Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Specimen of an Induction to a Poem

  • Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;
  • For large white plumes are dancing in mine eye.
  • Not like the formal crest of latter days:
  • But bending in a thousand graceful ways;
  • So graceful, that it seems no mortal hand,
  • Or e’en the touch of Archimago’s wand,
  • Could charm them into such an attitude.
  • We must think rather, that in playful mood,
  • Some mountain breeze had turned its chief delight,
  • To show this wonder of its gentle might.
  • Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;
  • For while I muse, the lance points slantingly
  • Athwart the morning air: some lady sweet,
  • Who cannot feel for cold her tender feet,
  • From the worn top of some old battlement
  • Hails it with tears, her stout defender sent:
  • And from her own pure self no joy dissembling,
  • Wraps round her ample robe with happy trembling.
  • Sometimes, when the good knight his rest would take,
  • It is reflected, clearly, in a lake,
  • With the young ashen boughs, ’gainst which it rests,
  • And th’ half seen mossiness of linnets’ nests.
  • Ah! shall I ever tell its cruelty,
  • When the fire flashes from a warrior’s eye,
  • And his tremendous hand is grasping it,
  • And his dark brow for very wrath is knit?
  • Or when his spirit, with more calm intent,
  • Leaps to the honors of a tournament,
  • And makes the gazers round about the ring
  • Stare at the grandeur of the ballancing?
  • No, no! this is far off: — then how shall I
  • Revive the dying tones of minstrelsy,
  • Which linger yet about lone gothic arches,
  • In dark green ivy, and among wild larches?
  • How sing the splendour of the revelries,
  • When butts of wine are drunk off to the lees?
  • And that bright lance, against the fretted wall,
  • Beneath the shade of stately banneral,
  • Is slung with shining cuirass, sword, and shield,
  • Where ye may see a spur in bloody field?
  • Light-footed damsels move with gentle paces
  • Round the wide hall, and show their happy faces;
  • Or stand in courtly talk by fives and sevens:
  • Like those fair stars that twinkle in the heavens.
  • Yet must I tell a tale of chivalry:
  • Or wherefore comes that steed so proudly by?
  • Wherefore more proudly does the gentle knight
  • Rein in the swelling of his ample might?
  • Spenser! thy brows are arched, open, kind,
  • And come like a clear sun-rise to my mind;
  • And always does my heart with pleasure dance,
  • When I think on thy noble countenance:
  • Where never yet was ought more earthly seen
  • Than the pure freshness of thy laurels green.
  • Therefore, great bard, I not so fearfully
  • Call on thy gentle spirit to hover nigh
  • My daring steps: or if thy tender care,
  • Thus startled unaware,
  • Be jealous that the foot of other wight
  • Should madly follow that bright path of light
  • Trac’d by thy lov’d Libertas; he will speak,
  • And tell thee that my prayer is very meek;
  • That I will follow with due reverence,
  • And start with awe at mine own strange pretence.
  • Him thou wilt hear; so I will rest in hope
  • To see wide plains, fair trees and lawny slope:
  • The morn, the eve, the light, the shade, the flowers;
  • Clear streams, smooth lakes, and overlooking towers.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Specimen of an Induction to a Poem.” 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_specimen_of_an_induction_to_a.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Specimen of an Induction to a Poem,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_specimen_of_an_induction_to_a.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Specimen of an Induction to a Poem.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_specimen_of_an_induction_to_a.html.