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Which nought but vagrant bird, or wanton wind, And rippling rivulet, and evening gloom
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming Had e'er disturbed before. The poet longed
Held commune with him, as if he and it To deck with their bright hues his withered hair; Were all that was ; only–when his regard But on his heart its solitude returned,
Was raised by intense pensiveness-two eyes, And he forbore. Not the strong impulse hid Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought, In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame, And seemed with their serene and azure smiles Had yet performed its ministry: it hung
To beckon him. Upon his life as lightning in a cloud
Obedient to the light
The windings of the dell. The rivulet,
Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence Among the moss with hollow harmony, A narrow vale embosoms. There huge caves, Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones Scooped in the dark base of those airy rocks,
It danced, like childhood, laughing as it went : Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever. Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept, The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud
That overhung its quietness. O stream!
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness, And dark the shades accumulate--the oak,
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs, Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course, Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Have each their type in me: and the wide sky Of the tall cedar overarching frame
And measureless ocean may declare as soon Most solemn domes within, and far below,
What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
Contains thy waters, as the universe The ash and the acacia floating bang,
Tell where these living thoughts reside, when, stretched Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents clothed Upon thy flowers, my bloodless limbs shall waste In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,
I the passing wind!' Starred with ten thousand blogsoms, flow around
Beside the grassy shore The gray trunks; and, as gamesome infants' eyes, Of the small stream he went; he did impress With gentle meanings and most innocent wiles, On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love, Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs, Roused by some joyous madness from the couch Uniting their close union; the woven Icaves
Of fever, he did move; yet, not like him, Make network of the dark blue light of day
Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame
Of his frail exultation shall be spent,
Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow
The forest's solemn canopies were changed Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine, For the uniform and lightsome evening sky: A soul-dissolving odour, to invite
Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell The struggling brook : tall spires of windlestrae Silence and twilight here, twin sisters, keep
Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope, Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades, And nought but gnarled roots of ancient pines, Like vaporous shapes half seen ; beyond, a well, Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave, The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here, Images all the woven boughs above;
Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away, And each depending leaf, and every speck
The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin Of azure sky, darting between their chasms;
And white; and where irradiate dewy eyes Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Had shone, gleam stony orbs : so from his steps Its portraiture, but some inconstant star
Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon, And musical motions. Calm, he still pursued Or gorgeous insect, floating motionless,
The stream, that with a larger volume now Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon. Fretted a path through its descending curves Hither the poet came. His eyes bebeld
With its wintry speed. On every side now rose Their own wan light through the reflected lines Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth
Lifted their black and barren pinnacles Of that still fountain ; as the human heart,
In the light of evening, and its precipice Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave,
Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above,
Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks,
Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams, Borrowed from aught the visible world affords Dim tracks and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;
Of leaden-coloured even, and fiery hills But undulating woods, and silent well,
Mingling their flames with twilight, on the verge
Of the remote horizon. The near scene,
Some might lament that I were cold, In naked and severe simplicity,
As I, when this sweet day is gone, Made contrast with the universe. A pine,
Which my lost heart, too soon grown old, Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy,
Insults with this untimely moan; Its swinging boughs to each inconstant blast
They might lament-for I am one Yielding one only response, at each pause,
Whom men love not; and yet regret, In most familiar cadence, with the howl,
Unlike this day, which, when the sun The thunder, and the hiss of homeless streams,
Shall on its stainless glory set,
Lines to an Indian Air.
I arise from dreams of thee,
In the first sweet sleep of night,
When the winds are breathing low,
And the stars are shining bright;
I arise from dreams of thee,
And a spirit in my feet
Has led me-who knows how !
To thy chamber window, sweet.
The wandering airs they faint And did embower with leaves for ever green,
On the dark and silent stream, And berries dark, the smooth and even space
The Champak odours fail Of its inviolated floor; and here
Like sweet thoughts in a dream; The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore,
The nightingale's complaint, In wanton sport, those bright leaves whose decay,
It dies upon her heart, Red, yellow, or ethereally pale,
As I must do on thine, Rival the pride of summer. 'Tis the haunt
0, beloved as thou art! Of every gentle wind whose breath can teach
O lift me from the grass !
I die, I faint, I fail;
On my lips and eyelids pale.
My cheek is cold and white, alas! The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
My heart beats loud and fast ; The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Oh! press it close to thine again,
Where it will break at last.
Music, when soft voices die, Like many a voice of one delight,
Vibrates in the memoryThe winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
Odours, when sweet violets sicken, The city's voice itself is soft, like solitude's.
