last, pointing to Corinth, ask’d her sweet,
  • If ’twas too far that night for her soft feet.
  • The way was short, for Lamia’s eagerness
  • Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
  • To a few paces; not at all surmised
  • By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized.
  • They pass’d the city gates, he knew not how
  • So noiseless, and he never thought to know.
  • As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all,
  • Throughout her palaces imperial,
  • And all her populous streets and temples lewd,
  • Mutter’d, like tempest in the distance brew’d,
  • To the wide-spreaded night above her towers.
  • Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours,
  • Shuffled their sandals o’er the pavement white,
  • Companion’d or alone; while many a light
  • Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals,
  • And threw their moving shadows on the walls,
  • Or found them cluster’d in the corniced shade
  • Of some arch’d temple door, or dusky colonnade.
  • Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear,
  • Her fingers he press’d hard, as one came near
  • With curl’d gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown,
  • Slow-stepp’d, and robed in philosophic gown:
  • Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past,
  • Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
  • While hurried Lamia trembled: “Ah,” said he,
  • “Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully?
  • “Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew?”—
  • “I’m wearied,” said fair Lamia: “tell me who
  • “Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
  • “His features:—Lycius! wherefore did you blind
  • “Yourself from his quick eyes?” Lycius replied,
  • “’Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide
  • “And good instructor; but to-night he seems
  • “The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams.
  • While yet he spake they had arrived before
  • A pillar’d porch, with lofty portal door,
  • Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow
  • Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
  • Mild as a star in water; for so new,
  • And so unsullied was the marble hue,
  • So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
  • Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
  • Could e’er have touch’d there. Sounds Aeolian
  • Breath’d from the hinges, as the ample span
  • Of the wide doors disclos’d a place unknown
  • Some time to any, but those two alone,
  • And a few Persian mutes, who that same year
  • Were seen about the markets: none knew where
  • They could inhabit; the most curious
  • Were foil’d, who watch’d to trace them to their house:
  • And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
  • For truth’s sake, what woe afterwards befel,
  • ’Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus,
  • Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.

PART II.

