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Introduction — 
Keats 's Life 

Keats 's Character and Aims ... 
Keats's Age 

The Classical Element in Keats 
Keats's Works and Models 


Notes on Hyperion... 


The Eve of St. Agnes 


Notes on Isabella ... 

Notes on The Eve of St. Agnes ... 

Notes on Lamia 








Keats's Life. — John Keats (b, 1795), like many other 
great writers, came of an undistinguished family : his 
father, a stableman, married his master's daughter ; and 
John, the first child, was born in the mews at Moorfields. 
Since his father was perhaps of Cornish descent, it is 
possible that in Keats, as in many other English poets, 
there was a Celtic strain. John, and later his brothers 
George and Tom, attended the school of the Rev. John 
Clarke at Enfield, where he received a sound general 
education, though he did not show any exceptional talent 
except for fighting boys bigger than himself — not, like the 
heroes of school-tales, in chivalrous defence of bullied 
weaklings, but from sheer quarrelsomeness. 

In the last eighteen months of his school life, however, 
he turned studious, read at meal-times, did holiday tasks, 
devoured dictionaries of classical mythology, and became 
friendly with Charles Cowden Clarke, his schoolmaster's 
son, who afterwards became a literary man of some standing 
and who continued to foster Keats's love of poetry after 
the boy left school. This he did at the age of fifteen, his 
father and his mother being then both dead — the mother, of 
consumption. Keats was apprenticed to a surgeon, but 
left him before the close of the apprenticeship, and took to 
walking St. Thomas's Hospital ; he passed the usual 
examination in 1815, and became a dresser at Guy's 

But his heart had never been in his work ; in 1812 he 
had borrowed Spenser's Faery Queene from Cowden Clarke, 
read it all with the utmost enthusiasm, and became more 
and more determined to be a poet. Through Cowden 


Clarke he had come to know Leigh Hunt, the essayist, 
critic, and poet, editor of The Examiner, who had recently 
served two years' imprisonment for referring to the Prince 
Regent as a fat Adonis of forty. Probably in the youthful 
eyes of Keats this charming champion of hberty was a 
hero ; certainly he had a great influence, not always good, 
upon Keats's early poetry. Through Hunt, too, Keats 
became acquainted with Haydon, the noble-minded but 
unpractical painter of very large historical pictures, with 
Reynolds, a poet now forgotten, and with Oilier, the 
publisher, who in 1817 issued Keats's first volume of poems. 
In 1817, too, and the next year, Keats visited the Isle of 
Wight, Margate, Oxford, Stratford-on-Avon, Leatherhead, 
Dorking, and Teignmouth, returning to Hampstead, his 
permanent quarters, at intervals, and busying himself with 
the writing of Endymion, for which he had already found a 
publisher willing to advance a considerable sum on account. 
It will be seen, then, that Keats, so far from being a 
cockney poet in mean circumstances, had passed a good 
part of his time in the country, and had found his private 
fortune sufficient to provide for him comfortably while he 
made his first essays in poetry. 

In April 1818 Endymion was published, and two months 
later Keats set off on a pedestrian tour with a friend, 
Charles Armitage Brown, starting from Liverpool, where 
they had seen George Keats off to settle in America, and 
travelling through the Lake country, the Burns country, 
Belfast, and the Western Highlands. Keats, with his 
customary energy and ardour — an energy and ardour too 
often characteristic of incipient consumption — frequently 
walked twenty miles or more a day and " roughed it " in 
a way most unwise for one whose health had already given 
cause for anxiety. In Scotland, however, after wading 
through miles of bog, and trying in vain to throw off the 
resulting chill, he gave up the tour and returned home- 
only to find his brother Tom dying of consumption. For 
three months Keats nursed his brother devotedly, thereby 
probably sealing his own fate. 


