Poems, 1817, by John Keats


“Places of nestling green for Poets made.”

Story of Rimini.

I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,

The air was cooling, and so very still.

That the sweet buds which with a modest pride

Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,

Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,

Had not yet lost those starry diadems

Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.

The clouds were pure and white as flocks new shorn,

And fresh from the clear brook; sweetly they slept

On the blue fields of heaven, and then there crept

A little noiseless noise among the leaves,

Born of the very sigh that silence heaves:

For not the faintest motion could be seen

Of all the shades that slanted o’er the green.

There was wide wand’ring for the greediest eye,

To peer about upon variety;

Far round the horizon’s crystal air to skim,

And trace the dwindled edgings of its brim;

To picture out the quaint, and curious bending

Of a fresh woodland alley, never ending;

Or by the bowery clefts, and leafy shelves,

Guess were the jaunty streams refresh themselves.

I gazed awhile, and felt as light, and free

As though the fanning wings of Mercury

Had played upon my heels: I was light-hearted,

And many pleasures to my vision started;

So I straightway began to pluck a posey

Of luxuries bright, milky, soft and rosy.

A bush of May flowers with the bees about them;

Ah, sure no tasteful nook would be without them;

And let a lush laburnum oversweep them,

And let long grass grow round the roots to keep them

Moist, cool and green; and shade the violets,

That they may bind the moss in leafy nets.

A filbert hedge with wild briar overtwined,

And clumps of woodbine taking the soft wind

Upon their summer thrones; there too should be

The frequent chequer of a youngling tree,

That with a score of light green brethen shoots

From the quaint mossiness of aged roots:

Round which is heard a spring-head of clear waters

Babbling so wildly of its lovely daughters

The spreading blue bells: it may haply mourn

That such fair clusters should be rudely torn

From their fresh beds, and scattered thoughtlessly

By infant hands, left on the path to die.

Open afresh your round of starry folds,

Ye ardent marigolds!

Dry up the moisture from your golden lids,

For great Apollo bids

That in these days your praises should be sung

On many harps, which he has lately strung;

And when again your dewiness he kisses,

Tell him, I have you in my world of blisses:

So haply when I rove in some far vale,

His mighty voice may come upon the gale.

Here are sweet peas, on tip-toe for a flight:

With wings of gentle flush o’er delicate white,

And taper fulgent catching at all things,

To bind them all about with tiny rings.

Linger awhile upon some bending planks

That lean against a streamlet’s rushy banks,

And watch intently Nature’s gentle doings:

They will be found softer than ring-dove’s cooings.

How silent comes the water round that bend;

Not the minutest whisper does it send

To the o’erhanging sallows: blades of grass

Slowly across the chequer’d shadows pass.

Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach

To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach

A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;

Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,

Staying their wavy bodies ‘gainst the streams,

To taste the luxury of sunny beams

Temper’d with coolness. How they ever wrestle

With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle

Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.

If you but scantily hold out the hand,

That very instant not one will remain;

But turn your eye, and they are there again.

The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,

And cool themselves among the em’rald tresses;

The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,

And moisture, that the bowery green may live:

So keeping up an interchange of favours,

Like good men in the truth of their behaviours

Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop

From low hung branches; little space they stop;

But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;

Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:

Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,

Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.

Were I in such a place, I sure should pray

That nought less sweet, might call my thoughts away,

Than the soft rustle of a maiden’s gown

Fanning away the dandelion’s down;

Than the light music of her nimble toes

Patting against the sorrel as she goes.

How she would start, and blush, thus to be caught

Playing in all her innocence of thought.

O let me lead her gently o’er the brook,

Watch her half-smiling lips, and downward look;

O let me for one moment touch her wrist;

Let me one moment to her breathing list;

And as she leaves me may she often turn

Her fair eyes looking through her locks aubùrne.

What next? A tuft of evening primroses,

O’er which the mind may hover till it dozes;

O’er which it well might take a pleasant sleep,

But that ’tis ever startled by the leap

Of buds into ripe flowers; or by the flitting

Of diverse moths, that aye their rest are quitting;

Or by the moon lifting her silver rim

Above a cloud, and with a gradual swim

Coming into the blue with all her light.

