Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

To George Felton Mathew

  • Sweet are the pleasures that to verse belong,
  • And doubly sweet a brotherhood in song;
  • Nor can remembrance, Mathew! bring to view
  • A fate more pleasing, a delight more true
  • Than that in which the brother Poets joy’d,
  • Who with combined powers, their wit employ’d
  • To raise a trophy to the drama’s muses.
  • The thought of this great partnership diffuses
  • Over the genius loving heart, a feeling
  • Of all that’s high, and great, and good, and healing.
  • Too partial friend! fain would I follow thee
  • Past each horizon of fine poesy;
  • Fain would I echo back each pleasant note
  • As o’er Sicilian seas, clear anthems float
  • ’Mong the light skimming gondolas far parted,
  • Just when the sun his farewell beam has darted:
  • But ’tis impossible; far different cares
  • Beckon me sternly from soft “Lydian airs,”
  • And hold my faculties so long in thrall,
  • That I am oft in doubt whether at all
  • I shall again see Phoebus in the morning:
  • Or flush’d Aurora in the roseate dawning!
  • Or a white Naiad in a rippling stream;
  • Or a rapt seraph in a moonlight beam;
  • Or again witness what with thee I’ve seen,
  • The dew by fairy feet swept from the green,
  • After a night of some quaint jubilee
  • Which every elf and fay had come to see:
  • When bright processions took their airy march
  • Beneath the curved moon’s triumphal arch.
  • But might I now each passing moment give
  • To the coy muse, with me she would not live
  • In this dark city, nor would condescend
  • ’Mid contradictions her delights to lend.
  • Should e’er the fine-eyed maid to me be kind,
  • Ah! surely it must be whene’er I find
  • Some flowery spot, sequester’d, wild, romantic,
  • That often must have seen a poet frantic;
  • Where oaks, that erst the Druid knew, are growing,
  • And flowers, the glory of one day, are blowing;
  • Where the dark-leav’d laburnum’s drooping clusters
  • Reflect athwart the stream their yellow lustres,
  • And intertwined the cassia’s arms unite,
  • With its own drooping buds, but very white;
  • Where on one side are covert branches hung,
  • ’Mong which the nightingales have always sung
  • In leafy quiet: where to pry, aloof,
  • Atween the pillars of the sylvan roof,
  • Would be to find where violet beds were nestling,
  • And where the bee with cowslip bells was wrestling.
  • There must be too a ruin dark, and gloomy,
  • To say “joy not too much in all that’s bloomy.”
  • Yet this is vain — O Mathew lend thy aid
  • To find a place where I may greet the maid —
  • Where we may soft humanity put on,
  • And sit, and rhyme and think on Chatterton;
  • And that warm-hearted Shakespeare sent to meet him
  • Four laurell’d spirits, heaven-ward to intreat him.
  • With reverence would we speak of all the sages
  • Who have left streaks of light athwart their ages:
  • And thou shouldst moralize on Milton’s blindness,
  • And mourn the fearful dearth of human kindness
  • To those who strove with the bright golden wing
  • Of genius, to flap away each sting
  • Thrown by the pitiless world. We next could tell
  • Of those who in the cause of freedom fell;
  • Of our own Alfred, of Helvetian Tell;
  • Of him whose name to ev’ry heart’s a solace,
  • High-minded and unbending William Wallace.
  • While to the rugged north our musing turns
  • We well might drop a tear for him, and Burns.
  • Felton! without incitements such as these,
  • How vain for me the niggard muse to tease:
  • For thee, she will thy every dwelling grace,
  • And make “a sun-shine in a shady place”:
  • For thou wast once a flowret blooming wild,
  • Close to the source, bright, pure, and undefil’d,
  • Whence gush the streams of song: in happy hour
  • Came chaste Diana from her shady bower,
  • Just as the sun was from the east uprising;
  • And, as for him some gift she was devising,
  • Beheld thee, pluck’d thee, cast thee in the stream
  • To meet her glorious brother’s greeting beam.
  • I marvel much that thou hast never told
  • How, from a flower, into a fish of gold
  • Apollo chang’d thee; how thou next didst seem
  • A black-eyed swan upon the widening stream;
  • And when thou first didst in that mirror trace
  • The placid features of a human face:
  • That thou hast never told thy travels strange,
  • And all the wonders of the mazy range
  • O’er pebbly crystal, and o’er golden sands;
  • Kissing thy daily food from Naiad’s pearly hands.
  • November, 1815

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “To George Felton Mathew.” 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_to_george_felton_mathew.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “To George Felton Mathew,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_to_george_felton_mathew.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “To George Felton Mathew.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.3 , last modified 5th September 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_to_george_felton_mathew.html.