After the death of Tom, he set up house with Armitage 
Brown at Hampstead, and divided his attention between 
poetry and love for a Miss Brawne. He became engaged, 
but found no happiness : his sensitiveness made him 
absurdly angry at the rather tasteless chaff of his friends ; 
his gathering ill-health increased his irritability. Miss 
Brawne, who was five years his junior, appears to have 
been a perfectly normal girl, light-hearted and perhaps 
occasionally incUned to tease, but genuinely attached to 
him, though incapable of his own fierce passion. The poet 
was jealous and unhappy ; sure that he neither deserved 
nor had her love ; angry that she did not (as he thought) 
give it. 

His misery and the excitement aroused by the reception 
of Endymion — which was most scurrilously assailed in The 
Quarterly Review and Blackwood's Magazine by the political 
opponents of Hunt — probably hastened his death ; but it is 
as untrue to say that he was killed by his critics as to say 
that he died of love. He had a serious breakdown in 
February 1820 and, though he rallied, it was only for a few 

In September 1820 he left for Italy in the company of 
Severn, a student-painter. Shelley, then at Pisa, invited 
him to go there ; but since he had a letter of introduction 
to Dr. Clark in Rome, Keats settled in the latter town 
under the devoted care of Severn. The poet knew that 
he was living what he called a " posthumous life," and 
felt bitterly that he was dying with fame just beyond 
his grasp. 

After some months of agonising illness, he died, aged 
twenty-five. He was buried in the Enghsh cemetery at 
Rome, and upon his tombstone were inscribed, at his own 
request, the words Here lies one whose name was writ in 

Keats's Character and Aims. — The last year, at least, of 
Keats's Ufe was so devastated by illness that httle of his 
natural character remained : we have thus merely a short 


twenty-four years, of which only some three or four have 
left any detailed record. Yet, despite the immaturity 
inevitable in so young a man, Keats's character leaves a 
singularly vivid and consistent impression. 

He was a man peculiarly sensitive to all the pleasures 
and beauties which the material world can ofier : he found 
an exquisite deUght in fine tastes, in graceful or noble 
forms, in light, in colour, in sound, in physical exertion. 
His love of a meadow was not, like Wordsworth's, a com- 
munion with the spirit of Nature : it was a childlike joy 
in the coolness, the softness, the greenness of grass, in the 
hot sun and the blue sky — primarily an animal rather 
than a spiritual enjoyment. There is a story that he 
sprinkled his throat with cayenne so as to enjoy the better 
by contrast the delicious coolness of claret. It may or 
may not be true ; but it is admirably characteristic of 
Keats with his impetuosity, his love of sensations, his rather 
morbid willingness to suffer present discomfort for the sake 
of heightening future pleasure. 

Clearly such a nature might turn easily to the life of the 
sybarite, but from this Keats was saved by a delight equally 
intense in the morally and intellectually beautiful. He 
was as keenly aUve to the fineness of a noble deed or of a 
phrase flashing with genius as to the fineness of the first 
white flower against the black branches and the cloudy 
March sky. For him beauty was "a joy for ever," a 
spirit enduring even after the destruction of the forms in 
which it expressed itself. Man himself might " sink into 
nothingness " — Keats had no sure belief in immortahty 
and was morbidly obsessed by the thought of death — but 
the beauty of the nightingale's song, of an old legend, 
of a Grecian urn would remain for ever : in a world of 
transition, unrest, impermanence and illusion, beauty 
alone was calm, unchanging, permanent, real. In his 
own words : — 

" Beauty is truth, truth beauty " — that is all 
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know. 


Yet, dowered as Keats was with all the sensibility of 
the poet, he yet had all the sense of the practical business- 
man. He is totally unlike the wild-eyed, dreamy poet of 
popular imagination, who seizes a pen in an ecstasy of 
inspiration and writes without a blot immortal words of 
complete originality. Inspiration he had in plenty ; but 
he supplemented it by the most diligent study and the most 
severe self-criticism. He set himself deliberately to learn 
and copy the best effects of the best masters in his craft ; 
he poUshed and repoUshed his verses, and some of his most 
famous phrases were painfully evolved, after repeated 
alteration, from an originally commonplace line. 