O Maker of sweet poets, dear delight

Of this fair world, and all its gentle livers;

Spangler of clouds, halo of crystal rivers,

Mingler with leaves, and dew and tumbling streams,

Closer of lovely eyes to lovely dreams,

Lover of loneliness, and wandering,

Of upcast eye, and tender pondering!

Thee must I praise above all other glories

That smile us on to tell delightful stories.

For what has made the sage or poet write

But the fair paradise of Nature’s light?

In the calm grandeur of a sober line,

We see the waving of the mountain pine;

And when a tale is beautifully staid,

We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade:

When it is moving on luxurious wings,

The soul is lost in pleasant smotherings:

Fair dewy roses brush against our faces,

And flowering laurels spring from diamond vases;

O’er head we see the jasmine and sweet briar,

And bloomy grapes laughing from green attire;

While at our feet, the voice of crystal bubbles

Charms us at once away from all our troubles:

So that we feel uplifted from the world,

Walking upon the white clouds wreath’d and curl’d.

So felt he, who first told, how Psyche went

On the smooth wind to realms of wonderment;

What Psyche felt, and Love, when their full lips

First touch’d; what amorous, and fondling nips

They gave each other’s cheeks; with all their sighs,

And how they kist each other’s tremulous eyes:

The silver lamp — the ravishment — the wonder —

The darkness — loneliness — the fearful thunder;

Their woes gone by, and both to heaven upflown,

To bow for gratitude before Jove’s throne.

So did he feel, who pull’d the boughs aside,

That we might look into a forest wide,

To catch a glimpse of Fawns, and Dryades

Coming with softest rustle through the trees;

And garlands woven of flowers wild, and sweet,

Upheld on ivory wrists, or sporting feet:

Telling us how fair, trembling Syrinx fled

Arcadian Pan, with such a fearful dread.

Poor nymph — poor Pan — how he did weep to find,

Nought but a lovely sighing of the wind

Along the reedy stream; a half heard strain,

Full of sweet desolation — balmy pain.

What first inspired a bard of old to sing

Narcissus pining o’er the untainted spring?

In some delicious ramble, he had found

A little space, with boughs all woven round;

And in the midst of all, a clearer pool

Than e’er reflected in its pleasant cool,

The blue sky here, and there, serenely peeping

Through tendril wreaths fantastically creeping.

And on the bank a lonely flower he spied,

A meek and forlorn flower, with naught of pride,

Drooping its beauty o’er the watery clearness,

To woo its own sad image into nearness:

Deaf to light Zephyrus it would not move;

But still would seem to droop, to pine, to love.

So while the Poet stood in this sweet spot,

Some fainter gleamings o’er his fancy shot;

Nor was it long ere he had told the tale

Of young Narcissus, and sad Echo’s bale.

Where had he been, from whose warm head out-flew

That sweetest of all songs, that ever new,

That aye refreshing, pure deliciousness,

Coming ever to bless

The wanderer by moonlight? to him bringing

Shapes from the invisible world, unearthly singing

From out the middle air, from flowery nests,

And from the pillowy silkiness that rests

Full in the speculation of the stars.

Ah! surely he had burst our mortal bars;

Into some wond’rous region he had gone,

To search for thee, divine Endymion!

He was a Poet, sure a lover too,

Who stood on Latmus’ top, what time there blew

Soft breezes from the myrtle vale below;

And brought in faintness solemn, sweet, and slow

A hymn from Dian’s temple; while upswelling,

The incense went to her own starry dwelling.

But though her face was clear as infant’s eyes,

Though she stood smiling o’er the sacrifice,

The Poet wept at her so piteous fate,

Wept that such beauty should be desolate:

So in fine wrath some golden sounds he won,

And gave meek Cynthia her Endymion.

Queen of the wide air; thou most lovely queen

Of all the brightness that mine eyes have seen!

As thou exceedest all things in thy shine,

So every tale, does this sweet tale of thine.

O for three words of honey, that I might

Tell but one wonder of thy bridal night!

Where distant ships do seem to show their keels,

Phoebus awhile delayed his mighty wheels,

And turned to smile upon thy bashful eyes,

Ere he his unseen pomp would solemnize.

