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Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Through verdurous glooms and winding
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed3 darkness, guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; Fast fading violets covered up in leaves; And mid-May's eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine. The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 60
Darkling I listen; and, for* many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death, Called him soft names in many a mused rhyme.
To take into the air my quiet breath; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou .sing, and I have ears in vain—
To thy high requiem become a sod. Go
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;The same that oft-times hath Charmed magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 70
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self! Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream. Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?
3 balmy * Ruth, It.
* inasmuch ns. while
ODE ON A GRECIAN URN*
Thou still unravished bride of quietness,
Sylvan historian,' who canst thus express
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape
Of deities or mortals, or of both, Iu Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 10
Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endeared,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; Bold Lover, uever. never canst thou kiss. Though winning near the goal—vet, do not grieve;
She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu; And, happy melodist, unwearied,
For ever piping songs for ever new;
For ever warm and still to be enjoyed. For ever panting, and for ever young; All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloyed,
A burning forehead, and a parching tongue. 30
Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
To what green altar, O mysterious priest. Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
And all her silken flanks with garlands dressed?
What little town by river or sea shore,
i historian of sylvan scenes
* "There Is some reason for thinking that the particular urn which inspired this beautiful poem Is a somewhat weather-beaten work in marble still preserver! in Hie garden of Holland House, and llifired In l'lranesl's I n*/ e Ciinilelabrl." — II. B. Korman.
And, little town, tby streets for evermore
O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brcde=
When old age shall this generation waste, Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say 'st,
"Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 50
ODE ON MELANCHOLY
No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine; Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be Your mournful Psyche,1 nor the downy owl A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
For shade to shade will come too drowsily, And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. 10
But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies; Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows, Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave. And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes. 20
She dwells with Beauty—Beauty that must die;
And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: Ay, in the very temple of Delight
Veiled Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
J embroidery (cp. Colllns's Orfr to Evening, line 7, p. 3J6)
8 draw us from anxieties
l Psyche, the soul, was conventionally symbolized by the huttcrfly.
| Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine: His soul shall taste the sadness of her might. And be among her cloudy trophies hung. 30
Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness.
Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatcheaves run;
To bend with apples the mossed cottage-trees And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more. And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease, 10
For Summer has o'er-brimmed their elammy cells.
Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store f Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
Or on a half-reaped furrow sound asleep. Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost kee|> Steady thy laden head across a brook; 2i> Or by a cider-press, with patient look,
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.
Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they!
Think not of them, thou hast thy music too.— While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day.
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue: Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30 Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft; And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.
LINES ON THE MERMATD TAVERN*
Souls of Poets dead and gone.
• The Mermaid Tavern was a favorite resort of Shakespeare. Jonson. and their friends.
Happy field or mossy cavern.
1 have heard that on a day
Souls of Poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
IN A DREAR-NIGHTED DECEMBER
In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Their green felicity:
From budding at the prime.
In a drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook.
Apollo's summer look;
About the frozen time.
Ah! would 'twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
Writhed not at passed joy?
Was never said in rhyme.
LA BELLE DAME SANS MERCI*
O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms.
Alone and palely loitering?
And no birds sing.
0 what can ail thee, knight-at-arms. So haggard and so woe-begone?
The squirrel's granary is full,
And the harvest's done. 8
1 see a lily on thy brow,
With anguish moist and fever dew;
I met a lady in the meads,
Full beautiful—a faery's child; Her hair was long, her foot was light,
And her eyes were wild. 16
I made a garland for her head,
And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
She looked at me as she did love,
I set her on my pacing steed,
And nothing else saw, all day long.
For sidelong would she bend, and sing
She found me roots of relish sweet.
And honey wild, and manna dew; And sure in language strange she said,
'' I love thee true.''
She took me to her elfin grot.
And there she wept, and sighed full sore; And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
With kisses four. 32
And there she lulled me asleep,
And there I dreamed, ah woe betide!
The latest dream Fever dreamt
I saw pale kings, anil princes too,
They cried, "La Belle Dame sans Merci
Hath thee in thrall!" «0
'"The Fair Lady without Pity." Cn. The Ere of St. A fine*, st. 33. Rents obtained tho title from nn old French poem, n translation of which Was once attributed to Chaucer. There are two versions of Kests's poem, but the second Is hardly an Improvement over the first, which Is the more familiar, and which Is given here. The reply of the knight begins at the fourth stanza. The story has some resemblance to that if Tnnnhiinser and the Vennsberg.
