Poems, by John Keats

Ode on Indolence

They toil not, neither do they spin.

i.

One morn before me were three figures seen,

With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced;

And one behind the other stepp’d serene,

In placid sandals, and in white robes graced;

They pass’d, like figures on a marble urn

When shifted round to see the other side;

They came again, as, when the urn once more

Is shifted round, the first seen shades return;

And they were strange to me, as may betide

With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.

ii.

How is it, Shadows! that I knew ye not?

How came ye muffled in so hush a masque?

Was it a silent deep-disguised plot

To steal away, and leave without a task

My idle days? Ripe was the drowsy hour;

The blissful cloud of summer-indolence

Benumb’d my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;

Pain had no sting, and pleasure’s wreath no flower:

O, why did ye not melt, and leave my sense

Unhaunted quite of all but-nothingness?

iii.

A third time came they by; — alas! wherefore?

My sleep had been embroider’d with dim dreams;

My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o’er

With flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams:

The morn was clouded, but no shower fell,

Though in her lids hung the sweet tears of May;

The open casement press’d a new-leav’d vine,

Let in the budding warmth and throstle’s lay;

O Shadows! ’twas a time to bid farewell!

Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine.

iv.

A third time pass’d they by, and, passing, turn’d

Each one the face a moment whiles to me;

Then faded, and to follow them I burn’d

And ach’d for wings because I knew the three;

The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name;

The second was Ambition, pale of cheek,

And ever watchful with fatigued eye;

The last, whom I love more, the more of blame

Is heap’d upon her, maiden most unmeek, —

I knew to be my demon Poesy.

v.

They faded, and, forsooth! I wanted wings:

O folly! What is love! and where is it?

And for that poor Ambition! it springs

From a man’s little heart’s short fever-fit;

For Poesy! — no, — she has not a joy, —

At least for me, — so sweet as drowsy noons,

And evenings steep’d in honied indolence;

O, for an age so shelter’d from annoy,

That I may never know how change the moons,

Or hear the voice of busy common-sense!

vi.

So, ye three Ghosts, adieu! Ye cannot raise

My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass;

For I would not be dieted with praise,

A pet-lamb in a sentimental farce!

Fade softly from my eyes, and be once more

In masque-like figures on the dreamy urn;

Farewell! I yet have visions for the night,

And for the day faint visions there is store;

Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright,

Into the clouds, and never more return!

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/k/keats/john/poems/ode-on-indolence.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 21:44