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year's castigation would do them any good ;-it will not: the foundations are too sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.
This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent to look, and who do look with a zealous eye, to the honor of English literature.
The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thick-sighted : thence proceeds mawkishness, and all the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.
I hope I have not in too late a day touched the beautiful mythology of Greece, and dulled its brightness: for I wish to try once more, before I bid it farewell.
Woodhouse notes—“This alluded to his then intention of writing a poem on the fall of Hyperion. He commenced this poem : but, thanks to the critics who fell foul of this work, he discontinued it. The fragment was published in 1820." VOL. I.
ORIGINAL PREFACE &c., REJECTED
IN FAVOUR OF THE FOREGOING.
a great nation, the work of an individual is of so little importance; his pleadings and excuses are so uninteresting; his “way of life” such a nothing, that a Preface seems a sort of impertinent bow to strangers who care nothing about it.
A Preface, however, should be down in so many words ; and such a one that by an eye-glance over the type the Reader may catch an idea of an Author's modesty, and non-opinion of himself—which I sincerely hope may be seen in the few lines I have to write, notwithstanding many proverbs of many ages old which men find a great pleasure in receiving as gospel.
About a twelvemonth since, I published a little book of verses; it was read by some dozen of my friends who lik'd it; and some dozen whom I was unacquainted with, who did not.
Now, when a dozen human beings are at words with another dozen, it becomes a matter of anxiety to side with one's friends—more especially when excited thereto
Reprinted from Lord Houghton's Life and Letters of John Keats, 1867.
by a great love of Poetry. I fought under disadvantages. Before I began I had no inward feel of being able to finish ; and as I proceeded my steps were all uncertain. So this Poem must rather be considered as an endeavour than a thing accomplished; a poor prologue to what, if I live, I humbly hope to do. In duty to the Public I should have kept it back for a year or two, knowing it to be so faulty: but I really cannot do so, fby repetition my favourite passages sound vapid in my ears, and I would rather redeem myself with a new Poem should this one be found of any interest.)
I have to apologize to the lovers of simplicity for touching the spell of loneliness that hung about Endymion ; if any of my lines plead for me with such people I shall be proud.
It has been too much the fashion of late to 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 whole affair. I have written to please myself, and in hopes to please others, and for a love of fame; if I neither please myself, nor others, nor get fame, of what consequence is Phraseology?
I would fain escape the bickerings that all Works not exactly in chime bring upon their begetters—but this is not fair to expect, there must be conversation of some sort and to object shows a man's consequence. In case of a London drizzle or a Scotch mist, the following quotation from Marston may perhaps 'stead me as an umbrella for an hour or so: “let it be the curtesy of my peruser rather to pity my self-hindering labours than to malice me."
One word more-for we cannot help seeing our own affairs in every point of view—should any one call my