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Their filmy pennons at her word they furl,
May have broken the woof of my tent's thin roof, And stop obedient to the reins of light :
The stars peep behind her and peer ;
And I laugh to see them whirl and flee,
Like a swarm of golden bees,
When I widen the rent in my wind-built tent,
Till the calm rivers, lakes, and seas,
Like strips of the sky fallen through me on high,
Are each paved with the moon and these.
I bind the sun's throne with the burning zone, . I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
And the moon's with a girdle of pearl ; From the seas and the streams ;
The volcanoes are dim, and the stars reel and swim, I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
When the whirlwinds my banner unfurl. In their noonday dreams.
From cape to cape, with a bridge-like shape, From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
Over a torrent sea, The sweet birds every one,
Sunbeam proof, I hang like a roof, When rocked to rest on their mother's breast,
The mountains its columns be. As she dances about the sun.
The triumphal arch through which I march, I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
With hurricane, fire, and snow, And whiten the green plains under ;
When the powers of the air are chained to my chair, And then again I dissolve it in rain,
Is the million-coloured bow; And laugh as I pass in thunder.
The sphere-fire above its soft colours wove,
While the moist earth was laughing below.
I am the daughter of earth and water,
And the nursling of the sky; While I sleep in the arms of the blast.
I pass through the pores of the ocean and shores; Sublime on the towers of my skiey bowers
I change, but I cannot die. Lightning, my pilot, sits;
For after the rain, when, with never a stain, In a cavern under is fettered the thunder,
The pavilion of heaven is bare, It struggles and howls at fits;
And the winds and sunbeams, with their convex Over earth and ocean, with gentle motion,
gleams, This pilot is guiding me,
the blue dome of air, Lured by the love of the genii that move
I silently laugh at my own cenotaph, In the depths of the purple sea;
And out of the caverns of rain, Over the rills, and the crags, and the hills,
Like a child from the womb, like a ghost from the Over the lakes and the plains,
tomb, Wherever he dream, under mountain or stream,
I arise and upbuild it again.
To a Skylark.
Hail to thee, blithe spirit !
Bird thou never wert,
That from heaven, or near it,
Pourest thy full heart
In profuse strains of unpremeditated art.
Higher still, and higher, An eagle alit one moment may sit
From the earth thou springest, In the light of its golden wings;
Like a cloud of fire ;
The blue deep thou wingest,
And singing still dost soar, and soaring ever singest. From the depth of heaven above,
In the golden lightning With wings folded I rest, on mine airy nest,
of the sunken sun, As still as a brooding dove.
O'er which clouds are brightening,
Thou dost float and run,
Like an unbodied joy whose race is just begun.
The pale purple even
Melts around thy flight; And wherever the beat of her unseen feet,
Like a star of heaven, Which only the angels hear,
In the broad daylight
Thou art unseen, but yet I hear thy shrill delight. "The odes To the Skylark and The Cloud, in the opinion of
Keen as are the arrows many critics, bear a purer poetical stamp than any other of his productions. They were written as his mind prompted, listening
Of that silver sphere, to the carolling of the bird aloft in the azure sky of Italy; or
Whose intense lamp narrows marking the cloud as it sped across the heavens, while he floated in his boat on the Thames. No poet was ever warmed by a
In the white dawn clear, more genuine and unforced inspiration. His extreme sensibility Until we hardly see, we feel that it is there. gave the intensity of passion to his intellectual pursuits, and rendered his mind keenly alive to every perception of outward
All the earth and air objects, as well as to his internal sensations. Such a gift is, among the sad vicissitudes of human life, the disappointments
With thy voice is loud, we meet, and the galling sense of our own mistakes and errors,
As, when night is bare, fraught with pain; to escape from such he delivered up his soul
From one lonely cloud to poetry, and felt happy when he sheltered himself from the
The moon rains out her beams, and heaven is overinfluence of human sympathies in the wildest regions of fancy.'MES SHELLEY, Pref. to Poet. Works.
What thou art we know not;
Better than all measures
Of delight and sound,
Better than all treasures
That in books are found,
Teach me half the gladness
That thy brain must know,
Such harmonious madness
From my lips would flow,
Like a high-born maiden
From 'The Sensitive Plant.'
A Sensitive Plant in a garden grew,
And it opened its fan-like leaves to the light,
And closed them beneath the kisses of night.
And the spring arose on the garden fair,
And the Spirit of Love fell everywhere; Among the flowers and grass which screen it from And each flower and herb on earth's dark breast the view :
Rose from the dreams of its wintry rest.
But none ever trembled and panted with bliss
In the garden, the field, or the wilderness,
Like a doe in the noontide with love's sweet want,
As the companionless Sensitive Plant. thieves :
The snowdrop, and then the violet,
Arose from the ground with warm rain wet,
And their breath was mixed with fresh odour, sent
From the turf, like the voice and the instrument.