  • LOVE in a hut, with water and a crust,
  • Is—Love, forgive us!—cinders, ashes, dust;
  • Love in a palace is perhaps at last
  • More grievous torment than a hermit’s fast:—
  • That is a doubtful tale from faery land,
  • Hard for the non-elect to understand.
  • Had Lycius liv’d to hand his story down,
  • He might have given the moral a fresh frown,
  • Or clench’d it quite: but too short was their bliss
  • To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice hiss.
  • Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare,
  • Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair,
  • Hover’d and buzz’d his wings, with fearful roar,
  • Above the lintel of their chamber door,
  • And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.
  • For all this came a ruin: side by side
  • They were enthroned, in the even tide,
  • Upon a couch, near to a curtaining
  • Whose airy texture, from a golden string,
  • Floated into the room, and let appear
  • Unveil’d the summer heaven, blue and clear,
  • Betwixt two marble shafts:—there they reposed,
  • Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed,
  • Saving a tythe which love still open kept,
  • That they might see each other while they almost slept;
  • When from the slope side of a suburb hill,
  • Deafening the swallow’s twitter, came a thrill
  • Of trumpets—Lycius started—the sounds fled,
  • But left a thought, a buzzing in his head.
  • For the first time, since first he harbour’d in
  • That purple-lined palace of sweet sin,
  • His spirit pass’d beyond its golden bourn
  • Into the noisy world almost forsworn.
  • The lady, ever watchful, penetrant,
  • Saw this with pain, so arguing a want
  • Of something more, more than her empery
  • Of joys; and she began to moan and sigh
  • Because he mused beyond her, knowing well
  • That but a moment’s thought is passion’s passing bell.
  • “Why do you sigh, fair creature?” whisper’d he:
  • “Why do you think?” return’d she tenderly:
  • “You have deserted me;—where am I now?
  • “Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow:
  • “No, no, you have dismiss’d me; and I go
  • “From your breast houseless: ay, it must be so.”
  • He answer’d, bending to her open eyes,
  • Where he was mirror’d small in paradise,
  • “My silver planet, both of eve and morn!
  • “Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn,
  • “While I am striving how to fill my heart
  • “With deeper crimson, and a double smart?
  • “How to entangle, trammel up and snare
  • “Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there
  • “Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?
  • “Ay, a sweet kiss—you see your mighty woes.
  • “My thoughts! shall I unveil them? Listen then!
  • “What mortal hath a prize, that other men
  • “May be confounded and abash’d withal,
  • “But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical,
  • “And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice
  • “Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth’s voice.
  • “Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar,
  • “While through the thronged streets your bridal car
  • “Wheels round its dazzling spokes.”—The lady’s cheek
  • Trembled; she nothing said, but, pale and meek,
  • Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain
  • Of sorrows at his words; at last with pain
  • Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung,
  • To change his purpose. He thereat was stung,
  • Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim
  • Her wild and timid nature to his aim:
  • Besides, for all his love, in self despite,
  • Against his better self, he took delight
  • Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new.
  • His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue
  • Fierce and sanguineous as ’twas possible
  • In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell.
  • Fine was the mitigated fury, like
  • Apollo’s presence when in act to strike
  • The serpent—Ha, the serpent! certes, she
  • Was none. She burnt, she lov’d the tyranny,
  • And, all subdued, consented to the hour
  • When to the bridal he should lead his paramour.
  • Whispering in midnight silence, said the youth,
  • “Sure some sweet name thou hast, though, by my truth,
  • “I have not ask’d it, ever thinking thee
  • “Not mortal, but of heavenly progeny,
  • “As still I do. Hast any mortal name,
  • “Fit appellation for this dazzling frame?
  • “Or friends or kinsfolk on the citied earth,
  • “To share our marriage feast and nuptial mirth?”
  • “I have no friends,” said Lamia, “no, not one;
  • “My presence in wide Corinth hardly known:
  • “My parents’ bones are in their dusty urns
  • “Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns,
  • “Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
  • “And I neglect the holy rite for thee.
  • “Even as you list invite your many guests;
  • “But if, as now it seems, your vision rests
  • “With any pleasure on me, do not bid
  • “Old Apollonius—from him keep me hid.”
  • Lycius, perplex’d at words so blind and blank,
  • Made close inquiry; from whose touch she shrank,
  • Feigning a sleep; and he to the dull shade
  • Of deep sleep in a moment was betray’d.
  • It was the custom then to bring away
  • The bride from home at blushing shut of day,
  • Veil’d, in a chariot, heralded along
  • By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song,
  • With other pageants: but this fair unknown
  • Had not a friend. So being left alone,
  • (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin)
  • And knowing surely she could never win
  • His foolish heart from its mad pompousness,
  • She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress
  • The misery in fit magnificence.
  • She did so, but ’tis doubtful how and whence
  • Came, and who were her subtle servitors.
  • About the halls, and to and from the doors,
  • There was a noise of wings, till in short space
  • The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace.
  • A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
  • Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
  • Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade.
  • Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade
  • Of palm and plantain, met from either side,
  • High in the midst, in honour of the bride:
  • Two palms and then two plantains, and so on,
  • From either side their stems branch’d one to one
  • All down the aisled place; and beneath all
  • There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
  • So canopied, lay an untasted feast
  • Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest,
  • Silently paced about, and as she went,
  • In pale contented sort of discontent,
  • Mission’d her viewless servants to enrich
  • The fretted splendour of each nook and niche.
  • Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first,
  • Came jasper pannels; then, anon, there burst
  • Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees,
  • And with the larger wove in small intricacies.
  • Approving all, she faded at self-will,
  • And shut the chamber up, close, hush’d and still,
  • Complete and ready for the revels rude,
  • When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude.
  • The day appear’d, and all the gossip rout.
  • O senseless Lycius! Madman! wherefore flout
  • The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister’d hours,
  • And show to common eyes these secret bowers?
  • The herd approach’d; each guest, with busy brain,
  • Arriving at the portal, gaz’d amain,
  • And enter’d marveling: for they knew the street,
  • Remember’d it from childhood all complete
  • Without a gap, yet ne’er before had seen
  • That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne;
  • So in they hurried all, maz’d, curious and keen:
  • Save one, who look’d thereon with eye severe,
  • And with calm-planted steps walk’d in austere;
  • ’Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh’d,
  • As though some knotty problem, that had daft
  • His patient thought, had now begun to thaw,
  • And solve and melt:—’twas just as he foresaw.
  • He met within the murmurous vestibule
  • His young disciple. “’Tis no common rule,
