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O Melancholy, linger here awhile !
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly ! Therefore they watch'd a time when they O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
might sift Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us O sigh ! This hidden whim; and long they watch'd Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and
in vain; smile;
For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift, Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily, And seldom felt she any hunger-pain: And make a pale light in your cypress And when she left, she hurried back, as glooms,
swift Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs. As bird on wing to breast its eggs again:
And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there LVI
Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair. Moan bither, all ye syllables of woe,
From the deep throat of sad Melpomene ! Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go, Yet they contrived to steal the Basil-pot,
And touch the strings into a mystery; And to examine it in secret place: Sound mournfully upon the winds and low; The thing was vile with green and livid For simple Isabel is soon to be
spot, Among the dead: She withers, like a palm And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face: Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm. The guerdon of their murder they had got,
And so left Florence in a moment's space,
Never to turn again. — Away they went, O leave the palm to wither by itself; With blood upon their heads, to banishment. Let not quick Winter chill its dying
hour! It may not be — those Baälites of pelf, O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
Her brethren, noted the continual shower O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
Copied in a letter to Reynolds, dated May 3, 1818, in which Keats says: 'With respect to the affections and Poetry you must know by a sympathy my thoughts that way, and I dare say these few lines will be but a ratification: I wrote them on May day — and intend to finish the ode all in good time;' a purpose apparently never accomplished. MOTHER of Hermes ! and still youthful
May I sing to thee As thou wast hymned on the shores of Baiae ?
I woo thee In earlier Sicilian? or thy smiles Seek as they once were sought, in Grecian
isles, By bards who died content on pleasant
sward, Leaving great verse unto a little clan ? O, give me their old vigour, and unheard Save of the quiet Primrose, and the span
Of heaven and few ears,
Content as theirs,
The date 1818 was affixed to this by Lord Houghton in Life, Letters and Literary Remains, where it was first published, and is found also where it occurs in the Dilke manuscripts. In a letter to Reynolds, dated April 27, 1818, Keats writes eagerly of his desire to study Greek.
STANDING aloof in giant ignorance,
Of thee I hear and of the Cyclades, As one who sits ashore and longs perchance
To visit dolphin-coral in deep seas.
The shut rose shall dream of our loves SONG
and awake First published in Life, Letters and Literary
Full-blown, and such warmth for the Remains, and there dated 1818.
morning take, The stock-dove shall hatch her soft brace
and shall coo, HUSA, hush ! tread softly ! hush, hush, my While I kiss to the melody, aching all dear!
through. All the house is asleep, but we know very
well That the jealous, the jealous old bald-pate VERSES WRITTEN DURING A
TOUR IN SCOTLAND Tho' you've padded his night-cap-0 sweet Isabel !
Keats saw his brother George and wife set
sail from Liverpool at the end of June, 1818, Tho' your feet are more light than a
and then set forth with his friend Charles Faery's feet,
Armitage Brown on a walking tour through Who dances on bubbles where brook
Wordsworth's country and into Scotland. The lets meet,
verses included in this section were all sent in Hush, hush! soft tiptoe! hush, hush, my letters, chiefly to his brother Tom. He did not dear!
include any in the volume which he published For less than a nothing the jealous can in 1820, and they first saw the light when Lord hear.
Houghton included them in the Life, Letters and Literary Remains. The more off-hand and
familiar verses written at this time are given in No leaf doth tremble, no ripple is there
the Appendix. On the river, — all's still, and the night's sleepy eye
ON VISITING THE TOMB OF BURNS Closes
up, and forgets all its Lethean care,
Written at Dumfries on the evening of July Charm'd to death by the drone of the 1, 1818. 'Burns's tomb,' writes Keats, " is in humming May-fly;
the Churchyard corner, not very much to my And the Moon, whether prudish or
taste, though on a scale large enough to show complaisant,
they wanted to honour him. This Sonnet I have Has fled to her bower, well knowing I
written in a strange mood, half asleep. I know
not how it is, the Clouds, the Sky, the Houses, want
all seem anti-Grecian and anti-Charlemagnish.' No light in the dusk, no torch in the gloom, But my Isabel's eyes, and her lips pulp'd THE Town, the churchyard, and the setting with bloom.
sun, The Clouds, the trees, the rounded hills
Lift the latch ! ah gently! ah tenderly –
sweet ! We are dead if that latchet gives one
little clink ! Well done now those lips, and a flowery
Though beautiful, cold
strange in a dream, I dreamed long ago, now new begun. The short-lived, paly Summer is but won From Winter's
ague, for one hour's gleam; Though sapphire-warm, their Stars do VERSES WRITTEN DURING A TOUR IN SCOTLAND
seat The old man may sleep, and the planets
All is cold Beauty; pain is never done: Drown'd wast thou till an earthquake made For who has mind to relish, Minos-wise,
thee steep, The Real of Beauty, free from that dead Another cannot wake thy giant size.
hue Sickly imagination and sick pride Cast wan upon it ! Burns ! with honour
due I oft have honour'd thee. Great
WRITTEN IN THE COTTAGE WHERE
BURNS WAS BORN shadow, hide Thy face; I sin against thy native skies.
