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Title: Keats: Poems Published in 1820
Author: Keats, John, 1795-1821
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.

*** Start of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Keats: Poems Published in 1820" ***

      which includes links to images of the original pages.
Transcriber's note:

      Words in italics in the original are surrounded by _underscores_.

      The one Greek word has been transliterated and placed between
      +plus signs+.

      Ellipses match the original.

      See the end of the text for a more detailed transcriber's note.



Edited with Introduction and Notes by


At the Clarendon Press


The text of this edition is a reprint (page for page and line for line)
of a copy of the 1820 edition in the British Museum. For convenience of
reference line-numbers have been added; but this is the only change,
beyond the correction of one or two misprints.

The books to which I am most indebted for the material used in the
Introduction and Notes are _The Poems of John Keats_ with an
Introduction and Notes by E. de Sélincourt, _Life of Keats_ (English Men
of Letters Series) by Sidney Colvin, and _Letters of John Keats_ edited
by Sidney Colvin. As a pupil of Dr. de Sélincourt I also owe him special
gratitude for his inspiration and direction of my study of Keats, as
well as for the constant help which I have received from him in the
preparation of this edition.
                                                            M. R.


PREFACE                                                        ii

LIFE OF KEATS                                                   v

ADVERTISEMENT                                                   2

LAMIA. PART I                                                   3

LAMIA. PART II                                                 27


THE EVE OF ST. AGNES                                           81

ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE                                          107

ODE ON A GRECIAN URN                                          113

ODE TO PSYCHE                                                 117

FANCY                                                         122

ODE ['Bards of Passion and of Mirth']                         128

LINES ON THE MERMAID TAVERN                                   131

ROBIN HOOD. TO A FRIEND                                       133

TO AUTUMN                                                     137

ODE ON MELANCHOLY                                             140

HYPERION. BOOK I                                              145

HYPERION. BOOK II                                             167

HYPERION. BOOK III                                            191

  NOTE ON ADVERTISEMENT                                       201

INTRODUCTION TO LAMIA                                         201

  NOTES ON LAMIA                                              203


  NOTES ON ISABELLA                                           215

  NOTES ON THE EVE OF ST. AGNES                               224

  URN, ODE ON MELANCHOLY, AND TO AUTUMN                       229

  NOTES ON ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE                               232

  NOTES ON ODE ON A GRECIAN URN                               235

INTRODUCTION TO ODE TO PSYCHE                                 236

  NOTES ON ODE TO PSYCHE                                      237

INTRODUCTION TO FANCY                                         238

  NOTES ON FANCY                                              238

  NOTES ON ODE ['Bards of Passion and of Mirth']              239


  NOTES ON LINES ON THE MERMAID TAVERN                        239

INTRODUCTION TO ROBIN HOOD                                    240

  NOTES ON ROBIN HOOD                                         241

  NOTES ON 'TO AUTUMN'                                        242

  NOTES ON ODE ON MELANCHOLY                                  243

INTRODUCTION TO HYPERION                                      244

  NOTES ON HYPERION                                           249


Of all the great poets of the early nineteenth century--Wordsworth,
Coleridge, Scott, Byron, Shelley, Keats--John Keats was the last born
and the first to die. The length of his life was not one-third that of
Wordsworth, who was born twenty-five years before him and outlived him
by twenty-nine. Yet before his tragic death at twenty-six Keats had
produced a body of poetry of such extraordinary power and promise that
the world has sometimes been tempted, in its regret for what he might
have done had he lived, to lose sight of the superlative merit of what
he actually accomplished.

The three years of his poetic career, during which he published three
small volumes of poetry, show a development at the same time rapid and
steady, and a gradual but complete abandonment of almost every fault and
weakness. It would probably be impossible, in the history of literature,
to find such another instance of the 'growth of a poet's mind'.

The last of these three volumes, which is here reprinted, was published
in 1820, when it 'had good success among the literary people and . . . a
moderate sale'. It contains the flower of his poetic production and is
perhaps, altogether, one of the most marvellous volumes ever issued from
the press.

But in spite of the maturity of Keats's work when he was twenty-five, he
had been in no sense a precocious child. Born in 1795 in the city of
London, the son of a livery-stable keeper, he was brought up amid
surroundings and influences by no means calculated to awaken poetic

He was the eldest of five--four boys, one of whom died in infancy, and a
girl younger than all; and he and his brothers George and Tom were
educated at a private school at Enfield. Here John was at first
distinguished more for fighting than for study, whilst his bright,
brave, generous nature made him popular with masters and boys.

Soon after he had begun to go to school his father died, and when he was
fifteen the children lost their mother too. Keats was passionately
devoted to his mother; during her last illness he would sit up all night
with her, give her her medicine, and even cook her food himself. At her
death he was brokenhearted.

The children were now put under the care of two guardians, one of whom,
Mr. Abbey, taking the sole responsibility, immediately removed John from
school and apprenticed him for five years to a surgeon at Edmonton.

Whilst thus employed Keats spent all his leisure time in reading, for
which he had developed a great enthusiasm during his last two years at
school. There he had devoured every book that came in his way,
especially rejoicing in stories of the gods and goddesses of ancient
Greece. At Edmonton he was able to continue his studies by borrowing
books from his friend Charles Cowden Clarke, the son of his
schoolmaster, and he often went over to Enfield to change his books and
to discuss those which he had been reading. On one of these occasions
Cowden Clarke introduced him to Spenser, to whom so many poets have owed
their first inspiration that he has been called 'the poets' poet'; and
it was then, apparently, that Keats was first prompted to write.

When he was nineteen, a year before his apprenticeship came to an end,
he quarrelled with his master, left him, and continued his training in
London as a student at St. Thomas's Hospital and Guy's. Gradually,
however, during the months that followed, though he was an industrious
and able medical student, Keats came to realize that poetry was his true
vocation; and as soon as he was of age, in spite of the opposition of
his guardian, he decided to abandon the medical profession and devote
his life to literature.

If Mr. Abbey was unsympathetic Keats was not without encouragement from
others. His brothers always believed in him whole-heartedly, and his
exceptionally lovable nature had won him many friends. Amongst these
friends two men older than himself, each famous in his own sphere, had
special influence upon him.

One of them, Leigh Hunt, was something of a poet himself and a pleasant
prose-writer. His encouragement did much to stimulate Keats's genius,
but his direct influence on his poetry was wholly bad. Leigh Hunt's was
not a deep nature; his poetry is often trivial and sentimental, and his
easy conversational style is intolerable when applied to a great theme.
To this man's influence, as well as to the surroundings of his youth,
are doubtless due the occasional flaws of taste in Keats's early work.

The other, Haydon, was an artist of mediocre creative talent but great
aims and amazing belief in himself. He had a fine critical faculty which
was shown in his appreciation of the Elgin marbles, in opposition to the
most respected authorities of his day. Mainly through his insistence
they were secured for the nation which thus owes him a boundless debt of
gratitude. He helped to guide and direct Keats's taste by his
enthusiastic exposition of these masterpieces of Greek sculpture.

In 1817 Keats published his first volume of poems, including 'Sleep and
Poetry' and the well-known lines 'I stood tiptoe upon a little hill'.
With much that is of the highest poetic value, many memorable lines and
touches of his unique insight into nature, the volume yet showed
considerable immaturity. It contained indeed, if we except one perfect
sonnet, rather a series of experiments than any complete and finished
work. There were abundant faults for those who liked to look for them,
though there were abundant beauties too; and the critics and the public
chose rather to concentrate their attention on the former. The volume
was therefore anything but a success; but Keats was not discouraged, for
he saw many of his own faults more clearly than did his critics, and
felt his power to outgrow them.

Immediately after this Keats went to the Isle of Wight and thence to
Margate that he might study and write undisturbed. On May 10th he wrote
to Haydon--'I never quite despair, and I read Shakespeare--indeed I
shall, I think, never read any other book much'. We have seen Keats
influenced by Spenser and by Leigh Hunt: now, though his love for
Spenser continued, Shakespeare's had become the dominant influence.
Gradually he came too under the influence of Wordsworth's philosophy of
poetry and life, and later his reading of Milton affected his style to
some extent, but Shakespeare's influence was the widest, deepest and
most lasting, though it is the hardest to define. His study of other
poets left traces upon his work in turns of phrase or turns of thought:
Shakespeare permeated his whole being, and his influence is to be
detected not in a resemblance of style, for Shakespeare can have no
imitators, but in a broadening view of life, and increased humanity.

No poet could have owed his education more completely to the English
poets than did John Keats. His knowledge of Latin was slight--he knew no
Greek, and even the classical stories which he loved and constantly
used, came to him almost entirely through the medium of Elizabethan
translations and allusions. In this connexion it is interesting to read
his first fine sonnet, in which he celebrates his introduction to the
greatest of Greek poets in the translation of the rugged and forcible
Elizabethan, George Chapman:--

     _On first looking into Chapman's Homer._

     Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
     And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
     Round many western islands have I been
     Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
     Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
     That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;
     Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
     Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
     Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
     When a new planet swims into his ken;
     Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
     He stared at the Pacific--and all his men
     Look'd at each other with a wild surmise--
     Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Of the work upon which he was now engaged, the narrative-poem of
_Endymion_, we may give his own account to his little sister Fanny in a
letter dated September 10th, 1817:--

'Perhaps you might like to know what I am writing about. I will tell
you. Many years ago there was a young handsome Shepherd who fed his
flocks on a Mountain's Side called Latmus--he was a very contemplative
sort of a Person and lived solitary among the trees and Plains little
thinking that such a beautiful Creature as the Moon was growing mad in
Love with him.--However so it was; and when he was asleep she used to
come down from heaven and admire him excessively for a long time; and at
last could not refrain from carrying him away in her arms to the top of
that high Mountain Latmus while he was a dreaming--but I dare say you
have read this and all the other beautiful tales which have come down
from the ancient times of that beautiful Greece.'

On his return to London he and his brother Tom, always delicate and now
quite an invalid, took lodgings at Hampstead. Here Keats remained for
some time, harassed by the illness of his brother and of several of his
friends; and in June he was still further depressed by the departure of
his brother George to try his luck in America.

In April, 1818, _Endymion_ was finished. Keats was by no means
satisfied with it but preferred to publish it as it was, feeling it to
be 'as good as I had power to make it by myself'.--'I will write
independently' he says to his publisher--'I have written independently
_without judgment_. I may write independently and _with judgment_
hereafter. In _Endymion_ I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby
have become better acquainted with the soundings, the quicksands, and
the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly
pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice.' He published it with a
preface modestly explaining to the public his own sense of its
imperfection. Nevertheless a storm of abuse broke upon him from the
critics who fastened upon all the faults of the poem--the diffuseness of
the story, its occasional sentimentality and the sometimes fantastic
coinage of words,[xiii:1] and ignored the extraordinary beauties of
which it is full.

Directly after the publication of _Endymion_, and before the appearance
of these reviews, Keats started with a friend, Charles Brown, for a
walking tour in Scotland. They first visited the English lakes and
thence walked to Dumfries, where they saw the house of Burns and his
grave. They entered next the country of Meg Merrilies, and from
Kirkcudbrightshire crossed over to Ireland for a few days. On their
return they went north as far as Argyleshire, whence they sailed to
Staffa and saw Fingal's cave, which, Keats wrote, 'for solemnity and
grandeur far surpasses the finest Cathedral.' They then crossed Scotland
through Inverness, and Keats returned home by boat from Cromarty.

His letters home are at first full of interest and enjoyment, but a
'slight sore throat', contracted in 'a most wretched walk of
thirty-seven miles across the Isle of Mull', proved very troublesome and
finally cut short his holiday. This was the beginning of the end. There
was consumption in the family: Tom was dying of it; and the cold, wet,
and over-exertion of his Scotch tour seems to have developed the fatal
tendency in Keats himself.

From this time forward he was never well, and no good was done to either
his health or spirits by the task which now awaited him of tending on
his dying brother. For the last two or three months of 1818, until
Tom's death in December, he scarcely left the bedside, and it was well
for him that his friend, Charles Armitage Brown, was at hand to help and
comfort him after the long strain. Brown persuaded Keats at once to
leave the house, with its sad associations, and to come and live with

Before long poetry absorbed Keats again; and the first few months of
1819 were the most fruitful of his life. Besides working at _Hyperion_,
which he had begun during Tom's illness, he wrote _The Eve of St.
Agnes_, _The Eve of St. Mark_, _La Belle Dame Sans Merci_, and nearly
all his famous odes.

Troubles however beset him. His friend Haydon was in difficulties and
tormenting him, poor as he was, to lend him money; the state of his
throat gave serious cause for alarm; and, above all, he was consumed by
an unsatisfying passion for the daughter of a neighbour, Mrs. Brawne.
She had rented Brown's house whilst they were in Scotland, and had now
moved to a street near by. Miss Fanny Brawne returned his love, but she
seems never to have understood his nature or his needs. High-spirited
and fond of pleasure she did not apparently allow the thought of her
invalid lover to interfere much with her enjoyment of life. She would
not, however, abandon her engagement, and she probably gave him all
which it was in her nature to give. Ill-health made him, on the other
hand, morbidly dissatisfied and suspicious; and, as a result of his
illness and her limitations, his love throughout brought him
restlessness and torment rather than peace and comfort.

Towards the end of July he went to Shanklin and there, in collaboration
with Brown, wrote a play, _Otho the Great_. Brown tells us how they used
to sit, one on either side of a table, he sketching out the scenes and
handing each one, as the outline was finished, to Keats to write. As
Keats never knew what was coming it was quite impossible that the
characters should be adequately conceived, or that the drama should be a
united whole. Nevertheless there is much that is beautiful and promising
in it. It should not be forgotten that Keats's 'greatest ambition' was,
in his own words, 'the writing of a few fine plays'; and, with the
increasing humanity and grasp which his poetry shows, there is no reason
to suppose that, had he lived, he would not have fulfilled it.

At Shanklin, moreover, he had begun to write _Lamia_, and he continued
it at Winchester. Here he stayed until the middle of October, excepting
a few days which he spent in London to arrange about the sending of some
money to his brother in America. George had been unsuccessful in his
commercial enterprises, and Keats, in view of his family's ill-success,
determined temporarily to abandon poetry, and by reviewing or journalism
to support himself and earn money to help his brother. Then, when he
could afford it, he would return to poetry.

Accordingly he came back to London, but his health was breaking down,
and with it his resolution. He tried to re-write _Hyperion_, which he
felt had been written too much under the influence of Milton and in 'the
artist's humour'. The same independence of spirit which he had shown in
the publication of _Endymion_ urged him now to abandon a work the style
of which he did not feel to be absolutely his own. The re-cast he wrote
in the form of a vision, calling it _The Fall of Hyperion_, and in so
doing he added much to his conception of the meaning of the story. In no
poem does he show more of the profoundly philosophic spirit which
characterizes many of his letters. But it was too late; his power was
failing and, in spite of the beauty and interest of some of his
additions, the alterations are mostly for the worse.

Whilst _The Fall of Hyperion_ occupied his evenings his mornings were
spent over a satirical fairy-poem, _The Cap and Bells_, in the metre of
the _Faerie Queene_. This metre, however, was ill-suited to the subject;
satire was not natural to him, and the poem has little intrinsic merit.

Neither this nor the re-cast of _Hyperion_ was finished when, in
February, 1820, he had an attack of illness in which the first definite
symptom of consumption appeared. Brown tells how he came home on the
evening of Thursday, February 3rd, in a state of high fever, chilled
from having ridden outside the coach on a bitterly cold day. 'He mildly
and instantly yielded to my request that he should go to bed . . . On
entering the cold sheets, before his head was on the pillow, he slightly
coughed, and I heard him say--"that is blood from my mouth". I went
towards him: he was examining a single drop of blood upon the sheet.
"Bring me the candle, Brown, and let me see this blood." After regarding
it steadfastly he looked up in my face with a calmness of expression
that I can never forget, and said, "I know the colour of that blood;--it
is arterial blood; I cannot be deceived in that colour; that drop of
blood is my death warrant;--I must die."'

He lived for another year, but it was one long dying: he himself called
it his 'posthumous life'.

Keats was one of the most charming of letter-writers. He had that rare
quality of entering sympathetically into the mind of the friend to whom
he was writing, so that his letters reveal to us much of the character
of the recipient as well as of the writer. In the long journal-letters
which he wrote to his brother and sister-in-law in America he is
probably most fully himself, for there he is with the people who knew
him best and on whose understanding and sympathy he could rely. But in
none is the beauty of his character more fully revealed than in those to
his little sister Fanny, now seventeen years old, and living with their
guardian, Mr. Abbey. He had always been very anxious that they should
'become intimately acquainted, in order', as he says, 'that I may not
only, as you grow up, love you as my only Sister, but confide in you as
my dearest friend.' In his most harassing times he continued to write to
her, directing her reading, sympathizing in her childish troubles, and
constantly thinking of little presents to please her. Her health was to
him a matter of paramount concern, and in his last letters to her we
find him reiterating warnings to take care of herself--'You must be
careful always to wear warm clothing not only in Frost but in a
Thaw.'--'Be careful to let no fretting injure your health as I have
suffered it--health is the greatest of blessings--with _health_ and
_hope_ we should be content to live, and so you will find as you grow
older.' The constant recurrence of this thought becomes, in the light of
his own sufferings, almost unbearably pathetic.

During the first months of his illness Keats saw through the press his
last volume of poetry, of which this is a reprint. The praise which it
received from reviewers and public was in marked contrast to the
scornful reception of his earlier works, and would have augured well for
the future. But Keats was past caring much for poetic fame. He dragged
on through the summer, with rallies and relapses, tormented above all by
the thought that death would separate him from the woman he loved. Only
Brown, of all his friends, knew what he was suffering, and it seems that
he only knew fully after they were parted.

The doctors warned Keats that a winter in England would kill him, so in
September, 1820, he left London for Naples, accompanied by a young
artist, Joseph Severn, one of his many devoted friends. Shelley, who
knew him slightly, invited him to stay at Pisa, but Keats refused. He
had never cared for Shelley, though Shelley seems to have liked him,
and, in his invalid state, he naturally shrank from being a burden to a
mere acquaintance.

It was as they left England, off the coast of Dorsetshire, that Keats
wrote his last beautiful sonnet on a blank leaf of his folio copy of
Shakespeare, facing _A Lover's Complaint_:--

     Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art--
     Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night,
     And watching, with eternal lids apart,
     Like Nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
     The moving waters at their priest-like task
     Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
     Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
     Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
     No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
     Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
     To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
     Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
     Still, still to hear her tender taken breath,
     And so live ever--or else swoon to death.

The friends reached Rome, and there Keats, after a brief rally, rapidly
became worse. Severn nursed him with desperate devotion, and of Keats's
sweet considerateness and patience he could never say enough. Indeed
such was the force and lovableness of Keats's personality that though
Severn lived fifty-eight years longer it was for the rest of his life a
chief occupation to write and draw his memories of his friend.

On February 23rd, 1821, came the end for which Keats had begun to long.
He died peacefully in Severn's arms. On the 26th he was buried in the
beautiful little Protestant cemetery of which Shelley said that it 'made
one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a

Great indignation was felt at the time by those who attributed his
death, in part at least, to the cruel treatment which he had received
from the critics. Shelley, in _Adonais_, withered them with his scorn,
and Byron, in _Don Juan_, had his gibe both at the poet and at his
enemies. But we know now how mistaken they were. Keats, in a normal
state of mind and body, was never unduly depressed by harsh or unfair
criticism. 'Praise or blame,' he wrote, 'has but a momentary effect on
the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic
on his own works,' and this attitude he consistently maintained
throughout his poetic career. No doubt the sense that his genius was
unappreciated added something to the torment of mind which he suffered
in Rome, and on his death-bed he asked that on his tombstone should be
inscribed the words 'Here lies one whose name was writ in water'. But it
was apparently not said in bitterness, and the rest of the
inscription[xxiii:1] expresses rather the natural anger of his friends
at the treatment he had received than the mental attitude of the poet

Fully to understand him we must read his poetry with the commentary of
his letters which reveal in his character elements of humour,
clear-sighted wisdom, frankness, strength, sympathy and tolerance. So
doing we shall enter into the mind and heart of the friend who, speaking
for many, described Keats as one 'whose genius I did not, and do not,
more fully admire than I entirely loved the man'.


[xiii:1] Many of the words which the reviewers thought to be coined were
good Elizabethan.

[xxiii:1] This Grave contains all that was Mortal of a Young English
Poet, who on his Death Bed, in the Bitterness of his Heart at the
Malicious Power of his Enemies, desired these Words to be engraven on
his Tomb Stone 'Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water' Feb. 24th









If any apology be thought necessary for the appearance of the unfinished
poem of HYPERION, the publishers beg to state that they alone are
responsible, as it was printed at their particular request, and contrary
to the wish of the author. The poem was intended to have been of equal
length with ENDYMION, but the reception given to that work discouraged
the author from proceeding.

  _Fleet-Street, June 26, 1820._



  Upon a time, before the faery broods
  Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods,
  Before King Oberon's bright diadem,
  Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem,
  Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns
  From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns,
  The ever-smitten Hermes empty left
  His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft:
  From high Olympus had he stolen light,
  On this side of Jove's clouds, to escape the sight           10
  Of his great summoner, and made retreat
  Into a forest on the shores of Crete.
  For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt
  A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt;
  At whose white feet the languid Tritons poured
  Pearls, while on land they wither'd and adored.
  Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont,
  And in those meads where sometime she might haunt,
  Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse,
  Though Fancy's casket were unlock'd to choose.               20
  Ah, what a world of love was at her feet!
  So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat
  Burnt from his winged heels to either ear,
  That from a whiteness, as the lily clear,
  Blush'd into roses 'mid his golden hair,
  Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare.
  From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew,
  Breathing upon the flowers his passion new,
  And wound with many a river to its head,
  To find where this sweet nymph prepar'd her secret bed:      30
  In vain; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found,
  And so he rested, on the lonely ground,
  Pensive, and full of painful jealousies
  Of the Wood-Gods, and even the very trees.
  There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice,
  Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys
  All pain but pity: thus the lone voice spake:
  "When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake!
  When move in a sweet body fit for life,
  And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife                 40
  Of hearts and lips! Ah, miserable me!"
  The God, dove-footed, glided silently
  Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed,
  The taller grasses and full-flowering weed,
  Until he found a palpitating snake,
  Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake.

    She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue,
  Vermilion-spotted, golden, green, and blue;
  Striped like a zebra, freckled like a pard,
  Eyed like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd;                 50
  And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed,
  Dissolv'd, or brighter shone, or interwreathed
  Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries--
  So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries,
  She seem'd, at once, some penanced lady elf,
  Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self.
  Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire
  Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar:
  Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet!
  She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls complete:        60
  And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
  But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
  As Proserpine still weeps for her Sicilian air.
  Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake
  Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love's sake,
  And thus; while Hermes on his pinions lay,
  Like a stoop'd falcon ere he takes his prey.

    "Fair Hermes, crown'd with feathers, fluttering light,
  I had a splendid dream of thee last night:
  I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold,                     70
  Among the Gods, upon Olympus old,
  The only sad one; for thou didst not hear
  The soft, lute-finger'd Muses chaunting clear,
  Nor even Apollo when he sang alone,
  Deaf to his throbbing throat's long, long melodious moan.
  I dreamt I saw thee, robed in purple flakes,
  Break amorous through the clouds, as morning breaks,
  And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart,
  Strike for the Cretan isle; and here thou art!
  Too gentle Hermes, hast thou found the maid?"                80
  Whereat the star of Lethe not delay'd
  His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired:
  "Thou smooth-lipp'd serpent, surely high inspired!
  Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes,
  Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise,
  Telling me only where my nymph is fled,--
  Where she doth breathe!" "Bright planet, thou hast said,"
  Return'd the snake, "but seal with oaths, fair God!"
  "I swear," said Hermes, "by my serpent rod,
  And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown!"                 90
  Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms blown.
  Then thus again the brilliance feminine:
  "Too frail of heart! for this lost nymph of thine,
  Free as the air, invisibly, she strays
  About these thornless wilds; her pleasant days
  She tastes unseen; unseen her nimble feet
  Leave traces in the grass and flowers sweet;
  From weary tendrils, and bow'd branches green,
  She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen:
  And by my power is her beauty veil'd                        100
  To keep it unaffronted, unassail'd
  By the love-glances of unlovely eyes,
  Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear'd Silenus' sighs.
  Pale grew her immortality, for woe
  Of all these lovers, and she grieved so
  I took compassion on her, bade her steep
  Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep
  Her loveliness invisible, yet free
  To wander as she loves, in liberty.
  Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone,                  110
  If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon!"
  Then, once again, the charmed God began
  An oath, and through the serpent's ears it ran
  Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian.
  Ravish'd, she lifted her Circean head,
  Blush'd a live damask, and swift-lisping said,
  "I was a woman, let me have once more
  A woman's shape, and charming as before.
  I love a youth of Corinth--O the bliss!
  Give me my woman's form, and place me where he is.          120
  Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow,
  And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now."
  The God on half-shut feathers sank serene,
  She breath'd upon his eyes, and swift was seen
  Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green.
  It was no dream; or say a dream it was,
  Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass
  Their pleasures in a long immortal dream.
  One warm, flush'd moment, hovering, it might seem
  Dash'd by the wood-nymph's beauty, so he burn'd;            130
  Then, lighting on the printless verdure, turn'd
  To the swoon'd serpent, and with languid arm,
  Delicate, put to proof the lythe Caducean charm.
  So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent
  Full of adoring tears and blandishment,
  And towards her stept: she, like a moon in wane,
  Faded before him, cower'd, nor could restrain
  Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower
  That faints into itself at evening hour:
  But the God fostering her chilled hand,                     140
  She felt the warmth, her eyelids open'd bland,
  And, like new flowers at morning song of bees,
  Bloom'd, and gave up her honey to the lees.
  Into the green-recessed woods they flew;
  Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do.