The discipline which he brought to bear upon his verse 
he brought to bear also upon his own character. Since 
a poet feels more widely and more intensely than 
the common man, he is necessarily a man of strong 
and varied emotions, of changing moods and unstable 
outlook. The pecuUar danger of his temperament is 
that he may let his moods be his masters instead of 
his servants ; treat all of them as of equal value and 
become a mere weathercock turned idly by whatever 
neurotic breeze may blow. Keats was alive to his danger ; 
instead of letting himself be overwhelmed with anger or 
despair at the cruel reception of Endymion, he summoned 
up all his fortitude and went on writing, profiting by every 
grain of truth in the hostile criticism. 

Even when his brother was dying and he was himself 
full of premonitory fears of his own death, he still worked 
on steadily, not writing wild laments at his hard fate, but 
laboriously fashioning poems characterised by a restraint 
and self-mastery remarkable in anyone so young, more 
remarkable still in anyone so ardent, and most remarkable 
of all in one living as he did at a time when restraint was 
considered a fault. Keats's rule of life is summed up in 
the words of his own Oceanus : — 

To bear all naked truths. 
And to envisage circumstance, all calm. 
That is the top of sovereignty. 


Keats 's Age.^ — This was a strange doctrine in the age of 
Byron and Shelley, who questioned all established codes of 
conduct, all conventions and all institutions. Byron's 
heroes, drawn from himself, or what he imagined himself 
to be, were lawless, dark, passionate, stained with 
mysterious crimes, flashing in a moment from gentleness 
into fury. Shelley's heroes, more noble, preached that 
man himself was inherently good, that all vices sprang 
from repression and that a world in which there was no 
law but love would be perfect. Leigh Hunt, Keats's early 
guide and the intimate friend of Shelley, was another 
apostle of freedom : most of Keats's Uterary circle held in 
greater or less degree the same views. It says much for 
Keats's essential sanity that he, while sharing their love of 
freedom and hatred of tyranny, yet avoided the excesses 
into which they were led by the ardour of their resistance to 
the oppression, cant, and convention which characterised 
their time. 

The contrast is equally marked in literary ideals and 
methods. Keats, like all the great poets of his time, 
belonged to the Eomantic school, the school which, 
following Coleridge and Wordsworth, had revolted against 
the artificial and townish Classicism of the school of Pope. 
Pope had written heroic couplets, neatly divided into halves 
and stopped at the end : he had loved witty maxims and 
a man-of-the-world air : his own ideal he expressed in the 
words — 

True wit is nature to advantage dressed, 

What oft was thought, but ne'er so well expressed. 

The Eomantic school hated all that Pope loved : it loved 
Nature undressed, and preferred new thoughts to old : it 
disliked and distrusted Pope's cold reasoning ; it preferred 
hot feeling. 

Keats shared to the full this revolt against artificiality. 
In one of his early poems, Sleep and Poetry, he refers 
contemptuously to Classicism as " a schism nurtured by 
foppery and barbarism ... a school of dolts"; his dislike 


of the coldly analytic type of reasoning is evident in his 
famous cry that science has tarnished the beauty of the 
rainbow — 

We know its woof, its texture : it is given 
In the dull catalogue of common things. 

The same distrust of the matter-of-fact of the materialist 
inspires his Lamia, and is the real interpretation of the 
ejaculation in one of his letters : " 0, for a life of sensations 
rather than of thoughts " — that is, a life of intuition, guided 
by the highest of our feelings, rather than a life lived by rule 
and devoted to purely mental activity. 

The Classical Element in Keats. — But if Keats was a 
Eomantic, he was also a Classicist, not as Pope's school 
understood the word, but in the sense that he had much of 
the spirit of the old Greeks — a desire for a perfected rather 
than an adumbrated beauty, a delight in finished workman- 
ship rather than in vague suggestiveness, a feeling for form. 
Added to this were a deep interest in the subject-matter of 
the old Greek writers — the myths of gods and titans, 
nymphs and fauns — and that innocent pagan delight in 
the physical side of life already remarked. Perhaps none 
of our poets has been so Greek as this lad, who never saw 
Greece and did not read Greek. 