The evening weather was so bright, and clear,

That men of health were of unusual cheer;

Stepping like Homer at the trumpet’s call,

Or young Apollo on the pedestal:

And lovely women were as fair and warm,

As Venus looking sideways in alarm.

The breezes were ethereal, and pure,

And crept through half closed lattices to cure

The languid sick; it cool’d their fever’d sleep,

And soothed them into slumbers full and deep.

Soon they awoke clear eyed: nor burnt with thirsting,

Nor with hot fingers, nor with temples bursting:

And springing up, they met the wond’ring sight

Of their dear friends, nigh foolish with delight;

Who feel their arms, and breasts, and kiss and stare,

And on their placid foreheads part the hair.

Young men, and maidens at each other gaz’d

With hands held back, and motionless, amaz’d

To see the brightness in each others’ eyes;

And so they stood, fill’d with a sweet surprise,

Until their tongues were loos’d in poesy.

Therefore no lover did of anguish die:

But the soft numbers, in that moment spoken,

Made silken ties, that never may be broken.

Cynthia! I cannot tell the greater blisses,

That follow’d thine, and thy dear shepherd’s kisses:

Was there a Poet born? — but now no more,

My wand’ring spirit must no further soar. —

Specimen of an Induction to a Poem.

Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;

For large white plumes are dancing in mine eye.

Not like the formal crest of latter days:

But bending in a thousand graceful ways;

So graceful, that it seems no mortal hand,

Or e’en the touch of Archimago’s wand,

Could charm them into such an attitude.

We must think rather, that in playful mood,

Some mountain breeze had turned its chief delight,

To show this wonder of its gentle might.

Lo! I must tell a tale of chivalry;

For while I muse, the lance points slantingly

Athwart the morning air: some lady sweet,

Who cannot feel for cold her tender feet,

From the worn top of some old battlement

Hails it with tears, her stout defender sent:

And from her own pure self no joy dissembling,

Wraps round her ample robe with happy trembling.

Sometimes, when the good Knight his rest would take,

It is reflected, clearly, in a lake,

With the young ashen boughs, ‘gainst which it rests,

And th’ half seen mossiness of linnets’ nests.

Ah! shall I ever tell its cruelty,

When the fire flashes from a warrior’s eye,

And his tremendous hand is grasping it,

And his dark brow for very wrath is knit?

Or when his spirit, with more calm intent,

Leaps to the honors of a tournament,

And makes the gazers round about the ring

Stare at the grandeur of the balancing?

No, no! this is far off:— then how shall I

Revive the dying tones of minstrelsy,

Which linger yet about lone gothic arches,

In dark green ivy, and among wild larches?

How sing the splendour of the revelries,

When buts of wine are drunk off to the lees?

And that bright lance, against the fretted wall,

Beneath the shade of stately banneral,

Is slung with shining cuirass, sword, and shield?

Where ye may see a spur in bloody field.

Light-footed damsels move with gentle paces

Round the wide hall, and show their happy faces;

Or stand in courtly talk by fives and sevens:

Like those fair stars that twinkle in the heavens.

Yet must I tell a tale of chivalry:

Or wherefore comes that knight so proudly by?

Wherefore more proudly does the gentle knight,

Rein in the swelling of his ample might?

Spenser! thy brows are arched, open, kind,

And come like a clear sun-rise to my mind;

And always does my heart with pleasure dance,

When I think on thy noble countenance:

Where never yet was ought more earthly seen

Than the pure freshness of thy laurels green.

Therefore, great bard, I not so fearfully

Call on thy gentle spirit to hover nigh

My daring steps: or if thy tender care,

Thus startled unaware,

Be jealous that the foot of other wight

Should madly follow that bright path of light

Trac’d by thy lov’d Libertas; he will speak,

And tell thee that my prayer is very meek;

That I will follow with due reverence,

And start with awe at mine own strange pretence.

Him thou wilt hear; so I will rest in hope

To see wide plains, fair trees and lawny slope:

The morn, the eve, the light, the shade, the flowers:

Clear streams, smooth lakes, and overlooking towers.

Calidore. A Fragment.