  • “Lycius,” said he, “for uninvited guest
  • “To force himself upon you, and infest
  • “With an unbidden presence the bright throng
  • “Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong,
  • “And you forgive me.” Lycius blush’d, and led
  • The old man through the inner doors broad-spread;
  • With reconciling words and courteous mien
  • Turning into sweet milk the sophist’s spleen.
  • Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room,
  • Fill’d with pervading brilliance and perfume:
  • Before each lucid pannel fuming stood
  • A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood,
  • Each by a sacred tripod held aloft,
  • Whose slender feet wide-swerv’d upon the soft
  • Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke
  • From fifty censers their light voyage took
  • To the high roof, still mimick’d as they rose
  • Along the mirror’d walls by twin-clouds odorous.
  • Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered,
  • High as the level of a man’s breast rear’d
  • On libbard’s paws, upheld the heavy gold
  • Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told
  • Of Ceres’ horn, and, in huge vessels, wine
  • Came from the gloomy tun with merry shine.
  • Thus loaded with a feast the tables stood,
  • Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.
  • When in an antichamber every guest
  • Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press’d,
  • By minist’ring slaves, upon his hands and feet,
  • And fragrant oils with ceremony meet
  • Pour’d on his hair, they all mov’d to the feast
  • In white robes, and themselves in order placed
  • Around the silken couches, wondering
  • Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth could spring.
  • Soft went the music the soft air along,
  • While fluent Greek a vowel’d undersong
  • Kept up among the guests discoursing low
  • At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow;
  • But when the happy vintage touch’d their brains,
  • Louder they talk, and louder come the strains
  • Of powerful instruments:—the gorgeous dyes,
  • The space, the splendour of the draperies,
  • The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer,
  • Beautiful slaves, and Lamia’s self, appear,
  • Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed,
  • And every soul from human trammels freed,
  • No more so strange; for merry wine, sweet wine,
  • Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine.
  • Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height;
  • Flush’d were their cheeks, and bright eyes double bright:
  • Garlands of every green, and every scent
  • From vales deflower’d, or forest-trees branch rent,
  • In baskets of bright osier’d gold were brought
  • High as the handles heap’d, to suit the thought
  • Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
  • Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow’d at his ease.
  • What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius?
  • What for the sage, old Apollonius?
  • Upon her aching forehead be there hung
  • The leaves of willow and of adder’s tongue;
  • And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him
  • The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim
  • Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage,
  • Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage
  • War on his temples. Do not all charms fly
  • At the mere touch of cold philosophy?
  • There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
  • We know her woof, her texture; she is given
  • In the dull catalogue of common things.
  • Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
  • Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
  • Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—
  • Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
  • The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.
  • By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place,
  • Scarce saw in all the room another face,
  • Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took
  • Full brimm’d, and opposite sent forth a look
  • ’Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance
  • From his old teacher’s wrinkled countenance,
  • And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher
  • Had fix’d his eye, without a twinkle or stir
  • Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride,
  • Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet pride.
  • Lycius then press’d her hand, with devout touch,
  • As pale it lay upon the rosy couch:
  • ’Twas icy, and the cold ran through his veins;
  • Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains
  • Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart.
  • “Lamia, what means this? Wherefore dost thou start?
  • “Know’st thou that man?” Poor Lamia answer’d not.
  • He gaz’d into her eyes, and not a jot
  • Own’d they the lovelorn piteous appeal:
  • More, more he gaz’d: his human senses reel:
  • Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs;
  • There was no recognition in those orbs.
  • “Lamia!” he cried—and no soft-toned reply.
  • The many heard, and the loud revelry
  • Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes;
  • The myrtle sicken’d in a thousand wreaths.
  • By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased;
  • A deadly silence step by step increased,
  • Until it seem’d a horrid presence there,
  • And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
  • “Lamia!” he shriek’d; and nothing but the shriek
  • With its sad echo did the silence break.
  • “Begone, foul dream!” he cried, gazing again
  • In the bride’s face, where now no azure vein
  • Wander’d on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
  • Misted the cheek; no passion to illume
  • The deep-recessed vision:—all was blight;
  • Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white.
  • “Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!
  • “Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban
  • “Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images
  • “Here represent their shadowy presences,
  • “May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn
  • “Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn,
  • “In trembling dotage to the feeblest fright
  • “Of conscience, for their long offended might,
  • “For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries,
  • “Unlawful magic, and enticing lies.
  • “Corinthians! look upon that gray-beard wretch!
  • “Mark how, possess’d, his lashless eyelids stretch
  • “Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see!
  • “My sweet bride withers at their potency.”
  • “Fool!” said the sophist, in an under-tone
  • Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan
  • From Lycius answer’d, as heart-struck and lost,
  • He sank supine beside the aching ghost.
  • “Fool! Fool!” repeated he, while his eyes still
  • Relented not, nor mov’d; “from every ill
  • “Of life have I preserv’d thee to this day,
  • “And shall I see thee made a serpent’s prey?
  • Then Lamia breath’d death breath; the sophist’s eye,
  • Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,
  • Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well
  • As her weak hand could any meaning tell,
  • Motion’d him to be silent; vainly so,
  • He look’d and look’d again a level—No!
  • “A Serpent!” echoed he; no sooner said,
  • Than with a frightful scream she vanished:
  • And Lycius’ arms were empty of delight,
  • As were his limbs of life, from that same night.
  • On the high couch he lay!—his friends came round—
  • Supported him—no pulse, or breath they found,
  • And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.*
  • * “Philostratus, in his fourth book De Vita Apollonii, hath a memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going betwixt Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him; but she, being fair and lovely, would live and die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia; and that all her furniture was, like Tantalus’ gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the midst of Greece.”
  • Burton’s ‘Anatomy of Melancholy.’ Part 3. Sect. 2. Memb. 1. Subs. 1.
×

