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Plainer and plainer showing, till at last
Into the widest alley they all past,

125

Making directly for the woodland altar.

O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue faulter

In telling of this goodly company,

Of their old piety, and of their glee:

130

But let a portion of ethereal dew

Fall on my head, and presently unmew

My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,

To stammer where old Chaucer us'd to sing.

Leading the way, young damsels danced along,

135

Bearing the burden of a shepherd song;

(125) The manuscript has showing, Keats's usual orthography, the first edition shewing.

(128) In the manuscript Keats had cancelled the whole of this invocation, sacrificing with it the lovely line 127; but the passage was finally restored by means of a pencilled Stet.

(132) The word unmew, in the sense of enfranchise, may probably be a relic of Shakespearean study. Compare Romeo and Juliet, Act III, Scene IV, line 11—

To-night she is mew'd up to her heaviness.

(135) This and the next two lines exercised the poet's fastidious taste greatly. They stood originally thus:

In front some pretty Damsels danced along,
Bearing the Burden of a shepherd Song;

And each with handy wicker over brimmed...

and even then he had begun to write may day Song instead of shepherd Song. Then there is an intermediate reading for line 135, before that of the text is supplied

And in the front young Damsels danced along, while two rejected marginal readings for line 137 are— Each bringing a white wicker over brimmed Each brought a little wicker over brimmed.

and

Each having a white wicker over brimm'd

With April's tender younglings: next, well trimm'd,
A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks

As may be read of in Arcadian books;
Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe,
When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
Let his divinity o'er-flowing die

140

In music, through the vales of Thessaly :

Some idly trail'd their sheep-hooks on the ground,
And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound

145

With ebon-tipped flutes: close after these,

Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
A venerable priest full soberly,

Begirt with ministring looks: alway his eye
Stedfast upon the matted turf he kept,

And after him his sacred vestments swept.

From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light;

150

(144) A lovely allusion to the lovely story of Apollo's nine years' sojourn on earth as the herdsman of Admetus, when banished from Olympus for killing the Cyclops who had forged the thunderbolts wherewith Esculapius had been slain.

(150) Begirt with ministring looks is perhaps somewhat licentiously elliptical; but there is no doubt that was what Keats wrote, and I presume there can be none as to the meaning-surrounded by people whose looks showed their eagerness to do their ministering part.

(153) This couplet originally stood thus

From his right hand there swung a milk white vase
Of mingled wines, outsparkling like the Stars-

the less vigorous reading of the text being evidently supplied to get rid of the false rhyme. It is to be noted, however, that the bare idea of rhyming vase and stars shows that Keats no longer pronounced vase as if it rhymed with pace, as at page 32 of this volume.

And in his left he held a basket full

155

Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull: -Wild thyme, and valley-lillies whiter still

Than Leda's love, and cresses from the rill.

His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth

160

Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud

Their share of the ditty. After them appear'd,
Up-followed by a multitude that rear'd
Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car,
Easily rolling so as scarce to mar

165

The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown:
Who stood therein did seem of great renown
Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
Showing like Ganymede to manhood grown;
And, for those simple times, his garments were
A chieftain king's: beneath his breast, half bare,
Was hung a silver bugle, and between

170

His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
A smile was on his countenance; he seem'd,
To common lookers on, like one who dream'd
Of idleness in groves Elysian :

175

(157) The motive of amending the rhyme was probably not the only one for the next erasure. Lines 157 and 158 were originally— Wild thyme, and valley lillies white as Leda's

Bosom, and choicest strips from mountain Cedars.

Then blossoms from the rill has place in the manuscript before the final cresses from the rill is supplied. Whiter than Leda's love (Jupiter in the form of a swan) is an obviously better comparison than white as Leda's bosom.

(163) In the manuscript, o' the Ditty.

(168) In the manuscript, sat is here cancelled in favour of stood. (170) In the first edition Shewing.

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But there were some who feelingly could scan
A lurking trouble in his nether lip,

And see that oftentimes the reins would slip

Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh,

And think of yellow leaves, of owlets' cry,

Of logs pil'd solemnly.—Ah, well-a-day,

180

Why should our young Endymion pine away!

Soon the assembly, in a circle rang'd,

185

Stood silent round the shrine: each look was chang'd To sudden veneration: women meek

Beckon'd their sons to silence; while each cheek
Of virgin bloom pal'd gently for slight fear.
Endymion too, without a forest peer,
Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face,
Among his brothers of the mountain chace.

190

In midst of all, the venerable priest

Ey'd them with joy from greatest to the least,

And, after lifting up his aged hands,

195

Thus spake he: "Men of Latmos! shepherd bands!

Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks:

Whether descended from beneath the rocks
That overtop your mountains; whether come
From vallies where the pipe is never dumb;
Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze
Buds lavish gold; or ye, whose precious charge
Nibble their fill at ocean's very marge,

200

Whose mellow reeds are touch'd with sounds forlorn 205

(191) Cancelled manuscript reading, a bowed face for an awed face. (192) In the first edition chase here, though chace in line 532 of the same Book. The manuscript gives chace in both instances, as at page 34 of the present volume.

By the dim echoes of old Triton's horn:

Mothers and wives! who day by day prepare

The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air;
And all ye gentle girls who foster up
Udderless lambs, and in a little cup

Will put choice honey for a favoured youth:
Yea, every one attend! for in good truth

Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan.
Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than

210

Night-swollen mushrooms? Are not our wide plains 215 Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains

Green'd over April's lap? No howling sad

Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had

Great bounty from Endymion our lord.

The earth is glad: the merry lark has pour'd

220

His early song against yon breezy sky,
That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity."

(208) The writer in the Quarterly Review whom Shelley apostrophized as

Thou noteless blot on a remembered name!

accused Keats of inventing (or as he put it "spawning") certain words, among which was needments. Had the "noteless blot's " reading extended far enough, he might have found this word in almost the same context in Spenser's Faerie Queene (Book I, Canto VI, stanza 35):

and eke behind,

His scrip did hang, in which his needments he did bind.

In Canto I of the same Book, stanza 6, the same word occurs in connexion with bag instead of scrip:

Behind her farre away a Dwarfe did lag,

That lazie seem'd in beeing euer last,

Or wearied with bearing of her bag

Of needments at his back.

Oddments and needments are not wholly obsolete even yet in some parts of England.

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