Young Calidore is paddling o’er the lake;

His healthful spirit eager and awake

To feel the beauty of a silent eve,

Which seem’d full loath this happy world to leave;

The light dwelt o’er the scene so lingeringly.

He bares his forehead to the cool blue sky,

And smiles at the far clearness all around,

Until his heart is well nigh over wound,

And turns for calmness to the pleasant green

Of easy slopes, and shadowy trees that lean

So elegantly o’er the waters’ brim

And show their blossoms trim.

Scarce can his clear and nimble eye-sight follow

The freaks, and dartings of the black-wing’d swallow,

Delighting much, to see it half at rest,

Dip so refreshingly its wings, and breast

‘Gainst the smooth surface, and to mark anon,

The widening circles into nothing gone.

And now the sharp keel of his little boat

Comes up with ripple, and with easy float,

And glides into a bed of water lillies:

Broad leav’d are they and their white canopies

Are upward turn’d to catch the heavens’ dew.

Near to a little island’s point they grew;

Whence Calidore might have the goodliest view

Of this sweet spot of earth. The bowery shore

Went off in gentle windings to the hoar

And light blue mountains: but no breathing man

With a warm heart, and eye prepared to scan

Nature’s clear beauty, could pass lightly by

Objects that look’d out so invitingly

On either side. These, gentle Calidore

Greeted, as he had known them long before.

The sidelong view of swelling leafiness,

Which the glad setting sun, in gold doth dress;

Whence ever, and anon the jay outsprings,

And scales upon the beauty of its wings.

The lonely turret, shatter’d, and outworn,

Stands venerably proud; too proud to mourn

Its long lost grandeur: fir trees grow around,

Aye dropping their hard fruit upon the ground.

The little chapel with the cross above

Upholding wreaths of ivy; the white dove,

That on the windows spreads his feathers light,

And seems from purple clouds to wing its flight.

Green tufted islands casting their soft shades

Across the lake; sequester’d leafy glades,

That through the dimness of their twilight show

Large dock leaves, spiral foxgloves, or the glow

Of the wild cat’s eyes, or the silvery stems

Of delicate birch trees, or long grass which hems

A little brook. The youth had long been viewing

These pleasant things, and heaven was bedewing

The mountain flowers, when his glad senses caught

A trumpet’s silver voice. Ah! it was fraught

With many joys for him: the warder’s ken

Had found white coursers prancing in the glen:

Friends very dear to him he soon will see;

So pushes off his boat most eagerly,

And soon upon the lake he skims along,

Deaf to the nightingale’s first under-song;

Nor minds he the white swans that dream so sweetly:

His spirit flies before him so completely.

And now he turns a jutting point of land,

Whence may be seen the castle gloomy, and grand:

Nor will a bee buzz round two swelling peaches,

Before the point of his light shallop reaches

Those marble steps that through the water dip:

Now over them he goes with hasty trip,

And scarcely stays to ope the folding doors:

Anon he leaps along the oaken floors

Of halls and corridors.

Delicious sounds! those little bright-eyed things

That float about the air on azure wings,

Had been less heartfelt by him than the clang

Of clattering hoofs; into the court he sprang,

Just as two noble steeds, and palfreys twain,

Were slanting out their necks with loosened rein;

While from beneath the threat’ning portcullis

They brought their happy burthens. What a kiss,

What gentle squeeze he gave each lady’s hand!

How tremblingly their delicate ancles spann’d!

Into how sweet a trance his soul was gone,

While whisperings of affection

Made him delay to let their tender feet

Come to the earth; with an incline so sweet

From their low palfreys o’er his neck they bent:

And whether there were tears of languishment,

Or that the evening dew had pearl’d their tresses,

He feels a moisture on his cheek, and blesses

With lips that tremble, and with glistening eye

All the soft luxury

That nestled in his arms. A dimpled hand,

Fair as some wonder out of fairy land,

Hung from his shoulder like the drooping flowers

Of whitest Cassia, fresh from summer showers:

And this he fondled with his happy cheek

As if for joy he would no further seek;

When the kind voice of good Sir Clerimond

Came to his ear, like something from beyond

His present being: so he gently drew

His warm arms, thrilling now with pulses new,

From their sweet thrall, and forward gently bending,

Thank’d heaven that his joy was never ending;

While ‘gainst his forehead he devoutly press’d

A hand heaven made to succour the distress’d;

A hand that from the world’s bleak promontory

Had lifted Calidore for deeds of glory.

