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JOHN KEATS

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO

SONNET
CHAPMAN'S HOMER

(Written 1817]
(Written 1815)

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be Much have I travell’d in the realms of Before my pen has glean'd my teeming gold,

brain, And many goodly states and kingdoms | Before high pilèd books, in charactry, seen;

Hold like "rich garners the full-ripen'd Round many western islands have I been

grain; Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. When I behold, upon the night's starr'd Oft of one wide expanse had I been told

face, That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, demesne:

And think that I may never live to trace Yet did I never breathe its pure serene Their shadows, with the magic hand of Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and

chance; bold:

And when I feel, fair creature of an hour ! Then felt I like some watcher of the skies That I shall never look upon thee more,

When a new planet swims into his ken; Never have relish in the faery power Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes Of unreflecting love; - then on the shore

He star'd at the Pacific - and all his men Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Look'd at each other with a wild surmise -- | Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

LINES ON THE MERMAID

TAVERN

SONNET
(Publ. 1817]

[Publ. 1820]

To one who has been long in city pent,

'Tis very sweet to look into the fair And open face of heaven, — to breathe

a prayer Full in the smile of the blue firmament. Who is more happy, when, with hearts

content, • Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair

Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair And gentle tale of love and languishment ? Returning home at evening, with an ear

Catching the notes of Philomel,- an eye Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright ca

reer, He mourns that day so soon bas glided

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by:

E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether si- |

leptly.

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,

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Underneath a new-old sign

faulty; but I really cannot do so, - by repetiSipping beverage divine,

tion my favourite passages sound vapid in my And pledging with contented smack

ears, and I would rather redeem myself with a

new Poem should this one be found of any The Mermaid in the Zodiac.

interest.

I bave to apologize to the lovers of simplicity Souls of Poets dead and gone,

for touching the spell of loneliness that hung What Elysium have ye known,

about Endymion; if any of my lines plead for

me with such people I shall be proud. Happy field or mossy cavern,

It has been too much the fashion of late to Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern ?

consider men bigoted and addicted to every word that may chance to escape their lips; now I here declare that I have not any particular affection

for any particular phrase, word, or letter in the ENDYMION

whole affair. I have written to please myself,

and in hopes to please others, and for a love of A ROMANCE

fame; if I neither please myself, nor others, nor get fame, of what consequence is Phrase

ology. By John Keats

I would fain escape the bickerings that all

works not exactly in chime bring upon their [Publ. 1818]

begetters -- but this is not fair to expect, there • The stretched metre of an antique song.'

must be conversation of some sort and to object

shows a man's consequence. In case of a LonShakspeare's Sonnets.

don drizzle or a Scotch mist, the following quo

tation from Marston may perhaps 'stead me as INSCRIBED,

an umbrella for an hour or so: 'let it be the curWITH EVERY FEELING OF PRIDE AND tesy of my peruser rather to pity my self-hinderREGRET AND WITH “A BOWED MIND'. ing labours than to malice me.' TO THE MEMORY OF

One word more--for we cannot help seeing

our own affairs in every point of view — should THE MOST ENGLISH OF POETS EXCEPT

any one call my dedication to Chatterton afSHAKSPEARE,

fected I answer as followeth: Were I dead, THOMAS CHATTERTON

sir, I should like a book dedicated to me.'

TEIGNMOUTH,
PREFACE

March 19th, 1818. In a great nation, the work of an individual This Preface was shown either before or after is of so little importance; his pleadings and ex- | it was in type to Reynolds and other friends cuses are so uninteresting; bis' way of life' such

and Reynolds objected to it in terms wbich a pothing, that a Preface seems a sort of im may be inferred from the following letter which pertinent bow to strangers who care nothing Keats wrote him April 9, 1818, and which is so about it.

striking a reflection of his mind, when contemA Preface, however, should be down in so plating his finished work, that it should be read many words; and such a one that by an eye in connection with the poem:glance over the type the Reader may catch an 'Since you all agree that the thing is bad, it idea of an Author's modesty, and non-opinion must be so — though I am not aware there is anyof himself -- which I sincerely hope may be thing like Hunt in it (and if there is, it is my natseen in the few lines I have to write, notwith ural way, and I have something in common with standing many proverbs of many ages old which Hunt). Look it over again, and examine into men find a great pleasure in receiving as gospel. the motives, the seeds, from which any one sen

About a twelvemonth since, I published a tence sprung - I have not the slightest feel of little book of verses; it was read by some dozen humility toward the public - or to anything in of my friends who lik'd it; and some dozen existence, but the eternal Being, the Principle whom I was unacquainted with, who did not. of Beauty, and the Memory of Great Men.

Now, when a dozen human beings are at words When I am writing for myself for the mere with another dozen, it becomes a matter of anx sake of the moment's enjoyment, perhaps nature iety to side with one's friends - more especially has its course with me - buta Preface is written when excited thereto by a great love of Poetry. to the Public; a thing I cannot help looking upon I fought under disadvantages. Before I began as an Enemy, and which I cannot address withI had no inward feel of being able to finish; and out feelings of Hostility. If I write a Preface as I proceeded my steps were all uncertain. So in a supple or subdued style, it will not be in this Poem must rather be considered as an en character with me as a public speaker -- I would deavour than as a thing accomplished; a poor be subdued before my friends, and thank them prologue to what, if I live, I humbly hope to do. for subduing me - but among Multitudes of In duty to the Public I should have kept it Men - I have no feel of stooping; I hate the back for a year or two, knowing it to be so ' idea of humility to them.