From Kingswell's, July 13, 1818, Keats wrote of his experience in visiting Burns's
birthplace : "The approach to it [Ayr) is exII
tremely fine - quite outwent my expectations
— richly meadowed, wooded, heathed and rivTO AILSA ROCK
uleted with a grand Sea view terminated
by the black Mountains of the isle of Annan. The tourists crossed to Ireland for a short
As soon as I saw them so nearby I said to mytrip, and after returning to Scotland, made
self, “How is it they did not beckon Burns their way into Ayrshire, entering it a little
to some grand attempt at Epic ?” The bonny beyond Cairn. Their walk led them into
Doon is the sweetest river I ever saw – overa long wooded glen. 'At the end,' writes
hung with fine trees as far as we could see Keats, July 10, 1818,' we had a gradual ascent
- We stood some time on the Brig across it, and got among the tops of the mountains
over which Tam o' Shanter fled — we took a whence in a little time I descried in the Sea
pinch of snuff on the Keystone - then we Ailsa Rock, 940 feet high — it was 15 Miles distant and seemed close upon us.
proceeded to the “auld Kirk Alloway." As The effect
we were looking at it a Farmer pointed the of Ailsa with the peculiar perspective of the
spots where Mungo's Mither hang'd hersel Sea in connection with the ground we stood on,
and “drunken Charlie brake 's neck's bane." and the misty rain then falling gave me a com
Then we proceeded to the Cottage he was born plete Idea of a deluge. Ailsa struck me very
in — there was a board to that effect by the suddenly — really I was a little alarmed.'
door side – it had the same effect as the same HEARKEN, thou craggy ocean pyramid !
sort of memorial at Stratford on Avon. We
drank some Toddy to Burns's memory with an Give answer from thy voice, the sea
old Man who knew Burns - damn him and fowls' screams !
damn his anecdotes — he was a great bore When were thy shoulders mantled in
it was impossible for a Southron to understand buge streams ?
above 5 words in a hundred. — There was When, from the sun, was thy broad fore
something good in his description of Burns's head hid ?
melancholy the last time he saw him. I was How long is 't since the mighty power bid determined to write a sonnet in the Cottage Thee beave to airy sleep from fathom I did — but it was so bad I cannot venture it dreams?
here. He wrote in the same strain to ReySleep in the lap of thunder or sunbeams, nolds, saying, “I wrote a sonnet for the mere Or when gray clouds are thy cold coverlid.
sake of writing some lines under the Roof Thou answer'st not; for thou art dead
they are so bad I cannot transcribe them.
I cannot write about scenery and visitings asleep;
Fancy is indeed less than a present palpable Thy life is but two dead eternities
reality, but it is greater than remembrance. The last in air, the former in the deep;
. . One song of Burns's is of more worth to First with the whales, last with the eagle
you than all I could think for a whole year in skies
his native country.'
This mortal body of a thousand days
room, Where thou didst dream alone on budded
bays, Happy and thoughtless of thy day of
doom ! My pulse is warm with thine old Barley
bree, My head is light with pledging a great
soul, My eyes are wandering, and I cannot see,
Fancy is dead and drunken at its goal; Yet can I stamp my foot upon thy floor,
Yet can I ope thy window-sash to find The meadow thou hast tramped o'er and
o'er, Yet can I think of thee till thought is
blind, Yet can I gulp a bumper to thy name, O smile among the shades, for this is fame!
roof is arched somewhat gothic-wise, and the length of some of the entire side-pillars is fifty feet. About the island you might seat an army of men each on a pillar. The length of the Cave is 120 feet, and from its extremity the view into the sea, through the large arch at the entrance the colour of the column is a sort of black with a lurking gloom of purple therein. For solemnity and grandeur it far surpasses the finest Cathedral. At the extremity of the Cave there is a small perforation into another Cave, at which the waters meeting and buffeting each other there is sometimes produced a report as of a cannon heard as far as Iona, which must be 12 miles. As we approached in the boat, there was such a fine swell of the sea that the pillars appeared rising immediately out of the crystal. But it is impossible to describe it.'
Not Aladdin magian
the curl again.
AT FINGAL'S CAVE
The verses which follow were first printed in Life, Letters and Literary Remains. They occur in a letter to Tom Keats from Oban, July 26, 1818, and were preceded by this description: ‘I am puzzled how to give you an Idea of Staffa. It can only be represented by a first-rate drawing. One may compare the surface of the Island to a roof - this roof is supported by grand pillars of basalt standing together as thick as honeycombs. The finest thing is Fingal's cave - it is entirely a hollowing out of Basalt Pillars. Suppose now the Giants who rebelled against Jove had taken a whole Mass of black Columns and bound them together like bunches of matches — and then with immense axes had made a cavern in the body of these columns — Of course the roof and floor must be composed of the broken ends of the Columns – such is Fingal's cave, except that the Sea has done the work of excavations, and is continually dashing there — so that we walk along the sides of the cave on the pillars which are left as for convenient stairs. The