    Left to herself, the serpent now began
  To change; her elfin blood in madness ran,
  Her mouth foam'd, and the grass, therewith besprent,
  Wither'd at dew so sweet and virulent;
  Her eyes in torture fix'd, and anguish drear,               150
  Hot, glaz'd, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear,
  Flash'd phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling tear.
  The colours all inflam'd throughout her train,
  She writh'd about, convuls'd with scarlet pain:
  A deep volcanian yellow took the place
  Of all her milder-mooned body's grace;
  And, as the lava ravishes the mead,
  Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede;
  Made gloom of all her frecklings, streaks and bars,
  Eclips'd her crescents, and lick'd up her stars:            160
  So that, in moments few, she was undrest
  Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst,
  And rubious-argent: of all these bereft,
  Nothing but pain and ugliness were left.
  Still shone her crown; that vanish'd, also she
  Melted and disappear'd as suddenly;
  And in the air, her new voice luting soft,
  Cried, "Lycius! gentle Lycius!"--Borne aloft
  With the bright mists about the mountains hoar
  These words dissolv'd: Crete's forests heard no more.       170

    Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright,
  A full-born beauty new and exquisite?
  She fled into that valley they pass o'er
  Who go to Corinth from Cenchreas' shore;
  And rested at the foot of those wild hills,
  The rugged founts of the Peræan rills,
  And of that other ridge whose barren back
  Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack,
  South-westward to Cleone. There she stood
  About a young bird's flutter from a wood,                   180
  Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread,
  By a clear pool, wherein she passioned
  To see herself escap'd from so sore ills,
  While her robes flaunted with the daffodils.

    Ah, happy Lycius!--for she was a maid
  More beautiful than ever twisted braid,
  Or sigh'd, or blush'd, or on spring-flowered lea
  Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy:
  A virgin purest lipp'd, yet in the lore
  Of love deep learned to the red heart's core:               190
  Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain
  To unperplex bliss from its neighbour pain;
  Define their pettish limits, and estrange
  Their points of contact, and swift counterchange;
  Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart
  Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art;
  As though in Cupid's college she had spent
  Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent,
  And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment.

    Why this fair creature chose so fairily                   200
  By the wayside to linger, we shall see;
  But first 'tis fit to tell how she could muse
  And dream, when in the serpent prison-house,
  Of all she list, strange or magnificent:
  How, ever, where she will'd, her spirit went;
  Whether to faint Elysium, or where
  Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair
  Wind into Thetis' bower by many a pearly stair;
  Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine,
  Stretch'd out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine;           210
  Or where in Pluto's gardens palatine
  Mulciber's columns gleam in far piazzian line.
  And sometimes into cities she would send
  Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend;
  And once, while among mortals dreaming thus,
  She saw the young Corinthian Lycius
  Charioting foremost in the envious race,
  Like a young Jove with calm uneager face,
  And fell into a swooning love of him.
  Now on the moth-time of that evening dim                    220
  He would return that way, as well she knew,
  To Corinth from the shore; for freshly blew
  The eastern soft wind, and his galley now
  Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow
  In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle
  Fresh anchor'd; whither he had been awhile
  To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there
  Waits with high marble doors for blood and incense rare.
  Jove heard his vows, and better'd his desire;
  For by some freakful chance he made retire                  230
  From his companions, and set forth to walk,
  Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk:
  Over the solitary hills he fared,
  Thoughtless at first, but ere eve's star appeared
  His phantasy was lost, where reason fades,
  In the calm'd twilight of Platonic shades.
  Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near--
  Close to her passing, in indifference drear,
  His silent sandals swept the mossy green;
  So neighbour'd to him, and yet so unseen                    240
  She stood: he pass'd, shut up in mysteries,
  His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes
  Follow'd his steps, and her neck regal white
  Turn'd--syllabling thus, "Ah, Lycius bright,
  And will you leave me on the hills alone?
  Lycius, look back! and be some pity shown."
  He did; not with cold wonder fearingly,
  But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice;
  For so delicious were the words she sung,
  It seem'd he had lov'd them a whole summer long:            250
  And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up,
  Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup,
  And still the cup was full,--while he, afraid
  Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid
  Due adoration, thus began to adore;
  Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure:
  "Leave thee alone! Look back! Ah, Goddess, see
  Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee!
  For pity do not this sad heart belie--
  Even as thou vanishest so I shall die.                      260
  Stay! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay!
  To thy far wishes will thy streams obey:
  Stay! though the greenest woods be thy domain,
  Alone they can drink up the morning rain:
  Though a descended Pleiad, will not one
  Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune
  Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine?
  So sweetly to these ravish'd ears of mine
  Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade
  Thy memory will waste me to a shade:--                      270
  For pity do not melt!"--"If I should stay,"
  Said Lamia, "here, upon this floor of clay,
  And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough,
  What canst thou say or do of charm enough
  To dull the nice remembrance of my home?
  Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam
  Over these hills and vales, where no joy is,--
  Empty of immortality and bliss!
  Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know
  That finer spirits cannot breathe below                     280
  In human climes, and live: Alas! poor youth,
  What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe
  My essence? What serener palaces,
  Where I may all my many senses please,
  And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease?
  It cannot be--Adieu!" So said, she rose
  Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose
  The amorous promise of her lone complain,
  Swoon'd, murmuring of love, and pale with pain.
  The cruel lady, without any show                            290
  Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe,
  But rather, if her eyes could brighter be,
  With brighter eyes and slow amenity,
  Put her new lips to his, and gave afresh
  The life she had so tangled in her mesh:
  And as he from one trance was wakening
  Into another, she began to sing,
  Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing,
  A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres,
  While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting
      fires.                                                  300
  And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone,
  As those who, safe together met alone
  For the first time through many anguish'd days,
  Use other speech than looks; bidding him raise
  His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt,
  For that she was a woman, and without
  Any more subtle fluid in her veins
  Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains
  Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his.
  And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss               310
  Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said,
  She dwelt but half retir'd, and there had led
  Days happy as the gold coin could invent
  Without the aid of love; yet in content
  Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by,
  Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully
  At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd
  Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd
  Late on that eve, as 'twas the night before
  The Adonian feast; whereof she saw no more,                 320
  But wept alone those days, for why should she adore?
  Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
  To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
  Then from amaze into delight he fell
  To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
  And every word she spake entic'd him on
  To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
  Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
  Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
  There is not such a treat among them all,                   330
  Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall,
  As a real woman, lineal indeed
  From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
  Thus gentle Lamia judg'd, and judg'd aright,
  That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
  So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
  More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
  With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
  That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.
  Lycius to all made eloquent reply,                          340
  Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh;
  And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet,
  If 'twas too far that night for her soft feet.
  The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness
  Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease
  To a few paces; not at all surmised
  By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized.
  They pass'd the city gates, he knew not how,
  So noiseless, and he never thought to know.

    As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all,                   350
  Throughout her palaces imperial,
  And all her populous streets and temples lewd,
  Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew'd,
  To the wide-spreaded night above her towers.
  Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours,
  Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white,
  Companion'd or alone; while many a light
  Flared, here and there, from wealthy festivals,
  And threw their moving shadows on the walls,
  Or found them cluster'd in the corniced shade               360
  Of some arch'd temple door, or dusky colonnade.

    Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear,
  Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near
  With curl'd gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown,
  Slow-stepp'd, and robed in philosophic gown:
  Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past,
  Into his mantle, adding wings to haste,
  While hurried Lamia trembled: "Ah," said he,
  "Why do you shudder, love, so ruefully?
  Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew?"--               370
  "I'm wearied," said fair Lamia: "tell me who
  Is that old man? I cannot bring to mind
  His features:--Lycius! wherefore did you blind
  Yourself from his quick eyes?" Lycius replied,
  "'Tis Apollonius sage, my trusty guide
  And good instructor; but to-night he seems
  The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams."

    While yet he spake they had arrived before
  A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door,
  Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow               380
  Reflected in the slabbed steps below,
  Mild as a star in water; for so new,
  And so unsullied was the marble hue,
  So through the crystal polish, liquid fine,
  Ran the dark veins, that none but feet divine
  Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds Æolian
  Breath'd from the hinges, as the ample span
  Of the wide doors disclos'd a place unknown
  Some time to any, but those two alone,
  And a few Persian mutes, who that same year                 390
  Were seen about the markets: none knew where
  They could inhabit; the most curious
  Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house:
  And but the flitter-winged verse must tell,
  For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befel,
  'Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus,
  Shut from the busy world of more incredulous.


  Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
  Is--Love, forgive us!--cinders, ashes, dust;
  Love in a palace is perhaps at last
  More grievous torment than a hermit's fast:--
  That is a doubtful tale from faery land,
  Hard for the non-elect to understand.
  Had Lycius liv'd to hand his story down,
  He might have given the moral a fresh frown,
  Or clench'd it quite: but too short was their bliss
  To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice hiss.   10
  Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare
  Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair,
  Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar,
  Above the lintel of their chamber door,
  And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor.

    For all this came a ruin: side by side
  They were enthroned, in the even tide,
  Upon a couch, near to a curtaining
  Whose airy texture, from a golden string,
  Floated into the room, and let appear                        20
  Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear,
  Betwixt two marble shafts:--there they reposed,
  Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed,
  Saving a tythe which love still open kept,
  That they might see each other while they almost slept;
  When from the slope side of a suburb hill,
  Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill
  Of trumpets--Lycius started--the sounds fled,
  But left a thought, a buzzing in his head.
  For the first time, since first he harbour'd in              30
  That purple-lined palace of sweet sin,
  His spirit pass'd beyond its golden bourn
  Into the noisy world almost forsworn.
  The lady, ever watchful, penetrant,
  Saw this with pain, so arguing a want
  Of something more, more than her empery
  Of joys; and she began to moan and sigh
  Because he mused beyond her, knowing well
  That but a moment's thought is passion's passing bell.
  "Why do you sigh, fair creature?" whisper'd he:              40
  "Why do you think?" return'd she tenderly:
  "You have deserted me;--where am I now?
  Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow:
  No, no, you have dismiss'd me; and I go
  From your breast houseless: ay, it must be so."
  He answer'd, bending to her open eyes,
  Where he was mirror'd small in paradise,
  "My silver planet, both of eve and morn!
  Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn,
  While I am striving how to fill my heart                     50
  With deeper crimson, and a double smart?
  How to entangle, trammel up and snare
  Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there
  Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose?
  Ay, a sweet kiss--you see your mighty woes.
  My thoughts! shall I unveil them? Listen then!
  What mortal hath a prize, that other men
  May be confounded and abash'd withal,
  But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical,
  And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice                     60
  Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth's voice.
  Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar,
  While through the thronged streets your bridal car
  Wheels round its dazzling spokes."--The lady's cheek
  Trembled; she nothing said, but, pale and meek,
  Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain
  Of sorrows at his words; at last with pain
  Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung,
  To change his purpose. He thereat was stung,
  Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim                     70
  Her wild and timid nature to his aim:
  Besides, for all his love, in self despite,
  Against his better self, he took delight
  Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new.
  His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue
  Fierce and sanguineous as 'twas possible
  In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell.
  Fine was the mitigated fury, like
  Apollo's presence when in act to strike
  The serpent--Ha, the serpent! certes, she                    80
  Was none. She burnt, she lov'd the tyranny,
  And, all subdued, consented to the hour
  When to the bridal he should lead his paramour.
  Whispering in midnight silence, said the youth,
  "Sure some sweet name thou hast, though, by my truth,
  I have not ask'd it, ever thinking thee
  Not mortal, but of heavenly progeny,
  As still I do. Hast any mortal name,
  Fit appellation for this dazzling frame?
  Or friends or kinsfolk on the citied earth,                  90
  To share our marriage feast and nuptial mirth?"
  "I have no friends," said Lamia, "no, not one;
  My presence in wide Corinth hardly known:
  My parents' bones are in their dusty urns
  Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns,
  Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me,
  And I neglect the holy rite for thee.
  Even as you list invite your many guests;
  But if, as now it seems, your vision rests
  With any pleasure on me, do not bid                         100
  Old Apollonius--from him keep me hid."
  Lycius, perplex'd at words so blind and blank,
  Made close inquiry; from whose touch she shrank,
  Feigning a sleep; and he to the dull shade
  Of deep sleep in a moment was betray'd.

    It was the custom then to bring away
  The bride from home at blushing shut of day,
  Veil'd, in a chariot, heralded along
  By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song,
  With other pageants: but this fair unknown                  110
  Had not a friend. So being left alone,
  (Lycius was gone to summon all his kin)
  And knowing surely she could never win
  His foolish heart from its mad pompousness,
  She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress
  The misery in fit magnificence.
  She did so, but 'tis doubtful how and whence
  Came, and who were her subtle servitors.
  About the halls, and to and from the doors,
  There was a noise of wings, till in short space             120
  The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace.
  A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone
  Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan
  Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade.
  Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade
  Of palm and plantain, met from either side,
  High in the midst, in honour of the bride:
  Two palms and then two plantains, and so on,
  From either side their stems branch'd one to one
  All down the aisled place; and beneath all                  130
  There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall.
  So canopied, lay an untasted feast
  Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest,
  Silently paced about, and as she went,
  In pale contented sort of discontent,
  Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich
  The fretted splendour of each nook and niche.
  Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first,
  Came jasper pannels; then, anon, there burst
  Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees,                   140
  And with the larger wove in small intricacies.
  Approving all, she faded at self-will,
  And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still,
  Complete and ready for the revels rude,
  When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude.

    The day appear'd, and all the gossip rout.
  O senseless Lycius! Madman! wherefore flout
  The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours,
  And show to common eyes these secret bowers?
  The herd approach'd; each guest, with busy brain,           150
  Arriving at the portal, gaz'd amain,
  And enter'd marveling: for they knew the street,
  Remember'd it from childhood all complete
  Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen
  That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne;
  So in they hurried all, maz'd, curious and keen:
  Save one, who look'd thereon with eye severe,
  And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere;
  'Twas Apollonius: something too he laugh'd,
  As though some knotty problem, that had daft                160
  His patient thought, had now begun to thaw,
  And solve and melt:--'twas just as he foresaw.

    He met within the murmurous vestibule
  His young disciple. "'Tis no common rule,
  Lycius," said he, "for uninvited guest
  To force himself upon you, and infest
  With an unbidden presence the bright throng
  Of younger friends; yet must I do this wrong,
  And you forgive me." Lycius blush'd, and led
  The old man through the inner doors broad-spread;           170
  With reconciling words and courteous mien
  Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen.

    Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room,
  Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume:
  Before each lucid pannel fuming stood
  A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood,
  Each by a sacred tripod held aloft,
  Whose slender feet wide-swerv'd upon the soft
  Wool-woofed carpets: fifty wreaths of smoke
  From fifty censers their light voyage took                  180
  To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose
  Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odorous.
  Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats insphered,
  High as the level of a man's breast rear'd
  On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold
  Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told
  Of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine
  Come from the gloomy tun with merry shine.
  Thus loaded with a feast the tables stood,
  Each shrining in the midst the image of a God.              190

    When in an antichamber every guest
  Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press'd,
  By minist'ring slaves, upon his hands and feet,
  And fragrant oils with ceremony meet
  Pour'd on his hair, they all mov'd to the feast
  In white robes, and themselves in order placed
  Around the silken couches, wondering
  Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth could spring.

    Soft went the music the soft air along,
  While fluent Greek a vowel'd undersong                      200
  Kept up among the guests, discoursing low
  At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow;
  But when the happy vintage touch'd their brains,
  Louder they talk, and louder come the strains
  Of powerful instruments:--the gorgeous dyes,
  The space, the splendour of the draperies,
  The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer,
  Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appear,
  Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed,
  And every soul from human trammels freed,                   210
  No more so strange; for merry wine, sweet wine,
  Will make Elysian shades not too fair, too divine.
  Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height;
  Flush'd were their cheeks, and bright eyes double bright:
  Garlands of every green, and every scent
  From vales deflower'd, or forest-trees branch-rent,
  In baskets of bright osier'd gold were brought
  High as the handles heap'd, to suit the thought
  Of every guest; that each, as he did please,
  Might fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease.       220

    What wreath for Lamia? What for Lycius?
  What for the sage, old Apollonius?
  Upon her aching forehead be there hung
  The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue;
  And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him
  The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim
  Into forgetfulness; and, for the sage,
  Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage
  War on his temples. Do not all charms fly
  At the mere touch of cold philosophy?                       230
  There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
  We know her woof, her texture; she is given
  In the dull catalogue of common things.
  Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings,
  Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
  Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine--
  Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
  The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.

    By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place,
  Scarce saw in all the room another face,                    240
  Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took
  Full brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look
  'Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance
  From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance,
  And pledge him. The bald-head philosopher
  Had fix'd his eye, without a twinkle or stir
  Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride,
  Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet pride.
  Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch,
  As pale it lay upon the rosy couch:                         250
  'Twas icy, and the cold ran through his veins;
  Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains
  Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart.
  "Lamia, what means this? Wherefore dost thou start?
  Know'st thou that man?" Poor Lamia answer'd not.
  He gaz'd into her eyes, and not a jot
  Own'd they the lovelorn piteous appeal:
  More, more he gaz'd: his human senses reel:
  Some hungry spell that loveliness absorbs;
  There was no recognition in those orbs.                     260
  "Lamia!" he cried--and no soft-toned reply.
  The many heard, and the loud revelry
  Grew hush; the stately music no more breathes;
  The myrtle sicken'd in a thousand wreaths.
  By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased;
  A deadly silence step by step increased,
  Until it seem'd a horrid presence there,
  And not a man but felt the terror in his hair.
  "Lamia!" he shriek'd; and nothing but the shriek
  With its sad echo did the silence break.                    270
  "Begone, foul dream!" he cried, gazing again
  In the bride's face, where now no azure vein
  Wander'd on fair-spaced temples; no soft bloom
  Misted the cheek; no passion to illume
  The deep-recessed vision:--all was blight;
  Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white.
  "Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man!
  Turn them aside, wretch! or the righteous ban
  Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images
  Here represent their shadowy presences,                     280
  May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn
  Of painful blindness; leaving thee forlorn,
  In trembling dotage to the feeblest fright
  Of conscience, for their long offended might,
  For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries,
  Unlawful magic, and enticing lies.
  Corinthians! look upon that gray-beard wretch!
  Mark how, possess'd, his lashless eyelids stretch
  Around his demon eyes! Corinthians, see!
  My sweet bride withers at their potency."                   290
  "Fool!" said the sophist, in an under-tone
  Gruff with contempt; which a death-nighing moan
  From Lycius answer'd, as heart-struck and lost,
  He sank supine beside the aching ghost.
  "Fool! Fool!" repeated he, while his eyes still
  Relented not, nor mov'd; "from every ill
  Of life have I preserv'd thee to this day,
  And shall I see thee made a serpent's prey?"
  Then Lamia breath'd death breath; the sophist's eye,
  Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly,               300
  Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging: she, as well
  As her weak hand could any meaning tell,
  Motion'd him to be silent; vainly so,
  He look'd and look'd again a level--No!
  "A Serpent!" echoed he; no sooner said,
  Than with a frightful scream she vanished:
  And Lycius' arms were empty of delight,
  As were his limbs of life, from that same night.
  On the high couch he lay!--his friends came round--
  Supported him--no pulse, or breath they found,              310
  And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound.[45:A]


[45:A] "Philostratus, in his fourth book _de Vita Apollonii_, hath a
memorable instance in this kind, which I may not omit, of one Menippus
Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going betwixt
Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the habit of a fair
gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him home to her
house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was a Phoenician by
birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear her sing and play,
and drink such wine as never any drank, and no man should molest him;
but she, being fair and lovely, would live and die with him, that was
fair and lovely to behold. The young man, a philosopher, otherwise staid
and discreet, able to moderate his passions, though not this of love,
tarried with her a while to his great content, and at last married her,
to whose wedding, amongst other guests, came Apollonius; who, by some
probable conjectures, found her out to be a serpent, a lamia; and that
all her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no
substance but mere illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept,
and desired Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and
thereupon she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an
instant: many thousands took notice of this fact, for it was done in the
midst of Greece."

            Burton's 'Anatomy of Melancholy.' _Part_ 3. _Sect._ 2
                                            _Memb._ 1. _Subs._ 1.






  Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!
    Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!
  They could not in the self-same mansion dwell
    Without some stir of heart, some malady;
  They could not sit at meals but feel how well
    It soothed each to be the other by;
  They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep
  But to each other dream, and nightly weep.


  With every morn their love grew tenderer,
    With every eve deeper and tenderer still;                  10
  He might not in house, field, or garden stir,
    But her full shape would all his seeing fill;
  And his continual voice was pleasanter
    To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;
  Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,
  She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same.


  He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch,
    Before the door had given her to his eyes;
  And from her chamber-window he would catch
    Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;                  20
  And constant as her vespers would he watch,
    Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;
  And with sick longing all the night outwear,
  To hear her morning-step upon the stair.


  A whole long month of May in this sad plight
    Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:
  "To-morrow will I bow to my delight,
    To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."--
  "O may I never see another night,
    Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."--           30
  So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,
  Honeyless days and days did he let pass;


  Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek
    Fell sick within the rose's just domain,
  Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek
    By every lull to cool her infant's pain:
  "How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,
    And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:
  If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,
  And at the least 'twill startle off her cares."              40


  So said he one fair morning, and all day
    His heart beat awfully against his side;
  And to his heart he inwardly did pray
    For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide
  Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away--
    Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,
  Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:
  Alas! when passion is both meek and wild!


  So once more he had wak'd and anguished
    A dreary night of love and misery,                         50
  If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed
    To every symbol on his forehead high;
  She saw it waxing very pale and dead,
    And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,
  "Lorenzo!"--here she ceas'd her timid quest,
  But in her tone and look he read the rest.


  "O Isabella, I can half perceive
    That I may speak my grief into thine ear;
  If thou didst ever any thing believe,
    Believe how I love thee, believe how near                  60
  My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve
    Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear
  Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live
  Another night, and not my passion shrive.


  "Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,
    Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,
  And I must taste the blossoms that unfold
    In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."
  So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,
    And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:                       70
  Great bliss was with them, and great happiness
  Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.


  Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air,
    Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart
  Only to meet again more close, and share
    The inward fragrance of each other's heart.
  She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair
    Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart;
  He with light steps went up a western hill,
  And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill.               80


  All close they met again, before the dusk
    Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
  All close they met, all eyes, before the dusk
    Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil,
  Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk,
    Unknown of any, free from whispering tale.
  Ah! better had it been for ever so,
  Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe.


  Were they unhappy then?--It cannot be--
    Too many tears for lovers have been shed,                  90
  Too many sighs give we to them in fee,
    Too much of pity after they are dead,
  Too many doleful stories do we see,
    Whose matter in bright gold were best be read;
  Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse
  Over the pathless waves towards him bows.


  But, for the general award of love,
    The little sweet doth kill much bitterness;
  Though Dido silent is in under-grove,
    And Isabella's was a great distress,                      100
  Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove
    Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less--
  Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers,
  Know there is richest juice in poison-flowers.


  With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt,
    Enriched from ancestral merchandize,
  And for them many a weary hand did swelt
    In torched mines and noisy factories,
  And many once proud-quiver'd loins did melt
    In blood from stinging whip;--with hollow eyes            110
  Many all day in dazzling river stood,
  To take the rich-ored driftings of the flood.