The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream CANTO I

  • Fanatics have their dreams, wherewith they weave
  • A paradise for a sect; the savage too
  • From forth the loftiest fashion of his sleep
  • Guesses at heaven pity these have not
  • Trac’d upon vellum or wild Indian leaf
  • The shadows of melodious utterance.
  • But bare of laurel they live, dream and die;
  • For Poesy alone can tell her dreams,
  • With the fine spell of words alone can save
  • Imagination from the sable charm
  • And dumb enchantment. Who alive can say
  • “Thou art no poet; mayst not tell thy dreams”?
  • Since every man whose soul is not a clod
  • Hath visions, and would speak, if he had lov’d
  • And been well nurtured in his mother tongue.
  • Whether the dream now purposed to rehearse
  • Be poet’s or fanatic’s will be known
  • When this warm scribe my hand is in the grave.
  • Methought I stood where trees of every clime,
  • Palm, myrtle, oak, and sycamore, and beech,
  • With plantane, and spice blossoms, made a screen;
  • In neighbourhood of fountains, by the noise
  • Soft showering in mine ears; and, by the touch
  • Of scent, not far from roses. Turning round,
  • I saw an arbour with a drooping roof
  • Of trellis vines, and bells, and larger blooms,
  • Like floral-censers swinging light in air;
  • Before its wreathed doorway, on a mound
  • Of moss, was spread a feast of summer fruits,
  • Which nearer seen, seem’d refuse of a meal
  • By angel tasted, or our mother Eve;
  • For empty shells were scattered on the grass,
  • And grape stalks but half bare, and remnants more,
  • Sweet smelling, whose pure kinds I could not know.
  • Still was more plenty than the fabled horn
  • Thrice emptied could pour forth, at banqueting
  • For Proserpine return’d to her own fields,
  • Where the white heifers low. And appetite
  • More yearning than on earth I ever felt
  • Growing within, I ate deliciously;
  • And, after not long, thirsted, for thereby
  • Stood a cool vessel of transparent juice,
  • Sipp’d by the wander’d bee, the which I took,
  • And, pledging all the mortals of the world,
  • And all the dead whose names are in our lips,
  • Drank. That full draught is parent of my theme.
  • No Asian poppy, nor elixir fine
  • Of the soon fading jealous caliphat;
  • No poison gender’d in close monkish cell
  • To thin the scarlet conclave of old men,
  • Could so have rapt unwilling life away.
  • Among the fragrant husks and berries crush’d,
  • Upon the grass I struggled hard against
  • The domineering potion; but in vain:
  • The cloudy swoon came on, and down I sunk
  • Like Silenus on an antique vase.
  • How long I slumber’d ’tis a chance to guess.
  • When sense of life return’d, I started up
  • As if with wings; but the fair trees were gone,
  • The mossy mound and arbour were no more;
  • I look’d around upon the carved sides
  • Of an old sanctuary with roof august,
  • Builded so high, it seem’d that filmed clouds
  • Might spread beneath, as o’er the stars of heaven;
  • So old the place was, I remembered none
  • The like upon the earth what I had seen
  • Of grey cathedrals, buttress’d walls, rent towers,
  • The superannuations of sunk realms,
  • Or nature’s rocks toil’d hard in waves and winds,
  • Seem’d but the faulture of decrepit things
  • To that eternal domed monument.
  • Upon the marble at my feet there lay
  • Store of strange vessels, and large draperies,
  • Which needs had been of dyed asbestos wove,
  • Or in that place the moth could not corrupt,
  • So white the linen; so, in some, distinct
  • Ran imageries from a sombre loom.
  • All in a mingled heap confus’d there lay
  • Robes, golden tongs, censer, and chafing dish,
  • Girdles, and chains, and holy jewelries.
  • Turning from these with awe, once more I rais’d
  • My eyes to fathom the space every way;
  • The embossed roof, the silent massy range
  • Of columns north and south, ending in mist
  • Of nothing; then to eastward, where black gates
  • Were shut against the sunrise evermore.
  • Then to the west I look’d, and saw far off
  • An image, huge of feature as a cloud,
  • At level of whose feet an altar slept,
  • To be approach’d on either side by steps,
  • And marble balustrade, and patient travail
  • To count with toil the innumerable degrees.
  • Towards the altar sober-pac’d I went,
  • Repressing haste, as too unholy there;
  • And, coming nearer, saw beside the shrine
  • One minist’ring; and there arose a flame.
  • When in mid-May the sickening east wind
  • Shifts sudden to the south, the small warm rain
  • Melts out the frozen incense from all flowers,
  • And fills the air with so much pleasant health
  • That even the dying man forgets his shroud;
  • Even so that lofty sacrificial fire,
  • Sending forth Maian incense, spread around
  • Forgetfulness of everything but bliss,
  • And clouded all the altar with soft smoke,
  • From whose white fragrant curtains thus I heard
  • Language pronounc’d. “If thou canst not ascend
  • These steps, die on that marble where thou art.
  • Thy flesh, near cousin to the common dust,
  • Will parch for lack of nutriment — thy bones
  • Will wither in few years, and vanish so
  • That not the quickest eye could find a grain
  • Of what thou now art on that pavement cold.
  • The sands of thy short life are spent this hour,
  • And no hand in the universe can turn
  • Thy hour glass, if these gummed leaves be burnt
  • Ere thou canst mount up these immortal steps.”
  • I heard, I look’d two senses both at once
  • So fine, so subtle, felt the tyranny
  • Of that fierce threat, and the hard task proposed.
  • Prodigious seem’d the toil, the leaves were yet
  • Burning, — when suddenly a palsied chill
  • Struck from the paved level up my limbs,
  • And was ascending quick to put cold grasp
  • Upon those streams that pulse beside the throat:
  • I shriek’d; and the sharp anquish of my shriek
  • Stung my own ears — I strove hard to escape
  • The numbness; strove to gain the lowest step.
  • Slow, heavy, deadly was my pace: the cold
  • Grew stifling, suffocating, at the heart;
  • And when I clasp’d my hands I felt them not.
  • One minute before death, my iced foot touch’d
  • The lowest stair; and as it touch’d, life seem’d
  • To pour in at the toes I mounted up,
  • As once fair angels on a ladder flew
  • From the green turf to heaven. — “Holy Power,”
  • Cried I, approaching near the horned shrine,
  • “What am I that should so be sav’d from death?
  • What am I that another death come not
  • To choak my utterance sacrilegious here?”
  • Then said the veiled shadow — “Thou hast felt
  • What ’tis to die and live again before
  • Thy fated hour. That thou hadst power to do so
  • Is thy own safety; thou hast dated on
  • Thy doom.”—“High Prophetess,” said I, “purge off
  • Benign, if so it please thee, my mind’s film.”
  • “None can usurp this height,” returned that shade,
  • “But those to whom the miseries of the world
  • Are misery, and will not let them rest.
  • All else who find a haven in the world,
  • Where they may thoughtless sleep away their days,
  • If by a chance into this fane they come,
  • Rot on the pavement where thou rotted’st half.”—
  • “Are there not thousands in the world,” said I,
  • Encourag’d by the sooth voice of the shade,
  • “Who love their fellows even to the death;
