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JOHN KEATS

1795-1821

630                                      Song of the Indian Maid

FROM ‘ENDYMION’

        O SORROW!
        Why dost borrow
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?—
        To give maiden blushes
        To the white rose bushes?
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?
        O Sorrow!
        Why dost borrow
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?—
        To give the glow-worm light?
        Or, on a moonless night,
To tinge, on siren shores, the salt sea-spry?1
        O Sorrow!
        Why dost borrow
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?—
        To give at evening pale
        Unto the nightingale,
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?
        O Sorrow!
        Why dost borrow
Heart’s lightness from the merriment of May?—
        A lover would not tread
        A cowslip on the head,
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day—
        Nor any drooping flower
        Held sacred for thy bower,
Wherever he may sport himself and play.
        To Sorrow
        I bade good morrow,
And thought to leave her far away behind;
        But cheerly, cheerly,
        She loves me dearly;
She is so constant to me, and so kind:
        I would deceive her,
        And so leave her,
But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,—
        And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
        Cold as my fears.
Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: what enamour’d bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
        But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side?
And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue—
        ’Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din—
        ’Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown’d with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
        To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June
Tall chestnuts keep away the sun and moon:—
        I rush’d into the folly!
Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
     With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white
        For Venus’ pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
        Tipsily quaffing.
‘Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
        Your lutes, and gentler fate?’—
‘We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
        A-conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:—
Come hither, lady fair, and joinàd be
        To our wild minstrelsy!’
‘Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
        Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?’—
‘For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
        And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth!
Come hither, lady fair, and joinàd be
        To our mad minstrelsy!’
Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
        With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads—with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians’ prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files,
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers’ toil:
With toying oars and silken sails they glide,
        Nor care for wind and tide.
Mounted on panthers’ furs and lions’ manes,
From rear to van they scour about the plains;
A three days’ journey in a moment done;
And always, at the rising of the sun,
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn.
         On spleenful unicorn.
I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown
         Before the vine-wreath crown !
I saw parch’d Abyssinia rouse and sing
         To the silver cymbals’ ring !
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce
         Old Tartary the fierce !
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail,
And from their treasures scatter pearlàd hail;
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans,
         And all his priesthood moans,
Before young Bacchus’ eye-wink turning pale.
Into these regions came I, following him,
Sick-hearted, weary so I took a whim
To stray away into these forests drear,
         Alone, without a peer:
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear.
         Young Stranger !
         I’ve been a ranger
In search of pleasure throughout every clime;
         Alas ! ’tis not for me !
         Bewitch’d I sure must be,
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime.
         Come then, Sorrow,
         Sweetest Sorrow !
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast:
         I thought to leave thee,
         And deceive thee,
But now of all the world I love thee best.
         There is not one,
         No, no, not one
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid;
         Thou art her mother,
         And her brother,
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade.

1 sea-spry: sea-spray.

631                                        Ode to a Nightingale

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 the happiness,
     That thou, light-wingàd Dryad of the trees,
        In some melodious plot
   Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
     Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
O for a draught of vintage! that hath been
   Cool’d a long age in the deep-delvàd 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-stainàd mouth;
   That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
     And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
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 grey 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.
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.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
   Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmàd 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.
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 musàd 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.
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 ofttimes hath
   Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
     Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
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 famed 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?

632                                      Ode on a Grecian Urn

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-fringed 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?
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!
Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed
   Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;
And, happy melodist, unweariàd,
   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.
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 its 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.
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.’

633                                            Ode to Psyche

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-conchàd ear:
Surely I dream’d to-day, or did I see
   The wingàd Psyche with awaken’d eyes?
     I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly,
    And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couchàd side by side
   In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof
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 embracàd, and their pinions too;
    Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoinàd by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
    At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
        The wingàd 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 Phbe’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
      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 retired
   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 swingàd 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
   In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branchàd 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-ridgàd 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,
   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!

634                                              To Autumn

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-eaves 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,
   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,
   Drowsed with the fume of poppies, while thy hook
     Spares the next swath and all its twinàd flowers;
   And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep
Steady thy laden head across a brook;
Or by a cider-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 barràd 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;
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft;
   And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

635                                           Ode on Melancholy

NO, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
   Wolf’s-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist
   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.
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 globàd 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.
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.