  For them the Ceylon diver held his breath,
    And went all naked to the hungry shark;
  For them his ears gush'd blood; for them in death
    The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark
  Lay full of darts; for them alone did seethe
    A thousand men in troubles wide and dark:
  Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel,
  That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel.            120


  Why were they proud? Because their marble founts
    Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears?--
  Why were they proud? Because fair orange-mounts
    Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs?--
  Why were they proud? Because red-lin'd accounts
    Were richer than the songs of Grecian years?--
  Why were they proud? again we ask aloud,
  Why in the name of Glory were they proud?


  Yet were these Florentines as self-retired
    In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,                    130
  As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
    Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies;
  The hawks of ship-mast forests--the untired
    And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies--
  Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,--
  Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.


  How was it these same ledger-men could spy
    Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
  How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
    A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest                140
  Into their vision covetous and sly!
    How could these money-bags see east and west?--
  Yet so they did--and every dealer fair
  Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.


  O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
    Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon;
  And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
    And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
  And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
    Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,            150
  For venturing syllables that ill beseem
  The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.


  Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
    Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
  There is no other crime, no mad assail
    To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
  But it is done--succeed the verse or fail--
    To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
  To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
  An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.                     160


  These brethren having found by many signs
    What love Lorenzo for their sister had,
  And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines
    His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad
  That he, the servant of their trade designs,
    Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad,
  When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees
  To some high noble and his olive-trees.


  And many a jealous conference had they,
    And many times they bit their lips alone,                 170
  Before they fix'd upon a surest way
    To make the youngster for his crime atone;
  And at the last, these men of cruel clay
    Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone;
  For they resolved in some forest dim
  To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him.


  So on a pleasant morning, as he leant
    Into the sun-rise, o'er the balustrade
  Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent
    Their footing through the dews; and to him said,          180
  "You seem there in the quiet of content,
    Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade
  Calm speculation; but if you are wise,
  Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies.


  "To-day we purpose, ay, this hour we mount
    To spur three leagues towards the Apennine;
  Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count
    His dewy rosary on the eglantine."
  Lorenzo, courteously as he was wont,
    Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine;           190
  And went in haste, to get in readiness,
  With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress.


  And as he to the court-yard pass'd along,
    Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft
  If he could hear his lady's matin-song,
    Or the light whisper of her footstep soft;
  And as he thus over his passion hung,
    He heard a laugh full musical aloft;
  When, looking up, he saw her features bright
  Smile through an in-door lattice, all delight.              200


  "Love, Isabel!" said he, "I was in pain
    Lest I should miss to bid thee a good morrow
  Ah! what if I should lose thee, when so fain
    I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow
  Of a poor three hours' absence? but we'll gain
    Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow.
  Goodbye! I'll soon be back."--"Goodbye!" said she:--
  And as he went she chanted merrily.


  So the two brothers and their murder'd man
    Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream           210
  Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan
    Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream
  Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan
    The brothers' faces in the ford did seem,
  Lorenzo's flush with love.--They pass'd the water
  Into a forest quiet for the slaughter.


  There was Lorenzo slain and buried in,
    There in that forest did his great love cease;
  Ah! when a soul doth thus its freedom win,
    It aches in loneliness--is ill at peace                   220
  As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin:
    They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease
  Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur,
  Each richer by his being a murderer.


  They told their sister how, with sudden speed,
    Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands,
  Because of some great urgency and need
    In their affairs, requiring trusty hands.
  Poor Girl! put on thy stifling widow's weed,
    And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands;            230
  To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow,
  And the next day will be a day of sorrow.


  She weeps alone for pleasures not to be;
    Sorely she wept until the night came on,
  And then, instead of love, O misery!
    She brooded o'er the luxury alone:
  His image in the dusk she seem'd to see,
    And to the silence made a gentle moan,
  Spreading her perfect arms upon the air,
  And on her couch low murmuring "Where? O where?"            240


  But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long
    Its fiery vigil in her single breast;
  She fretted for the golden hour, and hung
    Upon the time with feverish unrest--
  Not long--for soon into her heart a throng
    Of higher occupants, a richer zest,
  Came tragic; passion not to be subdued,
  And sorrow for her love in travels rude.


  In the mid days of autumn, on their eves
    The breath of Winter comes from far away,                 250
  And the sick west continually bereaves
    Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay
  Of death among the bushes and the leaves,
    To make all bare before he dares to stray
  From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel
  By gradual decay from beauty fell,


  Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes
    She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale,
  Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes
    Could keep him off so long? They spake a tale             260
  Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes
    Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale;
  And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud,
  To see their sister in her snowy shroud.


  And she had died in drowsy ignorance,
    But for a thing more deadly dark than all;
  It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance,
    Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall
  For some few gasping moments; like a lance,
    Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall                     270
  With cruel pierce, and bringing him again
  Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain.


  It was a vision.--In the drowsy gloom,
    The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot
  Lorenzo stood, and wept: the forest tomb
    Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot
  Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom
    Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute
  From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears
  Had made a miry channel for his tears.                      280


  Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake;
    For there was striving, in its piteous tongue,
  To speak as when on earth it was awake,
    And Isabella on its music hung:
  Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake,
    As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung;
  And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song,
  Like hoarse night-gusts sepulchral briars among.


  Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright
    With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof                290
  From the poor girl by magic of their light,
    The while it did unthread the horrid woof
  Of the late darken'd time,--the murderous spite
    Of pride and avarice,--the dark pine roof
  In the forest,--and the sodden turfed dell,
  Where, without any word, from stabs he fell.


  Saying moreover, "Isabel, my sweet!
    Red whortle-berries droop above my head,
  And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet;
    Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed                 300
  Their leaves and prickly nuts; a sheep-fold bleat
    Comes from beyond the river to my bed:
  Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom,
  And it shall comfort me within the tomb.


  "I am a shadow now, alas! alas!
    Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling
  Alone: I chant alone the holy mass,
    While little sounds of life are round me knelling,
  And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass,
    And many a chapel bell the hour is telling,               310
  Paining me through: those sounds grow strange to me,
  And thou art distant in Humanity.


  "I know what was, I feel full well what is,
    And I should rage, if spirits could go mad;
  Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss,
    That paleness warms my grave, as though I had
  A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss
    To be my spouse: thy paleness makes me glad;
  Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel
  A greater love through all my essence steal."               320


  The Spirit mourn'd "Adieu!"--dissolv'd, and left
    The atom darkness in a slow turmoil;
  As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft,
    Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil,
  We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft,
    And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil:
  It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache,
  And in the dawn she started up awake;


  "Ha! ha!" said she, "I knew not this hard life,
    I thought the worst was simple misery;                    330
  I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife
    Portion'd us--happy days, or else to die;
  But there is crime--a brother's bloody knife!
    Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy:
  I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes,
  And greet thee morn and even in the skies."


  When the full morning came, she had devised
    How she might secret to the forest hie;
  How she might find the clay, so dearly prized,
    And sing to it one latest lullaby;                        340
  How her short absence might be unsurmised,
    While she the inmost of the dream would try.
  Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse,
  And went into that dismal forest-hearse.


  See, as they creep along the river side,
    How she doth whisper to that aged Dame,
  And, after looking round the champaign wide,
    Shows her a knife.--"What feverous hectic flame
  Burns in thee, child?--What good can thee betide,
    That thou should'st smile again?"--The evening came,      350
  And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed;
  The flint was there, the berries at his head.


  Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard,
    And let his spirit, like a demon-mole,
  Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard,
    To see scull, coffin'd bones, and funeral stole;
  Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd,
    And filling it once more with human soul?
  Ah! this is holiday to what was felt
  When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt.                             360


  She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though
    One glance did fully all its secrets tell;
  Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know
    Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well;
  Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow,
    Like to a native lily of the dell:
  Then with her knife, all sudden, she began
  To dig more fervently than misers can.


  Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon
    Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies,                 370
  She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone,
    And put it in her bosom, where it dries
  And freezes utterly unto the bone
    Those dainties made to still an infant's cries:
  Then 'gan she work again; nor stay'd her care,
  But to throw back at times her veiling hair.


  That old nurse stood beside her wondering,
    Until her heart felt pity to the core
  At sight of such a dismal labouring,
    And so she kneeled, with her locks all hoar,              380
  And put her lean hands to the horrid thing:
    Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore;
  At last they felt the kernel of the grave,
  And Isabella did not stamp and rave.


  Ah! wherefore all this wormy circumstance?
    Why linger at the yawning tomb so long?
  O for the gentleness of old Romance,
    The simple plaining of a minstrel's song!
  Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance,
    For here, in truth, it doth not well belong               390
  To speak:--O turn thee to the very tale,
  And taste the music of that vision pale.


  With duller steel than the Perséan sword
    They cut away no formless monster's head,
  But one, whose gentleness did well accord
    With death, as life. The ancient harps have said,
  Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord:
    If Love impersonate was ever dead,
  Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd.
  'Twas love; cold,--dead indeed, but not dethroned.          400


  In anxious secrecy they took it home,
    And then the prize was all for Isabel:
  She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb,
    And all around each eye's sepulchral cell
  Pointed each fringed lash; the smeared loam
    With tears, as chilly as a dripping well,
  She drench'd away:--and still she comb'd, and kept
  Sighing all day--and still she kiss'd, and wept.


  Then in a silken scarf,--sweet with the dews
    Of precious flowers pluck'd in Araby,                     410
  And divine liquids come with odorous ooze
    Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully,--
  She wrapp'd it up; and for its tomb did choose
    A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by,
  And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set
  Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet.


  And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
    And she forgot the blue above the trees,
  And she forgot the dells where waters run,
    And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;                  420
  She had no knowledge when the day was done,
    And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
  Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
  And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.


  And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
    Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
  So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
    Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
  Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
    From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:       430
  So that the jewel, safely casketed,
  Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.


  O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
    O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
  O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
    Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
  Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
    Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
  And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
  Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.                  440


  Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe,
    From the deep throat of sad Melpomene!
  Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go,
    And touch the strings into a mystery;
  Sound mournfully upon the winds and low;
    For simple Isabel is soon to be
  Among the dead: She withers, like a palm
  Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm.


  O leave the palm to wither by itself;
    Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour!--              450
  It may not be--those Baälites of pelf,
    Her brethren, noted the continual shower
  From her dead eyes; and many a curious elf,
    Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower
  Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside
  By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride.


  And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much
    Why she sat drooping by the Basil green,
  And why it flourish'd, as by magic touch;
    Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean:          460
  They could not surely give belief, that such
    A very nothing would have power to wean
  Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay,
  And even remembrance of her love's delay.


  Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift
    This hidden whim; and long they watch'd in vain;
  For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift,
    And seldom felt she any hunger-pain;
  And when she left, she hurried back, as swift
    As bird on wing to breast its eggs again;                 470
  And, patient, as a hen-bird, sat her there
  Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair.


  Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot,
    And to examine it in secret place:
  The thing was vile with green and livid spot,
    And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face:
  The guerdon of their murder they had got,
    And so left Florence in a moment's space,
  Never to turn again.--Away they went,
  With blood upon their heads, to banishment.                 480


  O Melancholy, turn thine eyes away!
    O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
  O Echo, Echo, on some other day,
    From isles Lethean, sigh to us--O sigh!
  Spirits of grief, sing not your "Well-a-way!"
    For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die;
  Will die a death too lone and incomplete,
  Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet.


  Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things,
    Asking for her lost Basil amorously;                      490
  And with melodious chuckle in the strings
    Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry
  After the Pilgrim in his wanderings,
    To ask him where her Basil was; and why
  'Twas hid from her: "For cruel 'tis," said she,
  "To steal my Basil-pot away from me."


  And so she pined, and so she died forlorn,
    Imploring for her Basil to the last.
  No heart was there in Florence but did mourn
    In pity of her love, so overcast.                         500
  And a sad ditty of this story born
    From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd:
  Still is the burthen sung--"O cruelty,
  To steal my Basil-pot away from me!"




    St. Agnes' Eve--Ah, bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
    And silent was the flock in woolly fold:
    Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told
    His rosary, and while his frosted breath,
    Like pious incense from a censer old,
    Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death,
  Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.


    His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man;               10
    Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
    And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
    Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees:
    The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze,
    Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails:
    Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries,
    He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
  To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails.


    Northward he turneth through a little door,
    And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue          20
    Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor;
    But no--already had his deathbell rung;
    The joys of all his life were said and sung:
    His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
    Another way he went, and soon among
    Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve,
  And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.


    That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft;
    And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide,
    From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft,                     30
    The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide:
    The level chambers, ready with their pride,
    Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
    The carved angels, ever eager-eyed,
    Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
  With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts.


    At length burst in the argent revelry,
    With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
    Numerous as shadows haunting fairily
    The brain, new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay        40
    Of old romance. These let us wish away,
    And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there,
    Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day,
    On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care,
  As she had heard old dames full many times declare.


    They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
    Young virgins might have visions of delight,
    And soft adorings from their loves receive
    Upon the honey'd middle of the night,
    If ceremonies due they did aright;                         50
    As, supperless to bed they must retire,
    And couch supine their beauties, lily white;
    Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require
  Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.


    Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
    The music, yearning like a God in pain,
    She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
    Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
    Pass by--she heeded not at all: in vain
    Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,                      60
    And back retir'd; not cool'd by high disdain,
    But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere:
  She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.


    She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes,
    Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
    The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs
    Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort
    Of whisperers in anger, or in sport;
    'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn,
    Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort,                    70
    Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
  And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.


    So, purposing each moment to retire,
    She linger'd still. Meantime, across the moors,
    Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
    For Madeline. Beside the portal doors,
    Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
    All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
    But for one moment in the tedious hours,
    That he might gaze and worship all unseen;                 80
  Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss--in sooth such things
      have been.


    He ventures in: let no buzz'd whisper tell:
    All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
    Will storm his heart, Love's fev'rous citadel:
    For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes,
    Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
    Whose very dogs would execrations howl
    Against his lineage: not one breast affords
    Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
  Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.              90


    Ah, happy chance! the aged creature came,
    Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,
    To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame,
    Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond
    The sound of merriment and chorus bland:
    He startled her; but soon she knew his face,
    And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand,
    Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place;
  They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race!"


    "Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand;       100
    He had a fever late, and in the fit
    He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
    Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
    More tame for his gray hairs--Alas me! flit!
    Flit like a ghost away."--"Ah, Gossip dear,
    We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,
    And tell me how"--"Good Saints! not here, not here;
  Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier."


    He follow'd through a lowly arched way,
    Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume,                110
    And as she mutter'd "Well-a--well-a-day!"
    He found him in a little moonlight room,
    Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb.
    "Now tell me where is Madeline," said he,
    "O tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
    Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
  When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."


    "St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve--
    Yet men will murder upon holy days:
    Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,                  120
    And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fays,
    To venture so: it fills me with amaze
    To see thee, Porphyro!--St. Agnes' Eve!
    God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
    This very night: good angels her deceive!
  But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve."


    Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
    While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
    Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone
    Who keepeth clos'd a wond'rous riddle-book,               130
    As spectacled she sits in chimney nook.
    But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told
    His lady's purpose; and he scarce could brook
    Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold
  And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old.


    Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
    Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
    Made purple riot: then doth he propose
    A stratagem, that makes the beldame start:
    "A cruel man and impious thou art:                        140
    Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream
    Alone with her good angels, far apart
    From wicked men like thee. Go, go!--I deem
  Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem."


    "I will not harm her, by all saints I swear,"
    Quoth Porphyro: "O may I ne'er find grace
    When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer,
    If one of her soft ringlets I displace,
    Or look with ruffian passion in her face:
    Good Angela, believe me by these tears;                   150
    Or I will, even in a moment's space,
    Awake, with horrid shout, my foemen's ears,
  And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves and


    "Ah! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul?
    A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing,
    Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll;
    Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening,
    Were never miss'd."--Thus plaining, doth she bring
    A gentler speech from burning Porphyro;
    So woful, and of such deep sorrowing,                     160
    That Angela gives promise she will do
  Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe.


    Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy,
    Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide
    Him in a closet, of such privacy
    That he might see her beauty unespied,
    And win perhaps that night a peerless bride,
    While legion'd fairies pac'd the coverlet,
    And pale enchantment held her sleepy-eyed.
    Never on such a night have lovers met,                    170
  Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt.


    "It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame:
    "All cates and dainties shall be stored there
    Quickly on this feast-night: by the tambour frame
    Her own lute thou wilt see: no time to spare,
    For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare
    On such a catering trust my dizzy head.
    Wait here, my child, with patience; kneel in prayer
    The while: Ah! thou must needs the lady wed,
  Or may I never leave my grave among the dead."              180


    So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear.
    The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd;
    The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear
    To follow her; with aged eyes aghast
    From fright of dim espial. Safe at last,
    Through many a dusky gallery, they gain
    The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste;
    Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain.
  His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain.


    Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade,                   190
    Old Angela was feeling for the stair,
    When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid,
    Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware:
    With silver taper's light, and pious care,
    She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led
    To a safe level matting. Now prepare,
    Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed;
  She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd and fled.


    Out went the taper as she hurried in;
    Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died:              200
    She clos'd the door, she panted, all akin
    To spirits of the air, and visions wide:
    No uttered syllable, or, woe betide!
    But to her heart, her heart was voluble,
    Paining with eloquence her balmy side;
    As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
  Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.


    A casement high and triple-arch'd there was,
    All garlanded with carven imag'ries
    Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass,        210
    And diamonded with panes of quaint device,
    Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes,
    As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings;
    And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries,
    And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings,
  A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings.


    Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
    And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast,
    As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon;
    Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest,             220
    And on her silver cross soft amethyst,
    And on her hair a glory, like a saint:
    She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest,
    Save wings, for heaven:--Porphyro grew faint:
  She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.


    Anon his heart revives: her vespers done,
    Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees;
    Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
    Loosens her fragrant boddice; by degrees
    Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees:             230
    Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed,
    Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees,
    In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed,
  But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled.


    Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest,
    In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay,
    Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd
    Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away;
    Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day;
    Blissfully haven'd both from joy and pain;                240
    Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray;
    Blinded alike from sunshine and from rain,
  As though a rose should shut, and be a bud again.


    Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced,
    Porphyro gazed upon her empty dress,
    And listen'd to her breathing, if it chanced
    To wake into a slumberous tenderness;
    Which when he heard, that minute did he bless,
    And breath'd himself: then from the closet crept,
    Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness,                   250
    And over the hush'd carpet, silent, stept,
  And 'tween the curtains peep'd, where, lo!--how fast she


    Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon
    Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set
    A table, and, half anguish'd, threw thereon
    A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and jet:--
    O for some drowsy Morphean amulet!
    The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion,
    The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarionet,
    Affray his ears, though but in dying tone:--              260
  The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone.


    And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
    In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd,
    While he from forth the closet brought a heap
    Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd
    With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
    And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
    Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd
    From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
  From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon.                   270


    These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand
    On golden dishes and in baskets bright
    Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand
    In the retired quiet of the night,
    Filling the chilly room with perfume light.--
    "And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake!
    Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite:
    Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake,
  Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache."


    Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm                   280
    Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream
    By the dusk curtains:--'twas a midnight charm
    Impossible to melt as iced stream:
    The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam;
    Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies:
    It seem'd he never, never could redeem
    From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes;
  So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies.


    Awakening up, he took her hollow lute,--
    Tumultuous,--and, in chords that tenderest be,            290
    He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute,
    In Provence call'd, "La belle dame sans mercy:"
    Close to her ear touching the melody;--
    Wherewith disturb'd, she utter'd a soft moan:
    He ceased--she panted quick--and suddenly
    Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone:
  Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone.


    Her eyes were open, but she still beheld,
    Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep:
    There was a painful change, that nigh expell'd            300
    The blisses of her dream so pure and deep
    At which fair Madeline began to weep,
    And moan forth witless words with many a sigh;
    While still her gaze on Porphyro would keep;
    Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye,
  Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly.


    "Ah, Porphyro!" said she, "but even now
    Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear,
    Made tuneable with every sweetest vow;
    And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear:              310
    How chang'd thou art! how pallid, chill, and drear!
    Give me that voice again, my Porphyro,
    Those looks immortal, those complainings dear!
    Oh leave me not in this eternal woe,
  For if thou diest, my Love, I know not where to go."


    Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far
    At these voluptuous accents, he arose,
    Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star
    Seen mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose
    Into her dream he melted, as the rose                     320
    Blendeth its odour with the violet,--
    Solution sweet: meantime the frost-wind blows
    Like Love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet
  Against the window-panes; St. Agnes' moon hath set.


    'Tis dark: quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet:
    "This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline!"
    'Tis dark: the iced gusts still rave and beat:
    "No dream, alas! alas! and woe is mine!
    Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine.--
    Cruel! what traitor could thee hither bring?              330
    I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine
    Though thou forsakest a deceived thing;--
  A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing."


    "My Madeline! sweet dreamer! lovely bride!
    Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest?
    Thy beauty's shield, heart-shap'd and vermeil dyed?
    Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest
    After so many hours of toil and quest,
    A famish'd pilgrim,--saved by miracle.
    Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest              340
    Saving of thy sweet self; if thou think'st well
  To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel."


    "Hark! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land,
    Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed:
    Arise--arise! the morning is at hand;--
    The bloated wassaillers will never heed:--
    Let us away, my love, with happy speed;
    There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see,--
    Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead:
    Awake! arise! my love, and fearless be,                   350
  For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee."


    She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
    For there were sleeping dragons all around,
    At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears--
    Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.--
    In all the house was heard no human sound.
    A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door;
    The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
    Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar;
  And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.            360


    They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall;
    Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide;
    Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl,
    With a huge empty flaggon by his side:
    The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide,
    But his sagacious eye an inmate owns:
    By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide:--
    The chains lie silent on the footworn stones;--
  The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans.


    And they are gone: ay, ages long ago                      370
    These lovers fled away into the storm.
    That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe,
    And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form
    Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm,
    Were long be-nightmar'd. Angela the old
    Died palsy-twitch'd, with meagre face deform;
    The Beadsman, after thousand aves told,
  For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold.




  My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
    My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
  Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
    One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
  'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
    But being too happy in thine happiness,--
      That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
          In some melodious plot
    Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
      Singest of summer in full-throated ease.                 10


  O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
    Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
  Tasting of Flora and the country green,
    Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!
  O for a beaker full of the warm South,
    Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
      With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
          And purple-stained mouth;
    That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
      And with thee fade away into the forest dim:             20


  Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
    What thou among the leaves hast never known,
  The weariness, the fever, and the fret
    Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
  Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
    Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
      Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
          And leaden-eyed despairs,
    Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
      Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.               30


  Away! away! for I will fly to thee,
    Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
  But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
    Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:
  Already with thee! tender is the night,
    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
      Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;
          But here there is no light,
    Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
      Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.         40


  I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
    Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
  But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet
    Wherewith the seasonable month endows
  The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
    White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
      Fast fading violets cover'd up in leaves;
          And mid-May's eldest child,
    The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
      The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.             50


  Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
    I have been half in love with easeful Death,
  Call'd him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
    To take into the air my quiet breath;
  Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
      While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad
          In such an ecstasy!
    Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain--
      To thy high requiem become a sod.                        60


  Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
    No hungry generations tread thee down;
  The voice I hear this passing night was heard
    In ancient days by emperor and clown:
  Perhaps the self-same song that found a path
    Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
      She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
          The same that oft-times hath
    Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam
      Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.                70


  Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
    To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
  Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
    As she is fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
  Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
    Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
      Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep
          In the next valley-glades:
    Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
      Fled is that music:--Do I wake or sleep?                 80



  Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness,
    Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,
  Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
    A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:
  What leaf-fring'd legend haunts about thy shape
    Of deities or mortals, or of both,
      In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?
    What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?
  What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?
      What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?              10


  Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
    Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
  Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,
    Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:
  Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave
    Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;
      Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,
  Though winning near the goal--yet, do not grieve;
    She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,
      For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!                20


  Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
    Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
  And, happy melodist, unwearied,
    For ever piping songs for ever new;
  More happy love! more happy, happy love!
    For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,
      For ever panting, and for ever young;
  All breathing human passion far above,
    That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,
      A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.               30


  Who are these coming to the sacrifice?
    To what green altar, O mysterious priest,
  Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,
    And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
  What little town by river or sea shore,
    Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,
      Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?
  And, little town, thy streets for evermore
    Will silent be; and not a soul to tell
      Why thou art desolate, can e'er return.                 40


  O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede
    Of marble men and maidens overwrought,
  With forest branches and the trodden weed;
    Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought
  As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!
    When old age shall this generation waste,
      Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
  Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st,
    "Beauty is truth, truth beauty,"--that is all
      Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.               50


  O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
    By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
  And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
    Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
  Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
    The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?
  I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,
    And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
  Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
    In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof              10
    Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
          A brooklet, scarce espied:
  'Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
    Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
  They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;
    Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
    Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
  As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
  And ready still past kisses to outnumber
    At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:                       20
        The winged boy I knew;
    But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
        His Psyche true!

