Poems, 1817, by John Keats

Sonnets

I. To My Brother George.

Many the wonders I this day have seen:

The sun, when first he kist away the tears

That fill’d the eyes of morn; — the laurel’d peers

Who from the feathery gold of evening lean:—

The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,

Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears —

Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears

Must think on what will be, and what has been.

E’en now, dear George, while this for you I write,

Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping

So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,

And she her half-discover’d revels keeping.

But what, without the social thought of thee,

Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

II. To * * * * * *

Had I a man’s fair form, then might my sighs

Be echoed swiftly through that ivory shell,

Thine ear, and find thy gentle heart; so well

Would passion arm me for the enterprize:

But ah! I am no knight whose foeman dies;

No cuirass glistens on my bosom’s swell;

I am no happy shepherd of the dell

Whose lips have trembled with a maiden’s eyes;

Yet must I dote upon thee — call thee sweet.

Sweeter by far than Hybla’s honied roses

When steep’d in dew rich to intoxication.

Ah! I will taste that dew, for me ’tis meet,

And when the moon her pallid face discloses,

I’ll gather some by spells, and incantation.

III. Written on the day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left Prison.

What though, for showing truth to flatter’d state

Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he,

In his immortal spirit, been as free

As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.

Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?

Think you he nought but prison walls did see,

Till, so unwilling, thou unturn’dst the key?

Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!

In Spenser’s halls he strayed, and bowers fair,

Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew

With daring Milton through the fields of air:

To regions of his own his genius true

Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair

When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?

IV.

How many bards gild the lapses of time!

A few of them have ever been the food

Of my delighted fancy — I could brood

Over their beauties, earthly, or sublime:

And often, when I sit me down to rhyme,

These will in throngs before my mind intrude:

But no confusion, no disturbance rude

Do they occasion; ’tis a pleasing chime.

So the unnumber’d sounds that evening store;

The songs of birds — the whisp’ring of the leaves —

The voice of waters — the great bell that heaves

With solemn sound — and thousand others more,

That distance of recognizance bereaves,

Make pleasing music, and not wild uproar.

V. To a Friend who sent me some Roses.

As late I rambled in the happy fields,

What time the sky-lark shakes the tremulous dew

From his lush clover covert; — when anew

Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields:

I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,

A fresh-blown musk-rose; ’twas the first that threw

Its sweets upon the summer: graceful it grew

As is the wand that queen Titania wields.

And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,

I thought the garden-rose it far excell’d:

But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me

My sense with their deliciousness was spell’d:

Soft voices had they, that with tender plea

Whisper’d of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquell’d.

VI. To G. A. W.

Nymph of the downward smile, and sidelong glance,

In what diviner moments of the day

Art thou most lovely? When gone far astray

Into the labyrinths of sweet utterance?

Or when serenely wand’ring in a trance

Of sober thought? Or when starting away,

With careless robe, to meet the morning ray,

Thou spar’st the flowers in thy mazy dance?

Haply ’tis when thy ruby lips part sweetly,

And so remain, because thou listenest:

But thou to please wert nurtured so completely

That I can never tell what mood is best.

I shall as soon pronounce which grace more neatly

Trips it before Apollo than the rest.

VII.

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,

Let it not be among the jumbled heap

Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep —

Nature’s observatory — whence the dell,

Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,

May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep

‘Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap

Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.

But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,

Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,

Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,

Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be

Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,

When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

VIII. To My Brothers.

Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,

And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep

Like whispers of the household gods that keep

A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.

And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,

Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,

Upon the lore so voluble and deep,

That aye at fall of night our care condoles.

This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice

That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.

Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise

May we together pass, and calmly try

What are this world’s true joys — ere the great voice,

From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.

November 18, 1816.

IX.

Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there

Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;

The stars look very cold about the sky,

And I have many miles on foot to fare.

Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,

Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,

Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,

Or of the distance from home’s pleasant lair:

For I am brimfull of the friendliness

That in a little cottage I have found;

Of fair-hair’d Milton’s eloquent distress,

And all his love for gentle Lycid drown’d;

Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,

And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown’d.

X.

To one who has been long in city pent,

’Tis very sweet to look into the fair

And open face of heaven — to breathe a prayer

Full in the smile of the blue firmament.

Who is more happy, when, with hearts content,

Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair

Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair

And gentle tale of love and languishment?

Returning home at evening, with an ear

Catching the notes of Philomel — an eye

Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,

He mourns that day so soon has glided by:

E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear

That falls through the clear ether silently.

XI. On first looking into Chapman’s Homer.

Much have I traveled 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 star’d at the Pacific — and all his men

Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

XII. On leaving some Friends at an early Hour.

Give me a golden pen, and let me lean

On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;

Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,

Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen

The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:

And let there glide by many a pearly car,

Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,

And half discovered wings, and glances keen.

The while let music wander round my ears.

And as it reaches each delicious ending,

Let me write down a line of glorious tone,

And full of many wonders of the spheres:

For what a height my spirit is contending!

’Tis not content so soon to be alone.

XIII. Addressed to Haydon.

Highmindedness, a jealousy for good,

A loving-kindness for the great man’s fame,

Dwells here and there with people of no name,

In noisome alley, and in pathless wood:

And where we think the truth least understood,

Oft may be found a “singleness of aim,”

That ought to frighten into hooded shame

A money mong’ring, pitiable brood.

How glorious this affection for the cause

Of stedfast genius, toiling gallantly!

What when a stout unbending champion awes

Envy, and Malice to their native sty?

Unnumber’d souls breathe out a still applause,

Proud to behold him in his country’s eye.

XIV. Addressed to the Same.

Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;

He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,

Who on Helvellyn’s summit, wide awake,

Catches his freshness from Archangel’s wing:

He of the rose, the violet, the spring.

The social smile, the chain for Freedom’s sake:

And lo! — whose stedfastness would never take

A meaner sound than Raphael’s whispering.

And other spirits there are standing apart

Upon the forehead of the age to come;

These, these will give the world another heart,

And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum

Of mighty workings? ——————

Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.

XV. On the Grasshopper and Cricket.

The poetry of earth is never dead:

When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,

And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run

From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;

That is the Grasshopper’s — he takes the lead

In summer luxury — he has never done

With his delights; for when tired out with fun

He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:

On a lone winter evening, when the frost

Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills

The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,

And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,

The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

December 30, 1816.

XVI. To Kosciusko.

Good Kosciusko, thy great name alone

Is a full harvest whence to reap high feeling;

It comes upon us like the glorious pealing

Of the wide spheres — an everlasting tone.

And now it tells me, that in worlds unknown,

The names of heroes, burst from clouds concealing,

And changed to harmonies, for ever stealing

Through cloudless blue, and round each silver throne.

It tells me too, that on a happy day,

When some good spirit walks upon the earth,

Thy name with Alfred’s, and the great of yore

Gently commingling, gives tremendous birth

To a loud hymn, that sounds far, far away

To where the great God lives for evermore.

XVII.

Happy is England! I could be content

To see no other verdure than its own;

To feel no other breezes than are blown

Through its tall woods with high romances blent:

Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment

For skies Italian, and an inward groan

To sit upon an Alp as on a throne,

And half forget what world or worldling meant.

Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters;

Enough their simple loveliness for me,

Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging:

Yet do I often warmly burn to see

Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing,

And float with them about the summer waters.

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