Amid the pages, and the torches’ glare,

There stood a knight, patting the flowing hair

Of his proud horse’s mane: he was withal

A man of elegance, and stature tall:

So that the waving of his plumes would be

High as the berries of a wild ash tree,

Or as the winged cap of Mercury.

His armour was so dexterously wrought

In shape, that sure no living man had thought

It hard, and heavy steel: but that indeed

It was some glorious form, some splendid weed,

In which a spirit new come from the skies

Might live, and show itself to human eyes.

’Tis the far-fam’d, the brave Sir Gondibert,

Said the good man to Calidore alert;

While the young warrior with a step of grace

Came up — a courtly smile upon his face,

And mailed hand held out, ready to greet

The large-eyed wonder, and ambitious heat

Of the aspiring boy; who as he led

Those smiling ladies, often turned his head

To admire the visor arched so gracefully

Over a knightly brow; while they went by

The lamps that from the high-roof’d hall were pendent,

And gave the steel a shining quite transcendent.

Soon in a pleasant chamber they are seated;

The sweet-lipp’d ladies have already greeted

All the green leaves that round the window clamber,

To show their purple stars, and bells of amber.

Sir Gondibert has doff’d his shining steel,

Gladdening in the free, and airy feel

Of a light mantle; and while Clerimond

Is looking round about him with a fond,

And placid eye, young Calidore is burning

To hear of knightly deeds, and gallant spurning

Of all unworthiness; and how the strong of arm

Kept off dismay, and terror, and alarm

From lovely woman: while brimful of this,

He gave each damsel’s hand so warm a kiss,

And had such manly ardour in his eye,

That each at other look’d half staringly;

And then their features started into smiles

Sweet as blue heavens o’er enchanted isles.

Softly the breezes from the forest came,

Softly they blew aside the taper’s flame;

Clear was the song from Philomel’s far bower;

Grateful the incense from the lime-tree flower;

Mysterious, wild, the far heard trumpet’s tone;

Lovely the moon in ether, all alone:

Sweet too the converse of these happy mortals,

As that of busy spirits when the portals

Are closing in the west; or that soft humming

We hear around when Hesperus is coming.

Sweet be their sleep. * * * * * * * * *

To Some Ladies.

What though while the wonders of nature exploring,

I cannot your light, mazy footsteps attend;

Nor listen to accents, that almost adoring,

Bless Cynthia’s face, the enthusiast’s friend:

Yet over the steep, whence the mountain stream rushes,

With you, kindest friends, in idea I rove;

Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,

Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.

Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?

Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?

Ah! you list to the nightingale’s tender condoling,

Responsive to sylphs, in the moon beamy air.

’Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping,

I see you are treading the verge of the sea:

And now! ah, I see it — you just now are stooping

To pick up the keep-sake intended for me.

If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,

Had brought me a gem from the fret-work of heaven;

And smiles, with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,

The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;

It had not created a warmer emotion

Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you,

Than the shell, from the bright golden sands of the ocean

Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.

For, indeed, ’tis a sweet and peculiar pleasure,

(And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)

To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,

In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.

On receiving a curious Shell, and a Copy of Verses, from the same Ladies.

Hast thou from the caves of Golconda, a gem

Pure as the ice-drop that froze on the mountain?

Bright as the humming-bird’s green diadem,

When it flutters in sun-beams that shine through a fountain?

Hast thou a goblet for dark sparkling wine?

That goblet right heavy, and massy, and gold?

And splendidly mark’d with the story divine

Of Armida the fair, and Rinaldo the bold?

Hast thou a steed with a mane richly flowing?

Hast thou a sword that thine enemy’s smart is?

Hast thou a trumpet rich melodies blowing?

And wear’st thou the shield of the fam’d Britomartis?

What is it that hangs from thy shoulder, so brave,

Embroidered with many a spring peering flower?

Is it a scarf that thy fair lady gave?

