Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed

  • Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed,
  • There came before my eyes that wonted thread
  • Of shapes, and shadows, and remembrances,
  • That every other minute vex and please:
  • Things all disjointed come from north and south,
  • Two witch’s eyes above a cherub’s mouth,
  • Voltaire with casque and shield and habergeon,
  • And Alexander with his night-cap on —
  • Old Socrates a tying his cravat;
  • And Hazlitt playing with Miss Edgeworth’s cat;
  • And Junius Brutus pretty well so so,
  • Making the best of’s way towards Soho.
  • Few are there who escape these visitings —
  • P’rhaps one or two, whose lives have patient wings,
  • And through whose curtains peep no hellish nose,
  • No wild boar tushes, and no mermaid’s toes:
  • But flowers bursting out with lusty pride,
  • And young Aeolian harps personified,
  • Some, Titian colours touch’d into real life.
  • The sacrifice goes on; the pontif knife
  • Gleams in the sun, the milk-white heifer lows,
  • The pipes go shrilly, the libation flows:
  • A white sail shews above the green-head cliff,
  • Moves round the point, and throws her anchor stiff.
  • The mariners join hymn with those on land.
  • You know the Enchanted Castle — it doth stand
  • Upon a rock on the border of a lake
  • Nested in trees, which all do seem to shake
  • From some old magic like Urganda’s sword.
  • O Phoebus, that I had thy sacred word
  • To shew this castle in fair dreaming wise
  • Unto my friend, while sick and ill he lies.
  • You know it well enough, where it doth seem
  • A mossy place, a Merlin’s hall, a dream.
  • You know the clear lake, and the little isles,
  • The mountains blue, and cold near neighbour rills —
  • All which elsewhere are but half animate,
  • Here do they look alive to love and hate,
  • To smiles and frowns; they seem a lifted mound
  • Above some giant, pulsing underground.
  • Part of the building was a chosen see
  • Built by a banish’d santon of Chaldee:
  • The other part two thousand years from him
  • Was built by Cuthbert de Saint Aldebrim;
  • Then there’s a little wing, far from the sun,
  • Built by a Lapland witch turn’d maudlin nun —
  • And many other juts of aged stone
  • Founded with many a mason-devil’s groan.
  • The doors all look as if they oped themselves,
  • The windows as if latch’d by fays and elves —
  • And from them comes a silver flash of light
  • As from the westward of a summer’s night;
  • Or like a beauteous woman’s large blue eyes
  • Gone mad through olden songs and poesies.
  • See what is coming from the distance dim!
  • A golden galley all in silken trim!
  • Three rows of oars are lightening moment-whiles
  • Into the verdurous bosoms of those isles.
  • Towards the shade under the castle wall
  • It comes in silence — now ’tis hidden all.
  • The clarion sounds; and from a postern grate
  • An echo of sweet music doth create
  • A fear in the poor herdsman who doth bring
  • His beasts to trouble the enchanted spring:
  • He tells of the sweet music and the spot
  • To all his friends, and they believe him not.
  • O that our dreamings all of sleep or wake
  • Would all their colours from the sunset take:
  • From something of material sublime,
  • Rather than shadow our own soul’s daytime
  • In the dark void of night. For in the world
  • We jostle — but my flag is not unfurl’d
  • On the admiral staff — and to philosophize
  • I dare not yet! — Oh never will the prize,
  • High reason, and the lore of good and ill,
  • Be my award. Things cannot to the will
  • Be settled, but they tease us out of thought.
  • Or is it that imagination brought
  • Beyond its proper bound, yet still confined, —
  • Lost in a sort of purgatory blind,
  • Cannot refer to any standard law
  • Of either earth or heaven? — It is a flaw
  • In happiness to see beyond our bourn —
  • It forces us in summer skies to mourn:
  • It spoils the singing of the nightingale.
  • Dear Reynolds, I have a mysterious tale
  • And cannot speak it. The first page I read
  • Upon a lampit rock of green sea weed
  • Among the breakers — ’Twas a quiet eve;
  • The rocks were silent — the wide sea did weave
  • An untumultuous fringe of silver foam
  • Along the flat brown sand. I was at home,
  • And should have been most happy — but I saw
  • Too far into the sea; where every maw
  • The greater on the less feeds evermore: —
  • But I saw too distinct into the core
  • Of an eternal fierce destruction,
  • And so from happiness I far was gone.
  • Still am I sick of it: and though to-day
  • I’ve gathered young spring-leaves, and flowers gay
  • Of periwinkle and wild strawberry,
  • Still do I that most fierce destruction see,
  • The shark at savage prey — the hawk at pounce,
  • The gentle robin, like a pard or ounce,
  • Ravening a worm. — Away ye horrid moods,
  • Moods of one’s mind! You know I hate them well,
  • You know I’d sooner be a clapping bell
  • To some Kamschatkan missionary church,
  • Than with these horrid moods be left in lurch.
  • Do you get health — and Tom the same — I’ll dance,
  • And from detested moods in new romance
  • Take refuge. — Of bad lines a centaine dose
  • Is sure enough — and so “here follows prose.”

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.3 , University of Victoria, 5 September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_dear_reynolds_as_last_night_i.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_dear_reynolds_as_last_night_i.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_dear_reynolds_as_last_night_i.html.