Then the pied wind-flowers and the tulip tall,
And narcissi, the fairest among them all,
Who gaze on their eyes in the stream's recess,
Till they die of their own dear loveliness ;
And the Naiad-like lily of the vale,
Whom youth makes so fair, and passion so pale,
That the light of its tremulous bells is seen
Through their pavilions of tender green ;
And the hyacinth purple, and white, and blue,
Which flung from its bells a sweet peal anew
It was felt like an odour within the sense ;
And the rose like a nymph to the bath addrest,
Which unveiled the depth of her glowing breast, What shapes of sky or plain?
Till, fold after fold, to the fainting air
And the wand-like lily, which lifted up,
As a Mænad, its moonlight-coloured cup,
Till the fiery star, which is its eye,
Gazed through clear dew on the tender sky;
And the jessamine faint, and the sweet tuberose,
The sweetest flower for scent that blows;
And all rare blossoms.from every clime,
Grew in that garden in perfect prime.
Was prankt under boughs of embowering blossom,
With golden and green light, slanting through
Their heaven of many a tangled hue,
Broad water-lilies lay tremulously, Our sweetest songs are those that tell of saddest And starry river-buds glimmered by, thought.
And around them the soft stream did glide and dance
With a motion of sweet sound and radiance.
And the sinuous paths of lawn and of moss,
Which led through the garden along and across,
Some open at once to the sun and the breeze, I know not how thy joy we ever could come near. Some lost among bowers of blossoming trees,
Were all paved with daisies and delicate bells
From Alastor, or the Spirit of Solitude.
The noonday sun
Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass And from this undefiled Paradise
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence The flowers—as an infant's awakening eyes
A narrow vale embosoms. There huge caves, Smile on its mother, whose singing sweet
Scooped in the dark base of those airy rocks, Can first lull, and at last must awaken it
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves When heaven's blithe winds had unfolded them, Wove twilight o'er the poet's path, as, led As mine-lamps enkindle a hidden gem,
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier death, Shone smiling to heaven, and every one
He sought in nature's dearest haunt, some bank, Shared joy in the light of the gentle sun ;
Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate--the oak, For each one was interpenetrated
Expanding its immense and knotty arms, With the light and the odour its neighbour shed, Embraces the light beech. The pyramids Like young
lovers whom youth and love make dear, Of the tall cedar overarching frame Wrapt and filled by their mutual atmosphere.
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky, But the Sensitive Plant, which could give small fruit The ash and the acacia floating hang, Of the love which it felt from the leaf to the root, Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents clothed Received more than all, it loved more than ever, In rainbow and in fire, the parasites, Where none wanted but it, could belong to the giver ; Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks; and, as gamesome infants' eyes, For the Sensitive Plant has no bright flower ;
gentle meanings and most innocent wiles, Radiance and odour are not its dower :
Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love, It loves, even like Love, its deep heart is full,
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs, It desires what it has not—the beautiful !
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make network of the dark-blue light of day The light winds which, from unsustaining wings,
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable Shed the music of many murmurings;
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns The beams which dart from many a star
Beneath these canopies extend their swells, Of the flowers whose hues they bear afar ;
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyes with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen The plumèd insects swift and free,
Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with Like golden boats on a sunny sea,
jasmine, Laden with light and odour which pass
A soul-dissolving odour, to invite Over the gleam of the living grass ;
To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell
Silence and twilight here, twin sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
Like vaporous shapes half seen; beyond, a well,
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
woven boughs above ;
And each depending leaf, and every speck The quivering vapours of dim noontide,
Of azure sky, darting between their chasms; Which like a sea o'er the warm earth glide,
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves In which every sound, and odour, and beam,
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star Move as reeds in a single stream;
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or painted bird, sleeping beneath the moon, Each and all like ministering angels were
Or gorgeous insect, floating motionless, For the Sensitive Plant sweet joy to bear,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.
Stanzas written in Dejection, near Naples.
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear And the beasts, and the birds, and the insects were The purple noon's transparent light. drowned
The breath of the moist air is light, In an ocean of dreams without a sound;
Around its unexpanded buds; Whose waves never mark, though they ever impress Like many a voice of one delight, The light sand which paves it-consciousness
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
The city's voice itself is soft, like Solitude's. (Only overhead the sweet nightingale Ever sang more sweet as the day might fail,
I see the deep's untrampled floor And snatches of its Elysian chant
With green and purple sea-weeds strown ; Were mixed with the dreams of the Sensitive Plant) ; I see the
waves upon the shore,
Like light dissolved in star-showers thrown ; The Sensitive Plant was the earliest
I sit upon the sands alone, Up-gathered into the bosom of rest ;
The lightning of the noontide ocean A sweet child weary of its delight,
Is flashing round me, and a tone The feeblest, and yet the favourite,
Arises from its measured motion ; Cradled within the embrace of night.