  • Who feel the giant agony of the world;
  • And more, like slaves to poor humanity,
  • Labour for mortal good? I sure should see
  • Other men here but I am here alone.”
  • “They whom thou spak’st of are no vision’ries,”
  • Rejoin’d that voice — “They are no dreamers weak,
  • They seek no wonder but the human face;
  • No music but a happy-noted voice —
  • They come not here, they have no thought to come —
  • And thou art here, for thou art less than they.
  • What benefit canst thou do, or all thy tribe,
  • To the great world? Thou art a dreaming thing;
  • A fever of thyself — think of the earth;
  • What bliss even in hope is there for thee?
  • What haven? Every creature hath its home;
  • Every sole man hath days of joy and pain,
  • Whether his labour be sublime or low —
  • The pain alone; the joy alone; distinct
  • Only the dreamer venoms all his days,
  • Bearing more woe than all his sins deserve.
  • Therefore, that happiness be somewhat shar’d,
  • Such things as thou art are admitted oft
  • Into like gardens thou didst pass erewhile,
  • And suffer’d in these temples; for that cause
  • Thou standest safe beneath this statue’s knees.”
  • “That I am favored for unworthiness,
  • By such propitious parley medicin’d
  • In sickness not ignoble, I rejoice,
  • Aye, and could weep for love of such award.”
  • So answer’d I, continuing, “if it please,
  • Majestic shadow, tell me sure not all
  • Those melodies sung into the world’s ear
  • Are useless: sure a poet is a sage;
  • A humanist, physician to all men.
  • That I am none I feel, as vultures feel
  • They are no birds when eagles are abroad.
  • What am I then? Thou spakest of my tribe
  • What tribe?” — The tall shade veil’d in drooping white
  • Then spake, so much more earnest, that the breath
  • Move’d the thin linen folds that drooping hung
  • About a golden censer from the hand
  • Pendent. — “Art thou not of the dreamer tribe?
  • The poet and the dreamer are distinct,
  • Diverse, sheer opposite, antipodes.
  • The one pours out a balm upon the world,
  • The other vexes it.” Then shouted I
  • Spite of myself, and with a Pythia’s spleen,
  • “Apollo! faded, farflown Apollo!
  • Where is thy misty pestilence to creep
  • Into the dwellings, thro’ the door crannies,
  • Of all mock lyrists, large self-worshipers,
  • And careless hectorers in proud bad verse.
  • Tho I breathe death with them it will be life
  • To see them sprawl before me into graves.
  • Majestic shadow, tell me where I am,
  • Whose altar this; for whom this incense curls
  • What image this, whose face I cannot see,
  • For the broad marble knees; and who thou art,
  • Of accent feminine, so courteous.”
  • Then the tall shade, in drooping linens veil’d,
  • Spake out, so much more earnest, that her breath
  • Stirr’d the thin folds of gauze that drooping hung
  • About a golden censer from her hand
  • Pendent; and by her voice I knew she shed
  • Long treasured tears. “This temple sad and lone
  • Is all spar’d from the thunder of a war
  • Foughten long since by giant hierarchy
  • Against rebellion this old image here,
  • Whose carved features wrinkled as he fell,
  • Is Saturn’s; I, Moneta, left supreme
  • Sole priestess of his desolation.” —
  • I had no words to answer; for my tongue,
  • Useless, could find about its roofed home
  • No syllable of a fit majesty
  • To make rejoinder to Moneta’s mourn.
  • There was a silence while the altar’s blaze
  • Was fainting for sweet food I look’d thereon,
  • And on the paved floor, where nigh were pil’d
  • Faggots of cinnamon, and many heaps
  • Of other crisped spicewood — then again
  • I look’d upon the altar and its horns
  • Whiten’d with ashes, and its lang’rous flame,
  • And then upon the offerings again;
  • And so by turns — till sad Moneta cried,
  • “The sacrifice is done, but not the less,
  • Will I be kind to thee for thy good will.
  • My power, which to me is still a curse,
  • Shall be to thee a wonder; for the scenes
  • Still swooning vivid through my globed brain
  • With an electral changing misery
  • Thou shalt with those dull mortal eyes behold,
  • Free from all pain, if wonder pain thee not.”
  • As near as an immortal’s sphered words
  • Could to a mother’s soften, were these last:
  • But yet I had a terror of her robes,
  • And chiefly of the veils, that from her brow
  • Hung pale, and curtain’d her in mysteries
  • That made my heart too small to hold its blood.
  • This saw that Goddess, and with sacred hand
  • Parted the veils. Then saw I a wan face,
  • Not pin’d by human sorrows, but bright blanch’d
  • By an immortal sickness which kills not;
  • It works a constant change, which happy death
  • Can put no end to; deathwards progressing
  • To no death was that visage; it had pass’d
  • The lily and the snow; and beyond these
  • I must not think now, though I saw that face —
  • But for her eyes I should have fled away.
  • They held me back, with a benignant light,
  • Soft mitigated by divinest lids
  • Half closed, and visionless entire they seem’d
  • Of all external things — they saw me not,
  • But in blank splendor beam’d like the mild moon,
  • Who comforts those she sees not, who knows not
  • What eyes are upward cast. As I had found
  • A grain of gold upon a mountain’s side,
  • And twing’d with avarice strain’d out my eyes
  • To search its sullen entrails rich with ore,
  • So at the view of sad moneta’s brow,
  • I ached to see what things the hollow brain
  • Behind enwombed what high tragedy
  • In the dark secret chambers of her skull
  • Was acting, that could give so dread a stress
  • To her cold lips, and fill with such a light
  • Her planetary eyes; and touch her voice
  • With such a sorrow — “Shade of Memory!”
  • Cried I, with act adorant at her feet,
  • “By all the gloom hung round thy fallen house,
  • By this last temple, by the golden age,
  • By great Apollo, thy dear foster child,
  • And by thyself, forlorn divinity,
  • The pale Omega of a wither’d race,
  • Let me behold, according as thou said’st,
  • What in thy brain so ferments to and fro.”—
  • No sooner had this conjuration pass’d
  • My devout lips; than side by side we stood,
  • (Like a stunt bramble by a solemn pine)
  • Deep in the shady sadness of a vale,
  • Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
  • Far from the fiery noon and eve’s one star.
  • Onward I look’d beneath the gloomy boughs,
  • And saw, what first I thought an image huge,
  • Like to the image pedestal’d so high
  • In Saturn’s temple. Then Moneta’s voice
  • Came brief upon mine ear, — “So Saturn sat
  • When he had lost his realms” — Whereon there grew
  • A power within me of enormous ken,
  • To see as a God sees, and take the depth
  • Of things as nimbly as the outward eye
  • Can size and shape pervade. The lofty theme
  • At those few words hung vast before my mind,
  • With half unravel’d web. I set myself
  • Upon an eagle’s watch, that I might see,
  • And seeing ne’er forget. No stir of life
  • Was in this shrouded vale, not so much air
  • As in the zoning of a summer’s day
  • Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
  • But where the dead leaf fell there did it rest:
  • A stream went voiceless by, still deaden’d more
  • By reason of the fallen divinity
  • Spreading more shade the Naiad ’mid her reeds