It was this Greek strain in Keats, we may suppose, 
which made him discard the literary excesses of his early 
models and which showed him the merits even of the 
despised Classical school. The history of Keats's works, 
indeed, is the history of a series of experiments : Keats 
was willing to learn from any poet who had anything to 

Keats's Works and Models. — The two influences most 
apparent in his first volume. Poems (1817) are those of 
Spenser and Leigh Hunt. Though the volume shows 
promise, it cannot be said to achieve much. Endymion is 
on a different level and, though it has serious defects, the 
poetic ability evident in it is so great that there is no 


excuse for the severity of the attacks made upon it by 
The Quarterly Revieiv and Blachvood's. It is an allegorical 
tale of Endymion's love for the goddess of the Moon, a 
tale certainly very confused and rambUng, but full of fine 
poetic passages. Keats's model was still Spenser, and 
Spenser had Httle notion of how to tell a story in a clear 
and interesting manner. 

Moreover, the evil influence of Leigh Hunt is again 
evident. Keats owed a great debt to Leigh Hunt for his 
encouragement, for his fine critical acumen, for the talk 
and the reading to which he introduced him, perhaps for 
something of the easy narrative which he later developed 
and which is one of Hunt's chief poetic merits. But there 
was a streak of vulgarity in Hunt which had led his enemies 
to dub him and his colleagues and imitators "the Cockney 
School." He was inclined to smack his lips too vigorously 
over anything he liked ; to write gushing or over-luscious 
descriptions ; to drop from tragedy into tasteless jocosity 
under the impression that he was thus giving his verse 
reahsm and contact with everyday life. Keats's taste was 
unformed, and there was always a feverish and unbalanced 
strain in his nature — a strain which, by his own stern 
self-discipUne, he almost eliminated later, but which came 
out vividly again in his letters to Fanny Brawne, when 
illness had broken down his self-control. This strain was 
greatly accentuated by Hunt's influence. 

But it was not the defects of Endymion, whether due to 
Spenser's or Hunt's influence or to Keats's own immaturity, 
which led to the scurrilous attacks of the reviews : it was 
the fact that he was known to be a friend of Hunt. And 
though, as we have seen, the reviews did not kill him, they 
undoubtedly embittered his death. For they had effec- 
tually prevented him from gaining in his lifetime that fame 
which he so earnestly desired : he was confident that had 
he lived he would have achieved fame in spite of his 
detractors : he was equally sure that, dying as he did, he 
would be forgotten. It is difficult to decide upon which 
side of the account with Leigh Hunt the balance lies. 


From Endymion Keats turned to the poems contained 
in this volume : Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, 
and other Poems was published in 1820, when Keats was 
already very seriously ill. Besides Hyperion the " other 
poems " included much of Keats's very finest work — To 
Autumn, The Ode on a Grecian Urn, The Ode to a Nightin- 
gale, The Ode to Psyche, and The Ode on Melancholy. 
Except for this volume and an odd poem or so in magazines, 
nothing more was published tiU after his death, and little 
more was written. Most of his other work collected and 
published posthumously was itself written during the 
wonderful two years, 1818-19, which saw the composition 
of this volume. 

Of these other poems the most important are a recast 
of the beginning of Hyperion, fine in patches, but on the 
whole inferior to the first attempt, La Belle Dame Sans 
Merci ; The Eve of St. Mark ; the tragedy of Qtho the 
Great, for which Armitage Brown provided the whole 
invention of the first four acts, Keats inventing the fifth 
act but merely versifying the others ; the trivial frivolity 
of The Cap and Bells ; and the best of the sonnets. 

The bulk, the variety, and the high general level of 
excellence of the output of these two years is astonishing. 
Given but another ten years of healthy life as full of progress 
and achievement, Keats might have outshone every other 
poet in the history of English hterature. All young poets 
are imitative ; but none has been so successfully imitative 
and original at the same time as Keats. 

