« AnteriorContinuar »
Where the cool grot's dark arch o'ershades
John Keats, one of the most poetical of Poets, and therefore by nature one of the most refined of men, was of the humblest origin, having been born, October the 29th, 1796, at a livery-stable in Moorfields, which belonged to his family. He received the rudiments of a classical education at the school of Mr. Clarke, at Enfield, where, in the person of the master's son, Mr. Charles Cowden Clarke, the editor of the “ Riches of Chaucer," he had the luck of finding a friend possessed of discernment enough to see his genius, and warm-heartedness to encourage it. He was after wards apprenticed to a surgeon and apothecary; but inheriting a. small independence (which, however, he used in the most generous manner), he did not stop long with him, but devoted himself entirely to poetry. Mr. Clarke introduced him to Mr. Leigh Hunt, and Mr. Leigh Hunt, through the medium of the “ Examiner," to the public,—which introduction, while it procured instant recognition of his genius, attracted towards him, in consequence of the party-politics then raging, the hostility of the critics on the opposite side, who paid him the unhappy compliment of being unusually bitter and ungenerous. The result was, not his death, as some have supposed,—but undoubtedly an embitterment of the causes which were then leading to it, and which originated in a consumptive tendency. Mr. Keats left England in the year 1820, to try the warmer climate of Italy, and, on the 24th of February, in the year following, died at Rome in the arms of his friend, M Severn, the artist, who had accompanied him on the voyage, and who attended his bedside like a brother. Mr. Shelley, who loved him, and who enthusiastically admired his genius (as he has evinced in the beautiful elegy, entitled “ Adonis”), invited him to come and take up his abode with himself; and he would have done so, had life been spared him. But fate had disposed otherwise ; and the ashes of his inviter, no great while afterwards, went to take up their own abode in the same burial-ground. His death was embittered by a passion he had for a young lady, who returned his affection; but, amidst all his sufferings, his love of poetical beauty did not forsake him. He said, in anticipation of his grave, that he already “felt the daisies growing over him.” He requested, however, in the anguish of disappointed hope, that his friends would inscribe upon his tomb, “Here lies one whose name was writ in water;" and they did so.
Mr. Keats was under the middle size, and somewhat large above, in proportion to his lower limbs - which, however, were neatly formed; and he had any thing in his dress and general demeanour but that appearance of “ • laxity,” which has been strangely attributed to him in a late publication. In fact, he had so much of the reverse, though in no unbecoming degree, that he might be supposed to maintain a certain jealous care of the appearance and bearing of a gentleman, in the consciousness of his genius, and perhaps not without some sense of his origin. His face was handsome and sensitive, with a look in the eyes at once earnest and tender; and his hair grew in delicate brown ringlets, of remarkable beauty.
Mr. Keats may truly be pronounced a Poet of the most poetical order, for he gave himself up entirely to the beautiful, and had powers of expression equal to an excess of sensibility. His earlier poems, especially the “Endymion,” are like a luxuriant wilderness of flowers and weeds (“ weeds of glorious feature"); his latest, the “ Hyperion,” was a growing wood of oaks, from which the deepest oracles of the art might have been looked for. Indeed, there they were, as far as he gave his thoughts utterance. It has been justly said, that he is the greatest Young Poet that ever appeared in the language;" that is to say, the greatest that did not live to be old, and whose whole memory will be identified with something both young and great. His lyrics (the Odes to the Nightingale and the Gre. cian Vase) are equal to the very finest we possess, both for subtile feeling and music. His “Eve of St. Agnes,” is as full of beauty as the famous painted window he describes in it; and there was such a profusion in him of fancies and imaginations, analogous to the beautiful forms of the genius of the ancient Poets, that a university-man expressed his astonishment at hearing he was not a Greek scholar. Of our lately deceased Poets, if you want imaginative satire, or bitter wailing, you must go to the writings of Lord Byron ; if a thoughtful, dulcet, and wild dreaminess, you must go to Coleridge; if a startling appeal to the first elements of your nature and sympathies (most musical also), to Shelley ; if a thorough enjoyment of the beautiful—for beauty's sake-like a walk on a summer's noon in a land of woods and meadows you must embower yourself in the luxuries of Keats.
A CASEMENT high and triple-arch'd there was,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
In some melodious plot
Singest of summer in full throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
And purple-stained mouth ;
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last
gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies ; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
But here there is no light,