Live within the sense they quicken. I see the deep's untrampled floor
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead, With green and purple sea-weeds strown ;
Are heaped for the beloved's bed ; I see the waves upon the shore,
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, Like light dissolved in star-showers thrown;
Love itself shall slumber on. I sit upon the sands alone,
The lightning of the noontide ocean Is flashing round me, and a tone Arises from its measured motion;
John Keats was born in London, October 29, How sweet, did any heart now share in my emotion! 1796, in the house of his grandfather, who kept a
livery stable at Moorfields. He received his eduAlas! I have nor hope, nor health,
cation at Enfield, and in his fifteenth year was Nor peace within, nor calm around,
apprenticed to a surgeon. Most of his time, howNor that content, surpassing wealth,
ever, was devoted to the cultivation of his literary The sage in meditation found,
talents, which were early conspicuous. During his And walked with inward glory crowned ;
apprenticeship, he made and carefully wrote out a Nor same, nor power, nor love, nor leisure. literal translation of Virgil's Æneid, and instructed Others I see whom these surround
himself also in some knowledge of Greek and Smiling they live, and call life pleasure; Italian. One of his earliest friends and critics was To me that cup has been dealt in another measure. Mr Leigh Hunt, who, being shown some of his
poetical pieces, was struck, he says, with the exu. Yet now despair itself is mild,
berant specimens of genuine though young poetry Even as the winds and waters are ;
that were laid before him, and the promise of which I could lie down like a tired child,
was seconded by the fine fervid countenance of the And weep away the life of care
writer. In 1818 Keats published his Endymion, Which I have borne, and yet must bear,
Poetic Romance, defective in many parts, but evincTill death like sleep might steal on me,
ing rich though undisciplined powers of imaginaAnd I might feel in the warm air
tion. The poem was criticised, in a strain of conMy cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
temptuous severity, by the Quarterly Review; and ! Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony. such was the sensitiveness of the young poet-pant
ing for distinction, and flattered by a few private 1 A line scems to have been lost at this place, probably by friends—that the critique embittered his existence, an oversight of the transcriber.
and induced a fatal disease. The first effects,' says
Shelley, are described to me to have resembled in- divine authors is, that imagination in them is subsanity, and it was by assiduous watching that he was ordinate to reason and judgment, while, with him, restrained from effecting purposes of suicide. The it is paramount and supreme; that their ornaments agony of his sufferings at length produced the rup- and images are employed to embellish and recom
mend just sentiments, engaging incidents, and natural characters, while his are poured out without measure or restraint, and with no apparent design but to unburden the breast of the author, and give vent to the overflowing vein of his fancy. There is no work from which a malicious critic could cull more matter for ridicule, or select more obscure, unnatural, or absurd passages. But we do not take that to be our office; and just beg leave, on the contrary, to say, that any one who, on this account, would represent the whole poem as despicable, must either have no notion of poetry or no regard to truth.' The readers of poetry confirmed this judg. ment; but their verdict, however grateful, came too late to save the poet. He was now far gone in consumption. As a last resource, he resolved to try the milder climate of Italy-going first to Naples, and from thence to Rome. He suffered so much in his lingering,' says Mr Leigh Hunt, that he used to watch the countenance of his physician for the favourable and fatal sentence, and express his regret when he found it delayed. Yet no impatience escaped him-he was manly and gentle to the last, and grateful for all services. A little before he died, he said that he felt the daisies growing over him. He died
on the 27th of December 1820, and was buried, as John Keats.
his friend Shelley relates, ' in the romantic and lonely
cemetery of the Protestants in that city, under the ture of a blood-vessel in the lungs, and the usual pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, and the massy process of consumption appears to have begun.' The walls and towers, now mouldering and desolate, which process had begun, as was too soon apparent; but formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The cemetery Keats continued his studies, and in 1820 brought is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter out his second volume-Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of with violets and daisies. It might make one in love St Agnes, and other Poems. These falling into the with death to think that one should be buried in so hands of Jeffrey, were criticised in the Edinburgh sweet a place."* Review in a spirit of kindliness and just appreciation, which must have soothed the wounded feelings of the poet, and, with an author of a more healthy
* Preface to Adonais ; an elegy on the death of Keats. In and robust frame, would have amply atoned for the Shelley's correspondence is a letter by Mr Finch, giving an aoprevious injustice that had been done him, Mr count of Keats's last moments, less pleasing, but much more
striking than that of Hunt. Almost despairing of his case, Keats,' says the eloquent critic, ‘is, we understand, he left his native shores by sea in a merchant-vessel for Naples, still a very young man; and his whole works, in- where he arrived, having received no benefit during the pasdeed, bear evidence enough of the fact. They mani- sage, and brooding over the most melancholy and mortifying festly require, therefore, all the indulgence that can reflections ; and nursing a deeply rooted disgust to life and to be claimed for a first attempt; but we think it no the world, owing to having been infamously treated by the very less plain that they deserve it; for they are flushed persons whom his generosity had rescued from want and wo. all over with the rich lights of fancy, and so coloured He journeyed from Naples to Rome, and occupied, at the latand bestrown with the flowers of poetry, that, even ter place, lodgings which I had, on former occasions, more than while perplexed and bewildered in their labyrinths, once inhabited. Here he soon took to his bed, from which he it is impossible to resist the intoxication of their never rose more. His passions were always violent, and his sweetness, or to shut our hearts to the enchantments sensibility most keen. It is extraordinary that, proportionally they so lavishly present. The models upon which he