He read Chaucer, and learnt from him the easy narrative, 
the mastery of the octave, and the natural pathos of 
Isabella, and the mediaeval atmosphere of The Eve of St. 
Agnes ; he read Milton and learnt the subhmity of rever- 
berant blank verse, the " large utterance of the early gods," 
the titanic conceptions of Hyperion ; he read Chatterton 
and Coleridge and learnt the eerie magic of La Belle Dame ; 
most amazing of all, he, the Eomantic and friend of 
Romantics, read Dryden, the great first head of the hated 
Classical school, and, abandoning the looseness of his 


Endymion couplets, learnt how to marry in Lamia all the 
ease and clearness and restraint of the Restoration heroic 
couplet with all the splendour of imaginative feeling of the 

Of course he made mistakes : not all his borrowings are 
good. The execrable taste of the opening of Part II. of 
Lamia is due to imitation of Dryden's Restoration levity 
and cynicism — a levity and cynicism in admirable keeping 
with Dryden's subjects, but hopelessly incongruous in a 
poem whose whole success depends upon regarding love 
seriously. And sometimes his borrowing itself is unsuccess- 
ful : his sonnets at their best occasionally have a hint of 
Shakespeare, but his attempt at a Shakespearean tragedy 
in OtJio the Great was bound to fail. So, too, if The Cap 
and Bells is indeed intended to imitate Ariosto, it is a 
miserably poor copy. 

But Keats himself was in general the first to discover 
his own defects and the first to see how to remedy them. 
He dehberately chose Milton as a corrective to his lack of 
restraint ; he as deliberately abandoned Hijperion when he 
discovered that it was becoming " too Miltonic," and that 
his own natural style was in danger of being submerged. 

For, despite all his imitation, Keats is always individual. 
Even in Hyperion, where he " copies " most closely, there 
are no two lines which Milton could have written. It is 
difficult to define Keats's own style — easy to feel it. It is 
not a mere matter of favourite tricks of phrase, though 
Keats has many — pet words like silver, pale, nest, convulsed, 
swoon, lush ; a fondness for compound words, for new 
adverbial formations such as refreshfully and palely, a 
habit of treating the -ed of the past tense of verbs as a 
separate syllable— indeed, most of Keats's favourite words 
have been industriously traced to Chaucer or Spenser, 
Chapman or Massinger, Milton or Chatterton, or some other 
of the many elder poets whose works Keats studied so 

Perhaps, as in all good styles, the individuality is as much 
a matter of outlook and feeling as of words. Keats may 


borrow Milton's grand style, but he keeps his own eager 
eye, his own young and entirely unpuritan delight in the 
senses, his own glowing imagination : Milton could never 
have written : — ■ 

Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams 

a few stars 

Were lingering in the heavens, while the thrush 

Began calm-throated. 

And in the great Odes, where Keats's own philosophy of 
Ufe finds its supreme expression, his style shakes itself free 
from reminiscence and echo and becomes no longer Milton 
suffused with Keats or Keats flushed with Spenser, but pure 
Keats — the authoritative note of a great and original 



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 ; 5 

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 

Eobs not one Hght 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, 15 
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. 25 

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 35 

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 45 

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 ; 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, ' wherefore sleepest thou ? ' 

For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth 55 

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 

Kumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house ; 

And thy sharp lightning in unpractis'd hands 

Scorches and burns our once serene domain. 

aching time ! moments big as years ! 

All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth, 65 

And press it so upon our weary griefs 

That unbelief has not a space to breathe. 

Saturn, sleep on : — thoughtless, why did I 

Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude ? 

^VTiy 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, 75 

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 falUng 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, 85 

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 : 

" tender spouse of gold Hyperion, 95 

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 ? 105 

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, no 

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 115 

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 of chariot fierce to repossess 

A heaven he lost erewhile : it must — it must 

Be of ripe progress — Saturn must be King. 125 

Yes, there must be a golden victory ; 

There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown 


Of triumpli 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, 135 

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 145 
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, 

Saturn ! come away, and give them heart ; 151 

1 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 155 
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 one 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 ; — 165 

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, 175 

Oft made Hyperion ache. His palace bright 

Bastion'd with pyramids of glowing gold. 