  O latest born and loveliest vision far
    Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
  Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-region'd star,
    Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
  Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
      Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
  Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan                      30
      Upon the midnight hours;
  No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
    From chain-swung censer teeming;
  No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
    Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

  O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
    Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
  When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
    Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
  Yet even in these days so far retir'd                        40
    From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
    Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
  I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.
  So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
      Upon the midnight hours;
  Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
    From swinged censer teeming;
  Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
    Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

  Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane                  50
    In some untrodden region of my mind,
  Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
    Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
  Far, far around shall those dark-cluster'd trees
    Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
  And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
    The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull'd to sleep;
  And in the midst of this wide quietness
  A rosy sanctuary will I dress
  With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain,                60
    With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
  With all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign,
    Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
  And there shall be for thee all soft delight
    That shadowy thought can win,
  A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
    To let the warm Love in!


  Ever let the Fancy roam,
  Pleasure never is at home:
  At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
  Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
  Then let winged Fancy wander
  Through the thought still spread beyond her:
  Open wide the mind's cage-door,
  She'll dart forth, and cloudward soar.
  O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
  Summer's joys are spoilt by use,                             10
  And the enjoying of the Spring
  Fades as does its blossoming;
  Autumn's red-lipp'd fruitage too,
  Blushing through the mist and dew,
  Cloys with tasting: What do then?
  Sit thee by the ingle, when
  The sear faggot blazes bright,
  Spirit of a winter's night;
  When the soundless earth is muffled,
  And the caked snow is shuffled                               20
  From the ploughboy's heavy shoon;
  When the Night doth meet the Noon
  In a dark conspiracy
  To banish Even from her sky.
  Sit thee there, and send abroad,
  With a mind self-overaw'd,
  Fancy, high-commission'd:--send her!
  She has vassals to attend her:
  She will bring, in spite of frost,
  Beauties that the earth hath lost;                           30
  She will bring thee, all together,
  All delights of summer weather;
  All the buds and bells of May,
  From dewy sward or thorny spray
  All the heaped Autumn's wealth,
  With a still, mysterious stealth:
  She will mix these pleasures up
  Like three fit wines in a cup,
  And thou shalt quaff it:--thou shalt hear
  Distant harvest-carols clear;                                40
  Rustle of the reaped corn;
  Sweet birds antheming the morn:
  And, in the same moment--hark!
  'Tis the early April lark,
  Or the rooks, with busy caw,
  Foraging for sticks and straw.
  Thou shalt, at one glance, behold
  The daisy and the marigold;
  White-plum'd lilies, and the first
  Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;                        50
  Shaded hyacinth, alway
  Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
  And every leaf, and every flower
  Pearled with the self-same shower.
  Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep
  Meagre from its celled sleep;
  And the snake all winter-thin
  Cast on sunny bank its skin;
  Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
  Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,                               60
  When the hen-bird's wing doth rest
  Quiet on her mossy nest;
  Then the hurry and alarm
  When the bee-hive casts its swarm;
  Acorns ripe down-pattering,
  While the autumn breezes sing.

    Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;
  Every thing is spoilt by use:
  Where's the cheek that doth not fade,
  Too much gaz'd at? Where's the maid                          70
  Whose lip mature is ever new?
  Where's the eye, however blue,
  Doth not weary? Where's the face
  One would meet in every place?
  Where's the voice, however soft,
  One would hear so very oft?
  At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth
  Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.
  Let, then, winged Fancy find
  Thee a mistress to thy mind:                                 80
  Dulcet-eyed as Ceres' daughter,
  Ere the God of Torment taught her
  How to frown and how to chide;
  With a waist and with a side
  White as Hebe's, when her zone
  Slipt its golden clasp, and down
  Fell her kirtle to her feet,
  While she held the goblet sweet,
  And Jove grew languid.--Break the mesh
  Of the Fancy's silken leash;                                 90
  Quickly break her prison-string
  And such joys as these she'll bring.--
  Let the winged Fancy roam
  Pleasure never is at home.


  Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
  Ye have left your souls on earth!
  Have ye souls in heaven too,
  Double-lived in regions new?
  Yes, and those of heaven commune
  With the spheres of sun and moon;
  With the noise of fountains wond'rous,
  And the parle of voices thund'rous;
  With the whisper of heaven's trees
  And one another, in soft ease                                10
  Seated on Elysian lawns
  Brows'd by none but Dian's fawns
  Underneath large blue-bells tented,
  Where the daisies are rose-scented,
  And the rose herself has got
  Perfume which on earth is not;
  Where the nightingale doth sing
  Not a senseless, tranced thing,
  But divine melodious truth;
  Philosophic numbers smooth;                                  20
  Tales and golden histories
  Of heaven and its mysteries.

    Thus ye live on high, and then
  On the earth ye live again;
  And the souls ye left behind you
  Teach us, here, the way to find you,
  Where your other souls are joying,
  Never slumber'd, never cloying.
  Here, your earth-born souls still speak
  To mortals, of their little week;                            30
  Of their sorrows and delights;
  Of their passions and their spites;
  Of their glory and their shame;
  What doth strengthen and what maim.
  Thus ye teach us, every day,
  Wisdom, though fled far away.

    Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
  Ye have left your souls on earth!
  Ye have souls in heaven too,
  Double-lived in regions new!                                 40


  Souls of Poets dead and gone,
  What Elysium have ye known,
  Happy field or mossy cavern,
  Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
  Have ye tippled drink more fine
  Than mine host's Canary wine?
  Or are fruits of Paradise
  Sweeter than those dainty pies
  Of venison? O generous food!
  Drest as though bold Robin Hood                              10
  Would, with his maid Marian,
  Sup and bowse from horn and can.

    I have heard that on a day
  Mine host's sign-board flew away,
  Nobody knew whither, till
  An astrologer's old quill
  To a sheepskin gave the story,
  Said he saw you in your glory,
  Underneath a new old-sign
  Sipping beverage divine,                                     20
  And pledging with contented smack
  The Mermaid in the Zodiac.

    Souls of Poets dead and gone,
  What Elysium have ye known,
  Happy field or mossy cavern,
  Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?



  No! those days are gone away,
  And their hours are old and gray,
  And their minutes buried all
  Under the down-trodden pall
  Of the leaves of many years:
  Many times have winter's shears,
  Frozen North, and chilling East,
  Sounded tempests to the feast
  Of the forest's whispering fleeces,
  Since men knew nor rent nor leases.                          10

    No, the bugle sounds no more,
  And the twanging bow no more;
  Silent is the ivory shrill
  Past the heath and up the hill;
  There is no mid-forest laugh,
  Where lone Echo gives the half
  To some wight, amaz'd to hear
  Jesting, deep in forest drear.

    On the fairest time of June
  You may go, with sun or moon,                                20
  Or the seven stars to light you,
  Or the polar ray to right you;
  But you never may behold
  Little John, or Robin bold;
  Never one, of all the clan,
  Thrumming on an empty can
  Some old hunting ditty, while
  He doth his green way beguile
  To fair hostess Merriment,
  Down beside the pasture Trent;                               30
  For he left the merry tale
  Messenger for spicy ale.

    Gone, the merry morris din;
  Gone, the song of Gamelyn;
  Gone, the tough-belted outlaw
  Idling in the "grenè shawe;"
  All are gone away and past!
  And if Robin should be cast
  Sudden from his turfed grave,
  And if Marian should have                                    40
  Once again her forest days,
  She would weep, and he would craze:
  He would swear, for all his oaks,
  Fall'n beneath the dockyard strokes,
  Have rotted on the briny seas;
  She would weep that her wild bees
  Sang not to her--strange! that honey
  Can't be got without hard money!

    So it is: yet let us sing,
  Honour to the old bow-string!                                50
  Honour to the bugle-horn!
  Honour to the woods unshorn!
  Honour to the Lincoln green!
  Honour to the archer keen!
  Honour to tight little John,
  And the horse he rode upon!
  Honour to bold Robin Hood,
  Sleeping in the underwood!
  Honour to maid Marian,
  And to all the Sherwood-clan!                                60
  Though their days have hurried by
  Let us two a burden try.



  Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;
  Conspiring with him how to load and bless
    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;
  To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,
    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;
      To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
  With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,
    And still more, later flowers for the bees,
    Until they think warm days will never cease,               10
      For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.


  Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?
    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find
  Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,
    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;
  Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,
    Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
      Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:
  And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
    Steady thy laden head across a brook;                      20
    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,
      Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.


  Where are the songs of Spring? Ay, where are they?
    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,--
  While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,
    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;
  Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn
    Among the river sallows, borne aloft
      Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;
  And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;            30
    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;
      And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.



  No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist
    Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
  Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd
    By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine;
  Make not your rosary of yew-berries,
    Nor let the beetle, nor the death-moth be
      Your mournful Psyche, nor the downy owl
  A partner in your sorrow's mysteries;
    For shade to shade will come too drowsily,
      And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul.               10


  But when the melancholy fit shall fall
    Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,
  That fosters the droop-headed flowers all,
    And hides the green hill in an April shroud;
  Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose,
    Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave,
      Or on the wealth of globed peonies;
  Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows,
    Emprison her soft hand, and let her rave,
      And feed deep, deep upon her peerless eyes.              20


  She dwells with Beauty--Beauty that must die;
    And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips
  Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh,
    Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips:
  Ay, in the very temple of Delight
    Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine,
      Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue
  Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine;
    His soul shall taste the sadness of her might,
      And be among her cloudy trophies hung.                   30




  Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
  Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
  Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
  Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone,
  Still as the silence round about his lair;
  Forest on forest hung about his head
  Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
  Not so much life as on a summer's day
  Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
  But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.             10
  A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
  By reason of his fallen divinity
  Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
  Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.

    Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
  No further than to where his feet had stray'd,
  And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
  His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
  Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
  While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth,          20
  His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.

    It seem'd no force could wake him from his place;
  But there came one, who with a kindred hand
  Touch'd 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 ta'en
  Achilles by the hair and bent his neck;
  Or with a finger stay'd Ixion's wheel.                       30
  Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx,
  Pedestal'd haply in a palace court,
  When sages look'd 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.
  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                  40
  Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
  One hand she press'd 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 tenour and deep organ tone:
  Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
  Would come in these like accents; O how frail                50
  To that large utterance of the early Gods!
  "Saturn, look up!--though wherefore, poor old King?
  I have no comfort for thee, no not one:
  I cannot say, 'O wherefore sleepest thou?'
  For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
  Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a God;
  And ocean too, with all its solemn noise,
  Has from thy sceptre pass'd; and all the air
  Is emptied of thine hoary majesty.
  Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,                   60
  Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house;
  And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands
  Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
  O aching time! O moments big as years!
  All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
  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?
  Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?                        70
  Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep."

    As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
  Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods,
  Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
  Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
  Save from one gradual solitary gust
  Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
  As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
  So came these words and went; the while in tears
  She touch'd her fair large forehead to the ground,           80
  Just where her falling hair might be outspread
  A soft and silken mat for Saturn's feet.
  One moon, with alteration slow, had shed
  Her silver seasons four upon the night,
  And still these two were postured motionless,
  Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern;
  The frozen God still couchant on the earth,
  And the sad Goddess weeping at his feet:
  Until at length old Saturn lifted up
  His faded eyes, and saw his kingdom gone,                    90
  And all the gloom and sorrow of the place,
  And that fair kneeling Goddess; and then spake,
  As with a palsied tongue, and while his beard
  Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
  "O tender spouse of gold Hyperion,
  Thea, I feel thee ere I see thy face;
  Look up, and let me see our doom in it;
  Look up, and tell me if this feeble shape
  Is Saturn's; tell me, if thou hear'st the voice
  Of Saturn; tell me, if this wrinkling brow,                 100
  Naked and bare of its great diadem,
  Peers like the front of Saturn. Who had power
  To make me desolate? whence came the strength?
  How was it nurtur'd to such bursting forth,
  While Fate seem'd strangled in my nervous grasp?
  But it is so; and I am smother'd up,
  And buried from all godlike exercise
  Of influence benign on planets pale,
  Of admonitions to the winds and seas,
  Of peaceful sway above man's harvesting,                    110
  And all those acts which Deity supreme
  Doth ease its heart of love in.--I am gone
  Away from my own bosom: I have left
  My strong identity, my real self,
  Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
  Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
  Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
  Upon all space: space starr'd, and lorn of light;
  Space region'd with life-air; and barren void;
  Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell.--                 120
  Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
  A certain shape or shadow, making way
  With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
  A heaven he lost erewhile: it must--it must
  Be of ripe progress--Saturn must be King.
  Yes, there must be a golden victory;
  There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown
  Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
  Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
  Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir                    130
  Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
  Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
  Of the sky-children; I will give command:
  Thea! Thea! Thea! where is Saturn?"

    This passion lifted him upon his feet,
  And made his hands to struggle in the air,
  His Druid locks to shake and ooze with sweat,
  His eyes to fever out, his voice to cease.
  He stood, and heard not Thea's sobbing deep;
  A little time, and then again he snatch'd                   140
  Utterance thus.--"But cannot I create?
  Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth
  Another world, another universe,
  To overbear and crumble this to nought?
  Where is another chaos? Where?"--That word
  Found way unto Olympus, and made quake
  The rebel three.--Thea was startled up,
  And in her bearing was a sort of hope,
  As thus she quick-voic'd spake, yet full of awe.

    "This cheers our fallen house: come to our friends,       150
  O Saturn! come away, and give them heart;
  I know the covert, for thence came I hither."
  Thus brief; then with beseeching eyes she went
  With backward footing through the shade a space:
  He follow'd, and she turn'd to lead the way
  Through aged boughs, that yielded like the mist
  Which eagles cleave upmounting from their nest.

    Meanwhile in other realms big tears were shed,
  More sorrow like to this, and such like woe,
  Too huge for mortal tongue or pen of scribe:                160
  The Titans fierce, self-hid, or prison-bound,
  Groan'd for the old allegiance once more,
  And listen'd in sharp pain for Saturn's voice.
  But one of the whole mammoth-brood still kept
  His sov'reignty, and rule, and majesty;--
  Blazing Hyperion on his orbed fire
  Still sat, still snuff'd the incense, teeming up
  From man to the sun's God; yet unsecure:
  For as among us mortals omens drear
  Fright and perplex, so also shuddered he--                  170
  Not at dog's howl, or gloom-bird's hated screech,
  Or the familiar visiting of one
  Upon the first toll of his passing-bell,
  Or prophesyings of the midnight lamp;
  But horrors, portion'd to a giant nerve,
  Oft made Hyperion ache. His palace bright
  Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold,
  And touch'd with shade of bronzed obelisks,
  Glar'd a blood-red through all its thousand courts,
  Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries;                     180
  And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds
  Flush'd angerly: while sometimes eagle's wings,
  Unseen before by Gods or wondering men,
  Darken'd the place; and neighing steeds were heard,
  Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
  Also, when he would taste the spicy wreaths
  Of incense, breath'd aloft from sacred hills,
  Instead of sweets, his ample palate took
  Savour of poisonous brass and metal sick:
  And so, when harbour'd in the sleepy west,                  190
  After the full completion of fair day,--
  For rest divine upon exalted couch
  And slumber in the arms of melody,
  He pac'd away the pleasant hours of ease
  With stride colossal, on from hall to hall;
  While far within each aisle and deep recess,
  His winged minions in close clusters stood,
  Amaz'd and full of fear; like anxious men
  Who on wide plains gather in panting troops,
  When earthquakes jar their battlements and towers.          200
  Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance,
  Went step for step with Thea through the woods,
  Hyperion, leaving twilight in the rear,
  Came slope upon the threshold of the west;
  Then, as was wont, his palace-door flew ope
  In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes,
  Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet
  And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies;
  And like a rose in vermeil tint and shape,
  In fragrance soft, and coolness to the eye,                 210
  That inlet to severe magnificence
  Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.

    He enter'd, but he enter'd full of wrath;
  His flaming robes stream'd out beyond his heels,
  And gave a roar, as if of earthly fire,
  That scar'd away the meek ethereal Hours
  And made their dove-wings tremble. On he flared,
  From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault,
  Through bowers of fragrant and enwreathed light,
  And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades,                    220
  Until he reach'd the great main cupola;
  There standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot,
  And from the basements deep to the high towers
  Jarr'd his own golden region; and before
  The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd,
  His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb,
  To this result: "O dreams of day and night!
  O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain!
  O spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom!
  O lank-eared Phantoms of black-weeded pools!                230
  Why do I know ye? why have I seen ye? why
  Is my eternal essence thus distraught
  To see and to behold these horrors new?
  Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall?
  Am I to leave this haven of my rest,
  This cradle of my glory, this soft clime,
  This calm luxuriance of blissful light,
  These crystalline pavilions, and pure fanes,
  Of all my lucent empire? It is left
  Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.                      240
  The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
  I cannot see--but darkness, death and darkness.
  Even here, into my centre of repose,
  The shady visions come to domineer,
  Insult, and blind, and stifle up my pomp.--
  Fall!--No, by Tellus and her briny robes!
  Over the fiery frontier of my realms
  I will advance a terrible right arm
  Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove,
  And bid old Saturn take his throne again."--                250
  He spake, and ceas'd, the while a heavier threat
  Held struggle with his throat but came not forth;
  For as in theatres of crowded men
  Hubbub increases more they call out "Hush!"
  So at Hyperion's words the Phantoms pale
  Bestirr'd themselves, thrice horrible and cold;
  And from the mirror'd level where he stood
  A mist arose, as from a scummy marsh.
  At this, through all his bulk an agony
  Crept gradual, from the feet unto the crown,                260
  Like a lithe serpent vast and muscular
  Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd
  From over-strained might. Releas'd, he fled
  To the eastern gates, and full six dewy hours
  Before the dawn in season due should blush,
  He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy portals,
  Clear'd them of heavy vapours, burst them wide
  Suddenly on the ocean's chilly streams.
  The planet orb of fire, whereon he rode
  Each day from east to west the heavens through,             270
  Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds;
  Not therefore veiled quite, blindfold, and hid,
  But ever and anon the glancing spheres,
  Circles, and arcs, and broad-belting colure,
  Glow'd through, and wrought upon the muffling dark
  Sweet-shaped lightnings from the nadir deep
  Up to the zenith,--hieroglyphics old,
  Which sages and keen-eyed astrologers
  Then living on the earth, with labouring thought
  Won from the gaze of many centuries:                        280
  Now lost, save what we find on remnants huge
  Of stone, or marble swart; their import gone,
  Their wisdom long since fled.--Two wings this orb
  Possess'd for glory, two fair argent wings,
  Ever exalted at the God's approach:
  And now, from forth the gloom their plumes immense
  Rose, one by one, till all outspreaded were;
  While still the dazzling globe maintain'd eclipse,
  Awaiting for Hyperion's command.
  Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne              290
  And bid the day begin, if but for change.
  He might not:--No, though a primeval God:
  The sacred seasons might not be disturb'd.
  Therefore the operations of the dawn
  Stay'd in their birth, even as here 'tis told.
  Those silver wings expanded sisterly,
  Eager to sail their orb; the porches wide
  Open'd upon the dusk demesnes of night
  And the bright Titan, phrenzied with new woes,
  Unus'd to bend, by hard compulsion bent                     300
  His spirit to the sorrow of the time;
  And all along a dismal rack of clouds,
  Upon the boundaries of day and night,
  He stretch'd himself in grief and radiance faint.
  There as he lay, the Heaven with its stars
  Look'd down on him with pity, and the voice
  Of Coelus, from the universal space,
  Thus whisper'd low and solemn in his ear.
  "O brightest of my children dear, earth-born
  And sky-engendered, Son of Mysteries                        310
  All unrevealed even to the powers
  Which met at thy creating; at whose joys
  And palpitations sweet, and pleasures soft,
  I, Coelus, wonder, how they came and whence;
  And at the fruits thereof what shapes they be,
  Distinct, and visible; symbols divine,
  Manifestations of that beauteous life
  Diffus'd unseen throughout eternal space:
  Of these new-form'd art thou, oh brightest child!
  Of these, thy brethren and the Goddesses!                   320
  There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion
  Of son against his sire. I saw him fall,
  I saw my first-born tumbled from his throne!
  To me his arms were spread, to me his voice
  Found way from forth the thunders round his head!
  Pale wox I, and in vapours hid my face.
  Art thou, too, near such doom? vague fear there is:
  For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
  Divine ye were created, and divine
  In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd,                      330
  Unruffled, like high Gods, ye liv'd and ruled:
  Now I behold in you fear, hope, and wrath;
  Actions of rage and passion; even as
  I see them, on the mortal world beneath,
  In men who die.--This is the grief, O Son!
  Sad sign of ruin, sudden dismay, and fall!
  Yet do thou strive; as thou art capable,
  As thou canst move about, an evident God;
  And canst oppose to each malignant hour
  Ethereal presence:--I am but a voice;                       340
  My life is but the life of winds and tides,
  No more than winds and tides can I avail:--
  But thou canst.--Be thou therefore in the van
  Of circumstance; yea, seize the arrow's barb
  Before the tense string murmur.--To the earth!
  For there thou wilt find Saturn, and his woes.
  Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun,
  And of thy seasons be a careful nurse."--
  Ere half this region-whisper had come down,
  Hyperion arose, and on the stars                            350
  Lifted his curved lids, and kept them wide
  Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide:
  And still they were the same bright, patient stars.
  Then with a slow incline of his broad breast,
  Like to a diver in the pearly seas,
  Forward he stoop'd over the airy shore,
  And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night.