'I never wrote one single line of Poetry with | the desire I have to conciliate men who are the least Shadow of public thought.

competent to look, and who do look with a zealForgive me for vexing you and making a ous eye, to the honour of English literature. Trojan horse of such a Trifle, both with respect The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the to the matter in question, and myself - but it | mature imagination of a man is healthy: but eases me to tell you - I could not live without there is a space of life between, in which the the love of my friends - I would jump down soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, Ætna for any great Public good — but I hate a the way of life uncertain, the ambition thickmawkish Popularity. I cannot be subdued be sighted: thence proceeds mawkishness, and all fore them; my Glory would be to daunt and the thousand bitters which those men I speak dazzle the thousand jabberers about pictures of must necessarily taste in going over the and books. I see swarms of Porcupines with following pages. their quills erect “like lime-twigs set to catch I hope I have not in too late a day touched my wingëd book," and I would fright them the beautiful mythology of Greece, and dulled away with a torch. You will say my Preface its brightness : for I wish to try once more, beis not much of a Torch. It would have been fore I bid farewell. too insulting “ to begin from Jove," and I could TBIGXMOUTH, not set a golden head upon a thing of clay. If April 10, 1818. there is any fault in the Preface it is not affectation, but an undersong of disrespect to the Public. If I write another Preface, it must be

BOOK I without a thought of those people – I will think about it. If it should not reach you in four or A THING of beauty is a joy for ever: five days, tell Taylor to publish it without a | Its loveliness increases; it will never Preface, and let the Dedication simply stand

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep ." Inscribed to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton."'! The next day he wrote to his friend,

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep inclosing a new draft: 'I am anxious you should Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet find this Preface tolerable. If there is an affec

breathing tation in it 't is natural to me. Do let the Prin

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathter's Devil cook it, and let me be as “the casing air.” You are too good in this matter - were

ing I in your state, I am certain I should have no

A flowery band to bind us to the earth, thought but of discontent and illness - I might Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth though be taught Patience: I had an idea of | Of noble natures, of the gloomy days, giving no Preface; however, don't you think this had better go? O, let it – one should not be

Of all the unhealthy and o'er- darken'd too timid- of committing faults.'

ways

10 The Dedication stood as Keats proposed, and Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all, the new Preface, which is as follows:

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the PREFACE

moon, KNOWING within myself the manner in which

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady this Poem has been produced, it is not without

boon a feeling of regret that I make it public. For simple sheep; and such are daffodils What manner I mean, will be quite clear to

With the green world they live in; and clear the reader, who must soon perceive great inex

rills perience, immaturity, and every error denoting a foverish attempt, rather than a deed accom

That for themselves a cooling covert make plished. The two first books, and indeed the 'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake, two last, I feel sensible are not of such comple Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose tion as to warrant their passing the press ; nor

blooms: should they if I thonght a year's castigation would do them any good ; - it will not: the

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms foundations are too sandy. It is just that this We have imagined for the mighty dead; youngster should die away: a sad thought for All lovely tales that we have heard or read: me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwin

An endless fountain of immortal drink, dling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for

Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink. verses fit to live.

This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling Nor do we merely feel these essences man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave | For one short hour; no, even as the trees me alone, with the conviction that there is not

That whisper round a temple become soon a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of pur

Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, pose to forestall criticisms, of course, but from The passion poesy, glories infinite

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Haunt us till they become a cheering light | Whither his brethren, bleating with conUnto our souls, and bound to us so fast,

tent, That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'er Over the hills at every nightfall went. cast,

Among the shepherds, 't was believed ever, They alway must be with us, or we die. | That not one fleecy lamb which thus did

sever Therefore 't is with full happiness that I From the white flock, but pass'd unworried Will trace the story of Endymion.

By angry wolf, or pard with prying head, The very music of the name has gone Until it came to some unfooted plains Into my being, and each pleasant scene Where fed the herds of Pan: aye great his Is growing fresh before me as the green

gains Of our own valleys: so I will begin

Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there Now while I cannot hear the city's din; 40

were many, Now while the early budders are just new, Winding through palmy fern, and rushes And run in mazes of the youngest hue

fenny,

80 About old forests; while the willow trails And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails To a wide lawn, whence one could only see Bring home increase of inilk. And, as the Stems thronging all around between the year

swell Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly Of turf and slanting branches: who could steer

tell My little boat, for many quiet hours, The freshness of the space of heaven With streams that deepen freshly into bow

above, ers.

Edged round with dark tree-tops ? through Many and many a verse I hope to write,

which a dove Before the daisies, vermeil rimm'd and Would often beat its wings, and often too white,

50 A little cloud would move across the blue. Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees

Full in the middle of this pleasantness Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas, | There stood a marble altar, with a tress go I must be near the middle of my story. Of flowers budded newly; and the dew O may no wintry season, bare, and hoary, Had taken fairy phantasies to strew See it half-finish'd: but let Autumn bold, | Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve, With universal tinge of sober gold,

And so the dawned light in pomp receive. Be all about me when I make an end. For 't was the morn: Apollo's upward fire And now at ouce, adventuresome, I send Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre My berald thought into a wilderness: Of brightness so unsullied, that therein There let its trumpet blow, and quickly A melancholy spirit well might win dress

Oblivion, and melt ont bis essence fine My uncertain path with green, that I may Into the winds: rain-scented eglantine 100

Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing Easily onward, through flowers and weed.

sun;

The lark was lost in him; cold springs had Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread

run A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass; So plenteously all weed-hidden roots Man's voice was on the mountains; and the Into o'erhanging boughs, and precious

mass fruits.

Of nature's lives and wonders pulsed tenAnd it had gloomy shades, sequestered fold, deep,

To feel this sun-rise and its glories old. Where no man went; and if from shepherd's keep

Now while the silent workings of the A lamb stray'd far a-down those inmost dawn glens,

Were busiest, into that self-same lawn Never again saw be the happy pens 70 | All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped

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speed

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