Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Hadst thou liv’d in days of old

  • Hadst thou liv’d in days of old,
  • O what wonders had been told
  • Of thy lively countenance,
  • And thy humid eyes that dance
  • In the midst of their own brightness;
  • In the very fane of lightness.
  • Over which thine eyebrows, leaning,
  • Picture out each lovely meaning
  • In a dainty bend they lie,
  • Like to streaks across the sky,
  • Or the feathers from a crow,
  • Fallen on a bed of snow.
  • Of thy dark hair that extends
  • Into many graceful bends:
  • As the leaves of hellebore
  • Turn to whence they sprung before.
  • And behind each ample curl
  • Peeps the richness of a pearl.
  • Downward too flows many a tress
  • With a glossy waviness;
  • Full, and round like globes that rise
  • From the censer to the skies
  • Through sunny air. Add too, the sweetness
  • Of thy honied voice; the neatness
  • Of thine ankle lightly turn’d
  • With those beauties, scarce discern’d,
  • Kept with such sweet privacy,
  • That they seldom meet the eye
  • Of the little loves that fly
  • Round about with eager pry.
  • Saving when, with freshening lave,
  • Thou dipp’st them in the taintless wave;
  • Like twin water lillies, born
  • In the coolness of the morn.
  • O, if thou hadst breathed then,
  • Now the Muses had been ten.
  • Couldst thou wish for lineage higher
  • Than twin sister of Thalia?
  • At least for ever, evermore,
  • Will I call the Graces four.
  • Hadst thou liv’d when chivalry
  • Lifted up her lance on high,
  • Tell me what thou wouldst have been.
  • Ah! I see the silver sheen
  • Of thy broidered, floating vest
  • Cov’ring half thine ivory breast;
  • Which, O heavens! I should see;
  • But that cruel destiny
  • Has placed a golden cuirass there;
  • Keeping secret what is fair.
  • Like sunbeams in a cloudlet nested
  • Thy locks in knightly casque are rested:
  • O’er which bend four milky plumes
  • Like the gentle lilly’s blooms
  • Springing from a costly vase.
  • See with what a stately pace
  • Comes thine alabaster steed;
  • Servant of heroic deed!
  • O’er his loins, his trappings glow
  • Like the northern lights on snow.
  • Mount his back! thy sword unsheath!
  • Sign of the enchanter’s death;
  • Bane of every wicked spell;
  • Silencer of dragon’s yell.
  • Alas! thou this wilt never do:
  • Thou art an enchantress too,
  • And wilt surely never spill
  • Blood of those whose eyes can kill.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Hadst thou liv’d in days of old.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, by G. Kim Blank. Edition 3.5 , University of Victoria, 18 October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_hadst_thou_livd_in_days_of.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Hadst thou liv’d in days of old,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_hadst_thou_livd_in_days_of.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Hadst thou liv’d in days of old.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_hadst_thou_livd_in_days_of.html.