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TO LEIGH HUNT, ESQ.
GLORY and loveliness have pass'd away;
No wreathed incense do we see upborne
Roses, and pinks, and violets, to adorn
With these poor offerings, a man like thee.
Readers of Charles Cowden Clarke's Recollections of Keats, printed in the present edition, will remember the statement, still appropriate here, that, "on the evening when the last proof sheet [of the 1817 volume] was brought from the printer, it was accompanied by the information that if a 'dedication to the book was intended it must be sent forthwith.' Whereupon he withdrew to a side table, and in the buzz of a mixed conversation (for there were several friends in the room) he composed and brought to Charles Ollier, the publisher, the Dedication Sonnet to Leigh Hunt." The first of the three Sonnets to Keats in Hunt's Foliage forms a fitting reply to this; and the three will be found in the Appendix.
[THE Short Pieces in the middle of the Book, as well as some of the Sonnets, were written at an earlier period than the rest of the Poems.]
"Places of nestling green for Poets made."
STORY OF RIMINI.
STOOD tip-toe upon a little hill,
The air was cooling, and so very still,
That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
Their scantly leav'd, and finely tapering stems,
(1) Leigh Hunt tells us in Lord Byron and Some of his Contemporaries that "this poem was suggested to Keats by a delightful summer's-day, as he stood beside the gate that leads from the Battery on Hampstead Heath into a field by Caen Wood."
(12) Hunt calls this (see Appendix) "a fancy, founded, as all beautiful fancies are, on a strong sense of what really exists or occurs."
There was wide wand'ring for the greediest eye,
To peer about upon variety;
Far round the horizon's crystal air to skim,
Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,
A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;
A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwin'd,
(37-41) Of this passage Hunt says, "Any body who has seen a throng of young beeches, furnishing those natural clumpy seats at the root, must recognize the truth and grace of this description." He adds that the remainder of the poem, especially verses 47 to 86, "affords an exquisite proof of close observation of nature as well as the most luxuriant fancy."