And touch'd with shade of bronzed obehsks, 

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. 185 

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 ; 195 

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. 

Even now, while Saturn, rous'd from icy trance, 201 

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 205 

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, 215 

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 stamped 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, 225 

His voice leapt out, despite of godlike curb, 
To this result : " dreams of day and night ! 
monstrous forms ! effigies of pain ! 
spectres busy in a cold, cold gloom ! 

lank-ear'd 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, 235 

This cradle of my glory, this soft chme, 

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 splendour, and the symmetry, 

1 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. — 245 

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 255 

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 bhish, 265 

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 ; 

Nor therefore veiled quiet, 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 276 

Up to the zenith, — hieroglyphics old 

Which sages and keen-ey'd 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 : 285 

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. 295 

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 305 

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. 

" 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, 315 

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 the 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. 326 

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, Son ! 335 

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 ! 345 

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, 355 

Forward he stoop 'd over the airy shore, 

And plung'd all noiseless into the deep night. 


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 5 

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, 15 

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 Briareiis, 

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 ; 25 
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, 35 

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 

Creiis 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. 

lapetus another ; in his grasp, 

A serpent's plashy neck ; its barbed tongue 45 

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 : 55 

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, 65 

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 75 

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 : 

And many else whose names may not be told. 81 

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 85 

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, hoj)e, but most of all despair. 95 

Against these plagues he strove in vain ; for Fate 

Had pour'd a mortal oil upon his head, 


A disanointing poison : so that Thea, 

AfErightened, kept lier still, and let him pass 

First onwards in, among the fallen tribe. loo 

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, 105 

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 ; 
Some started on their feet ; some also shouted ; iii 
Some wept, some wail'd, all bow'd with reverence ; 
And Ops, upUfting her black folded veil, 
Show'd her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan, 
Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes. 115 

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 soimd succeeds ; but ceasing here. 
Among these fallen, Saturn's voice therefrom 125 

Grew up hke 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 135 

Low-ebb'd still hid it up in shallow gloom ; — 

And the which book ye know I ever kept 

For my first-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 146 

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, 155 

O'erwhelm'd, and spurn'd, and batter'd, ye are here ! 

Titans, shall I say, ' Arise ! '—Ye groan : 

Shall I say ' Crouch ! '—Ye groan. What can I then ? 

Heaven wide ! unseen parent dear ! 

What can I ? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods, 160 

How can we war, how engine our great wrath ! 

speak your counsel now, for Saturn's ear 
Is all a-hunger'd. Thou, Oceanus, 
Ponderest high and deep ; and in thy face 

1 see, astonied, that severe content 165 
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. 
" ye, whom wrath consumes ! who, passion-stung. 
Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies ! 
Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears, 175 

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, 185 

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 195 

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. 
KTS. 2 


Now comes the pain of truth, to whom 'tis pain ; 

folly ! for to bear all naked truths, 

And to envisage circumstance, all calm, 

That is the top of sovereignty. Mark well ! 205 

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 215 

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, 225 

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 ? 235 

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 245 

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 : 
" 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 : 255 

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 ; 265 

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 


Aud murmur'd into it, and made melody 

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, 275 

There came enchantment with the shifting wind. 
That did both drown and keep alive my ears. 

1 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, 285 

Each Uke 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 trembUng hands, 

A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune. 

And still it cry'd, ' Apollo ! young Apollo ! 

' The morning-bright Apollo ! young Apollo ! ' 

I fled, it follow'd me, and cry'd ' ApoUo ! ' 295 

Father, and Brethren, had ye felt 

Those pains of mine ; 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 305 

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. 315 

Speak ! roar ! shout ! yell ! ye sleepy Titans all. 

Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile ? 

Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm 1 

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 ? 

joy ! for now I see ye are not lost : 

joy ! for now I see a thousand eyes 

Wide glaring for revenge ! " — As this he said. 

He lifted up his stature vast, and stood, 325 

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. 

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 ; 335 

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 tbe 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 ! " 345 

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. 355 

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, 365 

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 : 375 

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 Grods 

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 lapetus, and Creiis too. 