  Just at the self-same beat of Time's wide wings
  Hyperion slid into the rustled air,
  And Saturn gain'd with Thea that sad place
  Where Cybele and the bruised Titans mourn'd.
  It was a den where no insulting light
  Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans
  They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar
  Of thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse,
  Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.
  Crag jutting forth to crag, and rocks that seem'd            10
  Ever as if just rising from a sleep,
  Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns;
  And thus in thousand hugest phantasies
  Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe.
  Instead of thrones, hard flint they sat upon,
  Couches of rugged stone, and slaty ridge
  Stubborn'd with iron. All were not assembled:
  Some chain'd in torture, and some wandering.
  Coeus, and Gyges, and Briareüs,
  Typhon, and Dolor, and Porphyrion,                           20
  With many more, the brawniest in assault,
  Were pent in regions of laborious breath;
  Dungeon'd in opaque element, to keep
  Their clenched teeth still clench'd, and all their limbs
  Lock'd up like veins of metal, crampt and screw'd;
  Without a motion, save of their big hearts
  Heaving in pain, and horribly convuls'd
  With sanguine feverous boiling gurge of pulse.
  Mnemosyne was straying in the world;
  Far from her moon had Phoebe wandered;                       30
  And many else were free to roam abroad,
  But for the main, here found they covert drear.
  Scarce images of life, one here, one there,
  Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque
  Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor,
  When the chill rain begins at shut of eve,
  In dull November, and their chancel vault,
  The Heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.
  Each one kept shroud, nor to his neighbour gave
  Or word, or look, or action of despair.                      40
  Creüs was one; his ponderous iron mace
  Lay by him, and a shatter'd rib of rock
  Told of his rage, ere he thus sank and pined.
  Iäpetus another; in his grasp,
  A serpent's plashy neck; its barbed tongue
  Squeez'd from the gorge, and all its uncurl'd length
  Dead; and because the creature could not spit
  Its poison in the eyes of conquering Jove.
  Next Cottus: prone he lay, chin uppermost,
  As though in pain; for still upon the flint                  50
  He ground severe his skull, with open mouth
  And eyes at horrid working. Nearest him
  Asia, born of most enormous Caf,
  Who cost her mother Tellus keener pangs,
  Though feminine, than any of her sons:
  More thought than woe was in her dusky face,
  For she was prophesying of her glory;
  And in her wide imagination stood
  Palm-shaded temples, and high rival fanes,
  By Oxus or in Ganges' sacred isles.                          60
  Even as Hope upon her anchor leans,
  So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk
  Shed from the broadest of her elephants.
  Above her, on a crag's uneasy shelve,
  Upon his elbow rais'd, all prostrate else,
  Shadow'd Enceladus; once tame and mild
  As grazing ox unworried in the meads;
  Now tiger-passion'd, lion-thoughted, wroth,
  He meditated, plotted, and even now
  Was hurling mountains in that second war,                    70
  Not long delay'd, that scar'd the younger Gods
  To hide themselves in forms of beast and bird.
  Not far hence Atlas; and beside him prone
  Phorcus, the sire of Gorgons. Neighbour'd close
  Oceanus, and Tethys, in whose lap
  Sobb'd Clymene among her tangled hair.
  In midst of all lay Themis, at the feet
  Of Ops the queen all clouded round from sight;
  No shape distinguishable, more than when
  Thick night confounds the pine-tops with the clouds:         80
  And many else whose names may not be told.
  For when the Muse's wings are air-ward spread,
  Who shall delay her flight? And she must chaunt
  Of Saturn, and his guide, who now had climb'd
  With damp and slippery footing from a depth
  More horrid still. Above a sombre cliff
  Their heads appear'd, and up their stature grew
  Till on the level height their steps found ease:
  Then Thea spread abroad her trembling arms
  Upon the precincts of this nest of pain,                     90
  And sidelong fix'd her eye on Saturn's face:
  There saw she direst strife; the supreme God
  At war with all the frailty of grief,
  Of rage, of fear, anxiety, revenge,
  Remorse, spleen, hope, but most of all despair.
  Against these plagues he strove in vain; for Fate
  Had pour'd a mortal oil upon his head,
  A disanointing poison: so that Thea,
  Affrighted, kept her still, and let him pass
  First onwards in, among the fallen tribe.                   100

    As with us mortal men, the laden heart
  Is persecuted more, and fever'd more,
  When it is nighing to the mournful house
  Where other hearts are sick of the same bruise;
  So Saturn, as he walk'd into the midst,
  Felt faint, and would have sunk among the rest,
  But that he met Enceladus's eye,
  Whose mightiness, and awe of him, at once
  Came like an inspiration; and he shouted,
  "Titans, behold your God!" at which some groan'd;           110
  Some started on their feet; some also shouted;
  Some wept, some wail'd, all bow'd with reverence;
  And Ops, uplifting her black folded veil,
  Show'd her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan,
  Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes.
  There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines
  When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise
  Among immortals when a God gives sign,
  With hushing finger, how he means to load
  His tongue with the full weight of utterless thought,       120
  With thunder, and with music, and with pomp:
  Such noise is like the roar of bleak-grown pines;
  Which, when it ceases in this mountain'd world,
  No other sound succeeds; but ceasing here,
  Among these fallen, Saturn's voice therefrom
  Grew up like organ, that begins anew
  Its strain, when other harmonies, stopt short,
  Leave the dinn'd air vibrating silverly.
  Thus grew it up--"Not in my own sad breast,
  Which is its own great judge and searcher out,              130
  Can I find reason why ye should be thus:
  Not in the legends of the first of days,
  Studied from that old spirit-leaved book
  Which starry Uranus with finger bright
  Sav'd from the shores of darkness, when the waves
  Low-ebb'd still hid it up in shallow gloom;--
  And the which book ye know I ever kept
  For my firm-based footstool:--Ah, infirm!
  Not there, nor in sign, symbol, or portent
  Of element, earth, water, air, and fire,--                  140
  At war, at peace, or inter-quarreling
  One against one, or two, or three, or all
  Each several one against the other three,
  As fire with air loud warring when rain-floods
  Drown both, and press them both against earth's face,
  Where, finding sulphur, a quadruple wrath
  Unhinges the poor world;--not in that strife,
  Wherefrom I take strange lore, and read it deep,
  Can I find reason why ye should be thus:
  No, no-where can unriddle, though I search,                 150
  And pore on Nature's universal scroll
  Even to swooning, why ye, Divinities,
  The first-born of all shap'd and palpable Gods,
  Should cower beneath what, in comparison,
  Is untremendous might. Yet ye are here,
  O'erwhelm'd, and spurn'd, and batter'd, ye are here!
  O Titans, shall I say 'Arise!'--Ye groan:
  Shall I say 'Crouch!'--Ye groan. What can I then?
  O Heaven wide! O unseen parent dear!
  What can I? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods,                  160
  How we can war, how engine our great wrath!
  O speak your counsel now, for Saturn's ear
  Is all a-hunger'd. Thou, Oceanus,
  Ponderest high and deep; and in thy face
  I see, astonied, that severe content
  Which comes of thought and musing: give us help!"

    So ended Saturn; and the God of the Sea,
  Sophist and sage, from no Athenian grove,
  But cogitation in his watery shades,
  Arose, with locks not oozy, and began,                      170
  In murmurs, which his first-endeavouring tongue
  Caught infant-like from the far-foamed sands.
  "O ye, whom wrath consumes! who, passion-stung,
  Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies!
  Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears,
  My voice is not a bellows unto ire.
  Yet listen, ye who will, whilst I bring proof
  How ye, perforce, must be content to stoop:
  And in the proof much comfort will I give,
  If ye will take that comfort in its truth.                  180
  We fall by course of Nature's law, not force
  Of thunder, or of Jove. Great Saturn, thou
  Hast sifted well the atom-universe;
  But for this reason, that thou art the King,
  And only blind from sheer supremacy,
  One avenue was shaded from thine eyes,
  Through which I wandered to eternal truth.
  And first, as thou wast not the first of powers,
  So art thou not the last; it cannot be:
  Thou art not the beginning nor the end.                     190
  From chaos and parental darkness came
  Light, the first fruits of that intestine broil,
  That sullen ferment, which for wondrous ends
  Was ripening in itself. The ripe hour came,
  And with it light, and light, engendering
  Upon its own producer, forthwith touch'd
  The whole enormous matter into life.
  Upon that very hour, our parentage,
  The Heavens and the Earth, were manifest:
  Then thou first-born, and we the giant-race,                200
  Found ourselves ruling new and beauteous realms.
  Now comes the pain of truth, to whom 'tis pain;
  O folly! for to bear all naked truths,
  And to envisage circumstance, all calm,
  That is the top of sovereignty. Mark well!
  As Heaven and Earth are fairer, fairer far
  Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs;
  And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth
  In form and shape compact and beautiful,
  In will, in action free, companionship,                     210
  And thousand other signs of purer life;
  So on our heels a fresh perfection treads,
  A power more strong in beauty, born of us
  And fated to excel us, as we pass
  In glory that old Darkness: nor are we
  Thereby more conquer'd, than by us the rule
  Of shapeless Chaos. Say, doth the dull soil
  Quarrel with the proud forests it hath fed,
  And feedeth still, more comely than itself?
  Can it deny the chiefdom of green groves?                   220
  Or shall the tree be envious of the dove
  Because it cooeth, and hath snowy wings
  To wander wherewithal and find its joys?
  We are such forest-trees, and our fair boughs
  Have bred forth, not pale solitary doves,
  But eagles golden-feather'd, who do tower
  Above us in their beauty, and must reign
  In right thereof; for 'tis the eternal law
  That first in beauty should be first in might:
  Yea, by that law, another race may drive                    230
  Our conquerors to mourn as we do now.
  Have ye beheld the young God of the Seas,
  My dispossessor? Have ye seen his face?
  Have ye beheld his chariot, foam'd along
  By noble winged creatures he hath made?
  I saw him on the calmed waters scud,
  With such a glow of beauty in his eyes,
  That it enforc'd me to bid sad farewell
  To all my empire: farewell sad I took,
  And hither came, to see how dolorous fate                   240
  Had wrought upon ye; and how I might best
  Give consolation in this woe extreme.
  Receive the truth, and let it be your balm."

    Whether through poz'd conviction, or disdain,
  They guarded silence, when Oceanus
  Left murmuring, what deepest thought can tell?
  But so it was, none answer'd for a space,
  Save one whom none regarded, Clymene;
  And yet she answer'd not, only complain'd,
  With hectic lips, and eyes up-looking mild,                 250
  Thus wording timidly among the fierce:
  "O Father, I am here the simplest voice,
  And all my knowledge is that joy is gone,
  And this thing woe crept in among our hearts,
  There to remain for ever, as I fear:
  I would not bode of evil, if I thought
  So weak a creature could turn off the help
  Which by just right should come of mighty Gods;
  Yet let me tell my sorrow, let me tell
  Of what I heard, and how it made me weep,                   260
  And know that we had parted from all hope.
  I stood upon a shore, a pleasant shore,
  Where a sweet clime was breathed from a land
  Of fragrance, quietness, and trees, and flowers.
  Full of calm joy it was, as I of grief;
  Too full of joy and soft delicious warmth;
  So that I felt a movement in my heart
  To chide, and to reproach that solitude
  With songs of misery, music of our woes;
  And sat me down, and took a mouthed shell                   270
  And murmur'd into it, and made melody--
  O melody no more! for while I sang,
  And with poor skill let pass into the breeze
  The dull shell's echo, from a bowery strand
  Just opposite, an island of the sea,
  There came enchantment with the shifting wind,
  That did both drown and keep alive my ears.
  I threw my shell away upon the sand,
  And a wave fill'd it, as my sense was fill'd
  With that new blissful golden melody.                       280
  A living death was in each gush of sounds,
  Each family of rapturous hurried notes,
  That fell, one after one, yet all at once,
  Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string:
  And then another, then another strain,
  Each like a dove leaving its olive perch,
  With music wing'd instead of silent plumes,
  To hover round my head, and make me sick
  Of joy and grief at once. Grief overcame,
  And I was stopping up my frantic ears,                      290
  When, past all hindrance of my trembling hands,
  A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune,
  And still it cried, 'Apollo! young Apollo!
  The morning-bright Apollo! young Apollo!'
  I fled, it follow'd me, and cried 'Apollo!'
  O Father, and O Brethren, had ye felt
  Those pains of mine; O Saturn, hadst thou felt,
  Ye would not call this too indulged tongue
  Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard."

    So far her voice flow'd on, like timorous brook           300
  That, lingering along a pebbled coast,
  Doth fear to meet the sea: but sea it met,
  And shudder'd; for the overwhelming voice
  Of huge Enceladus swallow'd it in wrath:
  The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves
  In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks,
  Came booming thus, while still upon his arm
  He lean'd; not rising, from supreme contempt.
  "Or shall we listen to the over-wise,
  Or to the over-foolish, Giant-Gods?                         310
  Not thunderbolt on thunderbolt, till all
  That rebel Jove's whole armoury were spent,
  Not world on world upon these shoulders piled,
  Could agonize me more than baby-words
  In midst of this dethronement horrible.
  Speak! roar! shout! yell! ye sleepy Titans all.
  Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile?
  Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm?
  Dost thou forget, sham Monarch of the Waves,
  Thy scalding in the seas? What, have I rous'd               320
  Your spleens with so few simple words as these?
  O joy! for now I see ye are not lost:
  O joy! for now I see a thousand eyes
  Wide glaring for revenge!"--As this he said,
  He lifted up his stature vast, and stood,
  Still without intermission speaking thus:
  "Now ye are flames, I'll tell you how to burn,
  And purge the ether of our enemies;
  How to feed fierce the crooked stings of fire,
  And singe away the swollen clouds of Jove,                  330
  Stifling that puny essence in its tent.
  O let him feel the evil he hath done;
  For though I scorn Oceanus's lore,
  Much pain have I for more than loss of realms:
  The days of peace and slumberous calm are fled;
  Those days, all innocent of scathing war,
  When all the fair Existences of heaven
  Came open-eyed to guess what we would speak:--
  That was before our brows were taught to frown,
  Before our lips knew else but solemn sounds;                340
  That was before we knew the winged thing,
  Victory, might be lost, or might be won.
  And be ye mindful that Hyperion,
  Our brightest brother, still is undisgraced--
  Hyperion, lo! his radiance is here!"

    All eyes were on Enceladus's face,
  And they beheld, while still Hyperion's name
  Flew from his lips up to the vaulted rocks,
  A pallid gleam across his features stern:
  Not savage, for he saw full many a God                      350
  Wroth as himself. He look'd upon them all,
  And in each face he saw a gleam of light,
  But splendider in Saturn's, whose hoar locks
  Shone like the bubbling foam about a keel
  When the prow sweeps into a midnight cove.
  In pale and silver silence they remain'd,
  Till suddenly a splendour, like the morn,
  Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,
  All the sad spaces of oblivion,
  And every gulf, and every chasm old,                        360
  And every height, and every sullen depth,
  Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams:
  And all the everlasting cataracts,
  And all the headlong torrents far and near,
  Mantled before in darkness and huge shade,
  Now saw the light and made it terrible.
  It was Hyperion:--a granite peak
  His bright feet touch'd, and there he stay'd to view
  The misery his brilliance had betray'd
  To the most hateful seeing of itself.                       370
  Golden his hair of short Numidian curl,
  Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade
  In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk
  Of Memnon's image at the set of sun
  To one who travels from the dusking East:
  Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon's harp
  He utter'd, while his hands contemplative
  He press'd together, and in silence stood.
  Despondence seiz'd again the fallen Gods
  At sight of the dejected King of Day,                       380
  And many hid their faces from the light:
  But fierce Enceladus sent forth his eyes
  Among the brotherhood; and, at their glare,
  Uprose Iäpetus, and Creüs too,
  And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode
  To where he towered on his eminence.
  There those four shouted forth old Saturn's name;
  Hyperion from the peak loud answered, "Saturn!"
  Saturn sat near the Mother of the Gods,
  In whose face was no joy, though all the Gods               390
  Gave from their hollow throats the name of "Saturn!"


  Thus in alternate uproar and sad peace,
  Amazed were those Titans utterly.
  O leave them, Muse! O leave them to their woes;
  For thou art weak to sing such tumults dire:
  A solitary sorrow best befits
  Thy lips, and antheming a lonely grief.
  Leave them, O Muse! for thou anon wilt find
  Many a fallen old Divinity
  Wandering in vain about bewildered shores.
  Meantime touch piously the Delphic harp,                     10
  And not a wind of heaven but will breathe
  In aid soft warble from the Dorian flute;
  For lo! 'tis for the Father of all verse.
  Flush every thing that hath a vermeil hue,
  Let the rose glow intense and warm the air,
  And let the clouds of even and of morn
  Float in voluptuous fleeces o'er the hills;
  Let the red wine within the goblet boil,
  Cold as a bubbling well; let faint-lipp'd shells,
  On sands, or in great deeps, vermilion turn                  20
  Through all their labyrinths; and let the maid
  Blush keenly, as with some warm kiss surpris'd.
  Chief isle of the embowered Cyclades,
  Rejoice, O Delos, with thine olives green,
  And poplars, and lawn-shading palms, and beech,
  In which the Zephyr breathes the loudest song,
  And hazels thick, dark-stemm'd beneath the shade:
  Apollo is once more the golden theme!
  Where was he, when the Giant of the Sun
  Stood bright, amid the sorrow of his peers?                  30
  Together had he left his mother fair
  And his twin-sister sleeping in their bower,
  And in the morning twilight wandered forth
  Beside the osiers of a rivulet,
  Full ankle-deep in lilies of the vale.
  The nightingale had ceas'd, and a few stars
  Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush
  Began calm-throated. Throughout all the isle
  There was no covert, no retired cave
  Unhaunted by the murmurous noise of waves,                   40
  Though scarcely heard in many a green recess.
  He listen'd, and he wept, and his bright tears
  Went trickling down the golden bow he held.
  Thus with half-shut suffused eyes he stood,
  While from beneath some cumbrous boughs hard by
  With solemn step an awful Goddess came,
  And there was purport in her looks for him,
  Which he with eager guess began to read
  Perplex'd, the while melodiously he said:
  "How cam'st thou over the unfooted sea?                      50
  Or hath that antique mien and robed form
  Mov'd in these vales invisible till now?
  Sure I have heard those vestments sweeping o'er
  The fallen leaves, when I have sat alone
  In cool mid-forest. Surely I have traced
  The rustle of those ample skirts about
  These grassy solitudes, and seen the flowers
  Lift up their heads, as still the whisper pass'd.
  Goddess! I have beheld those eyes before,
  And their eternal calm, and all that face,                   60
  Or I have dream'd."--"Yes," said the supreme shape,
  "Thou hast dream'd of me; and awaking up
  Didst find a lyre all golden by thy side,
  Whose strings touch'd by thy fingers, all the vast
  Unwearied ear of the whole universe
  Listen'd in pain and pleasure at the birth
  Of such new tuneful wonder. Is't not strange
  That thou shouldst weep, so gifted? Tell me, youth,
  What sorrow thou canst feel; for I am sad
  When thou dost shed a tear: explain thy griefs               70
  To one who in this lonely isle hath been
  The watcher of thy sleep and hours of life,
  From the young day when first thy infant hand
  Pluck'd witless the weak flowers, till thine arm
  Could bend that bow heroic to all times.
  Show thy heart's secret to an ancient Power
  Who hath forsaken old and sacred thrones
  For prophecies of thee, and for the sake
  Of loveliness new born."--Apollo then,
  With sudden scrutiny and gloomless eyes,                     80
  Thus answer'd, while his white melodious throat
  Throbb'd with the syllables.--"Mnemosyne!
  Thy name is on my tongue, I know not how;
  Why should I tell thee what thou so well seest?
  Why should I strive to show what from thy lips
  Would come no mystery? For me, dark, dark,
  And painful vile oblivion seals my eyes:
  I strive to search wherefore I am so sad,
  Until a melancholy numbs my limbs;
  And then upon the grass I sit, and moan,                     90
  Like one who once had wings.--O why should I
  Feel curs'd and thwarted, when the liegeless air
  Yields to my step aspirant? why should I
  Spurn the green turf as hateful to my feet?
  Goddess benign, point forth some unknown thing:
  Are there not other regions than this isle?
  What are the stars? There is the sun, the sun!
  And the most patient brilliance of the moon!
  And stars by thousands! Point me out the way
  To any one particular beauteous star,                       100
  And I will flit into it with my lyre,
  And make its silvery splendour pant with bliss.
  I have heard the cloudy thunder: Where is power?
  Whose hand, whose essence, what divinity
  Makes this alarum in the elements,
  While I here idle listen on the shores
  In fearless yet in aching ignorance?
  O tell me, lonely Goddess, by thy harp,
  That waileth every morn and eventide,
  Tell me why thus I rave, about these groves!                110
  Mute thou remainest--Mute! yet I can read
  A wondrous lesson in thy silent face:
  Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.
  Names, deeds, gray legends, dire events, rebellions,
  Majesties, sovran voices, agonies,
  Creations and destroyings, all at once
  Pour into the wide hollows of my brain,
  And deify me, as if some blithe wine
  Or bright elixir peerless I had drunk,
  And so become immortal."--Thus the God,                     120
  While his enkindled eyes, with level glance
  Beneath his white soft temples, stedfast kept
  Trembling with light upon Mnemosyne.
  Soon wild commotions shook him, and made flush
  All the immortal fairness of his limbs;
  Most like the struggle at the gate of death;
  Or liker still to one who should take leave
  Of pale immortal death, and with a pang
  As hot as death's is chill, with fierce convulse
  Die into life: so young Apollo anguish'd:                   130
  His very hair, his golden tresses famed
  Kept undulation round his eager neck.
  During the pain Mnemosyne upheld
  Her arms as one who prophesied.--At length
  Apollo shriek'd;--and lo! from all his limbs
  Celestial     *      *      *      *      *
  *      *      *      *      *      *      *



PAGE 184, l. 310. over-foolish, Giant-Gods? _MS._: over-foolish giant,
Gods? _1820._



PAGE 2. See Introduction to _Hyperion_, p. 245.


_Lamia_, like _Endymion_, is written in the heroic couplet, but the
difference in style is very marked. The influence of Dryden's
narrative-poems (his translations from Boccaccio and Chaucer) is clearly
traceable in the metre, style, and construction of the later poem. Like
Dryden, Keats now makes frequent use of the Alexandrine, or 6-foot line,
and of the triplet. He has also restrained the exuberance of his
language and gained force, whilst in imaginative power and felicity of
diction he surpasses anything of which Dryden was capable. The flaws in
his style are mainly due to carelessness in the rimes and some
questionable coining of words. He also occasionally lapses into the
vulgarity and triviality which marred certain of his early poems.

The best he gained from his study of Dryden's _Fables_, a debt perhaps
to Chaucer rather than to Dryden, was a notable advance in constructive
power. In _Lamia_ he shows a very much greater sense of proportion and
power of selection than in his earlier work. There is, as it were, more
light and shade.

Thus we find that whenever the occasion demands it his style rises to
supreme force and beauty. The metamorphosis of the serpent, the entry
of Lamia and Lycius into Corinth, the building by Lamia of the Fairy
Hall, and her final withering under the eye of Apollonius--these are the
most important points in the story, and the passages in which they are
described are also the most striking in the poem.

The allegorical meaning of the story seems to be, that it is fatal to
attempt to separate the sensuous and emotional life from the life of
reason. Philosophy alone is cold and destructive, but the pleasures of
the senses alone are unreal and unsatisfying. The man who attempts such
a divorce between the two parts of his nature will fail miserably as did
Lycius, who, unable permanently to exclude reason, was compelled to face
the death of his illusions, and could not, himself, survive them.

Of the poem Keats himself says, writing to his brother in September,
1819: 'I have been reading over a part of a short poem I have composed
lately, called _Lamia_, and I am certain there is that sort of fire in
it that must take hold of people some way; give them either pleasant or
unpleasant sensation--what they want is a sensation of some sort.' But
to the greatest of Keats's critics, Charles Lamb, the poem appealed
somewhat differently, for he writes, 'More exuberantly rich in imagery
and painting [than _Isabella_] is the story of _Lamia_. It is of as
gorgeous stuff as ever romance was composed of,' and, after enumerating
the most striking pictures in the poem, he adds, '[these] are all that
fairy-land can do for us.' _Lamia_ struck his imagination, but his heart
was given to _Isabella_.



PAGE 3. ll. 1-6. _before the faery broods . . . lawns_, i.e. before
mediaeval fairy-lore had superseded classical mythology.

l. 2. _Satyr_, a horned and goat-legged demi-god of the woods.

l. 5. _Dryads_, wood-nymphs, who lived in trees. The life of each
terminated with that of the tree over which she presided. Cf. Landor's

l. 5. _Fauns._ The Roman name corresponding to the Greek Satyr.

l. 7. _Hermes_, or Mercury, the messenger of the Gods. He is always
represented with winged shoes, a winged helmet, and a winged staff,
bound about with living serpents.

PAGE 4. l. 15. _Tritons_, sea-gods, half-man, half-fish. Cf. Wordsworth,
'Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn' (Sonnet--'The World is too
much with us').

l. 19. _unknown to any Muse_, beyond the imagination of any poet.

PAGE 5. l. 28. _passion new._ He has often before been to earth on
similar errands. Cf. _ever-smitten_, l. 7, also ll. 80-93.

l. 42. _dove-footed._ Cf. note on l. 7.

PAGE 6. l. 46. _cirque-couchant_, lying twisted into a circle. Cf.
_wreathed tomb_, l. 38.

l. 47. _gordian_, knotted, from the famous knot in the harness of
Gordius, King of Phrygia, which only the conqueror of the world was to
be able to untie. Alexander cut it with his sword. Cf. _Henry V_, I. i.

l. 58. _Ariadne's tiar._ Ariadne was a nymph beloved of Bacchus, the god
of wine. He gave her a crown of seven stars, which, after her death, was
made into a constellation. Keats has, no doubt, in his mind Titian's
picture of Bacchus and Ariadne in the National Gallery. Cf. _Ode to
Sorrow_, _Endymion_.

PAGE 7. l. 63. _As Proserpine . . . air._ Proserpine, gathering flowers
in the Vale of Enna, in Sicily, was carried off by Pluto, the king of
the underworld, to be his queen. Cf. _Winter's Tale_, IV. iii, and
_Paradise Lost_, iv. 268, known to be a favourite passage with Keats.

l. 75. _his throbbing . . . moan._ Cf. _Hyperion_, iii. 81.

l. 77. _as morning breaks_, the freshness and splendour of the youthful

PAGE 8. l. 78. _Phoebean dart_, a ray of the sun, Phoebus being the god
of the sun.

l. 80. _Too gentle Hermes._ Cf. l. 28 and note.

l. 81. _not delay'd_: classical construction. See Introduction to

_Star of Lethe._ Hermes is so called because he had to lead the souls of
the dead to Hades, where was Lethe, the river of forgetfulness. Lamb
comments: '. . . Hermes, the _Star of Lethe_, as he is called by one of
those prodigal phrases which Mr. Keats abounds in, which are each a poem
in a word, and which in this instance lays open to us at once, like a
picture, all the dim regions and their habitants, and the sudden coming
of a celestial among them.'

l. 91. The line dances along like a leaf before the wind.

l. 92. Miltonic construction and phraseology.