  • Press’d her cold finger closer to her lips.
  • Along the margin sand large footmarks went
  • No farther than to where old Saturn’s feet
  • Had rested, and there slept, how long a sleep!
  • Degraded, cold, upon the sodden ground
  • His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
  • Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were clos’d,
  • While his bow’d head seem’d listening to the Earth,
  • His antient mother, for some comfort yet.
  • It seem’d no force could wake him from his place;
  • But there came one who with a kindred hand
  • Touch’d his wide shoulders, after bending low
  • With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
  • Then came the griev’d voice of Mnemosyne,
  • And griev’d I hearken’d. “That divinity
  • Whom thou saw’st step from yon forlornest wood,
  • And with slow pace approach our fallen King,
  • Is Thea, softest-natur’d of our brood.”
  • I mark’d the goddess in fair statuary
  • Surpassing wan Moneta by the head,
  • And in her sorrow nearer woman’s tears.
  • There was a listening fear in her regard,
  • As if calamity had but begun;
  • As if the vanward clouds of evil days
  • Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear
  • Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
  • One hand she press’d upon that aching spot
  • Where beats the human heart; as if just there
  • Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain;
  • The other upon Saturn’s bended neck
  • She laid, and to the level of his hollow ear
  • Leaning, with parted lips, some words she spake
  • In solemn tenor and deep organ tune;
  • Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
  • Would come in this-like accenting; how frail
  • To that large utterance of the early Gods! —
  • “Saturn! look up — and for what, poor lost King?
  • I have no comfort for thee, no — not one;
  • I cannot cry, Wherefore thus sleepest thou?
  • For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
  • Knows thee not, so afflicted, for a God;
  • And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
  • Has from the sceptre pass’d, and all the air
  • Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
  • Thy thunder, captious at the new command,
  • Rumbles reluctant o’er our fallen house;
  • And thy sharp lightning in unpracticed hands
  • Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
  • With such remorseless speed still come new woes
  • That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
  • Saturn, sleep on:—Me thoughtless, why should I
  • Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude?
  • Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
  • Saturn, sleep on, while at thy feet I weep.”
  • As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
  • Forests, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
  • Dream, and so dream all night, without a noise,
  • Save from one gradual solitary gust,
  • Swelling upon the silence; dying off;
  • As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
  • So came these words, and went; the while in tears
  • She press’d her fair large forehead to the earth,
  • Just where her fallen hair might spread in curls,
  • A soft and silken mat for Saturn’s feet.
  • Long, long, those two were postured motionless,
  • Like sculpture builded up upon the grave
  • Of their own power. A long awful time
  • I look’d upon them; still they were the same;
  • The frozen God still bending to the earth,
  • And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet.
  • Moneta silent. Without stay or prop
  • But my own weak mortality, I bore
  • The load of this eternal quietude,
  • The unchanging gloom, and the three fixed shapes
  • Ponderous upon my senses a whole moon.
  • For by my burning brain I measured sure
  • Her silver seasons shedded on the night
  • And ever day by day methought I grew
  • More gaunt and ghostly — oftentimes I pray’d
  • Intense, that death would take me from the vale
  • And all its burthens — gasping with despair
  • Of change, hour after hour I curs’d myself
  • Until old Saturn rais’d his faded eyes,
  • And look’d around and saw his kingdom gone,
  • And all the gloom and sorrow of the place,
  • And that fair kneeling Goddess at his feet.
  • As the moist scent of flowers, and grass, and leaves
  • Fills forest dells with a pervading air,
  • Known to the woodland nostril, so the words
  • Of Saturn fill’d the mossy glooms around,
  • Even to the hollows of time-eaten oaks,
  • And to the winding in the foxes’ holes,
  • With sad low tones, while thus he spake, and sent
  • Strange musings to the solitary Pan.
  • “Moan, brethren, moan; for we are swallow’d up
  • And buried from all godlike exercise
  • Of influence benign on planets pale,
  • And peaceful sway above man’s harvesting,
  • And all those acts which deity supreme
  • Doth ease its heart of love in. Moan and wail.
  • Moan, brethren, moan; for lo! the rebel spheres
  • Spin round, the stars their antient courses keep,
  • Clouds still with shadowy moisture haunt the earth,
  • Still suck their fill of light from sun and moon,
  • Still buds the tree, and still the sea-shores murmur.
  • There is no death in all the universe
  • No smell of death — there shall be death — Moan, moan,
  • Moan, Cybele, moan, for thy pernicious babes
  • Have chang’d a God into a shaking palsy.
  • Moan, brethren, moan, for I have no strength left,
  • Weak as the reed — weak — feeble as my voice —
  • O, O, the pain, the pain of feebleness.
  • Moan, moan; for still I thaw—or give me help:
  • Throw down those imps, and give me victory.
  • Let me hear other groans; and trumpets blown
  • Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
  • From the gold peaks of heaven’s high piled clouds;
  • Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
  • Of strings in hollow shells; and let there be
  • Beautiful things made new, for the surprize
  • Of the sky-children.” — So he feebly ceas’d,
  • With such a poor and sickly sounding pause,
  • Methought I heard some old man of the earth
  • Bewailing earthly loss; nor could my eyes
  • And ears act with that pleasant unison of sense
  • Which marries sweet sound with the grace of form,
  • And dolourous accent from a tragic harp
  • With large-limb’d visions. More I scrutinized
  • Still fix’d he sat beneath the sable trees,
  • Whose arms spread straggling in wild serpent forms,
  • With leaves all hush’d: his awful presence there
  • (Now all was silent) gave a deadly lie
  • To what I erewhile heard only his lips
  • Trembled amid the white curls of his beard.
  • They told the truth, though, round, the snowy locks
  • Hung nobly, as upon the face of heaven
  • A midday fleece of clouds. Thea arose
  • And stretch’d her white arm through the hollow dark,
  • Pointing some whither whereat he too rose
  • Like a vast giant seen by men at sea
  • To grow pale from the waves at dull midnight.
  • They melted from my sight into the woods:
  • Ere I could turn, Moneta cried — “These twain
  • Are speeding to the families of grief,
  • Where roof’d in by black rocks they waste in pain
  • And darkness for no hope.” — And she spake on,
  • As ye may read who can unwearied pass
  • Onward from the antichamber of this dream,
  • Where even at the open doors awhile
  • I must delay, and glean my memory
  • Of her high phrase: perhaps no further dare.
×