as his strength of body declined, these acquired fresh vigour ; and by much the most considerable of his poems, are wished for death. After leaving England, I believe that he selhas formed himself in the “ Endymion," the earliest and his temper at length became so outrageously violent, as to
injure himself, and annoy every one around him. He eagerly obviously the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, and dom courted the muse. He was accompanied by a friend of the Sad Shepherd of Ben Jonson, the exquisite mine, Mr Severn, a young painter, who will, I think, one day be metres and inspired diction of which he has copied the Coryphæus of the English school. He left all, and sacrificed with great boldness and fidelity ; and, like his great every prospect, to accompany and watch over his friend Keats. originals, has also contrived to impart to the whole For many weeks previous to his death, he would see no one but piece that true rural and poetical air which breathes Mr Severn, who had almost risked his own life by unwearied only in them and in Theocritus—which is at once attendance upon his friend, who rendered his situation doubly homely and majestic, luxurious and rude, and sets unpleasant by the violence of his passions, exhibited even tobefore us the genuine sights, and sounds, and smells wards him, so much that he might be judged insane. His inof the country, with all the magic and grace of Ely. Mr Severn, the heir
of what little Keats left behind him at
tervals of remorse, too, were poignantly bitter. I believe that sium. His subject has the disadvantage of being Rome, has only come into possession of very few manuscripts mythological; and in this respect, as well as on ac
of his friend. The poetical volume which was the inseparable count of the raised and rapturous tone it conse- companion of Keats, and which he took for his most darling quently assumes, his poetry may be better compared model in composition, was the Minor Poems of Shakspeare.' perhaps to the Comus and the Arcades of Milton, of Byron (who thought the death of Keats a loss to our literature, which, also, there are many traces of imitation. The and who said, His fragment of Hyperion seems actually ingreat distinction, however, between him and these spired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Eschylus ') alludes,
It was the misfortune of Keats, as a poet, to be Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self ! either extravagantly praised or unmercifully con- There was a listening fear in her regard, demned. The former was owing to the generous As if calamity had but begun; partialities of friendship, somewhat obtrusively dis- As if the vanward clouds of evil days played; the latter, in some degree, to resentment of Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear that friendship, connected as it was with party poli- Was, with its stored thunder, labouring up. tics and peculiar views of society as well as of poetry. One hand she pressed upon that aching spot In the one case his faults, and in the other his merits, Where beats the human heart, as if just there, were entirely overlooked. An interval of more than Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain; twenty years should have dispelled these illusions The other upon Saturn's bended neck and prejudices. Keats was a true poet: he had the She laid, and to the level of his ear creative fancy, the ideal enthusiasm, and the nervous Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake susceptibility of the poetical temperament. If we In solemn tenor and deep organ tone; consider his extreme youth and delicate health, his Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue solitary and interesting self-instruction, the severity Would come in these like accents—0! how frail, of the attacks made upon him by his hostile and To that large utterance of the early gods !powerful critics, and, above all, the original richness 'Saturn, look up! though wherefore, poor old and picturesqueness of his conceptions and imagery,
Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house ;
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
O aching time! ( moments big as years ! [From ‘Hyperion.']
All, as ye pass, swell out the monstrous truth, Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on! O, thoughtless, why did I
Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude? Still as the silence round about his lair ;
Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes? Forest on forest hung about his head
Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.' Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
As when, upon a tranced summer night, Not so much life as on a summer's day
Those green-robed senators of mighty woods, Robs one light seed from the feathered grass,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir, A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
Save from one gradual solitary gust By reason of his fallen divinity
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off, Spreading a shade : the Naiad 'mid her reeds
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So cante these words and went.
The antique grace and solemnity of passages like And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground this must be felt by every reader of poetry. The His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, chief defects of Keats are his want of distinctness Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed ; and precision, and the carelessness of his style. While his bowed head seemed listening to the earth, There would seem to have been even affectation in His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
his disregard of order and regularity; and he heaps It seemed no force could wake him from his place; up images and conceits in such profusion, that they But there came one, who with a kindred hand
often form grotesque and absurd combinations, which Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low
fatigue the reader. Deep feeling and passion are With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
rarely given to young poets redolent of fancy and She was a goddess of the infant world;
warm from the perusal of the ancient authors. The By her in stature the tall Amazon
difficulty with which Keats had mastered the classic Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en
mythology gave it an undue importance in his mind: Achilles by the hair, and bent his neck;
a more perfect knowledge would have harmonised Or with a finger stayed Ixion's wheel.
its materials, and shown him the beauty of chasteHer face was large as that of Memphian sphinx,
ness and simplicity of style--the last but the greatest Pedestaled haply in a palace court,
advantage of classic studies. In poets like Gray, When sages looked to Egypt for their lore. But oh! how unlike marble was that face!
