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Those faery lids how sleek !
Those lips how moist !- they speak, In ripest quiet, shadows of sweet sounds:
Into my fancy's ear
Melting a burden dear, How Love doth know no fulness, and no
This sonnet was printed in 1829 in The Gem, a Literary Annual, edited by Thomas Hood. It is not dated, but may fairly be assigned to this time.
COME hither, all sweet maidens soberly, Down-looking aye, and with a chasten'd
light Hid in the fringes of your eyelids white, And meekly let your fair hands joined be, As if so gentle that ye could not see,
Untouch'd, a victim of your beauty bright,
Sinking away to his young spirit's night, Sinking bewilder'd ʼmid the dreary sea: 'Tis young Leander toiling to his death; Nigh swooning, he doth purse his weary
lips For Hero's cheek, and smiles against
her smile. O horrid dream ! see how his body dips Dead-heavy; arms and shoulders gleam
awhile: He's gone; up bubbles all his amorous
ON LEIGH HUNT'S POEM, 'THE
STORY OF RIMINI'
Do not look so sad, sweet one, –
Sad and fadingly; Shed one drop, then it is gone,
Oh ! 't was born to die !
Dated 1817 in the Life, Letters and Literary Remains, and placed next after the preceding.
ON SEEING A LOCK OF MILTON'S HAIR
Who loves to peer up at the morning sun, With half-shut eyes and comfortable ON SEEING A LOCK OF cheek,
MILTON'S HAIR Let him, with this sweet tale, full often
‘I was at Hunt's the other day,' writes seek
Keats to Bailey, January 23, 1818, 'and he For meadows where the little rivers run;
surprised me with a real authenticated lock of Who loves to linger with that brightest one Milton's Hair. I know you would like what I Of Heaven Hesperus - let bim lowly
wrote thereon, so here it is - as they say of a speak
sheep in a Nursery Book.' "This I did,' he These numbers to the night, and star- adds, after copying the lines, at Hunt's at light meek,
his request — perhaps I should have done Or moon, if that her hunting be begun. something better alone and at home.' Lord He who knows these delights, and too is
Houghton printed the verse in Life, Letters
and Literary Remains. prone To moralize upon a smile or tear,
CHIEF of organic numbers ! Will find at once a region of his own,
Old Scholar of the Spheres ! A bower for his spirit, and will steer
Thy spirit never slumbers, To alleys, where the fir-tree drops its cone,
But rolls about our ears, Where robins hop, and fallen leaves are
For ever and for ever! sear.
O what a mad endeavour
Who to thy sacred and ennobled hearse SONNET
Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
How heavenward thou soundest, owned by Sir Charles Dilke. Keats sends it
Live emple of sweet noise, as his 'last sonnet' in a letter to Reynolds written on the last day of January, 1818.
And Discord unconfoundest,
Giving Delight new joys, WHEN I have fears that I may cease to And Pleasure nobler pinions ! be
O, wbere are thy dominions ? Before my pen has glean’d my teeming
Lend thine ear brain,
To a young Delian oath, - ay, by thy soul, Before high pilèd books, in charactry, By all that from thy mortal lips did roll, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd | And by the kernel of thine earthly love, grain;
Beauty, in things on earth, and things above, When I behold, upon the night's starr'd
I swear! face,
When every childish fashion Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
Has vanish'd from my rhyme, And think that I may never live to trace
Will I, grey-gone in passion, Their shadows, with the magic hand of
Leave to an after-time, chance;
Hymning and harmony And when I feel, fair creature of an hour ! Of thee, and of thy works, and of thy That I shall never look upon
life; Never have relish in the faery power But vain is now the burning and the strife, Of unreflecting love; — then on the shore Pangs are in vain, until I
grow high-rife Of the wide world I stand alone, and think With old Philosophy, Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. And mad with glimpses of futurity !
When through the old oak forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream, But when I am consumed in the Fire, Give me new Phønix-wings to fly at my
For many years my offering must be hush'd; When I do speak, I'll think upon this
hour, Because I feel my forehead hot and flush'd. Even at the simplest vassal of thy
came, And I was startled, when I caught thy name
Coupled so unaware; Yet, at the moment, temperate was my
blood. I thought I had beheld it from the flood.
LINES ON THE MERMAID
In sending his Robin Hood verses to Reynolds (see next poem), Keats added the following, but from the tenor of his letter, it would appear that they had been written earlier and were sent at Reynolds's request. The poem was published by Keats in his Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems, 1820. The friends were then in full tide of sympathy with the Elizabethans, and would have been very much at home with Shakespeare, Jonson, and Marlowe at the Mermaid.
In a letter to his brothers, dated January 23, 1818, Keats says: “I think a little change has taken place in my intellect lately – I cannot bear to be uninterested or unemployed, I, who for so long a time have been addicted to passiveness. Nothing is finer for the purposes of great productions than a very gradual ripening of the intellectual powers. As an instance of this observe - I sat down yesterday to read King Lear once again : the thing appeared to demand the prologue of a sonnet, I wrote it, and began to read — (I know you would like to see it). So you see,' he goes on after copying the sonnet, 'I am getting at it with a sort of determination and strength, though verily I do not feel it at this moment.' The sonnet was printed in Life, Letters and Literary Remains.
Souls of Poets dead and gone,
I have heard that on a day Mine host's sign-board flew away, Nobody knew whither, till An astrologer's old quill To a sheepskin gave the story, Said he saw you in your glory, Underneath a new-old sign Sipping beverage divine, And pledging with contented smack The Mermaid in the Zodiac.
O GOLDEN-TONGUED Romance, with se
rene lute ! Fair plumèd Syren, Queen of far away!
Leave melodizing on this wintry day, Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute: Adieu ! for once again the fierce dispute,
Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay, Must I burn through; once more humbly
assay The bitter sweet of this Shakespearean
fruit: Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep eternal theme !
Souls of Poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern ?
To fair hostess Merriment, Down beside the pasture Trent; For he left the merry tale, Messenger for spicy ale.
TO A FRIEND
The friend was J. H. Reynolds, who had sent Keats two sonnets which he had written on Robin Hood. Keats's letter, dated February 3, 1818, is full of energetic pleasantry on the poetry which has a palpable design upon us,' and concludes: 'Let us have the old Poets and Robin Hood. Your letter and its sonnets gave me more pleasure than will the Fourth Book of Childe Harold, and the whole of anybody's life and opinions. In return for your Dish of Filberts, I have gathered a few Catkins. I hope they 'll look pretty.' Keats included the poem in his Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems, 1820, with some trifling changes of text.
No! those days are gone away,
Gone, the merry morris din; Gone, the song of Gamelyn; Gone, the tough-belted outlaw Idling in the 'grenè shawe;' All are gone away and past ! And if Robin should be cast Sudden from his turfèd grave, And if Marian should have Once again her forest days, She would weep, and he would craze: He would swear, for all his oaks, Fall'n beneath the dock-yard strokes, Have rotted on the briny seas; She would weep that her wild bees Sang not to her - strange! that honey
! Can't be got without hard money!
So it is; yet let us sing Honour to the old bow-string ! Honour to the bugle horn! Honour to the woods unshorn ! Honour to the Lincoln green
! Honour to the archer keen ! Honour to tight little John, And the horse he rode upon ! Honour to bold Robin Hood, Sleeping in the underwood ! Honour to Maid Marian, And to all the Sherwood clan ! Though their days have hurried by, Let us two a burden try.
No, the bugle sounds no more, And the twanging bow no more; Silent is the ivory shrill Past the heath and up the hill; There is no mid-forest laugh, Where lone Echo gives the half To some wight, amaz'd to hear Jesting, deep in forest drear.
TO THE NILE
On the fairest time of June You may go, with sun or moon, Or the seven stars to light you, Or the polar ray to right you; But you never may behold Little John, or Robin bold; Never one, of all the clan, Thrumming on an empty can Some old hunting ditty, while He doth his green way beguile
Composed February 4, 1818, in company with Shelley and Hunt, who each wrote a sonnet on the same theme. It was first published by Lord Houghton in the Life, Letters and Literary Remains.
Son of the old moon-mountains African !
Chief of the Pyramid and Crocodile ! We call thee fruitful, and that very
WRITTEN ON A BLANK PAGE IN BEAU
MONT AND FLETCHER'S WORKS, BETWEEN "CUPID's REVENGE' AND "THE TWO NOBLE KINSMEN'
A desert fills our seeing's inward span; Nurse of swart nations since the world
began, Art thou so fruitful ? or dost thou be
guile Such men to honour thee, who, worn with
toil, Rest for a space 'twixt Cairo and De
can ? O may dark fancies err! They surely
do; 'Tis ignorance that makes a barren waste Of all beyond itself. Thou dost bedew Green rushes like our rivers, and dost
taste The pleasant sun-rise. Green isles hast
thou too, And to the sea as happily dost haste.
First published in Life, Letters and Literary Remains, and undated.
SPIRIT here that reignest !
Spirit, I bow
My forehead low,
Spirit, I look
Printed in Life, Letters and Literary Remains, and undated. Afterward, when Lord Houghton printed it in the Aldine edition of 1876, he noted that he had seen a transcript given by Keats to Mrs. Longmore, a sister of Reynolds, dated by the recipient, February 5, 1818. But Lord Houghton is confident that the sonnet was written much earlier.
Spirit here that laughest !
Spirit, with thee
I join in the glee
Spirit, I flush
With a Bacchanal blush
Under the flag Of each his faction, they to battle bring Their embryo atoms.
SPENSER! a jealous honourer of thine,
A forester deep in thy midmost trees, Did last eve ask my promise to refine Some English that might strive thine ear
to piease. But Elfin Poet, 't is impossible For an inhabitant of wintry earth
To rise like Phæbus with a golden quill Fire-wing’d and make a morning in his
mirth. It is impossible to escape from toil O'the sudden and receive thy spiriting: The flower must drink the nature of the
soil Before it can put forth its blossoming:
Be with me in the summer days, and I Will for thine honour and his pleasure
Published in Life, Letters and Literary Remains, without date.
WELCOME joy, and welcome sorrow,
Lethe's weed and Hermes' feather; Come to-day, and come to-morrow,
I do love you both together!
I love to mark sad faces in fair weather; And hear a merry laugh amid the thunder;