PAGE 9. l. 98. _weary tendrils_, tired with holding up the boughs, heavy
with fruit.

l. 103. _Silenus_, the nurse and teacher of Bacchus--a demigod of the

PAGE 10. l. 115. _Circean._ Circe was the great enchantress who turned
the followers of Ulysses into swine. Cf. _Comus_, ll. 46-54, and
_Odyssey_, x.

PAGE 11. l. 132. _swoon'd serpent._ Evidently, in the exercise of her
magic, power had gone out of her.

l. 133. _lythe_, quick-acting.

_Caducean charm._ Caduceus was the name of Hermes' staff of wondrous
powers, the touch of which, evidently, was powerful to give the serpent
human form.

l. 136. _like a moon in wane._ Cf. the picture of Cynthia, _Endymion_,
iii. 72 sq.

l. 138. _like a flower . . . hour._ Perhaps a reminiscence of Milton's
'at shut of evening flowers.' _Paradise Lost_, ix. 278.

PAGE 12. l. 148. _besprent_, sprinkled.

l. 158. _brede_, embroidery. Cf. _Ode on a Grecian Urn_, v. 1.

PAGE 13. l. 178. _rack._ Cf. _The Tempest_, IV. i. 156, 'leave not a
rack behind.' _Hyperion_, i. 302, note.

l. 180. This gives us a feeling of weakness and weariness as well as
measuring the distance.

PAGE 14. l. 184. Cf. Wordsworth:

     And then my heart with pleasure fills
     And dances with the daffodils.

ll. 191-200. Cf. _Ode on Melancholy_, where Keats tells us that
melancholy lives with Beauty, joy, pleasure, and delight. Lamia can
separate the elements and give beauty and pleasure unalloyed.

l. 195. _Intrigue with the specious chaos_, enter on an understanding
with the fair-looking confusion of joy and pain.

l. 198. _unshent_, unreproached.

PAGE 15. l. 207. _Nereids_, sea-nymphs.

l. 208. _Thetis_, one of the sea deities.

l. 210. _glutinous_, referring to the sticky substance which oozes from
the pine-trunk. Cf. _Comus_, l. 917, 'smeared with gums of glutinous

l. 211. Cf. l. 63, note.

l. 212. _Mulciber_, Vulcan, the smith of the Gods. His fall from Heaven
is described by Milton, _Paradise Lost_, i. 739-42.

_piazzian_, forming covered walks supported by pillars, a word coined by

PAGE 16. l. 236. _In the calm'd . . . shades._ In consideration of
Plato's mystic and imaginative philosophy.

PAGE 17. l. 248. Refers to the story of Orpheus' attempt to rescue his
wife Eurydice from Hades. With his exquisite music he charmed Cerberus,
the fierce dog who guarded hell-gates, into submission, and won Pluto's
consent that he should lead Eurydice back to the upper world on one
condition--that he would not look back to see that she was following.
When he was almost at the gates, love and curiosity overpowered him, and
he looked back--to see Eurydice fall back into Hades whence he now might
never win her.

PAGE 18. l. 262. _thy far wishes_, your wishes when you are far off.

l. 265. _Pleiad._ The Pleiades are seven stars making a constellation.
Cf. Walt Whitman, 'On the beach at night.'

ll. 266-7. _keep in tune Thy spheres._ Refers to the music which the
heavenly bodies were supposed to make as they moved round the earth. Cf.
_Merchant of Venice_, V. i. 60.

PAGE 20. l. 294. _new lips._ Cf. l. 191.

l. 297. _Into another_, i.e. into the trance of passion from which he
only wakes to die.

PAGE 21. l. 320. _Adonian feast._ Adonis was a beautiful youth beloved
of Venus. He was killed by a wild boar when hunting, and Venus then had
him borne to Elysium, where he sleeps pillowed on flowers. Cf.
_Endymion_, ii. 387.

PAGE 22. l. 329. _Peris_, in Persian story fairies, descended from the
fallen angels.

ll. 330-2. The vulgarity of these lines we may attribute partly to the
influence of Leigh Hunt, who himself wrote of

  The two divinest things the world has got--
  A lovely woman and a rural spot.

It was an influence which Keats, with the development of his own
character and genius, was rapidly outgrowing.

l. 333. _Pyrrha's pebbles._ There is a legend that, after the flood,
Deucalion and Pyrrha cast stones behind them which became men, thus
re-peopling the world.

PAGE 23. ll. 350-4. Keats brings the very atmosphere of a dream about us
in these lines, and makes us hear the murmur of the city as something
remote from the chief actors.

l. 352. _lewd_, ignorant. The original meaning of the word which came
later to mean dissolute.

PAGE 24. l. 360. _corniced shade._ Cf. _Eve of St. Agnes_, ix,
'Buttress'd from moonlight.'

ll. 363-77. Note the feeling of fate in the first appearance of

PAGE 25. l. 377. _dreams._ Lycius is conscious that it is an illusion
even whilst he yields himself up to it.

l. 386. _Aeolian._ Aeolus was the god of the winds.

PAGE 26. l. 394. _flitter-winged._ Imagining the poem winging its way
along like a bird. _Flitter_, cf. flittermouse = bat.


PAGE 27. ll. 1-9. Again a passage unworthy of Keats's genius. Perhaps
the attempt to be light, like his seventeenth-century model, Dryden, led
him for the moment to adopt something of the cynicism of that age about

ll. 7-9. i.e. If Lycius had lived longer his experience might have
either contradicted or corroborated this saying.

PAGE 28. l. 27. _Deafening_, in the unusual sense of making inaudible.

ll. 27-8. _came a thrill Of trumpets._ From the first moment that the
outside world makes its claim felt there is no happiness for the man
who, like Lycius, is living a life of selfish pleasure.

PAGE 29. l. 39. _passing bell._ Either the bell rung for a condemned man
the night before his execution, or the bell rung when a man was dying
that men might pray for the departing soul.

PAGE 31. ll. 72-4. _Besides . . . new._ An indication of the selfish
nature of Lycius's love.

l. 80. _serpent._ See how skilfully this allusion is introduced and our
attention called to it by his very denial that it applies to Lamia.

PAGE 32. l. 97. _I neglect the holy rite._ It is her duty to burn
incense and tend the sepulchres of her dead kindred.

PAGE 33. l. 107. _blushing._ We see in the glow of the sunset a
reflection of the blush of the bride.

PAGE 34. ll. 122-3. _sole perhaps . . . roof._ Notice that Keats only
says 'perhaps', but it gives a trembling unreality at once to the magic
palace. Cf. Coleridge's _Kubla Khan_:

     With music loud and long
     I would build that dome in air.

PAGE 36. l. 155. _demesne_, dwelling. More commonly a domain.
_Hyperion_, i. 298. _Sonnet_--'On first looking into Chapman's Homer.'

PAGE 38. l. 187. _Ceres' horn._ Ceres was the goddess of harvest, the
mother of Proserpine (_Lamia_, i. 63, note). Her horn is filled with the
fruits of the earth, and is symbolic of plenty.

PAGE 39. l. 200. _vowel'd undersong_, in contrast to the harsh, guttural
and consonantal sound of Teutonic languages.

PAGE 40. l. 213. _meridian_, mid-day. Bacchus was supreme, as is the sun
at mid-day.

ll. 215-29. Cf. _The Winter's Tale_, IV. iv. 73, &c., where Perdita
gives to each guest suitable flowers. Cf. also Ophelia's flowers,
_Hamlet_, IV. v. 175, etc.

l. 217. _osier'd gold._ The gold was woven into baskets, as though it
were osiers.

l. 224. _willow_, the weeping willow, so-called because its branches
with their long leaves droop to the ground, like dropping tears. It has
always been sacred to deserted or unhappy lovers. Cf. _Othello_, IV.
iii. 24 seq.

_adder's tongue._ For was she not a serpent?

l. 226. _thyrsus._ A rod wreathed with ivy and crowned with a fir-cone,
used by Bacchus and his followers.

l. 228. _spear-grass . . . thistle._ Because of what he is about to do.

PAGE 41. ll. 229-38. Not to be taken as a serious expression of Keats's
view of life. Rather he is looking at it, at this moment, through the
eyes of the chief actors in his drama, and feeling with them.

PAGE 43. l. 263. Notice the horror of the deadly hush and the sudden
fading of the flowers.

l. 266. _step by step_, prepares us for the thought of the silence as a
horrid presence.

ll. 274-5. _to illume the deep-recessed vision._ We at once see her dull
and sunken eyes.

PAGE 45. l. 301. _perceant_, piercing--a Spenserian word.


In _Lamia_ and _Hyperion_, as in _Endymion_, we find Keats inspired by
classic story, though the inspiration in each case came to him through
Elizabethan writers. Here, on the other hand, mediaeval legend is his
inspiration; the 'faery broods' have driven 'nymph and satyr from the
prosperous woods'. Akin to the Greeks as he was in spirit, in his
instinctive personification of the lovely manifestations of nature, his
style and method were really more naturally suited to the portrayal of
mediaeval scenes, where he found the richness and warmth of colour in
which his soul delighted.

The story of _Isabella_ he took from Boccaccio, an Italian writer of the
fourteenth century, whose _Decameron_, a collection of one hundred
stories, has been a store-house of plots for English writers. By
Boccaccio the tale is very shortly and simply told, being evidently
interesting to him mainly for its plot. Keats was attracted to it not so
much by the action as by the passion involved, so that his enlargement
of it means little elaboration of incident, but very much more dwelling
on the psychological aspect. That is to say, he does not care so much
what happens, as what the personages of the poem think and feel.

Thus we see that the main incident of the story, the murder of Lorenzo,
is passed over in a line--'Thus was Lorenzo slain and buried in,' the
next line, 'There, in that forest, did his great love cease,' bringing
us back at once from the physical reality of the murder to the thought
of his love, which is to Keats the central fact of the story.

In the delineation of Isabella, her first tender passion of love, her
agony of apprehension giving way to dull despair, her sudden wakening to
a brief period of frenzied action, described in stanzas of incomparable
dramatic force, and the 'peace' which followed when she

     Forgot the stars, the moon, the sun,
     And she forgot the blue above the trees,
     And she forgot the dells where waters run,
     And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
     She had no knowledge when the day was done,
     And the new morn she saw not--

culminating in the piteous death 'too lone and incomplete'--in the
delineation of all this Keats shows supreme power and insight.

In the conception, too, of the tragic loneliness of Lorenzo's ghost we
feel that nothing could be changed, added, or taken away.

Not quite equally happy are the descriptions of the cruel brothers, and
of Lorenzo as the young lover. There is a tendency to exaggerate both
their inhumanity and his gentleness, for purposes of contrast, which
weakens where it would give strength.

_The Eve of St. Agnes_, founded on a popular mediaeval legend, not being
a tragedy like _Isabella_, cannot be expected to rival it in depth and
intensity; but in every other poetic quality it equals, where it does
not surpass, the former poem.

To be specially noted is the skilful use which Keats here makes of
contrast--between the cruel cold without and the warm love within; the
palsied age of the Bedesman and Angela, and the eager youth of Porphyro
and Madeline; the noise and revel and the hush of Madeline's bedroom,
and, as Mr. Colvin has pointed out, in the moonlight which, chill and
sepulchral when it strikes elsewhere, to Madeline is as a halo of glory,
an angelic light.

A mysterious charm is given to the poem by the way in which Keats endows
inanimate things with a sort of half-conscious life. The knights and
ladies of stone arouse the bedesman's shuddering sympathy when he thinks
of the cold they must be enduring; 'the carven angels' '_star'd_'
'_eager-eyed_' from the roof of the chapel, and the scutcheon in
Madeline's window '_blush'd_ with blood of queens and kings'.

Keats's characteristic method of description--the way in which, by his
masterly choice of significant detail, he gives us the whole feeling of
the situation, is here seen in its perfection. In stanza 1 each line is
a picture and each picture contributes to the whole effect of painful
chill. The silence of the sheep, the old man's breath visible in the
frosty air,--these are things which many people would not notice, but it
is such little things that make the whole scene real to us.

There is another method of description, quite as beautiful in its way,
which Coleridge adopted with magic effect in _Christabel_. This is to
use the power of suggestion, to say very little, but that little of a
kind to awaken the reader's imagination and make him complete the
picture. For example, we are told of Christabel--

     Her gentle limbs did she undress
     And lay down in her loveliness.

Compare this with stanza xxvi of _The Eve of St. Agnes_.

That Keats was a master of both ways of obtaining a romantic effect is
shown by his _La Belle Dame Sans Merci_, considered by some people his
masterpiece, where the rich detail of _The Eve of St. Agnes_ is replaced
by reserve and suggestion.

As the poem was not included in the volume published in 1820, it is
given here.


     Oh what can ail thee Knight at arms
       Alone and palely loitering?
     The sedge has withered from the Lake
       And no birds sing.

     Oh what can ail thee Knight at arms
       So haggard, and so woe begone?
     The Squirrel's granary is full
       And the harvest's done.

     I see a lily on thy brow
       With anguish moist and fever dew,
     And on thy cheeks a fading rose
       Fast withereth too.

     I met a Lady in the Meads
       Full beautiful, a faery's child,
     Her hair was long, her foot was light
       And her eyes were wild.

     I made a garland for her head,
       And bracelets too, and fragrant zone,
     She look'd at me as she did love
       And made sweet moan.

     I set her on my pacing steed,
       And nothing else saw all day long,
     For sidelong would she bend and sing
       A Faery's song.

     She found me roots of relish sweet,
       And honey wild and manna dew,
     And sure in language strange she said
       I love thee true.

     She took me to her elfin grot,
       And there she wept and sigh'd full sore,
     And there I shut her wild, wild eyes
       With kisses four.

     And there she lulled me asleep,
       And there I dream'd, Ah! Woe betide!
     The latest dream I ever dreamt
       On the cold hill side.

     I saw pale Kings, and Princes too,
       Pale warriors, death pale were they all;
     They cried, La belle dame sans merci,
       Thee hath in thrall.

     I saw their starv'd lips in the gloam
       With horrid warning gaped wide,
     And I awoke, and found me here
       On the cold hill's side.

     And this is why I sojourn here
       Alone and palely loitering;
     Though the sedge is withered from the Lake
       And no birds sing. . ..


_Metre._ The _ottava rima_ of the Italians, the natural outcome of
Keats's turning to Italy for his story. This stanza had been used by
Chaucer and the Elizabethans, and recently by Hookham Frere in _The
Monks and the Giants_ and by Byron in _Don Juan_. Compare Keats's use of
the form with that of either of his contemporaries, and notice how he
avoids the epigrammatic close, telling in satire and mock-heroic, but
inappropriate to a serious and romantic poem.

PAGE 49. l. 2. _palmer_, pilgrim. As the pilgrim seeks for a shrine
where, through the patron saint, he may worship God, so Lorenzo needs a
woman to worship, through whom he may worship Love.

PAGE 50. l. 21. _constant as her vespers_, as often as she said her

PAGE 51. l. 34. _within . . . domain_, where it should, naturally, have
been rosy.

PAGE 52. l. 46. _Fever'd . . . bridge._ Made his sense of her worth more

ll. 51-2. _wed To every symbol._ Able to read every sign.

PAGE 53. l. 62. _fear_, make afraid. So used by Shakespeare: e.g. 'Fear
boys with bugs,' _Taming of the Shrew_, I. ii. 211.

l. 64. _shrive_, confess. As the pilgrim cannot be at peace till he has
confessed his sins and received absolution, so Lorenzo feels the
necessity of confessing his love.

PAGE 54. ll. 81-2. _before the dusk . . . veil._ A vivid picture of the
twilight time, after sunset, but before it is dark enough for the stars
to shine brightly.

ll. 83-4. The repetition of the same words helps us to feel the
unchanging nature of their devotion and joy in one another.

PAGE 55. l. 91. _in fee_, in payment for their trouble.

l. 95. _Theseus' spouse._ Ariadne, who was deserted by Theseus after
having saved his life and left her home for him. _Odyssey_, xi. 321-5.

l. 99. _Dido._ Queen of Carthage, whom Aeneas, in his wanderings, wooed
and would have married, but the Gods bade him leave her.

_silent . . . undergrove._ When Aeneas saw Dido in Hades, amongst those
who had died for love, he spoke to her pityingly. But she answered him
not a word, turning from him into the grove to Lychaeus, her former
husband, who comforted her. Vergil, _Aeneid_, Bk. VI, l. 450 ff.

l. 103. _almsmen_, receivers of alms, since they take honey from the

PAGE 56. l. 107. _swelt_, faint. Cf. Chaucer, _Troilus and Cressida_,
iii. 347.

l. 109. _proud-quiver'd_, proudly girt with quivers of arrows.

l. 112. _rich-ored driftings._ The sand of the river in which gold was
to be found.

PAGE 57. l. 124. _lazar_, leper, or any wretched beggar; from the
parable of Dives and Lazarus.

_stairs_, steps on which they sat to beg.

l. 125. _red-lin'd accounts_, vividly picturing their neat
account-books, and at the same time, perhaps, suggesting the human blood
for which their accumulation of wealth was responsible.

l. 130. _gainful cowardice._ A telling expression for the dread of loss
which haunts so many wealthy people.

l. 133. _hawks . . . forests._ As a hawk pounces on its prey, so they
fell on the trading-vessels which put into port.

ll. 133-4. _the untired . . . lies._ They were always ready for any
dishonourable transaction by which money might be made.

l. 134. _ducats._ Italian pieces of money worth about 4_s._ 4_d._ Cf.
Shylock, _Merchant of Venice_, II. vii. 15, 'My ducats.'

l. 135. _Quick . . . away._ They would undertake to fleece unsuspecting
strangers in their town.

PAGE 58. l. 137. _ledger-men._ As if they only lived in their
account-books. Cf. l. 142.

l. 140. _Hot Egypt's pest_, the plague of Egypt.

ll. 145-52. As in _Lycidas_ Milton apologizes for the introduction of
his attack on the Church, so Keats apologizes for the introduction of
this outburst of indignation against cruel and dishonourable dealers,
which he feels is unsuited to the tender and pitiful story.

l. 150. _ghittern_, an instrument like a guitar, strung with wire.

PAGE 59. ll. 153-60. Keats wants to make it clear that he is not trying
to surpass Boccaccio, but to give him currency amongst English-speaking

l. 159. _stead thee_, do thee service.

l. 168. _olive-trees._ In which (through the oil they yield) a great
part of the wealth of the Italians lies.

PAGE 60. l. 174. _Cut . . . bone._ This is not only a vivid way of
describing the banishment of all their natural pity. It also, by the
metaphor used, gives us a sort of premonitory shudder as at Lorenzo's
death. Indeed, in that moment the murder is, to all intents and
purposes, done. In stanza xxvii they are described as riding 'with their
murder'd man'.

PAGE 61. ll. 187-8. _ere . . . eglantine._ The sun, drying up the dew
drop by drop from the sweet-briar is pictured as passing beads along a
string, as the Roman Catholics do when they say their prayers.

PAGE 62. l. 209. _their . . . man._ Cf. l. 174, note. Notice the
extraordinary vividness of the picture here--the quiet rural scene and
the intrusion of human passion with the reflection in the clear water of
the pale murderers, sick with suspense, and the unsuspecting victim,
full of glowing life.

l. 212. _bream_, a kind of fish found in lakes and deep water. Obviously
Keats was not an angler.

_freshets_, little streams of fresh water.

PAGE 63. l. 217. Notice the reticence with which the mere fact of the
murder is stated--no details given. Keats wants the prevailing feeling
to be one of pity rather than of horror.

ll. 219-20. _Ah . . . loneliness._ We perpetually come upon this old
belief--that the souls of the murdered cannot rest in peace. Cf.
_Hamlet_, I. v. 8, &c.

l. 221. _break-covert . . . sin._ The blood-hounds employed for tracking
down a murderer will find him under any concealment, and never rest till
he is found. So restless is the soul of the victim.

l. 222. _They . . . water._ That water which had reflected the three
faces as they went across.

_tease_, torment.

l. 223. _convulsed spur_, they spurred their horses violently and
uncertainly, scarce knowing what they did.

l. 224. _Each richer . . . murderer._ This is what they have gained by
their deed--the guilt of murder--that is all.

l. 229. _stifling_: partly literal, since the widow's weed is
close-wrapping and voluminous--partly metaphorical, since the acceptance
of fate stifles complaint.

l. 230. _accursed bands._ So long as a man hopes he is not free, but at
the mercy of continual imaginings and fresh disappointments. When hope
is laid aside, fear and disappointment go with it.

PAGE 64. l. 241. _Selfishness, Love's cousin._ For the two aspects of
love, as a selfish and unselfish passion, see Blake's two poems, _Love
seeketh only self to please_, and, _Love seeketh not itself to please_.

l. 242. _single breast_, one-thoughted, being full of love for Lorenzo.

PAGE 65. ll. 249 seq. Cf. Shelley's _Ode to the West Wind_.

l. 252. _roundelay_, a dance in a circle.

l. 259. _Striving . . . itself._ Her distrust of her brothers is shown
in her effort not to betray her fears to them.

_dungeon climes._ Wherever it is, it is a prison which keeps him from
her. Cf. _Hamlet_, II. ii. 250-4.

l. 262. _Hinnom's Vale_, the valley of Moloch's sacrifices, _Paradise
Lost_, i. 392-405.

l. 264. _snowy shroud_, a truly prophetic dream.

PAGE 66. ll. 267 seq. These comparisons help us to realize her
experience as sharp anguish, rousing her from the lethargy of despair,
and endowing her for a brief space with almost supernatural energy and

PAGE 67. l. 286. _palsied Druid._ The Druids, or priests of ancient
Britain, are always pictured as old men with long beards. The conception
of such an old man, tremblingly trying to get music from a broken harp,
adds to the pathos and mystery of the vision.

l. 288. _Like . . . among._ Take this line word by word, and see how
many different ideas go to create the incomparably ghostly effect.

ll. 289 seq. Horror is skilfully kept from this picture and only tragedy
left. The horror is for the eyes of his murderers, not for his love.

l. 292. _unthread . . . woof._ His narration and explanation of what has
gone before is pictured as the disentangling of woven threads.

l. 293. _darken'd._ In many senses, since their crime was (1) concealed
from Isabella, (2) darkly evil, (3) done in the darkness of the wood.

PAGE 68. ll. 305 seq. The whole sound of this stanza is that of a faint
and far-away echo.

l. 308. _knelling._ Every sound is like a death-bell to him.

PAGE 69. l. 316. _That paleness._ Her paleness showing her great love
for him; and, moreover, indicating that they will soon be reunited.

l. 317. _bright abyss_, the bright hollow of heaven.

l. 322. _The atom . . . turmoil._ Every one must know the sensation of
looking into the darkness, straining one's eyes, until the darkness
itself seems to be composed of moving atoms. The experience with which
Keats, in the next lines, compares it, is, we are told, a common
experience in the early stages of consumption.

PAGE 70. l. 334. _school'd my infancy._ She was as a child in her
ignorance of evil, and he has taught her the hard lesson that our misery
is not always due to the dealings of a blind fate, but sometimes to the
deliberate crime and cruelty of those whom we have trusted.

l. 344. _forest-hearse._ To Isabella the whole forest is but the
receptacle of her lover's corpse.

PAGE 71. l. 347. _champaign_, country. We can picture Isabel, as they
'creep' along, furtively glancing round, and then producing her knife
with a smile so terrible that the old nurse can only fear that she is
delirious, as her sudden vigour would also suggest.

PAGE 72. st. xlvi-xlviii. These are the stanzas of which Lamb says,
'there is nothing more awfully simple in diction, more nakedly grand and
moving in sentiment, in Dante, in Chaucer, or in Spenser'--and again,
after an appreciation of _Lamia_, whose fairy splendours are 'for
younger impressibilities', he reverts to them, saying: 'To _us_ an
ounce of feeling is worth a pound of fancy; and therefore we recur
again, with a warmer gratitude, to the story of Isabella and the pot of
basil, and those never-cloying stanzas which we have cited, and which we
think should disarm criticism, if it be not in its nature cruel; if it
would not deny to honey its sweetness, nor to roses redness, nor light
to the stars in Heaven; if it would not bay the moon out of the skies,
rather than acknowledge she is fair.'--_The New Times_, July 19, 1820.

l. 361. _fresh-thrown mould_, a corroboration of her fears. Mr. Colvin
has pointed out how the horror is throughout relieved by the beauty of
the images called up by the similes, e.g. 'a crystal well,' 'a native
lily of the dell.'

l. 370. _Her silk . . . phantasies_, i.e. which she had embroidered
fancifully for him.

