Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology

Mapping Keats’s Progress
A Critical Chronology

Woman, when I behold thee flippant, vain

  • Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,
  • Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;
  • Without that modest softening that enhances
  • The downcast eye, repentant of the pain
  • That its mild light creates to heal again:
  • E’en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,
  • E’en then my soul with exultation dances
  • For that to love, so long, I’ve dormant lain:
  • But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,
  • Heavens! how desperately do I adore
  • Thy winning graces;—to be thy defender
  • I hotly burn—to be a Calidore—
  • A very Red Cross Knight—a stout Leander—
  • Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.
  • Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;
  • Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,
  • Are things on which the dazzled senses rest
  • Till the fond, fixed eyes forget they stare.
  • From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare
  • To turn my admiration, though unpossess’d
  • They be of what is worthy,—though not drest
  • In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.
  • Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;
  • These lures I straight forget,—e’en ere I dine,
  • Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark
  • Such charms with mild intelligences shine,
  • My ear is open like a greedy shark,
  • To catch the tunings of a voice divine.
  • Ah! who can e’er forget so fair a being?
  • Who can forget her half retiring sweets?
  • God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats
  • For man’s protection. Surely the All-seeing,
  • Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,
  • Will never give him pinions, who intreats
  • Such innocence to ruin,—who vilely cheats
  • A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing
  • One’s thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear
  • A lay that once I saw her hand awake,
  • Her form seems floating palpable, and near;
  • Had I e’er seen her from an arbour take
  • A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,
  • And o’er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.

🗙 Cite this page:

MLA Style: Works Cited

Keats, John. “Woman, when I behold thee flippant, vain.” 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_woman_when_i_behold_thee_flippant.html.

Chicago Style: Note

John Keats, “Woman, when I behold thee flippant, vain,” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_woman_when_i_behold_thee_flippant.html.

Chicago Style: Bibliography

Keats, John. “Woman, when I behold thee flippant, vain.” Mapping Keats’s Progress: A Critical Chronology, Edition 3.5 , last modified 18th October 2020. https://johnkeats.uvic.ca/poem_woman_when_i_behold_thee_flippant.html.