How sweet, did any heart now share in my emotion !
Alas! I have nor hope nor health,
Music, when soft voices die, The sage in meditation found,
Vibrates in the memoryAnd walked with inward glory crowned ;
Odours, when sweet violets sicken, Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
Live within the sense they quicken.
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure ;
Rose leaves, when the rose is dead,
And so thy thoughts, when thou art gone, Yet now despair itself is mild,
Love itself shall slumber on.
JOHN KEATS was born in London, October 29, And I might feel in the warm air
1795, in the house of his grandfather, who kept My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
a livery-stable at Moorfields. He received his Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony. education at Enfield, and in his fifteenth year was
apprenticed to a surgeon. Most of his time, howSome might lament that I were cold,
ever, was devoted to the cultivation of his literary As I, when this sweet day is gone,
talents, which were early conspicuous. During Which my lost heart, too soon grown old,
his apprenticeship, he made and carefully wrote Insults with this untimely moan ;
out a literal translation of Virgil's Æneid, but They might lament-for I am one
he does not appear to have been familiar with Whom men love not; and yet regret,
more difficult Latin poetry, nor to have even Unlike this day, which, when the sun Shall on its stainless glory set,
commenced learning the Greek language (Lord Will linger, though enjoyed, like joy in memory yet.
Houghton). One of his earliest friends and critics was Mr Leigh Hunt, who, being shewn
some of his poetical pieces, was struck, he says, On a Faded Violet,
with the exuberant specimens of genuine though The colour from the flower is gone,
young poetry that were laid before him, and the Which like thy sweet eyes smiled on me :
promise of which was seconded by the fine fervid The odour from the flower is flown,
countenance of the writer. A volume of these Which breathed of thee, and only thee. juvenile poems was published in 1817. In 1818
Keats published his Endymion, a Poetic Romance, A withered, lifeless, vacant form,
defective in many parts, but evincing rich though It lies on my abandoned breast,
undisciplined powers of imagination. The poem And mocks the heart which yet is warm was criticised, in a strain of contemptuous severity, With cold and silent rest.
by Mr John Wilson Croker in the Quarterly Re
view; and such was the sensitiveness of the young I weep-my tears revive it not ;
poet-panting for distinction, and flattered by a I sigh--it breathes no more on me;
few private friends--that the critique imbittered Its mute and uncomplaining lot
his existence. The first effects,' says Shelley, Is such as mine should be.
'are described to me to have resembled insanity,
and it was by assiduous watching that he was reLines to an Indian Air.
strained from effecting purposes of suicide. The
agony of his sufferings at length produced the I arise from dreams of thee,
rupture of a blood-vessel in the lungs, and the usual In the first sweet sleep of night,
process of consumption appears to have begun.' When the winds are breathing low, And the stars are shining bright;
The process had begun, as was too soon apparent; I arise from dreams of thee,
but the disease was a family one, and would And a spirit in my feet
probably have appeared had no hostile criticism Has led me--who knows how ?
existed. Lord Houghton, Keats's biographer, states To thy chamber window, sweet.
that the young poet profited by the attacks of the
critics, their effect being' to purify his style, correct The wandering airs they faint
his tendency to exaggeration, enlarge his poetical On the dark and silent stream,
studies, and produce, among other improved The Champak odours fail
efforts, that very Hyperion which called forth Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
from Byron a eulogy as violent and unqualified as The nightingale's complaint,
the former onslaught.' Byron had termed the It dies upon her heart, As I must do on thine,
juvenile poetry of Keats, 'the drivelling idiotism O beloved as thou art !
of the manikin.' Keats's poetry falling into the
hands of Jeffrey, he criticised it in the Edinburgh O lift me from the grass !
Review, in a spirit of kindliness and just appreI die, I faint, I fail ;
ciation which formed a strong contrast to the Let thy love in kisses rain
criticism in the Quarterly. But this genial critique On my lips and eyelids pale.
did not appear till 1820, too late to cheer the then My cheek is cold and white, alas!
dying poet. 'Mr Keats,' says the eloquent critic, My heart beats loud and fast;
is, we understand, still a very young man ; and Oh! press it close to thine again,
his whole works, indeed, bear evidence enough of Where it will break at last.
