« AnteriorContinua »
Fair and foul I love together.
O THOU whose face hath felt the Winter's Meadows sweet where flames are under,
wind, And a giggle at a wonder;
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung Visage sage at pantomime;
in mist, Funeral, and steeple-chime;
And the black elm tops 'mong the freezing Infant playing with a skull;
stars, Morning fair, and shipwreck'd hull; To thee the spring will be a harvest-time. Nightshade with the woodbine kissing; O thou, whose only book has been the light Serpents in red roses hissing;
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on Cleopatra regal-dress'd
Night after night when Phæbus was away, With the aspic at her breast;
To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn. Dancing music, music sad,
O fret not after knowledge — I have none, Both together, sane and mad;
And yet my song comes native with the Muses bright, and muses pale;
warmth. Sombre Saturn, Momus bale;
O fret not after knowledge — I have none, Laugh and sigh, and laugh again; And yet the Evening listens. He who sadOh, the sweetness of the pain !
dens Muses bright and muses pale,
At thought of idleness cannot be idle, Bare your faces of the veil;
And he's awake who thinks himself asleep. Let me see; and let me write Of the day, and of the night Both together :- - let me slake
WRITTEN IN ANSWER TO A All my thirst for sweet heart-ache !
SONNET ENDING THUS:Let my bower be of yew,
"Dark eyes are dearer far Interwreath'd with myrtles new;
Than those that mock the hyacinthine bell' Pines and lime-trees full in bloom,
By J. H. REYNOLDS. And my couch a low grass-tomb.
Dated by Lord Houghton ' February, 1818, in Life, Letters and Literary Remains, where it
was first printed. WHAT THE THRUSH SAID
BLUE! 'Tis the life of heaven, the do
main In a long letter to Reynolds, dated February 19, 1818, Keats writes earnestly of the sources
Of Cynthia, — the wide palace of the of inspiration to a poet, and especially of the
sun, need of a receptive attitude : ‘Let us open our
The tent of Hesperus, and all his train, leaves like a flower, and be passive and re
The bosomer of clouds, gold, gray, and ceptive; budding patiently under the eye of
dun. Apollo and taking hints from every noble Blue ! 'Tis the life of waters insect that favours us with a visit - Sap will And all its vassal streams, pools numbe given us for meat, and dew for drink. I
berless, was led into these thoughts, my dear Reynolds, May rage, and foam, and fret, but never can by the beauty of the morning operating on a
Subside, if not to dark blue nativeness. sense of Idleness. I have not read any Book
Blue ! Gentle cousin of the forest-green, the Morning said I was right — I had no idea but of the Morning, and the Thrush said
Married to green in all the sweetest I was right, seeming to say,' and then follows
flowers, the poem. It was first printed in Life, Letters Forget-me-not, — the blue bell, — and, that and Literary Remains.
Of secrecy, the violet: what strange This morn, my friend, and yester-evening powers
taught Hast thou, as a mere shadow! But how Me how to harbor such a happy thought.
great, When in an Eye thou art, alive with fate !
THE HUMAN SEASONS
TO JOHN HAMILTON
This sonnet was sent by Keats in a letter to Benjamin Bailey, from Teignmouth, March 13, 1818, and was printed the next year in Leigh Hunt's Literary Pocket-Book, but Keats did not include the verses in his 1820 volume.
Undated, but placed by Lord Houghton directly after the preceding in Life, Letters and Literary Remains.
FOUR Seasons fill the measure of the year;
There are four seasons in the mind of
O THAT a week could be an age, and we Felt parting and warm meeting every
week; Then one poor year a thousand years would
be, The flush of welcome ever on the cheek: So could we live long life in little space,
So time itself would be annihilate, So a day's journey in oblivious haze To serve our joys would lengthen and
dilate. O to arrive each Monday morn from Ind! To land each Tuesday from the rich Le
vant ! In little time a host of joys to bind,
And keep our souls in one eternal pant !
He has his lusty Spring, when fancy clear
Takes in all beauty with an easy span: He has his Summer, when luxuriously Spring's honied cud of youthful thought
he loves To ruminate, and by such dreaming high
Is nearest unto heaven: quiet coves His soul has in its Autumn, when his wings
He furleth close; contented so to look On mists in idleness - to let fair things
Pass by unheeded as a threshold brook. He has his Winter too of pale misfeature, Or else he would forego his mortal na
Keats began this poem in the spring of was his great occupation, and he had the 1817 and finished it and saw it through the alternate exhilaration and depression which press in just about a year. It is interesting such an undertaking naturally would proto follow in his correspondence the growth duce in a temperament as sensitive as his; of the poem. The subject in general had indeed, one is not surprised to find him been in his mind at least since the sum- near the end of September expressing himmer of 1816, when he wrote I stood tiptoe self to Haydon as tired of the poem, and upon a little hill, and the poem Sleep and looking forward to a Romance to which he Poetry hints also at the occupation of his meant to devote himself the next summer, mind, though through all the earlier and for so did his mind swing back and forth, partly imitative period of his poetical growth though in truth romance was always upperhe was drawn almost equally by the ro- most, whether expressed in terms of Gremance to which Spenser and Leigh Hunt in- cian mythology or mediævalism. But the troduced him, and the classic themes which main significance of Endymion, as one traces his early studies, Chapman and the Elgin the growth of Keats's mind, is in the strong marbles, all conspired to make real. In impulse which possessed him to try his April, 1817, he writes as one absorbed in wings in a great flight. In a letter to Baithe delights of poetry and stimulated by it ley, October 8, 1817, he quotes from his to production. 'I find,' he writes to Rey- own letter to George Keats in the spring,' nolds from Carisbrooke, April 18, 'I can- and thus at the very time of his setting not exist without Poetry — half the day forth on his great venture, the following will not do — the whole of it - I began notable passage : — with a little, but habit has made me a Le- • As to what you say about my being a viatban. I had become all in a Tremble Poet, I can return no answer but by saying from not having written anything of late that the high idea I have of poetical fame
the Sonnet overleaf [On the Sea] did makes me think I see it towering too high me good. I slept the better last night for above me. At any rate I have no right to it — this morning, however, I am nearly as talk until Endymion is finished it will be bad again. Just now I opened Spenser, a test, a trial of my Powers of Imaginaand the first lines I saw were these
tion, and chiefly of my invention, which is “The noble heart that harbours virtuous a rare thing indeed — by which I must thought,
make 4000 lines of one bare circumstance, And is with child of glorious great intent, and fill them with Poetry: and when I conCan never rest until it forth have brought
sider that this is a great task, and that Th’ eternal brood of glory excellent."
when done it will take me but a dozen . . I shall forthwith begin my Endymion, paces towards the temple of fame - it which I hope I shall have got some way makes me say: God forbid that I should with by the time you come, when we will be without such a task ! I have heard Hunt read our verses in a delightful place I have say, and I may be asked “Why endeavour set my heart upon, near the Castle.'
after a long Poem ?" To which I would He reported progress to his friends from answer, Do not the lovers of poetry like to time to time during the summer: the poem have a little region to wander in, where
they may pick and choose, and in which the images are so numerous that many are forgotten and found new in a second reading: which may be food for a week's stroll in summer? Do not they like this better than what they can read through before Mrs. Williams comes down stairs ? a morning work at most.
• Besides, a long poem is a test of invention, which I take to be the polar star of Poetry, as Fancy is the sails, and Imagination the rudder. Did our great Poets ever write short Pieces ? I mean in the shape of Tales — this same invention seems indeed of late years to have been forgotten as a poetical excellence But enough of this; I put on no laurels till I shall have finished Endymion.'
Keats was drawing near the end of his task when he wrote to Bailey November 22: • At present I am just arrived at Dorking — to change the scene, change the air
and give me a spur to wind up my Poem, of which there are wanting 500 lines.' And at the end of the first draft is written · Burford Bridge (near Dorking] November 28, 1817.' Early in January, 1818, Keats gave the first book to Taylor, who seemed,' he says, “more than satisfied with it,' and to Keats's surprise proposed issuing it in quarto if Haydon would make a drawing for a frontispiece. Haydon, when asked, was more eager to paint a picture from some scene in the book, but proposed now to make a finished chalk sketch of Keats's head to be engraved for a frontispiece; for some unmentioned reason, this plan was not carried out.
Keats was copying out the poem for the printer, giving it in book by book and reading the proofs until April, when it was ready save the Preface. This with dedication and title-page he had sent to his Publishers March 21. They were as follows:
dozen whom I was unacquainted with, who seeing our own affairs in every point of did not.
view — should any one call my dedication Now, when a dozen human beings are at to Chatterton affected I answer as followwords with another dozen, it becomes a eth: Were I dead, sir, I should like a matter of anxiety to side with one's friends book dedicated to me.' - more especially when excited thereto by TEIGNMOUTH, a great love of Poetry. I fought under March 19th, 1818. disadvantages. Before I began I had no inward feel of being able to finish; and as This Preface was shown either before or I proceeded my steps were all uncertain. after it was in type to Reynolds and other So this Poem must rather be considered as friends, and Reynolds objected to it in an endeavour than as a thing accomplished; terms which may be inferred from the fola poor prologue to what, if I live, I humbly lowing letter which Keats wrote him April hope to do. In duty to the Public I should 9, 1818, and which is so striking a reflection have kept it back for a year or two, know- of his mind, when contemplating his finished ing it to be so faulty; but I really cannot work, that it should be read in connection do so, - by repetition my favourite pas- with
poem: sages sound vapid in my ears, and I would • Since you all agree that the thing is rather redeem myself with a new Poem bad, it must be so — though I am not aware should this one be found of any interest. there is anything like Hunt in it (and if
I have to apologize to the lovers of sim- there is, it is my natural way, and I have plicity for touching the spell of loneliness something in common with Hunt). Look that hung about Endymion; if any of my it over again, and examine into the motives, lines plead for me with such people I shall the seeds, from which any one sentence be proud.
sprung — I have not the slightest feel of It has been too much the fashion of late humility toward the public - or to anything to consider men bigoted and addicted to in existence, but the eternal Being, the every word that may chance to escape their Principle of Beauty, and the Memory of lips; now I here declare that I have not Great Men. When I am writing for myany particular affection for any particular self for the mere sake of the moment's phrase, word, or letter in the whole affair. enjoyment, perhaps nature has its course I have written to please myself, and in
- but a Preface is written to the hopes to please others, and for a love of Public; a thing I cannot help looking upon fame; if I neither please myself, nor as an Enemy, and which I cannot address others, nor get fame, of what consequence without feelings of Hostility. If I write a is Phraseology.
Preface in a supple or subdued style, it will I would fain escape the bickerings that not be in character with me as a public all works not exactly in chime bring upon speaker — I would be subdued before my their begetters — but this is not fair to ex- friends, and thank them for subduing me pect, there must be conversation of some but
Multitudes of Men - I have no sort and to object shows a man's conse- feel of stooping; I hate the idea of huquence. In case of a London drizzle or a mility to them. Scotch mist, the following quotation from •I never wrote one single line of Poetry Marston may perhaps 'stead me as an um- with the least Shadow of public thought. brella for an hour or so: "let it be the cur- • Forgive me for vexing you and making tesy of my peruser rather to pity my self- a Trojan horse of such a Trifle, both with hindering labours than to malice me.' respect to the matter in question, and my
One word more for we cannot help self - but it eases me to tell you -- I could