And hastest thou now to that fair lady’s bower?

Ah! courteous Sir Knight, with large joy thou art crown’d;

Full many the glories that brighten thy youth!

I will tell thee my blisses, which richly abound

In magical powers to bless, and to sooth.

On this scroll thou seest written in characters fair

A sun-beamy tale of a wreath, and a chain;

And, warrior, it nurtures the property rare

Of charming my mind from the trammels of pain.

This canopy mark: ’tis the work of a fay;

Beneath its rich shade did King Oberon languish,

When lovely Titania was far, far away,

And cruelly left him to sorrow, and anguish.

There, oft would he bring from his soft sighing lute

Wild strains to which, spell-bound, the nightingales listened;

The wondering spirits of heaven were mute,

And tears ‘mong the dewdrops of morning oft glistened.

In this little dome, all those melodies strange,

Soft, plaintive, and melting, for ever will sigh;

Nor e’er will the notes from their tenderness change;

Nor e’er will the music of Oberon die.

So, when I am in a voluptuous vein,

I pillow my head on the sweets of the rose,

And list to the tale of the wreath, and the chain,

Till its echoes depart; then I sink to repose.

Adieu, valiant Eric! with joy thou art crown’d;

Full many the glories that brighten thy youth,

I too have my blisses, which richly abound

In magical powers, to bless and to sooth.

To * * * *

[Georgiana Augusta Wylie, afterwards Mrs. George Keats]

Hadst thou liv’d in days of old,

O what wonders had been told

Of thy lively countenance,

And thy humid eyes that dance

In the midst of their own brightness;

In the very fane of lightness.

Over which thine eyebrows, leaning,

Picture out each lovely meaning:

In a dainty bend they lie,

Like two streaks across the sky,

Or the feathers from a crow,

Fallen on a bed of snow.

Of thy dark hair that extends

Into many graceful bends:

As the leaves of Hellebore

Turn to whence they sprung before.

And behind each ample curl

Peeps the richness of a pearl.

Downward too flows many a tress

With a glossy waviness;

Full, and round like globes that rise

From the censer to the skies

Through sunny air. Add too, the sweetness

Of thy honied voice; the neatness

Of thine ankle lightly turn’d:

With those beauties, scarce discrn’d,

Kept with such sweet privacy,

That they seldom meet the eye

Of the little loves that fly

Round about with eager pry.

Saving when, with freshening lave,

Thou dipp’st them in the taintless wave;

Like twin water lillies, born

In the coolness of the morn.

O, if thou hadst breathed then,

Now the Muses had been ten.

Couldst thou wish for lineage higher

Than twin sister of Thalia?

At least for ever, evermore,

Will I call the Graces four.

Hadst thou liv’d when chivalry

Lifted up her lance on high,

Tell me what thou wouldst have been?

Ah! I see the silver sheen

Of thy broidered, floating vest

Cov’ring half thine ivory breast;

Which, O heavens! I should see,

But that cruel destiny

Has placed a golden cuirass there;

Keeping secret what is fair.

Like sunbeams in a cloudlet nested

Thy locks in knightly casque are rested:

O’er which bend four milky plumes

Like the gentle lilly’s blooms

Springing from a costly vase.

See with what a stately pace

Comes thine alabaster steed;

Servant of heroic deed!

O’er his loins, his trappings glow

Like the northern lights on snow.

Mount his back! thy sword unsheath!

Sign of the enchanter’s death;

Bane of every wicked spell;

Silencer of dragon’s yell.

Alas! thou this wilt never do:

Thou art an enchantress too,

And wilt surely never spill

Blood of those whose eyes can kill.

To Hope.

When by my solitary hearth I sit,

And hateful thoughts enwrap my soul in gloom;

When no fair dreams before my “mind’s eye” flit,

And the bare heath of life presents no bloom;

Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed,

And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head.

Whene’er I wander, at the fall of night,

Where woven boughs shut out the moon’s bright ray,

Should sad Despondency my musings fright,

And frown, to drive fair Cheerfulness away,

Peep with the moon-beams through the leafy roof,

And keep that fiend Despondence far aloof.