the fact. They manifestly require, therefore, all
the indulgence that can be claimed for a first inspired by the Titans : it is as sublime as attempt ; but we think it no less plain that they Æschylus.*, deserve it; for they are flushed all over with the It was the misfortune of Keats, as a poet, to rich lights of fancy, and so coloured and bestrown be either extravagantly praised or unmercifully with the flowers of poetry, that, even while per condemned. The former was owing to the generplexed and bewildered in their labyrinths, it is ous partialities of friendship, somewhat obtrusimpossible to resist the intoxication of their sweet-ively displayed; the latter, in some degree, to ness, or to shut our hearts to the enchantments resentment of that friendship, connected as it was they so lavishly present. The models upon which with party politics and peculiar views of society as he has formed himself in the Endymion, the well as of poetry. In the one case his faults, and earliest and by much the most considerable of his in the other his merits, were entirely overlooked. poems, are obviously the Faithful Shepherdess of A few years dispelled 'these illusions and prejuFletcher, and the Sad Shepherd of Ben Jonson, dices. Keats was a true poet. If we consider his the exquisite metres and inspired diction of which extreme youth and delicate health, his solitary he has copied with great boldness and fidelity; and interesting self-instruction, the severity of the and, like his great originals, has also contrived to attacks made upon him by his hostile and powerimpart to the whole piece that true rural and ful critics, and, above all, the original richness and poetical air which breathes only in them and in picturesqueness of his conceptions and imagery, Theocritus—which is at once homely and majestic, even when they run to waste, he appears to be luxurious and rude, and sets before us the genuine one of the greatest of the young poets-resembling sights, and sounds, and smells of the country, the Milton of Lycidas, or the Spenser of the Tears with all the magic and grace of Elysium.' The of the Muses. What easy, finished, statuesque genius of the poet was still further displayed in beauty and classic expression, for example, are his latest volume, Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St displayed in this picture of Saturn and Thea! Agnes, &c. This volume was well received. The state of the poet's health now became so alarming
Saturn and Thea.-From 'Ilyperion.' that, as a last effort for life, he was advised to try the milder climate of Italy. A young friend, Mr Deep in the shady sadness of a vale Severn, an artist (now British consul at Rome),
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, generously abandoned his professional pros
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat gray-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone, pects at home, in order to accompany Keats; and they sailed in September 1820. The invalid
as the silence round about his lair ;
Forest on forest hung about his head suffered severely during the voyage, and he
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there, had to endure a ten days' quarantine at Naples. Not so much life as on a summer's day The thoughts of a young lady to whom he was Robs not one light seed from the feathered grass, betrothed, and the too great probability that he But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest. would see her no more, added a deeper gloom to A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more his mind, and he seems never to have rallied from By reason of his fallen divinity this depression. At Rome, Mr Severn watched Spreading a shade : the Naiad 'mid her reeds over him with affectionate care; Dr Clark also Pressed her cold finger closer to her lips. was unremitting in his attendance; but he daily Along the margin sand large footmarks went
No further than to where his feet had strayed, got worse, and died on the 23d of February 1821.
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground Keats was buried in the Protestant cemetery at
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead, Rome, one of the most beautiful spots on which
Unsceptred ; and his realmless eyes were closed; the eye and heart of man can rest. It is,' says While his bowed head seemed listening to the earth, Lord Houghton, a grassy slope amid verdurous His ancient mother, for some comfort yet. ruins of the Honorian walls of the diminished It seemed no force could wake him from his place; city, and surmounted by the pyramidal tomb But there came one, who with a kindred hand which Petrarch attributed to Remus, but which Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low antiquarian truth has ascribed to the humbler With reverence, though to one who knew it not. name of Caius Cestius, a Tribune of the people She was a goddess of the infant world; only remembered by his sepulchre. In one of By her in stature the tall Amazon those mental voyages into the past which often
Had stood a pigmy's height : she would have ta’en
Achilles by the hair, and bent his neck; precede death, Keats had told Severn that "he
Or with a finger stayed Ixion's wheel. thought the intensest pleasure he had received
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx, in life was in watching the growth of flowers ;"
Pedestaled haply in a palace court, and another time, after lying a while still and
When sages looked to Egypt for their lore. peaceful, he said: “I feel the flowers growing But oh! how unlike marble was that face ! over me." And there they do grow even all the winter long--violets and daisies mingling * Byron could not, however, resist the seeming smartness of with the fresh herbage, and, in the words of saying in Don Juan that Keats was killed off by one critique: Shelley, “making one in love with death to
"Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle, think that one should be buried in so sweet a
Should let itself be snuffed out by an article ! place.” Keats had a few days before his death Mr Croker, writing to a friend about this article,' in a letter expressed a wish to Mr Severn that on his which we have seen, said: “Gifford added some pepper to my gravestone should be the inscription : " Here grill." A miserable piece of cookery they made of it! "High as is lies one whose name was writ in water.” Shelley personal friends and by Shelley; and even ten years after his honoured the memory of Keats with his exquisite death, when the first Memoir was proposed, the woman he had elegy Adonais. Even Byron felt that the young Mr Dilke : The kindest act would be to let him rest for ever in poet's death was a loss to literature. The the obscurity to which circumstances have condemned him.") fragment of Hyperion, he said, “ seems actually Papers of a Critic, vol. i. p. 11.