And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode 385 

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 ! " 


Thus in alternate uproar and sad peace, 
Amazed were those Titans utterly. 
leave them, Muse ! leave them to their woes ; 
For thou art weak to sing such tumults dire : 
A solitary sorrow best befits 5 

Thy lips, and antheming a lonely grief. 
Leave them, Muse ! for thou anon wilt find 
Many a fallen old Divinity 
Wandering in vain about bewildered shores. 
Meantime touch piously the Delphic harp, lo 

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, 15 

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, 
Eejoice, Delos, with thine olives green. 
And poplars, and lawn-shading palms, and beech, 25 
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 lilUes of the vale. 35 

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 45 

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 55 

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 have I 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 65 

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. 75 

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 85 

Would come no mystery ? For me, dark, dark. 

And painful vile obUvion 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. — 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 : 95 

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, lOO 

And I will flit into it with my I^tc, 

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, 105 

WTiile I here idle listen on the shores 

In fearless yet in aching ignorance ? 

tell me, lonely Goddess, by thy harp. 

That waileth every morn and eventide, 

Tell me why thus I rave, about these groves ! no 

Mute thou remainest — Mute ! yet I can read 

A wondrous lesson in thy silent face : 

KJnowledge enormous makes a God of me. 

Names, deeds, grey legends, dire events, rebellions. 

Majesties, sovran voices, agonies, 115 

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 ; 125 

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 135 

Celestial ***** 



Hyperion was originally meant to be an epic in twelve books, but 
there is evidence that Keats abandoned this intention some time 
before he abandoned the poem, and that the poem, had he finished 
it, would not have exceeded four books. In this case Keats would 
not have attempted to narrate in detail the war of Enceladus and 
the giants against the Olympians, and the rest of the poem would 
have merely told us how Apollo went forth to fight Hyperion and 
how Hyperion, overcome by the beauty -of his successor, found 
resistance impossible. 

The poem opens with the despair of Saturn, chief of the second 
dynasty of gods, who with his fellow-gods has just been dethroned 
by his sons and daughters, the Olympians, as he and his dynasty 
in his youth, had himself dethroned his father Uranus and his 
fellows. He is roused by Thea, wife of Hyperion, the sun-god, who 
alone among his dynasty has not yet fallen. She leads him away 
to their friends. Meanwhile Hyperion descends to his palace, is 
shaken by evil omens, comforted by his father Coelus, who bears no ', 
resentment for his own earlier dethronement, and descends to earth. 
In Book II. Hyperion comes to the spot where the remnant of the 
conquered host, including Saturn and Thea, are gathered. Saturn 
calls for coimsel. The sea-god advises acquiescence in their fate^^ 
since " 'tis the eternal law that first in beauty should be first in J) 
might." Clymene teUs how she heard the beauteous music of' 
ApoUo and Enceladus urges them to revenge. Hyperion thenj) 

Book III. tells how meanwhile Apollo, destined successor to 
Hyperion, is wandering in an isle when Mnemosyne visits him and 
dowers him with full divinity. Here the fragment ends. 

The poem can thus be seen to have an allegorical significance — 

the greater beauty must always siTcceed'flieTess7"But; as'we^ see 

both from the sufferings of the old gods and from the convulsive 

shrieks of Apollo the poet-god himself, only at the cost of pain ; 



the poet must feel the agony of the world before he gains fuU 

Keats abandoned the poem because he felt that it was too Miltonic, 
that he was in danger of writing what was to him an alien tongue — 
an artificial dialect full of Latinisms and tricks of style. Certainly 
the wonderful way in which he has caught the very accent of Milton — 
mingled as it is with his o'mi more human " romantic " notes — 
justifies his fears ; there was clearly a danger that he might leave the 
path natural to his genius. Moreover the fragment as we have it 
already parallels in many respects the early books of Paradise Lost, 
and, had the poem proceeded, it could hardly have failed to echo 
other situations treated by Milton, since the two themes have so 
much in common. Sublime as the fragment is, Keats's decision was 
therefore probably wise. 