Should Disappointment, parent of Despair,

Strive for her son to seize my careless heart;

When, like a cloud, he sits upon the air,

Preparing on his spell-bound prey to dart:

Chace him away, sweet Hope, with visage bright,

And fright him as the morning frightens night!

Whene’er the fate of those I hold most dear

Tells to my fearful breast a tale of sorrow,

O bright-eyed Hope, my morbid fancy cheer;

Let me awhile thy sweetest comforts borrow:

Thy heaven-born radiance around me shed,

And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

Should e’er unhappy love my bosom pain,

From cruel parents, or relentless fair;

O let me think it is not quite in vain

To sigh out sonnets to the midnight air!

Sweet Hope, ethereal balm upon me shed.

And wave thy silver pinions o’er my head!

In the long vista of the years to roll,

Let me not see our country’s honour fade:

O let me see our land retain her soul,

Her pride, her freedom; and not freedom’s shade.

From thy bright eyes unusual brightness shed —

Beneath thy pinions canopy my head!

Let me not see the patriot’s high bequest,

Great Liberty! how great in plain attire!

With the base purple of a court oppress’d,

Bowing her head, and ready to expire:

But let me see thee stoop from heaven on wings

That fill the skies with silver glitterings!

And as, in sparkling majesty, a star

Gilds the bright summit of some gloomy cloud;

Brightening the half veil’d face of heaven afar:

So, when dark thoughts my boding spirit shroud,

Sweet Hope, celestial influence round me shed,

Waving thy silver pinions o’er my head.

February, 1815.

Imitation of Spenser.

Now Morning from her orient chamber came,

And her first footsteps touch’d a verdant hill;

Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame,

Silv’ring the untainted gushes of its rill;

Which, pure from mossy beds, did down distill,

And after parting beds of simple flowers,

By many streams a little lake did fill,

Which round its marge reflected woven bowers,

And, in its middle space, a sky that never lowers.

There the king-fisher saw his plumage bright

Vieing with fish of brilliant dye below;

Whose silken fins, and golden scales’ light

Cast upward, through the waves, a ruby glow:

There saw the swan his neck of arched snow,

And oar’d himself along with majesty;

Sparkled his jetty eyes; his feet did show

Beneath the waves like Afric’s ebony,

And on his back a fay reclined voluptuously.

Ah! could I tell the wonders of an isle

That in that fairest lake had placed been,

I could e’en Dido of her grief beguile;

Or rob from aged Lear his bitter teen:

For sure so fair a place was never seen,

Of all that ever charm’d romantic eye:

It seem’d an emerald in the silver sheen

Of the bright waters; or as when on high,

Through clouds of fleecy white, laughs the coerulean sky.

And all around it dipp’d luxuriously

Slopings of verdure through the glossy tide,

Which, as it were in gentle amity,

Rippled delighted up the flowery side;

As if to glean the ruddy tears, it tried,

Which fell profusely from the rose-tree stem!

Haply it was the workings of its pride,

In strife to throw upon the shore a gem

Outvieing all the buds in Flora’s diadem.

Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,

Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;

Without that modest softening that enhances

The downcast eye, repentant of the pain

That its mild light creates to heal again:

E’en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,

E’en then my soul with exultation dances

For that to love, so long, I’ve dormant lain:

But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,

Heavens! how desperately do I adore

Thy winning graces; — to be thy defender

I hotly burn — to be a Calidore —

A very Red Cross Knight — a stout Leander —

Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.

Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;

Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,

Are things on which the dazzled senses rest

Till the fond, fixed eyes, forget they stare.

From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare

To turn my admiration, though unpossess’d

They be of what is worthy — though not drest

In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.

Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;

These lures I straight forget — e’en ere I dine,

Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark

Such charms with mild intelligences shine,

My ear is open like a greedy shark,

To catch the tunings of a voice divine.

Ah! who can e’er forget so fair a being?

Who can forget her half retiring sweets?

God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats

For man’s protection. Surely the All-seeing,

Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,

Will never give him pinions, who intreats

Such innocence to ruin — who vilely cheats

A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing

One’s thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear

A lay that once I saw her hand awake,

Her form seems floating palpable, and near;

Had I e’er seen her from an arbour take

A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,

And o’er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.


Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:56