1 saw their starved lips In the gloam
And I awoke, and found me here,
And this is why I sojourn here,
Alone and palely loitering,
And no birds sing. 48
ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S
Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
ON THE GRASSHOPPER AND CRICKETt
The poetry of earth is never dead:
That is the Grasshopper's—he takes the lead
The Cricket's song, in warmth increasing ever,
• This sonnet of discovery was written after Keats had spent a nlcht with a friend reading in Chapman's translation (Eng. LH., p. 97). Keats could not read <;»-eek. lint had to content himself mainly with "western Islands" of poetry and romance. It should ho nnletl that It was not Cortez, but Balboa, who discovered the Pacific.
t Written In a friendly i-ompetltlon with r.clt'h Hunt. See Hunt's sonnet, p. 4!W.
ON SEEING THE ELGIN MAHBLKSt
My spirit is too weak—mortality
Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep.
And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick Kagle looking at the sky.
Yet 'tis a gentle luxury to weep
That I have not the cloudy winds to keep.
Fresh for the opening of the morning's eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
Bring round the heart .an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old Time—with a billowy main—
A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.
ON THE SEA
It keeps eternal whisperings around
Often 'tis in such gentle temper found,
When last the winds of heaven were unbound. Oh ye! who have your eye-balls vexed and tired,
Feast them upon the wideness of the Sea; Oh ye! whose ears are dinned with uproar rude,
Or fed too much with cloying melody—
Sit ye near some old cavern's mouth, and brood
Until ye start, as if the sea-nymphs quired!
WHEN T HAVE FEARS THAT T MAY
When I have fears that I may cease to be
l The moon.
t These marbles are mainly sculptures from the Parthenon which were transferred from Athens tn T.ondon hv Lord Klein In 1803.
BRIGHT STAR! WOULD I WERE STEDFAST AS THOU ART*
Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
LATE GEORGIAN BALLADS AND
ROBERT SOUTHEY (1774-1843)
It was a summer evening;
Old Kaspar's work was done, And he before his cottage dour
Was sitting in the sun;
She saw her brother Peterkin
Which he beside the rivulet
He came to ask what he had found.
That was so large, and smooth, and round. 12
Old Kaspar took it from the boy,
* This sonnet was composed on the Dorsetshire coast Just as Keats was sailing for Italy the autumn before bis death. It was written In a copy of Shakespeare's poems on a blank page facing A Lnrer'n Complaint.
t Under this general title are given here some minor poems of the early decades of the nineteenth century, though one or two are really post-Georgian. Hunt's Abou brn Adhem. for instance, is as late as 1844: but Hunt wa« himself a contemporary of Shelley and Keats. The poems have been selected partly for their real value as shown by their continued popularity, and partly to Illustrate the character and range of the minor verse of the period.
IAt Blenheim, in Bavaria, In 1704. the British and their German allies, under the Duke of Marlborough and the Austrian Prince Eugene, defeated the French and Bavarians with great loss.
And then the old man shook his head,
And with a natural sigh, "'Tis some poor fellow's skull," said he, "Who fell in the great victory. 18
'' I find them in the garden,
For there's many here about; And often, when I go to plough,
The ploughshare turns them out; For many thousand men," sail I he. '' Were slain in that great victory.'' 24
"Now tell us what 'twas all about,"
Young Peterkin, he cries; And little Wilhelmine looks up
With wonder-waiting eyes; '' Now tell us all about the war, And what they fought each other for." 30
'' It was the English,'' Kaspar cried,
"Who put the French to rout;
I could not well make out; But everybody said," quoth he, '' That 'twas a famous victory. 36
"My father lived at Blenheim then,
Yon little stream hard by;
And he was forced to fly;
"With fire and sword the country round
Was wasted far and wide,
And new-born baby, died;
"They say it was a shocking sight
After the field was won;
Lay rotting in the sun;
"Great praise the Duke of Marlboro' won,
And our good Prince Eugene." "Why. 'twas a very wicked thing!"
Said little Wilhelmine. "Nay, nay, my little girl," quoth he; '' It was a famous victory. 60
"And everybody praised the Duke
Who this great fight did win.'' "But what good came of it at last I"