To Ailsa Rock

  • Hearken, thou craggy ocean pyramid!
  • Give answer from thy voice, the sea-fowls’ screams!
  • When were thy shoulders mantled in huge streams?
  • When from the sun was thy broad forehead hid?
  • How long is’t since the mighty power bid
  • Thee heave to airy sleep from fathom dreams?
  • Sleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams,
  • Or when grey clouds are thy cold coverlid?
  • Thou answer’st not; for thou art dead asleep;
  • Thy life is but two dead eternities —
  • The last in air, the former in the deep;
  • First with the whales, last with the eagle-skies;
  • Drown’d wast thou till an earthquake made thee steep —
  • Another cannot wake thy giant size!
×

Of late two dainties were before me plac’d

  • Of late two dainties were before me plac’d
  • Sweet, holy, pure, sacred and innocent,
  • From the ninth sphere to me benignly sent
  • That gods might know my own particular taste.
  • First the soft bag-pipe mourn’d with zealous haste;
  • The Stranger next with head on bosom bent
  • Sigh’d; rueful again the piteous bag-pipe went;
  • Again the Stranger sighings fresh did waste.
  • O bag-pipe thou didst steal my heart away;
  • O Stranger thou my nerves from pipe didst charm —
  • O bag-pipe thou didst re-assert thy sway —
  • Again thou Stranger gav’st me fresh alarm —
  • Alas! I could not choose. Ah! my poor heart,
  • Mum chance art thou with both oblig’d to part.
×

Sweet, sweet is the greeting of eyes

  • Sweet, sweet is the greeting of eyes,
  • And sweet is the voice in its greeting,
  • When adieux have grown old and goodbyes
  • Fade away where old time is retreating.
  • Warm the nerve of a welcoming hand,
  • And earnest a kiss on the brow,
  • When we meet over sea and o’er land
  • Where furrows are new to the plough.
×

There was a naughty boy

  • There was a naughty boy
  • A naughty boy was he
  • He would not stop at home
  • He could not quiet be —
  • He took
  • In his knapsack
  • A book
  • Full of vowels
  • And a shirt
  • With some towels —
  • A slight cap
  • For night cap —
  • A hair brush,
  • Comb ditto,
  • New stockings
  • For old ones
  • Would split O!
  • This knapsack
  • Tight at’s back
  • He rivetted close
  • And followed his nose
  • To the north
  • To the north
  • And follow’d his nose
  • To the north—
  • There was a naughty boy
  • And a naughty boy was he,
  • For nothing would he do
  • But scribble poetry —
  • He took
  • An ink stand
  • In his hand
  • And a pen
  • Big as ten
  • In the other
  • And away
  • In a pother
  • He ran
  • To the mountains
  • And fountains
  • And ghostes
  • And postes
  • And witches
  • And ditches
  • And wrote
  • In his coat
  • When the weather
  • Was cool
  • Fear of gout
  • And without
  • When the weather
  • Was warm —
  • Och the charm
  • When we choose
  • To follow one’s nose
  • To the north
  • To the north
  • To follow one’s nose to the north!
  • There was a naughty boy
  • And a naughty boy was he,
  • He kept little fishes
  • In washing tubs three
  • In spite
  • Of the might
  • Of the maid
  • Nor afraid
  • Of his granny-good —
  • He often would
  • Hurly burly
  • Get up early
  • And go
  • By hook or crook
  • To the brook
  • And bring home
  • Miller’s thumb,
  • Tittlebat
  • Not over fat
  • Minnows small
  • As the stall
  • Of a glove
  • Not above
  • The size
  • Of a nice
  • Little baby’s
  • Little finger —
  • O he made
  • ’Twas his trade
  • Of fish a pretty kettle
  • A kettle — a kettle
  • Of fish a pretty kettle
  • A kettle!
  • There was a naughty boy,
  • And a naughty boy was he,
  • He ran away to Scotland
  • The people for to see —
  • There he found
  • That the ground
  • Was as hard
  • That a yard
  • Was as long,
  • That a song
  • Was as merry,
  • That a cherry
  • Was as red —
  • That lead
  • Was as weighty
  • That fourscore
  • Was as eighty
  • That a door
  • Was as wooden
  • As in England —
  • So he stood in
  • His shoes
  • And he wonder’d,
  • He wonder’d,
  • He stood in his
  • Shoes and he wonder’d —
×

Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am piqu’d

There was one Mrs. Cameron of 50 years of age, and the fattest woman in all Inverness-shire, who got up this Mountain some few years ago — true, she had her servants — but then she had her self. She ought to have hired Sisyphus, — Up the high hill he heaves a huge round — Mrs. Cameron. ’Tis said a little conversation took place between the mountain and the Lady. After taking a glass of Whiskey, as she was tolerably seated at ease, she thus began —

A Dialogue.

[Persons: Mrs. Cameron and Ben Nevis]

  • MRS. C —
  • Upon my life, Sir Nevis, I am pique’d 
  • That I have so far panted, tugg’d, and reek’d
  • To do an honour to your old bald pate
  • And now am sitting on you just to bate,
  • Without your paying me one compliment.
  • Alas, ‘tis so with all, when our intent
  • Is plain, and in the eye of all mankind
  • We fair ones show a preference, too blind!
  • You gentlemen immediately turn tail — 
  • O let me then my hapless fate bewail!
  • Ungrateful baldpate, have I not disdain’d
  • The pleasant valleys — have I not, mad brain’d,
  • Deserted all my pickles and preserves,
  • My china closet too — with wretched nerves
  • To boot — say, wretched ingrate, have I not
  • Left my soft cushion chair and caudle pot?
  • ‘Tis true I had no corns — no! thank the fates,
  • My Shoemaker was always Mr. Bates.
  • And if not Mr. Bates, why I’m not old!
  • Still dumb, ungrateful Nevis — still so cold!