636                                   Fragment of an Ode to Maia

(Written on May-Day, 1818)

MOTHER of Hermes! and still youthful Maia!
         May I sing to thee
As thou wast hymnàd on the shores of Baiæ?
         Or may I woo thee
In earlier Sicilian? or thy smiles
Seek as they once were sought, in Grecian isles,
By bards who died content on pleasant sward,
   Leaving great verse unto a little clan?
O give me their old vigour! and unheard
   Save of the quiet primrose, and the span
         Of heaven, and few ears,
Rounded by thee, my song should die away
         Content as theirs,
Rich in the simple worship of a day.

637                                   Bards of Passion and of Mirth

Written on the Blank Page before Beaumont and Fletcher’s
      Tragi-Comedy ‘The Fair Maid of the Inn

BARDS of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Have ye souls in heaven too,
Doubled-lived in regions new?
Yes, and those of heaven commune
With the spheres of sun and moon;
With the noise of fountains wondrous,
And the parle of voices thund’rous;
With the whisper of heaven’s trees
And one another, in soft ease
Seated on Elysian lawns
Browsed 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, trancàd thing,
But divine melodious truth;
Philosophic numbers smooth;
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;
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!

638                                                 Fancy

EVER let the Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home:
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth;
Then let wingàd 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,
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 cakàd snow is shuffled
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-overawed,
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;
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 heapàd 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;
Rustle of the reapàd 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-plumed lilies, and the first
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;
Shaded hyacinth, alway
Sapphire queen of the mid-May;
And every leaf, and every flower
Pearlàd with the self-same shower.
Thou shalt see the fieldmouse peep
Meagre from its cellàd sleep;
And the snake all winter-thin
Cast on sunny bank its skin;
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,
When the hen-bird’s wing doth rest
Quiet on her mossy nest;
Then the hurry and alarm
When the beehive casts its swarm;
Acorns ripe down-pattering
While the autumn breezes sing.
O sweet Fancy! let her loose;
Every thing is spoilt by use:
Where’s the cheek that doth not fade,
Too much gazed at? Where’s the maid
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, wingàd Fancy find
Thee a mistress to thy mind:
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;
Quickly break her prison-string,
And such joys as these she’ll bring.—
Let the wingàd Fancy roam,
Pleasure never is at home.

639                                                Stanzas

IN a drear-nighted December,
   Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
   Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them,
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
   From budding at the prime.
In a drear-nighted December,
   Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
   Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
   About the frozen time.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
   A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
   Writhed not at passàd joy?
To know the change and feel it,
When there is none to heal it,
Nor numbàd sense to steal it,
   Was never said in rhyme.

640                                      La Belle Dame sans Merci

‘O WHAT can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
   Alone and palely loitering?
The sedge is wither’d from the lake,
       And no birds sing.
‘O 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 cheek 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 sideways would she lean, 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 lullàd me asleep,
   And there I dream’d—Ah! woe betide!
The latest dream I ever dream’d
       On the cold hill’s side.
‘I saw pale kings and princes too,
   Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
Who cried—‘‘La belle Dame sans Merci
       Hath thee in thrall!’’
‘I saw their starved lips in the gloam
   With horrid warning gapàd 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 wither’d from the lake,
       And no birds sing.’

641                              On first looking into Chapman’s Homer

MUCH have I travell’d 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’s at each other with a wild surmise—
   Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

642                             When I have Fears that I may cease to be

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-pilàd books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And feel that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;—then on the shore
   Of the wide world I stand alone, and think,
   Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

643                                              To Sleep

O SOFT embalmer of the still midnight!
Shutting with careful fingers and benign
Our gloom-pleased eyes, embower’d from the light,
   Enshaded in forgetfulness divine;
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee, close,
   In midst of this thine hymn, my willing eyes,
Or wait the amen, ere thy poppy throws
   Around my bed its lulling charities;
   Then save me, or the passàd day will shine
Upon my pillow, breeding many woes;
Save me from curious conscience, that still lords
   Its strength for darkness, burrowing like a mole;
Turn the key deftly in the oilàd wards,
   And seal the hushàd casket of my soul.

644                                            Last Sonnet

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.

 

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