PAGE 73. l. 385. _wormy circumstance_, ghastly detail. Keats envies the
un-self-conscious simplicity of the old ballad-writers in treating such
a theme as this, and bids the reader turn to Boccaccio, whose
description of the scene he cannot hope to rival. Boccaccio writes: 'Nor
had she dug long before she found the body of her hapless lover, whereon
as yet there was no trace of corruption or decay; and thus she saw
without any manner of doubt that her vision was true. And so, saddest of
women, knowing that she might not bewail him there, she would gladly, if
she could, have carried away the body and given it more honourable
sepulture elsewhere; but as she might not do so, she took a knife, and,
as best she could, severed the head from the trunk, and wrapped it in a
napkin and laid it in the lap of the maid; and having covered the rest
of the corpse with earth, she left the spot, having been seen by none,
and went home.'

PAGE 74. l. 393. _Perséan sword._ The sword of sharpness given to
Perseus by Hermes, with which he cut off the head of the Gorgon Medusa,
a monster with the head of a woman, and snaky locks, the sight of whom
turned those who looked on her into stone. Perseus escaped by looking
only at her reflection in his shield.

l. 406. _chilly_: tears, not passionate, but of cold despair.

PAGE 75. l. 410. _pluck'd in Araby._ Cf. Lady Macbeth, 'All the perfumes
of Arabia will not sweeten this little hand,' _Macbeth_, V. ii. 55.

l. 412. _serpent-pipe_, twisted pipe.

l. 416. _Sweet Basil_, a fragrant aromatic plant.

ll. 417-20. The repetition makes us feel the monotony of her days and
nights of grief.

PAGE 76. l. 432. _leafits_, leaflets, little leaves. An old botanical
term, but obsolete in Keats's time. Coleridge uses it in l. 65 of 'The
Nightingale' in _Lyrical Ballads_. In later editions he altered it to

l. 436. _Lethean_, in Hades, the dark underworld of the dead. Compare
the conception of melancholy in the _Ode on Melancholy_, where it is
said to neighbour joy. Contrast Stanza lxi.

l. 439. _cypress_, dark trees which in Italy are always planted in
cemeteries. They stand by Keats's own grave.

PAGE 77. l. 442. _Melpomene_, the Muse of tragedy.

l. 451. _Baälites of pelf_, worshippers of ill-gotten gains.

l. 453. _elf_, man. The word is used in this sense by Spenser in _The
Faerie Queene_.

PAGE 78. l. 467. _chapel-shrift_, confession. Cf. l. 64.

ll. 469-72. _And when . . . hair._ The pathos of this picture is
intensified by its suggestions of the wife- and mother-hood which Isabel
can now never know. Cf. st. xlvii, where the idea is still more
beautifully suggested.

PAGE 79. l. 475. _vile . . . spot._ The one touch of descriptive
horror--powerful in its reticence.

PAGE 80. l. 489. _on . . . things._ Her love and her hope is with the
dead rather than with the living.

l. 492. _lorn voice._ Cf. st. xxxv. She is approaching her lover. Note
that in each case the metaphor is of a stringed instrument.

l. 493. _Pilgrim in his wanderings._ Cf. st. i, 'a young palmer in
Love's eye.'

l. 503. _burthen_, refrain. Cf. _Tempest_, I. ii. Ariel's songs.


See Introduction to _Isabella_ and _The Eve of St. Agnes_, p. 212.

St. Agnes was a martyr of the Christian Church who was beheaded just
outside Rome in 304 because she refused to marry a Pagan, holding
herself to be a bride of Christ. She was only 13--so small and slender
that the smallest fetters they could find slipped over her little wrists
and fell to the ground. But they stripped, tortured, and killed her. A
week after her death her parents dreamed that they saw her in glory with
a white lamb, the sign of purity, beside her. Hence she is always
pictured with lambs (as her name signifies), and to the place of her
martyrdom two lambs are yearly taken on the anniversary and blessed.
Then their wool is cut off and woven by the nuns into the archbishop's
cloak, or pallium (see l. 70).

For the legend connected with the Eve of the Saint's anniversary, to
which Keats refers, see st. vi.

_Metre._ That of the _Faerie Queene_.

PAGE 83. ll. 5-6. _told His rosary._ Cf. _Isabella_, ll. 87-8.

l. 8. _without a death._ The 'flight to heaven' obscures the simile of
the incense, and his breath is thought of as a departing soul.

PAGE 84. l. 12. _meagre, barefoot, wan._ Such a compression of a
description into three bare epithets is frequent in Keats's poetry. He
shows his marvellous power in the unerring choice of adjective; and
their enumeration in this way has, from its very simplicity, an
extraordinary force.

l. 15. _purgatorial rails_, rails which enclose them in a place of

l. 16. _dumb orat'ries._ The transference of the adjective from person
to place helps to give us the mysterious sense of life in inanimate
things. Cf. _Hyperion_, iii. 8; _Ode to a Nightingale_, l. 66.

l. 22. _already . . . rung._ He was dead to the world. But this hint
should also prepare us for the conclusion of the poem.

PAGE 85. l. 31. _'gan to chide._ l. 32. _ready with their pride._ l. 34.
_ever eager-eyed._ l. 36. _with hair . . . breasts._ As if trumpets,
rooms, and carved angels were all alive. See Introduction, p. 212.

l. 37. _argent_, silver. They were all glittering with rich robes and

PAGE 86. l. 56. _yearning . . . pain_, expressing all the exquisite
beauty and pathos of the music; and moreover seeming to give it
conscious life.

PAGE 87. l. 64. _danc'd_, conveying all her restlessness and impatience
as well as the lightness of her step.

l. 70. _amort_, deadened, dull. Cf. _Taming of the Shrew_, IV. iii. 36,
'What sweeting! all amort.'

l. 71. See note on St. Agnes, p. 224.

l. 77. _Buttress'd from moonlight._ A picture of the castle and of the
night, as well as of Porphyro's position.

PAGE 88. ll. 82 seq. Compare the situation of these lovers with that of
Romeo and Juliet.

l. 90. _beldame_, old woman. Shakespeare generally uses the word in an
uncomplimentary sense--'hag'--but it is not so used here. The word is
used by Spenser in its derivative sense, 'Fair lady,' _Faerie Queene_,
ii. 43.

PAGE 89. l. 110. _Brushing . . . plume._ This line both adds to our
picture of Porphyro and vividly brings before us the character of the
place he was entering--unsuited to the splendid cavalier.

l. 113. _Pale, lattic'd, chill._ Cf. l. 12, note.

l. 115. _by the holy loom_, on which the nuns spin. See l. 71 and note
on St. Agnes, p. 224.

PAGE 90. l. 120. _Thou must . . . sieve._ Supposed to be one of the
commonest signs of supernatural power. Cf. _Macbeth_, I. iii. 8.

l. 133. _brook_, check. An incorrect use of the word, which really means
_bear_ or _permit_.

PAGE 92. ll. 155-6. _churchyard . . . toll._ Unconscious prophecy. Cf.
_The Bedesman_, l. 22.

l. 168. _While . . . coverlet._ All the wonders of Madeline's

l. 171. _Since Merlin . . . debt._ Referring to the old legend that
Merlin had for father an incubus or demon, and was himself a demon of
evil, though his innate wickedness was driven out by baptism. Thus his
'debt' to the demon was his existence, which he paid when Vivien
compassed his destruction by means of a spell which he had taught her.
Keats refers to the storm which is said to have raged that night, which
Tennyson also describes in _Merlin and Vivien_. The source whence the
story came to Keats has not been ascertained.

PAGE 93. l. 173. _cates_, provisions. Cf. _Taming of the Shrew_, II. i.

     Kate of Kate Hall--my super-dainty Kate,
     For dainties are all cates.

We still use the verb 'to cater' as in l. 177.

l. 174. _tambour frame_, embroidery-frame.

l. 185. _espied_, spying. _Dim_, because it would be from a dark corner;
also the spy would be but dimly visible to her old eyes.

l. 187. _silken . . . chaste._ Cf. ll. 12, 113.

l. 188. _covert_, hiding. Cf. _Isabella_, l. 221.

PAGE 94. l. 198. _fray'd_, frightened.

l. 203. _No uttered . . . betide._ Another of the conditions of the
vision was evidently silence.

PAGE 95. ll. 208 seq. Compare Coleridge's description of Christabel's
room: _Christabel_, i. 175-83.

l. 218. _gules_, blood-red.

PAGE 96. l. 226. _Vespers._ Cf. _Isabella_, l. 21, ll. 226-34. See
Introduction, p. 213.

l. 237. _poppied_, because of the sleep-giving property of the

l. 241. _Clasp'd . . . pray._ The sacredness of her beauty is felt here.

_missal_, prayer-book.

PAGE 97. l. 247. _To wake . . . tenderness._ He waited to hear, by the
sound of her breathing, that she was asleep.

l. 250. _Noiseless . . . wilderness._ We picture a man creeping over a
wide plain, fearing that any sound he makes will arouse some wild beast
or other frightful thing.

l. 257. _Morphean._ Morpheus was the god of sleep.

_amulet_, charm.

l. 258. _boisterous . . . festive._ Cf. ll. 12, 112, 187.

l. 261. _and . . . gone._ The cadence of this line is peculiarly adapted
to express a dying-away of sound.

PAGE 98. l. 266. _soother_, sweeter, more delightful. An incorrect use
of the word. Sooth really means truth.

l. 267. _tinct_, flavoured; usually applied to colour, not to taste.

l. 268. _argosy_, merchant-ship. Cf. _Merchant of Venice_, I. i. 9,
'Your argosies with portly sail.'

PAGE 99. l. 287. Before he desired a 'Morphean amulet'; now he wishes to
release his lady's eyes from the charm of sleep.

l. 288. _woofed phantasies._ Fancies confused as woven threads. Cf.
_Isabella_, l. 292.

l. 292. '_La belle . . . mercy._' This stirred Keats's imagination, and
he produced the wonderful, mystic ballad of this title (see p. 213).

l. 296. _affrayed_, frightened. Cf. l. 198.

PAGE 100. ll. 298-9. Cf. Donne's poem, _The Dream_:--

     My dream thou brokest not, but continued'st it.

l. 300. _painful change_, his paleness.

l. 311. _pallid, chill, and drear._ Cf. ll. 12, 112, 187, 258.

PAGE 101. l. 323. _Love's alarum_, warning them to speed away.

l. 325. _flaw_, gust of wind. Cf. _Coriolanus_, V. iii. 74; _Hamlet_,
V. i. 239.

l. 333. _unpruned_, not trimmed.

PAGE 102. l. 343. _elfin-storm._ The beldame has suggested that he must
be 'liege-lord of all the elves and fays'.

l. 351. _o'er . . . moors._ A happy suggestion of a warmer clime.

PAGE 103. l. 355. _darkling._ Cf. _King Lear_, I. iv. 237: 'So out went
the candle and we were left darkling.' Cf. _Ode to a Nightingale_, l.

l. 360. _And . . . floor._ There is the very sound of the wind in this

PAGE 104. ll. 375-8. _Angela . . . cold._ The death of these two leaves
us with the thought of a young, bright world for the lovers to enjoy;
whilst at the same time it completes the contrast, which the first
introduction of the old bedesman suggested, between the old, the poor,
and the joyless, and the young, the rich, and the happy.


These four odes, which were all written in 1819, the first three in the
early months of that year, ought to be considered together, since the
same strain of thought runs through them all and, taken all together,
they seem to sum up Keats's philosophy.

In all of them the poet looks upon life as it is, and the eternal
principle of beauty, in the first three seeing them in sharp contrast;
in the last reconciling them, and leaving us content.

The first-written of the four, the _Ode to a Nightingale_, is the most
passionately human and personal of them all. For Keats wrote it soon
after the death of his brother Tom, whom he had loved devotedly and
himself nursed to the end. He was feeling keenly the tragedy of a world
'where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies', and the song of
the nightingale, heard in a friend's garden at Hampstead, made him long
to escape with it from this world of realities and sorrows to the world
of ideal beauty, which it seemed to him somehow to stand for and
suggest. He did not think of the nightingale as an individual bird, but
of its song, which had been beautiful for centuries and would continue
to be beautiful long after his generation had passed away; and the
thought of this undying loveliness he contrasted bitterly with our
feverishly sad and short life. When, by the power of imagination, he had
left the world behind him and was absorbed in the vision of beauty
roused by the bird's song, he longed for death rather than a return to

So in the _Grecian Urn_ he contrasts unsatisfying human life with art,
which is everlastingly beautiful. The figures on the vase lack one thing
only--reality,--whilst on the other hand they are happy in not being
subject to trouble, change, or death. The thought is sad, yet Keats
closes this ode triumphantly, not, as in _The Nightingale_, on a note of
disappointment. The beauty of this Greek sculpture, truly felt, teaches
us that beauty at any rate is real and lasting, and that utter belief in
beauty is the one thing needful in life.

In the _Ode on Melancholy_ Keats, in a more bitter mood, finds the
presence, in a fleeting world, of eternal beauty the source of the
deepest melancholy. To encourage your melancholy mood, he tells us, do
not look on the things counted sad, but on the most beautiful, which are
only quickly-fading manifestations of the everlasting principle of
beauty. It is then, when a man most deeply loves the beautiful, when he
uses his capacities of joy to the utmost, that the full bitterness of
the contrast between the real and the ideal comes home to him and
crushes him. If he did not feel so much he would not suffer so much; if
he loved beauty less he would care less that he could not hold it long.

But in the ode _To Autumn_ Keats attains to the serenity he has been
seeking. In this unparalleled description of a richly beautiful autumn
day he conveys to us all the peace and comfort which his spirit
receives. He does not philosophize upon the spectacle or draw a moral
from it, but he shows us how in nature beauty is ever present. To the
momentary regret for spring he replies with praise of the present hour,
concluding with an exquisite description of the sounds of autumn--its
music, as beautiful as that of spring. Hitherto he has lamented the
insecurity of a man's hold upon the beautiful, though he has never
doubted the reality of beauty and the worth of its worship to man. Now,
under the influence of nature, he intuitively knows that beauty once
seen and grasped is man's possession for ever. He is in much the same
position that Wordsworth was when he declared that

                    Nature never did betray
     The heart that loved her; 'tis her privilege,
     Through all the years of this our life, to lead
     From joy to joy: for she can so inform
     The mind that is within us, so impress
     With quietness and beauty, and so feed
     With lofty thoughts, that neither evil tongues,
     Rash judgments, nor the sneers of selfish men,
     Nor greetings where no kindness is, nor all
     The dreary intercourse of daily life,
     Shall e'er prevail against us, or disturb
     Our cheerful faith, that all which we behold
     Is full of blessings.

This was not the last poem that Keats wrote, but it was the last which
he wrote in the fulness of his powers. We can scarcely help wishing
that, beautiful as were some of the productions of his last feverish
year of life, this perfect ode, expressing so serene and untroubled a
mood, might have been his last word to the world.


In the early months of 1819 Keats was living with his friend Brown at
Hampstead (Wentworth Place). In April a nightingale built her nest in
the garden, and Brown writes: 'Keats felt a tranquil and continual joy
in her song; and one morning he took his chair from the breakfast table
to the grass-plot under a plum, where he sat for two or three hours.
When he came into the house I perceived he had some scraps of paper in
his hand, and these he was quietly thrusting behind the books. On
inquiry, I found those scraps, four or five in number, contained his
poetic feeling on the song of our nightingale. The writing was not well
legible, and it was difficult to arrange the stanza on so many scraps.
With his assistance I succeeded, and this was his _Ode to a

PAGE 107. l. 4. _Lethe._ Cf. _Lamia_, i. 81, note.

l. 7. _Dryad._ Cf. _Lamia_, i. 5, note.

PAGE 108. l. 13. _Flora_, the goddess of flowers.

l. 14. _sunburnt mirth._ An instance of Keats's power of concentration.
The _people_ are not mentioned at all, yet this phrase conjures up a
picture of merry, laughing, sunburnt peasants, as surely as could a long
and elaborate description.

l. 15. _the warm South._ As if the wine brought all this with it.

l. 16. _Hippocrene_, the spring of the Muses on Mount Helicon.

l. 23. _The weariness . . . fret._ Cf. 'The fretful stir unprofitable
and the fever of the world' in Wordsworth's _Tintern Abbey_, which Keats
well knew.

PAGE 109. l. 26. _Where youth . . . dies._ See Introduction to the Odes,
p. 230.

l. 29. _Beauty . . . eyes._ Cf. _Ode on Melancholy_, 'Beauty that must

l. 32. _Not . . . pards._ Not wine, but poetry, shall give him release
from the cares of this world. Keats is again obviously thinking of
Titian's picture (Cf. _Lamia_, i. 58, note).

l. 40. Notice the balmy softness which is given to this line by the use
of long vowels and liquid consonants.

PAGE 110. ll. 41 seq. The dark, warm, sweet atmosphere seems to enfold
us. It would be hard to find a more fragrant passage.

l. 50. _The murmurous . . . eves._ We seem to hear them. Tennyson,
inspired by Keats, with more self-conscious art, uses somewhat similar
effects, e.g.:

     The moan of doves in immemorial elms,
     And murmuring of innumerable bees.

                           _The Princess_, vii.

l. 51. _Darkling._ Cf. _The Eve of St. Agnes_, l. 355, note.

l. 61. _Thou . . . Bird._ Because, so far as we are concerned, the
nightingale we heard years ago is the same as the one we hear to-night.
The next lines make it clear that this is what Keats means.

l. 64. _clown_, peasant.

l. 67. _alien corn._ Transference of the adjective from person to
surroundings. Cf. _Eve of St. Agnes_, l. 16; _Hyperion_, iii. 9.

ll. 69-70. _magic . . . forlorn._ Perhaps inspired by a picture of
Claude's, 'The Enchanted Castle,' of which Keats had written before in a
poetical epistle to his friend Reynolds--'The windows [look] as if
latch'd by Fays and Elves.'

PAGE 112. l. 72. _Toll._ To him it has a deeply melancholy sound, and it
strikes the death-blow to his illusion.

l. 75. _plaintive._ It did not sound sad to Keats at first, but as it
dies away it takes colour from his own melancholy and sounds pathetic to
him. Cf. _Ode on Melancholy_: he finds both bliss and pain in the
contemplation of beauty.

ll. 76-8. _Past . . . glades._ The whole country speeds past our eyes in
these three lines.


This poem is not, apparently, inspired by any one actual vase, but by
many Greek sculptures, some seen in the British Museum, some known only
from engravings. Keats, in his imagination, combines them all into one
work of supreme beauty.

Perhaps Keats had some recollection of Wordsworth's sonnet 'Upon the
sight of a beautiful picture,' beginning 'Praised be the art.'

PAGE 113. l. 2. _foster-child._ The child of its maker, but preserved
and cared for by these foster-parents.

l. 7. _Tempe_ was a famous glen in Thessaly.

_Arcady._ Arcadia, a very mountainous country, the centre of the
Peloponnese, was the last stronghold of the aboriginal Greeks. The
people were largely shepherds and goatherds, and Pan was a local
Arcadian god till the Persian wars (c. 400 B.C.). In late Greek and in
Roman pastoral poetry, as in modern literature, Arcadia is a sort of
ideal land of poetic shepherds.

PAGE 114. ll. 17-18. _Bold . . . goal._ The one thing denied to the
figures--actual life. But Keats quickly turns to their rich

PAGE 115. ll. 28-30. _All . . . tongue._ Cf. Shelley's _To a Skylark_:

     Thou lovest--but ne'er knew love's sad satiety.

ll. 31 seq. Keats is now looking at the other side of the urn. This
verse strongly recalls certain parts of the frieze of the Parthenon
(British Museum).

PAGE 116. l. 41. _Attic_, Greek.

_brede_, embroidery. Cf. _Lamia_, i. 159. Here used of carving.

l. 44. _tease us out of thought._ Make us think till thought is lost in


In one of his long journal-letters to his brother George, Keats writes,
at the beginning of May, 1819: 'The following poem--the last I have
written--is the first and the only one with which I have taken even
moderate pains. I have for the most part dashed off my lines in a hurry.
This I have done leisurely--I think it reads the more richly for it, and
will I hope encourage me to write other things in even a more peaceable
and healthy spirit. You must recollect that Psyche was not embodied as a
goddess before the time of Apuleius the Platonist, who lived after the
Augustan age, and consequently the goddess was never worshipped or
sacrificed to with any of the ancient fervour, and perhaps never thought
of in the old religion--I am more orthodox than to let a heathen goddess
be so neglected.' _The Ode to Psyche_ follows.

The story of Psyche may be best told in the words of William Morris in
the 'argument' to 'the story of Cupid and Psyche' in his _Earthly

     'Psyche, a king's daughter, by her exceeding beauty caused the
     people to forget Venus; therefore the goddess would fain have
     destroyed her: nevertheless she became the bride of Love, yet
     in an unhappy moment lost him by her own fault, and wandering
     through the world suffered many evils at the hands of Venus,
     for whom she must accomplish fearful tasks. But the gods and
     all nature helped her, and in process of time she was
     re-united to Love, forgiven by Venus, and made immortal by the
     Father of gods and men.'

Psyche is supposed to symbolize the human soul made immortal through


PAGE 117. l. 2. _sweet . . . dear._ Cf. _Lycidas_, 'Bitter constraint
and sad occasion dear.'

l. 4. _soft-conched._ Metaphor of a sea-shell giving an impression of
exquisite colour and delicate form.

PAGE 118. l. 13. _'Mid . . . eyed._ Nature in its appeal to every sense.
In this line we have the essence of all that makes the beauty of flowers
satisfying and comforting.

l. 14. _Tyrian_, purple, from a certain dye made at Tyre.

l. 20. _aurorean._ Aurora is the goddess of dawn. Cf. _Hyperion_, i.

l. 25. _Olympus._ Cf. _Lamia_, i. 9, note.

_hierarchy._ The orders of gods, with Jupiter as head.

l. 26. _Phoebe_, or Diana, goddess of the moon.

l. 27. _Vesper_, the evening star.

PAGE 119. l. 34. _oracle_, a sacred place where the god was supposed to
answer questions of vital import asked him by his worshippers.

l. 37. _fond believing_, foolishly credulous.

l. 41. _lucent fans_, luminous wings.

PAGE 120. l. 55. _fledge . . . steep._ Probably a recollection of what
he had seen in the Lakes, for on June 29, 1818, he writes to Tom from
Keswick of a waterfall which 'oozes out from a cleft in perpendicular
Rocks, all fledged with Ash and other beautiful trees'.

l. 57. _Dryads._ Cf. _Lamia_, l. 5, note.


This poem, although so much lighter in spirit, bears a certain relation
in thought to Keats's other odes. In the _Nightingale_ the tragedy of
this life made him long to escape, on the wings of imagination, to the
ideal world of beauty symbolized by the song of the bird. Here finding
all real things, even the most beautiful, pall upon him, he extols the
fancy, which can escape from reality and is not tied by place or season
in its search for new joys. This is, of course, only a passing mood, as
the extempore character of the poetry indicates. We see more of settled
conviction in the deeply-meditative _Ode to Autumn_, where he finds the
ideal in the rich and ever-changing real.

This poem is written in the four-accent metre employed by Milton in
_L'Allegro_ and _Il Penseroso_, and we can often detect a similarity of
cadence, and a resemblance in the scenes imagined.


PAGE 123. l. 16. _ingle_, chimney-nook.

PAGE 126. l. 81. _Ceres' daughter_, Proserpina. Cf. _Lamia_, i. 63,

l. 82. _God of torment._ Pluto, who presides over the torments of the
souls in Hades.

PAGE 127. l. 85. _Hebe_, the cup-bearer of Jove.

l. 89. _And Jove grew languid._ Observe the fitting slowness of the
first half of the line, and the sudden leap forward of the second.



PAGE 128. l. 1. _Bards_, poets and singers.

l. 8. _parle_, French _parler_. Cf. _Hamlet_, I. i. 62.

l. 12. _Dian's fawns._ Diana was the goddess of hunting.


The Mermaid Tavern was an old inn in Bread Street, Cheapside. Tradition
says that the literary club there was established by Sir Walter Raleigh
in 1603. In any case it was, in Shakespeare's time, frequented by the
chief writers of the day, amongst them Ben Jonson, Beaumont, Fletcher,
Selden, Carew, Donne, and Shakespeare himself. Beaumont, in a poetical
epistle to Ben Jonson, writes:

     What things have we seen
     Done at the Mermaid! heard words that have been
     So nimble and so full of subtle flame,
     As if that any one from whence they came
     Had meant to put his whole wit in a jest,
     And has resolved to live a fool the rest
     Of his dull life.


