Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

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.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. Endymion: A Poetic Romance BOOK IV. 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_endymion_book_iv.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, Endymion: A Poetic Romance BOOK IV. Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_endymion_book_iv.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. Endymion: A Poetic Romance BOOK IV. Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_endymion_book_iv.html.