Hyperion
A Fragment


John Keats

Edited with introduction and notes by M. Robertson

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From Poems published in 1820, edited with introduction and notes by M. Robertson. Clarendon Press, 1909.

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Table of Contents

Introduction to Hyperion.

Book I.

Book II.

Book III.

Introduction To Hyperion.

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 One only of the Titans, Hyperion the sun-god, still keeps his kingdom, and he is about to be superseded by young Apollo, the god of light and song.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 —

‘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.’

— 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,1 Miltonic inversions2 and repetitions,3 and in occasional reminiscences of actual lines and phrases in Paradise Lost.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 Aeschylus’.

1 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.

2 e.g.

ii. 8 torrents hoarse

ii. 32 covert drear

i. 265 season due

i. 286 plumes immense

3 e.g.

i. 35 How beautiful . . . self

i. 182 While sometimes . . . wondering men

ii. 116, 122 Such noise . . . pines.

4 e.g.

ii. 79 No shape distinguishable. Cf. Paradise Lost, ii. 667.

i. 2 breath of morn. Cf. Paradise Lost, iv. 641.

Book i.

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.

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.

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 feature.

ll. 20, 21. Earth, His ancient mother. Tellus. See Introduction, p. 244.

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.

ll. 60–3. The thunderbolts, being Jove’s own weapons, are unwilling to be used against their former master.

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.

l. 86. See Introduction, p. 248.

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

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.

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.

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.

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 comparison.

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.

ll. 205–8. Cf. the opening of the gates of heaven. Paradise Lost, vii. 205–7.

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

l. 228. effigies, visions.

l. 230. O . . . pools. A picture of inimitable chilly horror.

l. 238. fanes. Cf. Psyche, l. 50.

l. 246. Tellus . . . robes, the earth mantled by the salt sea.

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.

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.

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.

ll. 311–12. the powers . . . creating. Coelus and Terra (or Tellus), the sky and earth.

l. 345. Before . . . murmur. Before the string is drawn tight to let the arrow fly.

l. 349. region-whisper, whisper from the wide air.

Book ii.

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!”

l. 310. over-foolish, Giant–Gods? MS.: over-foolish giant, Gods? 1820.

l. 4. Cybele, the wife of Saturn.

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.

l. 35. Of . . . moor, suggested by Druid stones near Keswick.

l. 37. chancel vault. As if they stood in a great temple domed by the sky.

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.

l. 97. mortal, making him mortal.

l. 98. A disanointing poison, taking away his kingship and his godhead.

ll. 116–17. There is . . . voice. Cf. i. 72–8. The mysterious grandeur of the wind in the trees, whether in calm or storm.

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.

l. 153. palpable, having material existence; literally, touchable.

l. 159. unseen parent dear. Coelus, since the air is invisible.

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.

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.

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.

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.

l. 244. poz’d, settled, firm.

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.

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.

l. 328. purge the ether, clear the air.

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

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.

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.

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 sky.

Book iii.

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 Glory dawn’d, he was a god.

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.

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.

l. 31. mother fair, Leto (Latona).

l. 32. twin-sister, Artemis (Diana).

l. 40. murmurous . . . waves. We hear their soft breaking.

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.

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’.

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.

l. 136. Filled in, in pencil, in a transcript of Hyperion by Keats’s friend Richard Woodhouse —

Glory dawn’d, he was a god.

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