PAGE 131. l. 10. _bold Robin Hood._ Cf. _Robin Hood_, p. 133.

l. 12. _bowse_, drink.

PAGE 132. ll. 16-17. _an astrologer's . . . story._ The astrologer would
record, on parchment, what he had seen in the heavens.

l. 22. _The Mermaid . . . Zodiac._ The zodiac was an imaginary belt
across the heavens within which the sun and planets were supposed to
move. It was divided into twelve parts corresponding to the twelve
months of the year, according to the position of the moon when full.
Each of these parts had a sign by which it was known, and the sign of
the tenth was a fish-tailed goat, to which Keats refers as the Mermaid.
The word _zodiac_ comes from the Greek +zôdion+, meaning
a little animal, since originally all the signs were animals.


Early in 1818 John Hamilton Reynolds, a friend of Keats, sent him two
sonnets which he had written 'On Robin Hood'. Keats, in his letter of
thanks, after giving an appreciation of Reynolds's production, says: 'In
return for your Dish of Filberts, I have gathered a few Catkins, I hope
they'll look pretty.' Then follow these lines, entitled, 'To J. H. R. in
answer to his Robin Hood sonnets.' At the end he writes: 'I hope you
will like them--they are at least written in the spirit of outlawry.'

Robin Hood, the outlaw, was a popular hero of the Middle Ages. He was a
great poacher of deer, brave, chivalrous, generous, full of fun, and
absolutely without respect for law and order. He robbed the rich to give
to the poor, and waged ceaseless war against the wealthy prelates of the
church. Indeed, of his endless practical jokes, the majority were played
upon sheriffs and bishops. He lived, with his 'merry men', in Sherwood
Forest, where a hollow tree, said to be his 'larder', is still shown.

Innumerable ballads telling of his exploits were composed, the first
reference to which is in the second edition of Langland's _Piers
Plowman_, c. 1377. Many of these ballads still survive, but in all these
traditions it is quite impossible to disentangle fact from fiction.


PAGE 133. l. 4. _pall._ Cf. _Isabella_, l. 268.

l. 9. _fleeces_, the leaves of the forest, cut from them by the wind as
the wool is shorn from the sheep's back.

PAGE 134. l. 13. _ivory shrill_, the shrill sound of the ivory horn.

ll. 15-18. Keats imagines some man who has not heard the laugh hearing
with bewilderment its echo in the depths of the forest.

l. 21. _seven stars_, Charles's Wain or the Big Bear.

l. 22. _polar ray_, the light of the Pole, or North, star.

l. 30. _pasture Trent_, the fields about the Trent, the river of
Nottingham, which runs by Sherwood forest.

PAGE 135. l. 33. _morris._ A dance in costume which, in the Tudor
period, formed a part of every village festivity. It was generally
danced by five men and a boy in girl's dress, who represented Maid
Marian. Later it came to be associated with the May games, and other
characters of the Robin Hood epic were introduced. It was abolished,
with other village gaieties, by the Puritans, and though at the
Restoration it was revived it never regained its former importance.

l. 34. _Gamelyn._ The hero of a tale (_The Tale of Gamelyn_) attributed
to Chaucer, and given in some MSS. as _The Cook's Tale_ in _The
Canterbury Tales_. The story of Orlando's ill-usage, prowess, and
banishment, in _As You Like It_, Shakespeare derived from this source,
and Keats is thinking of the merry life of the hero amongst the outlaws.

l. 36. '_grenè shawe_,' green wood.

PAGE 136. l. 53. _Lincoln green._ In the Middle Ages Lincoln was very
famous for dyeing green cloth, and this green cloth was the
characteristic garb of the forester and outlaw.

l. 62. _burden._ Cf. _Isabella_, l. 503.


In a letter written to Reynolds from Winchester, in September, 1819,
Keats says: 'How beautiful the season is now--How fine the air. A
temperate sharpness about it. Really, without joking, chaste
weather--Dian skies--I never liked stubble-fields so much as now--Aye
better than the chilly green of the spring. Somehow, a stubble-field
looks warm--in the same way that some pictures look warm. This struck me
so much in my Sunday's walk that I composed upon it.' What he composed
was the Ode _To Autumn_.

PAGE 137. ll. 1 seq. The extraordinary concentration and richness of
this description reminds us of Keats's advice to Shelley--'Load every
rift of your subject with ore.' The whole poem seems to be painted in
tints of red, brown, and gold.

PAGE 138. ll. 12 seq. From the picture of an autumn day we proceed to
the characteristic sights and occupations of autumn, personified in the
spirit of the season.

l. 18. _swath_, the width of the sweep of the scythe.

ll. 23 seq. Now the sounds of autumn are added to complete the

ll. 25-6. Compare letter quoted above.

PAGE 139. l. 28. _sallows_, trees or low shrubs of the willowy kind.

ll. 28-9. _borne . . . dies._ Notice how the cadence of the line fits
the sense. It seems to rise and fall and rise and fall again.


PAGE 140. l. 1. _Lethe._ See _Lamia_, i. 81, note.

l. 2. _Wolf's-bane_, aconite or hellebore--a poisonous plant.

l. 4. _nightshade_, a deadly poison.

_ruby . . . Proserpine._ Cf. Swinburne's _Garden of Proserpine_.

_Proserpine._ Cf. _Lamia_, i. 63, note.

l. 5. _yew-berries._ The yew, a dark funereal-looking tree, is
constantly planted in churchyards.

l. 7. _your mournful Psyche._ See Introduction to the _Ode to Psyche_,
p. 236.

PAGE 141. l. 12. _weeping cloud._ l. 14. _shroud._ Giving a touch of
mystery and sadness to the otherwise light and tender picture.

l. 16. _on . . . sand-wave_, the iridescence sometimes seen on the
ribbed sand left by the tide.

l. 21. _She_, i.e. Melancholy--now personified as a goddess. Compare
this conception of melancholy with the passage in _Lamia_, i. 190-200.
Cf. also Milton's personifications of Melancholy in _L'Allegro_ and _Il

PAGE 142. l. 30. _cloudy_, mysteriously concealed, seen of few.


This poem deals with the overthrow of the primaeval order of Gods by
Jupiter, son of Saturn the old king. There are many versions of the
fable in Greek mythology, and there are many sources from which it may
have come to Keats. At school he is said to have known the classical
dictionary by heart, but his inspiration is more likely to have been due
to his later reading of the Elizabethan poets, and their translations of
classic story. One thing is certain, that he did not confine himself to
any one authority, nor did he consider it necessary to be circumscribed
by authorities at all. He used, rather than followed, the Greek fable,
dealing freely with it and giving it his own interpretation.

The situation when the poem opens is as follows:--Saturn, king of the
gods, has been driven from Olympus down into a deep dell, by his son
Jupiter, who has seized and used his father's weapon, the thunderbolt. A
similar fate has overtaken nearly all his brethren, who are called by
Keats Titans and Giants indiscriminately, though in Greek mythology the
two races are quite distinct. These Titans are the children of Tellus
and Coelus, the earth and sky, thus representing, as it were, the first
birth of form and personality from formless nature. Before the
separation of earth and sky, Chaos, a confusion of the elements of all
things, had reigned supreme. One only of the Titans, Hyperion the
sun-god, still keeps his kingdom, and he is about to be superseded by
young Apollo, the god of light and song.

In the second book we hear Oceanus and Clymene his daughter tell how
both were defeated not by battle or violence, but by the irresistible
beauty of their dispossessors; and from this Oceanus deduces 'the
eternal law, that first in beauty should be first in might'. He recalls
the fact that Saturn himself was not the first ruler, but received his
kingdom from his parents, the earth and sky, and he prophesies that
progress will continue in the overthrow of Jove by a yet brighter and
better order. Enceladus is, however, furious at what he considers a
cowardly acceptance of their fate, and urges his brethren to resist.

In Book I we saw Hyperion, though still a god, distressed by portents,
and now in Book III we see the rise to divinity of his successor, the
young Apollo. The poem breaks off short at the moment of Apollo's
metamorphosis, and how Keats intended to complete it we can never know.

It is certain that he originally meant to write an epic in ten books,
and the publisher's remark[245:1] at the beginning of the 1820 volume
would lead us to think that he was in the same mind when he wrote the
poem. This statement, however, must be altogether discounted, as Keats,
in his copy of the poems, crossed it right out and wrote above, 'I had
no part in this; I was ill at the time.'

Moreover, the last sentence (from 'but' to 'proceeding') he bracketed,
writing below, 'This is a lie.'

This, together with other evidence external and internal, has led Dr. de
Sélincourt to the conclusion that Keats had modified his plan and, when
he was writing the poem, intended to conclude it in four books. Of the
probable contents of the one-and-half unwritten books Mr. de Sélincourt
writes: 'I conceive that Apollo, now conscious of his divinity, would
have gone to Olympus, heard from the lips of Jove of his newly-acquired
supremacy, and been called upon by the rebel three to secure the kingdom
that awaited him. He would have gone forth to meet Hyperion, who, struck
by the power of supreme beauty, would have found resistance impossible.
Critics have inclined to take for granted the supposition that an actual
battle was contemplated by Keats, but I do not believe that such was, at
least, his final intention. In the first place, he had the example of
Milton, whom he was studying very closely, to warn him of its dangers;
in the second, if Hyperion had been meant to fight he would hardly be
represented as already, before the battle, shorn of much of his
strength; thus making the victory of Apollo depend upon his enemy's
unnatural weakness and not upon his own strength. One may add that a
combat would have been completely alien to the whole idea of the poem as
Keats conceived it, and as, in fact, it is universally interpreted from
the speech of Oceanus in the second book. The resistance of Enceladus
and the Giants, themselves rebels against an order already established,
would have been dealt with summarily, and the poem would have closed
with a description of the new age which had been inaugurated by the
triumph of the Olympians, and, in particular, of Apollo the god of light
and song.'

The central idea, then, of the poem is that the new age triumphs over
the old by virtue of its acknowledged superiority--that intellectual
supremacy makes physical force feel its power and yield. Dignity and
moral conquest lies, for the conquered, in the capacity to recognize the
truth and look upon the inevitable undismayed.

Keats broke the poem off because it was too 'Miltonic', and it is easy
to see what he meant. Not only does the treatment of the subject recall
that of _Paradise Lost_, the council of the fallen gods bearing special
resemblance to that of the fallen angels in Book II of Milton's epic,
but in its style and syntax the influence of Milton is everywhere
apparent. It is to be seen in the restraint and concentration of the
language, which is in marked contrast to the wordiness of Keats's early
work, as well as in the constant use of classical constructions,[247:1]
Miltonic inversions[247:2] and repetitions,[247:3] and in occasional
reminiscences of actual lines and phrases in _Paradise Lost_.[247:4]

In _Hyperion_ we see, too, the influence of the study of Greek
sculpture upon Keats's mind and art. This study had taught him that the
highest beauty is not incompatible with definiteness of form and
clearness of detail. To his romantic appreciation of mystery was now
added an equal sense of the importance of simplicity, form, and
proportion, these being, from its nature, inevitable characteristics of
the art of sculpture. So we see that again and again the figures
described in _Hyperion_ are like great statues--clear-cut, massive, and
motionless. Such are the pictures of Saturn and Thea in Book I, and of
each of the group of Titans at the opening of Book II.

Striking too is Keats's very Greek identification of the gods with the
powers of Nature which they represent. It is this attitude of mind which
has led some people--Shelley and Landor among them--to declare Keats, in
spite of his ignorance of the language, the most truly Greek of all
English poets. Very beautiful instances of this are the sunset and
sunrise in Book I, when the departure of the sun-god and his return to
earth are so described that the pictures we see are of an evening and
morning sky, an angry sunset, and a grey and misty dawn.

But neither Miltonic nor Greek is Keats's marvellous treatment of nature
as he feels, and makes us feel, the magic of its mystery in such a
picture as that of the

                               tall oaks
     Branch-charmèd by the earnest stars,

or of the

                            dismal cirque
     Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor,
     When the chill rain begins at shut of eve,
     In dull November, and their chancel vault,
     The heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.

This Keats, and Keats alone, could do; and his achievement is unique in
throwing all the glamour of romance over a fragment 'sublime as



PAGE 145. ll. 2-3. By thus giving us a vivid picture of the changing
day--at morning, noon, and night--Keats makes us realize the terrible
loneliness and gloom of a place too deep to feel these changes.

l. 10. See how the sense is expressed in the cadence of the line.

PAGE 146. l. 11. _voiceless._ As if it felt and knew, and were
deliberately silent.

ll. 13, 14. Influence of Greek sculpture. See Introduction, p. 248.

l. 18. _nerveless . . . dead._ Cf. _Eve of St. Agnes_, l. 12, note.

l. 19. _realmless eyes._ The tragedy of his fall is felt in every

ll. 20, 21. _Earth, His ancient mother._ Tellus. See Introduction, p.

PAGE 147. l. 27. _Amazon._ The Amazons were a warlike race of women of
whom many traditions exist. On the frieze of the Mausoleum (British
Museum) they are seen warring with the Centaurs.

l. 30. _Ixion's wheel._ For insolence to Jove, Ixion was tied to an
ever-revolving wheel in Hell.

l. 31. _Memphian sphinx._ Memphis was a town in Egypt near to which the
pyramids were built. A sphinx is a great stone image with human head and
breast and the body of a lion.

PAGE 148. ll. 60-3. The thunderbolts, being Jove's own weapons, are
unwilling to be used against their former master.

PAGE 149. l. 74. _branch-charmed . . . stars._ All the magic of the
still night is here.

ll. 76-8. _Save . . . wave._ See how the gust of wind comes and goes in
the rise and fall of these lines, which begin and end on the same sound.

PAGE 150. l. 86. See Introduction, p. 248.

l. 94. _aspen-malady_, trembling like the leaves of the aspen-poplar.

PAGE 151. ll. 98 seq. Cf. _King Lear_. Throughout the figure of
Saturn--the old man robbed of his kingdom--reminds us of Lear, and
sometimes we seem to detect actual reminiscences of Shakespeare's
treatment. Cf. _Hyperion_, i. 98; and _King Lear_, I. iv. 248-52.

l. 102. _front_, forehead.

l. 105. _nervous_, used in its original sense of powerful, sinewy.

ll. 107 seq. In Saturn's reign was the Golden Age.

PAGE 152. l. 125. _of ripe progress_, near at hand.

l. 129. _metropolitan_, around the chief city.

l. 131. _strings in hollow shells._ The first stringed instruments were
said to be made of tortoise-shells with strings stretched across.

PAGE 153. l. 145. _chaos._ The confusion of elements from which the
world was created. See _Paradise Lost_, i. 891-919.

l. 147. _rebel three._ Jove, Neptune, and Pluto.

PAGE 154. l. 152. _covert._ Cf. _Isabella_, l. 221; _Eve of St. Agnes_,
l. 188.

ll. 156-7. All the dignity and majesty of the goddess is in this

PAGE 155. l. 171. _gloom-bird_, the owl, whose cry is supposed to
portend death. Cf. Milton's method of description, 'Not that fair
field,' etc. _Paradise Lost_, iv. 268.

l. 172. _familiar visiting_, ghostly apparition.

PAGE 157. ll. 205-8. Cf. the opening of the gates of heaven. _Paradise
Lost_, vii. 205-7.

ll. 213 seq. See Introduction, p. 248.

PAGE 158. l. 228. _effigies_, visions.

l. 230. _O . . . pools._ A picture of inimitable chilly horror.

l. 238. _fanes._ Cf. _Psyche_, l. 50.

PAGE 159. l. 246. _Tellus . . . robes_, the earth mantled by the salt

PAGE 160. ll. 274-7. _colure._ One of two great circles supposed to
intersect at right angles at the poles. The nadir is the lowest point in
the heavens and the zenith is the highest.

PAGE 161. ll. 279-80. _with labouring . . . centuries._ By studying the
sky for many hundreds of years wise men found there signs and symbols
which they read and interpreted.

PAGE 162. l. 298. _demesnes._ Cf. _Lamia_, ii. 155, note.

ll. 302-4. _all along . . . faint._ As in l. 286, the god and the
sunrise are indistinguishable to Keats. We see them both, and both in
one. See Introduction, p. 248.

l. 302. _rack_, a drifting mass of distant clouds. Cf. _Lamia_, i. 178,
and _Tempest_, IV. i. 156.

PAGE 163. ll. 311-12. _the powers . . . creating._ Coelus and Terra (or
Tellus), the sky and earth.

PAGE 164. l. 345. _Before . . . murmur._ Before the string is drawn
tight to let the arrow fly.

PAGE 165. l. 349. _region-whisper_, whisper from the wide air.


PAGE 167. l. 4. _Cybele_, the wife of Saturn.

PAGE 168. l. 17. _stubborn'd_, made strong, a characteristic coinage of
Keats, after the Elizabethan manner; cf. _Romeo and Juliet_, IV. i. 16.

ll. 22 seq. Cf. i. 161.

l. 28. _gurge_, whirlpool.

PAGE 169. l. 35. _Of . . . moor_, suggested by Druid stones near

l. 37. _chancel vault._ As if they stood in a great temple domed by the

PAGE 171. l. 66. _Shadow'd_, literally and also metaphorically, in the
darkness of his wrath.

l. 70. _that second war._ An indication that Keats did not intend to
recount this 'second war'; it is not likely that he would have
forestalled its chief incident.

l. 78. _Ops_, the same as Cybele.

l. 79. _No shape distinguishable._ Cf. _Paradise Lost_, ii. 666-8.

PAGE 172. l. 97. _mortal_, making him mortal.

l. 98. _A disanointing poison_, taking away his kingship and his

PAGE 173. ll. 116-17. _There is . . . voice._ Cf. i. 72-8. The
mysterious grandeur of the wind in the trees, whether in calm or storm.

PAGE 174. ll. 133-5. _that old . . . darkness._ Uranus was the same as
Coelus, the god of the sky. The 'book' is the sky, from which ancient
sages drew their lore. Cf. i. 277-80.

PAGE 175. l. 153. _palpable_, having material existence; literally,

PAGE 176. l. 159. _unseen parent dear._ Coelus, since the air is

l. 168. _no . . . grove._ 'Sophist and sage' suggests the philosophers
of ancient Greece.

l. 170. _locks not oozy._ Cf. _Lycidas_, l. 175, 'oozy locks'. This use
of the negative is a reminiscence of Milton.

ll. 171-2. _murmurs . . . sands._ In this description of the god's
utterance is the whole spirit of the element which he personifies.

PAGE 177. ll. 182-7. Wise as Saturn was, the greatness of his power had
prevented him from realizing that he was neither the beginning nor the
end, but a link in the chain of progress.

PAGE 178. ll. 203-5. In their hour of downfall a new dominion is
revealed to them--a dominion of the soul which rules so long as it is
not afraid to see and know.

l. 207. _though once chiefs._ Though Chaos and Darkness once had the
sovereignty. From Chaos and Darkness developed Heaven and Earth, and
from them the Titans in all their glory and power. Now from them
develops the new order of Gods, surpassing them in beauty as they
surpassed their parents.

PAGE 180. ll. 228-9. The key of the whole situation.

ll. 237-41. No fight has taken place. The god has seen his doom and
accepted the inevitable.

PAGE 181. l. 244. _poz'd_, settled, firm.

PAGE 183. l. 284. _Like . . . string._ In this expressive line we hear
the quick patter of the beads. Clymene has had much the same experience
as Oceanus, though she does not philosophize upon it. She has succumbed
to the beauty of her successor.

PAGE 184. ll. 300-7. We feel the great elemental nature of the Titans in
these powerful similes.

l. 310. _Giant-Gods?_ In the edition of 1820 printed 'giant, Gods?' Mr.
Forman suggested the above emendation, which has since been discovered
to be the true MS. reading.

PAGE 185. l. 328. _purge the ether_, clear the air.

l. 331. As if Jove's appearance of strength were a deception, masking
his real weakness.

PAGE 186. l. 339. Cf. i. 328-35, ii. 96.

ll. 346-56. As the silver wings of dawn preceded Hyperion's rising so
now a silver light heralds his approach.

PAGE 187. l. 357. See how the light breaks in with this line.

l. 366. _and made it terrible._ There is no joy in the light which
reveals such terrors.

PAGE 188. l. 374. _Memnon's image._ Memnon was a famous king of Egypt
who was killed in the Trojan war. His people erected a wonderful statue
to his memory, which uttered a melodious sound at dawn, when the sun
fell on it. At sunset it uttered a sad sound.

l. 375. _dusking East._ Since the light fades first from the eastern


PAGE 191. l. 9. _bewildered shores._ The attribute of the wanderer
transferred to the shore. Cf. _Nightingale_, ll. 14, 67.

l. 10. _Delphic._ At Delphi worship was given to Apollo, the inventor
and god of music.

PAGE 192. l. 12. _Dorian._ There were several 'modes' in Greek music, of
which the chief were Dorian, Phrygian, and Lydian. Each was supposed to
possess certain definite ethical characteristics. Dorian music was
martial and manly. Cf. _Paradise Lost_, i. 549-53.

l. 13. _Father of all verse._ Apollo, the god of light and song.

ll. 18-19. _Let the red . . . well._ Cf. _Nightingale_, st. 2.

l. 19. _faint-lipp'd._ Cf. ii. 270, 'mouthed shell.'

l. 23. _Cyclades._ Islands in the Aegean sea, so called because they
surrounded Delos in a circle.

l. 24. _Delos_, the island where Apollo was born.

PAGE 193. l. 31. _mother fair_, Leto (Latona).

l. 32. _twin-sister_, Artemis (Diana).

l. 40. _murmurous . . . waves._ We hear their soft breaking.

PAGE 196. ll. 81-2. Cf. _Lamia_, i. 75.

l. 82. _Mnemosyne_, daughter of Coelus and Terra, and mother of the
Muses. Her name signifies Memory.

l. 86. Cf. _Samson Agonistes_, ll. 80-2.

l. 87. Cf. _Merchant of Venice_, I. i. 1-7.

l. 92. _liegeless_, independent--acknowledging no allegiance.

l. 93. _aspirant_, ascending. The air will not bear him up.

PAGE 197. l. 98. _patient . . . moon._ Cf. i. 353, 'patient stars.'
Their still, steady light.

l. 113. So Apollo reaches his divinity--by knowledge which includes
experience of human suffering--feeling 'the giant-agony of the world'.

PAGE 198. l. 114. _gray_, hoary with antiquity.

l. 128. _immortal death._ Cf. Swinburne's _Garden of Proserpine_, st. 7.

     Who gathers all things mortal
     With cold immortal hands.

PAGE 199. l. 136. Filled in, in pencil, in a transcript of _Hyperion_ by
Keats's friend Richard Woodhouse--

     Glory dawn'd, he was a god.


[245:1] 'If any apology be thought necessary for the appearance of the
unfinished poem of Hyperion, the publishers beg to state that they alone
are responsible, as it was printed at their particular request, and
contrary to the wish of the author. The poem was intended to have been
of equal length with Endymion, but the reception given to that work
discouraged the author from proceeding.'


     e.g.  i.  56 Knows thee not, thus afflicted, for a god
           i. 206 save what solemn tubes . . . gave
          ii.  70             that second war
                  Not long delayed.


     e.g. ii.   8 torrents hoarse
               32 covert drear
           i. 265 season due
              286 plumes immense


     e.g.  i.       35 How beautiful . . . self
                   182 While sometimes . . . wondering men
          ii. 116, 122 Such noise . . . pines.

[247:4] e.g. ii. 79 No shape distinguishable. Cf. _Paradise Lost_, ii.

i. 2 breath of morn. Cf. _Paradise Lost_, iv. 641.


  *      *      *      *      *      *      *


Line numbers are placed every ten lines. In the original, due to space
constraints, this is not always the case.

On page 237, the note for l. 25 refers to "_Lamia_, i. 9, note". There
is no such note.

The following words appear with and without hyphens. They have been left
as in the original.

     bed-side           bedside
     church-yard        churchyard
     death-bell         deathbell
     demi-god           demigod
     no-where           nowhere
     re-united          reunited
     sun-rise           sunrise
     under-grove        undergrove
     under-song         undersong

The following words have variations in spelling. They have been left as
in the original.

     Æolian             Aeolian
     Amaz'd             Amazed
     branch-charmed     Branch-charmèd
     faery              fairy
     should'st          shouldst
     splendor           splendour

The following words use an oe ligature in the poems but not in the notes

     Phoebe             Phoebe's           Phoebean

*** End of this LibraryBlog Digital Book "Keats: Poems Published in 1820" ***

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