Rogers, and Campbell, we see the ultimate effects of
this taste; in Keats we have only the materials, How beautiful, if sorrow had not made
unselected, and often shapeless. His imagination playfully and wittily, in his Don Juan, to the death of the was prolific of forms of beauty and grandeur, but young poet :
the judgment was wanting to symmetrise and John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
arrange them, assigning to each its due proportion
and its proper place. His fragments, however, are Just as he really promised something great, If not intelligible, without Greek
the fragments of true genius-rich, original, and Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
various; and Mr Leigh Hunt is right in his opinion, Much as they might have been supposed to speak. that the poems of Keats, with all their defects, will Poor fellow! His was an untoward fate;
be the 'sure companions in field and grove' of those 'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
who love to escape 'out of the strife of commonShould let itself be snuffed out by an article.
places into the haven of solitude and imagination.'
And gather up all fancifullest shells [The Lady Madeline at her Devotions.]
For thee to tumble into Naiads' cells, [From the Eve of St Agnes.")
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping; Out went the taper as she hurried in;
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping, Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died :
The while they pelt each other on the crown She closed the door, she panted, all akin
With silvery oak-apples, and fir cones brownTo spirits of the air and visions wide :
By all the echoes that about thee ring, No uttered syllable, or, wo betide!
Hear us, 0 satyr king ! But to her heart her heart was voluble,
O hearkener to the loud-clapping shears, Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
While ever and anon to his shorn peers As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
A ram goes bleating: winder of the horn, Her throat in vain, and die heart-stified in her dell.
When snouted wild boars routing tender com A casement high and triple-arched there was, Anger our huntsmen : breather round our farms, All garlanded with carven imageries
To keep off mildews and all weather harms : Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass, Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds, And diamonded with panes of quaint device That come a-swooning over hollow grounds, Innumerable, of stains and splendid dyes,
And wither drearily on barren moors : As are the tiger-moth's deep damasked wings; Dread opener of the mysterious doors And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries, Leading to universal knowledge-see,
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, Great son of Dryope, A shielded scutcheon blushed with blood of queens The many that are come to pay their vows and kings.
With leaves about their brows! Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, Be still the unimaginable lodge And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast, For solitary thinkings; such as dodge As down she knelt for Heaven's grace and boon; Conception to the very bourne of heaven, Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest, Then leave the naked brain : be still the leaven, And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
That, spreading in this dull and clodded earth, And on her hair a glory like a saint:
Gives it a touch ethereal-a new birth:
Be still a symbol of immensity;
An unknown-but no more: we humbly screen
With uplift hands our foreheads lowly bending, [FromEndymion.')
And giving out a shout most heaven-rending,
Conjure thee to receive our humble Pæan,
Upon thy Mount Lycean!
Ode to a Nightingale.
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds 'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth,
But being too happy in thy happiness, Bethinking thee how melancholy loath
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees, Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx-do thou now,
In some melodious plot By thy love's milky brow,
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. Hear us, great Pan!
O for a draught of vintage, that hath been O thou for whose soul-soothing quiet turtles
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth, Passion their voices cooingly ’mong myrtles,
Tasting of Flora and the country green, What time thou wanderest at eventide
Dance and Provencal song and sun-burnt mirth! Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side
O for a beaker full of the warm south, Of thine enmossed realms: 0 thou to whom
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, Broad-leaved fig-trees even now foredoom
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, Their ripened fruitage; yellow-girted bees
And purple-stained mouth; Their golden honeycombs; our village leas
That I might drink and leave the world unseen, Their fairest blossomed beans and poppied corn;
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: The chuckling linnet its five young unborn, To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget Their summer coolness; pent-up butterflies
What thou among the leaves hast never known, Their freckled wings ; yea, the fresh budding year
The weariness, the fever, and the fret All its completions-be quickly near,
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; By every wind that nods the mountain pine,
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, O forester divine !
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow Thou to whom every fawn and satyr flies
And leaden-eyed despairs ; For willing service; whether to surprise
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, The squatted hare while in half-sleeping fit;
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. Or upward ragged precipices flit To save poor lambkins from the
Away! away! for I will fly to thee Or by mysterious enticement draw
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, Bewildered shepherds to their path again;
But on the viewless wings of Poesy, Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :