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Stanzas written in Dejection, near Naples.
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
The purple noon's transparent light,
Around its unexpanded buds;
The winds, the birds, the ocean floods,
With green and purple sea-weeds strown;
Like light dissolved in star-showers thrown;
The lightning of the noontide ocean
Arises from its measured motion;
Nor peace within, nor calm around,
The sage in meditation found,
Nor fame, nor power, nor love, nor leisure.
Smiling they live, and call life pleasure ;
Even as the winds and waters are ;
And weep away the life of care
Till death like sleep might steal on me,
My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea
As I, when this sweet day is gone,
Insults with this untimely moan;
Whom men love not; and yet regret,
Shall on its stainless glory set,
On a Faded Violet.
And mocks the heart which yet is warm
With cold and silent rest.
The colour from the flower is gone,
I weep-my tears revive it not;
I sigh-it breathes no more on me; Its mute and uncomplaining lot
Is such as mine should be.
A withered, lifeless, vacant form,
It lies on my abandoned breast.
Lines to an Indian Air. I arise from dreams of thee,
The nightingale's complaint, In the first sweet sleep of night,
It dies upon her heart, When the winds are breathing low,
As I must do on thine,
O beloved as thou art!
O lift me from the grass !
I die, I faint, I fail; To thy chamber window, sweet.
Let thy love in kisses rain
On my lips and eyelids pale. The wandering airs they faint
My cheek is cold and white, alas! . On the dark and silent stream,
My heart beats loud and fast; The Champak odours fail
Oh ! press it close to thine again, Like sweet thoughts in a dream;
Where it will break at last.
JOAN KEATS was born in London, October 29, 1795, in the house of his grandfather, who kept a livery-stable at Moorfields. Je received his education at Enfield, and in his fifteenth year was a prenticed to a surgeon. Most of his time, however, was devoted to the cultivation of his literary talents, which were early conspicuous. During his apprenticeship, he made and carefully wrote out a literal translation of Virgil's ' Æneid,' but he does not appear to hav : been familiar with more difficult Latin poetry, nor to have even commenced learning the Greek language (Lord Houghton). One of his earliest friends and critics was Mr. Leigh Hunt, who, being slewn some of his poetical pieces, was struck, he says, with the exuberant specimens of genuine though young poetry that were laid before him, and the promise of which was seconded by the fine fervid counte nance of the writer. A volume of these juvenile poems was published in 1817. In 1818 Keats published his ‘Endymion, a Poetic Romance,' defective in many parts, but evincing rich though undisciplined powers of imagination. The poem was criticised, in a strain of contemptuous severity, by Mr. John Wilson Croker in the 'Quarterly Review; and such was the sensitiveness of the young poet panting for distinction, and flattered by a few private friends that the critique imbittered his existence. The first effects,' says Sheley, 'are described to me to have resembled insanity, and it was by assiduous watching that he was restrained from effecting purposes or suicide. The agony of his sufferings at length produced the rupture of a blood vessel in the lungs, and the usual process of consumptiou appears to have begun.' The process had begun, as was too soon as parent; but the disease was a family one, and would probably have appeared had no hostile criticism existed. Lord Houghton, Keato's
biographer, states that the young poet profited by the attacks of the critics, their effect being 'to purify his style, correct his tendency to exaggeration, enlarge his poetical studies, and produce, among other improved efforts, that very · Hyperion' which called forth from Byron a eulogy as violent and unqualified as the former onslaught.' Byron had termed the juvenile poetry of Keats, the drivelling idiotism of the manikin.' Keats's poetry falling into the hands of Jeffrey, he criticised it in the ‘Edinburgh Review,' in a spirit of kindliness and just appreciation which formed a strong contrast to the criticism in the ‘Quarterly.' But this genial critique did not appear till 1820, too late to cheer the then dying poet. Mr. Keats,' says the eloquent critic, ‘is, we understand, still a very young man; and his whole works, indeed, bear evidence enough of the fact. They manifestly require, therefore, all the indulgence that can be claimed for a first attempt; but we think it no less plain that they deserve it; for they are flushed all over with the rich lights of fancy, and so coloured and bestrown with the flowers of poetry, that, even while perplexed and bewildered in their labyrinths, it is impossible to resist the intoxication of their sweetness, or to shut our hearts to the enchantments they so lavishly present.