(Here the Lady took some more whiskey and was putting even more to her lips when she dashed it to the ground, for the mountain began to grumble; which continued for a few minutes before he thus began,) 

  • BEN NEVIS
  • What whining bit of tongue and mouth thus dares
  • Disturb my slumber of a thousand years?
  • Even so long my sleep has been secure,
  • And to be so awaked I’ll not endure.
  • Oh pain — for since the eagle’s earliest scream
  • I’ve had a damn’d confounded ugly dream,
  • A nightmare sure — What, madam, was it you?
  • It cannot be! My old eyes are not true!
  • Red-Crag, my spectacles! Now let me see!
  • Good heavens, lady, how the gemini
  • Did you get here? O I shall split my sides!
  • I shall earthquake——
  • MRS. C —
  • Sweet Nevis, do not quake, for though I love
  • Your honest countenance all things above,
  • Truly I should not like to be convey’d 
  • So far into your bosom — gentle maid 
  • Loves not too rough a treatment, gentle sir;
  • Pray thee be calm and do not quake nor stir,
  • No, not a stone or I shall go in fits —
  • BEN NEVIS
  • I must—I shall—I meet not such tid bits,
  • I meet not such sweet creatures every day.
  • By my old night cap, night cap night and day,
  • I must have one sweet buss — I must and shall!
  • Red-Crag! — What, madam, can you then repent
  • Of all the toil and vigour you have spent
  • To see Ben Nevis and to touch his nose?
  • Red-Crag I say! O I must have you close!
  • Red-Crag, there lies beneath my farthest toe
  • A vein of Sulphur — go, dear Red-Crag, go —
  • And rub your flinty back against it — budge!
  • Dear madam, I must kiss you, faith I must!
  • I must embrace you with my dearest gust!
  • Blockhead, d’ye hear — Blockhead, I’ll make her feel.
  • There lies beneath my east leg’s northern heel
  • A cave of young earth dragons — well, my boy, 
  • Go thither quick and so complete my joy.
  • Take you a bundle of the largest pines,
  • And when the sun on fiercest phosphor shines
  • Fire them and ram them in the dragon’s nest; 
  • Then will the dragons fry and fizz their best,
  • Until ten thousand now no bigger than
  • Poor alligators, poor things of one span,
  • Will each one swell to twice ten times the size
  • Of northern whale; then for the tender prize — 
  • The moment then — for then will Red-Crag rub
  • His flinty back — and I shall kiss and snub
  • And press my dainty morsel to my breast.
  • Blockhead make haste!
  • O Muses, weep the rest —
  • The lady fainted and he thought her dead,
  • So pulled the clouds again about his head
  • And went to sleep again. Soon she was rous’d
  • By her affrighted servants. Next day, hous’d
  • Safe on the lowly ground, she bless’d her fate
  • That fainting fit was not delayed too late.
×

Not Aladdin magian

  • Not Aladdin magian
  • Ever such a work began;
  • Not the Wizard of the Dee
  • Ever such a dream could see;
  • Not St. John, in Patmos’ isle,
  • In the passion of his toil,
  • When he saw the churches seven,
  • Golden aisl’d, built up in heaven,
  • Gaz’d at such a rugged wonder.
  • As I stood its roofing under,
  • Lo! I saw one sleeping there,
  • On the marble cold and bare.
  • While the surges wash’d his feet,
  • And his garments white did beat
  • Drench’d about the sombre rocks,
  • On his neck his well-grown locks,
  • Lifted dry above the main,
  • Were upon the curl again.
  • “What is this? and what art thou?”
  • Whisper’d I and touch’d his brow.
  • “What art thou? and what is this?”
  • Whisper’d I, and strove to kiss
  • The spirit’s hand, to wake his eyes.
  • Up he started in a trice.
  • “I am Lycidas, ” said he,
  • “Fam’d in funeral minstrelsy!
  • This was architected thus
  • By the great Oceanus! —
  • Here his mighty waters play
  • Hollow organs all the day;
  • Here by turns his dolphins all,
  • Finny palmers great and small,
  • Come to pay devotion due —
  • Each a mouth of pearls must strew.
  • Many a mortal of these days,
  • Dares to pass our sacred ways,
  • Dares to touch audaciously
  • This cathedral of the sea!
  • I have been the pontif-priest
  • Where the waters never rest,
  • Where a fledgy sea-bird choir
  • Soars for ever; holy fire
  • I have hid from mortal man;
  • Proteus is my sacristan.
  • But the stupid eye of mortal
  • Hath pass’d beyond the rocky portal;
  • So for ever will I leave
  • Such a taint, and soon unweave
  • All the magic of the place.
  • ’Tis now free to stupid face,
  • To cutters and to fashion boats,
  • To cravats and to petticoats.
  • The great sea shall war it down,
  • For its fame shall not be blown
  • At every farthing quadrille dance.”
  • So saying, with a spirit’s glance
  • He dived —
×

To Autumn

1

  • Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
  • Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
  • Conspiring with him how to load and bless
  • With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
  • To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,
  • And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
  • To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  • With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
  • And still more, later flowers for the bees,
  • Until they think warm days will never cease,
  • For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.

2

  • Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
  • Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
  • Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
  • Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
  • Or on a half-reap’d furrow sound asleep,
  • Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
  • Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
  • And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
  • Steady thy laden head across a brook;
  • Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
  • Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

3

  • Where are the songs of spring? Ay, where are they?
  • Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—
  • While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
  • And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
  • Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
  • Among the river sallows, borne aloft
  • Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
  • And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;
  • Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
  • The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
  • And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
×

Give me your patience sister while I frame

  • Give me your patience, sister, while I frame
  • Exact in capitals your golden name:
  • Or sue the fair Apollo and he will
  • Rouse from his heavy slumber and instill
  • Great love in me for thee and Poesy.
  • Imagine not that greatest mastery
  • And kingdom over all the realms of verse
  • Nears more to heaven in aught than when we nurse
  • And surety give to love and brotherhood.
  • Anthropophagi in Othello’s mood;
  • Ulysses stormed, and his enchanted belt
  • Glow with the muse, but they are never felt
  • Unbosom’d so and so eternal made,
  • Such tender incense in their laurel shade,
  • To all the regent sisters of the Nine,
  • As this poor offering to you, sister mine.
  • Kind sister! aye, this third name says you are;
  • Enchanted has it been the Lord knows where.
  • And may it taste to you like good old wine,
  • Take you to real happiness and give
  • Sons, daughters and a home like honied hive.

× Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Blank, G. Kim. “Places mentioned.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology. Edition 3.13 , University of Victoria, 2 November 2021. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/places.html.

Chicago Style: Note

G. Kim Blank, “Places mentioned,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.13 , last modified 2nd November 2021. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/places.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Blank, G. Kim. “Places mentioned.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.13 , last modified 2nd November 2021. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/places.html.