"The models upon which he has formed himself in the “Endymion,” the earliest and by much the most considerable of his poems, are obviously the “Faithful Shepherdess” of Fletcher, and the “Sad Shepherd ” of Ben Jonson, the exquisite metres and inspired diction of which he has copied with great boldness and fidelity; and, like his great originals, has also contrived to impart to the whole piece that true rural and poetical air which breathes only in them and in Theocritus—which is at once homely and majestic, luxurious and rude, and sets before us the genuine sights, and sounds, and smells of the country, with all the magic and grace of Elysium.' The genius of the poet was still further displayed in his latest volume,
Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes,' &c. This volume was well received. The state of the poet's health now became so alarming that, as a last effort for life, he was advised to try the milder climate of Italy. A young friend, Mr. Severn, an artist (now British consul at Rome), generously abandoned his professional prospects at home, in order to accompany Keats; and they sailed in September 1820. The invalid suffered severely during the voyage, and he had to endure a ten days' quarantine at Naples. The thoughts of a young lady to whom he was betrothed, and the too great probability that he would see her no more, added a deeper gloom to his mind, and he seems never to have rallied from this depression. At Rome, Mr. Severn watched over him with affectionate care; Dr. Clark also was unremitting in his attendance; but he daily got worse, and died on the 23d of February 1821. Keats was buried in the Protestant cemetery at Rome, one of the most beautiful spots on which the eye and heart of man can rest. “It is,' says Lord Houghton, “a grassy slope amid verdurous ruins of the Honorian walls of the diminished city, and surmounted by the pyramidal tomb which Petrarch attributed to Remus, but which antiquarian truth has ascribed to the humbler name of Caius Cestius, a tribune of the people only remembered by his sepulchre. In one of those mental voyages into the past which often precede death, Keats had told Severn that “ he thought the intensest pleasure he had received in life was in watching the growth of flowers;" and another time, after lying a while still and peaceful, he said: “I feel the flowers growing over me.” And there they do grow even all the winter long-violets and daisies mingling with the fresh herbage, and, in the words of Shelley, “making one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.” Keats had a few days before his death expressed a wish to Mr. Severn that on his gravestone should be the inscription: “Here lies one whose name was writ in water.” Shelley honoured the memory of Keats with his exquisite elegy 'Adonais. Even Byron felt that the young poet's death was a loss to literature. The fragment of
Hyperion,' he said, “ seems actually inspired by the Titans: it is as sublime as Æschylus.” ?*
It was the misfortune of Keats, as a poet, to be either extravagantly praised or unmercifully condemned. The former was owing to the generous partialities of friendship, somewhat obtrusively displayed; the latter, in some degree, to resentment of that friendship, connected as it was with party politics and peculiar views of society as well as of poetry. In the one case his faults, and in the other his merits, were entirely overlooked. A few years dispelled these illusions and prejudices. Keats was a true poet. If we consider his extreme youth and delicate health, his solitary and interesting selfinstruction, the severity of the attacks made upon him by his hostile and powerful critics, and, above all, the original richness and picturesqueness of his conceptions and imagery, even when they run to waste, he appears to be one of the greatest of the young poets-resembling the Milton of 'Lycidas,' or the Spencer of the Tears of the Muses.' What easy, finished, statuesque beauty and classic expression, for example, are displayed in this picture of Saturn and Thea!
* Byron could not, however, resist the seeming smartness of saying in Don Juan that Keats was killed off by one critique:
'Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
M Croker, writing to a friend about this article,' in a letter which we have seen, said: • Gifford added some pepper to my grill.? A miserable piece of cookery they made of it! High as is now the fame of Keats, it is said he died admired only by his personal friends and by Shelleyand even ten years after his death.when the first Memoir was proposed, the woman he had loved had so little belief in his poetical reputation, that she wrote to Mr. Dilke: The kindest act would be to let him rest for ever in the obscurity to which circumstances have condemned him.'' Puper 8 of a Critic, vol. i. p. II.
Saturn and Thea.-From Hyperion.'
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Along the margin sand large footmarks went
It seemed no force could wake him from his place; But there came one, who with a kindred hand Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low With reverence, though to one who knew it not. She was a goddess of the infant world; By her in stature the tall Amazon Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have talen Achilles by the hair, and bent his neck; Or with a finger stayed Ixion's wheel. Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx, Pedestaled haply in a palace court, When sages looked to Egypt for their lore. But oh ! how unlike marble was that face! How beautiful, if sorrow had not made Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty's self i There was a listening fear in her regard, As if calamity had but begun; As if the vanward clouds of evil days Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear Was, with its stored thunder, labouring up. One hand she pressed upon that aching spot Where beats the human heart, as if just there, Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain; The other upon Saturn's bended neck She laid, and to the level of his ear Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake In solemn tenor and deep organ tone; Some mouring words, which in our feeble tongue Would come in these like accents-oh! how frail. To that large utterance of the early gods
Saturn. look up! though wherefore, poor old king? I cannot say, “0 wherefore sleepest thou ?" For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth Knows thee not, thus afllicted, for a god; And ocean, too, with all its solemn noise, Has from thy sceptre passed, and all the air Is emptied of thine hoary majesty, 'Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,