A few of the Miltonic echoes of the poem are pointed out in the 
notes, but in idea, in rhythm, in vocabulary, in the use of repetition, 
of inversion, of Latinisms, the debt is enormous : its extent can be 
realised only by reading Milton's great epic. 

What Keats added was a power of pictorial representation, a 
human warmth, a sensuous love of the beauties of Nature not _ 
characteristic of Milton — note especially the splendour of Hyperion's 
palace and his entry to it, and the subhme description of the dejected 
Saturn which recalls some vast statue of the early world. 


1. shady sadness : " gloomy shade " ; this use of abstractions is 
frequent in Keats : here it serves to give the gloom instead of the 
shade first importance. 

3. eve's one star : Venus, the evening star, which appears long 
before the others : the slow movement of the three heavy stresses 
suggests the peace of evening. 

4. Saturn : the chief of the ancient dynasty of gods, father of 
Jupiter, Neptune, etc., and identified by the Romans with the 
Greek Cronos. He was the youngest of the Titans, son of Uranus 
and Ge (Heaven and Earth) and dethroned his father Uranus. The 
striking simile is reminiscent of Chaucer's " domb as any stoon " 
{Hous of Fame, II. 656). 

6. hung about his head : i.e. " rose above him, on the sides of the 

10. But where . . . rest : one of Keats's perfect Uttle pictures, 
showing the close observation of the Nature-lover. 

11-14. still . . . lips : the Naiad, or nymph of the stream, has 
hushed the ripples to silence, awed by the shade of the fallen god. 

18. nerveless : " without strength " ; the succession of epithets 
and the pause after unsceptred give an effect of heavy despair. 

NOTES. 31 

19. realmless : " no longer possessing a kingdom " ; the adjective 
is transferred from Saturn to his eyes. 

20-1. Earth . . . mother : see note on line 4. 

27-8. By her . . . height : " compared with her one of the Amazons, 
the mythical warrior-women of Asia Minor, would have seemed no 
taller than a pigmy." Had : subjunctive, would have. 

29. Achilles : the mighty hero of Homer's Iliad ; he led the 
Greeks against Troy. 

30. Ixion : for ungrateful treachery to Zeus, Ixion king of the 
Lapithae was chained by the hands and feet to a perpetually 
revolving wheel. 

31. Memphian sphinx : a sphinx or stone monster, part lion, part 
woman, at Memphis, formerly the second greatest city of Egypt, 
about 10 miles above the Pyramids. 

33. when . . . lore : " when Egypt was the centre of learning " ; 
cp. Acts vii. 22. 

35-6. How . . . self : i.e. " her face would have been called 
beautiful, if the expression of sorrow upon it had not been more 
beautiful than its form " ; such fantastic ideas are called conceits. 

37. there was ... in her regard : a splendid example of Keats's 
concise and vivid phrasing " she looked as if she were Ustening and 

39-41. As if the vanward ... up : " as if the storm of misfortune 
had just begun, the first clouds having burst only to be followed by 
the thunder of the full tempest." Within the metaphor of the storm 
there is a second metaphor of battle ; it is such compressed imagery 
which gives Keats's style its richness and dignity. 

48. In solemn tenour : " of solemn purport." 

50-1. how . . . Gods ! : " how feeble (is our language) com- 
pared to the mighty speech of the early gods." 

61. reluctant : besides the modern meaning, there is here a hint 
of the original (and Miltonic) significance, "struggling violently." 

65-7. All . . . breathe : " as each moment passes, it makes the 
wretched truth more evident and forces it upon our grief-stricken 
minds so that it is impossible for us to disbelieve it." 

74. branch-charmed : " with their branches charmed into still- 
ness." earnest : another of Keats's exquisite epithets. 

83-4. One . . . night : " one moon had slowly changed from new 
through her four quarters to fuU," i.e. a month had passed. 

86. natural . . . cavern : Keats is probably thinking of Fingal's 
Cave in the Isle of Staff a, which he elsewhere called a " cathedral of 
the sea." 

87. frozen : i.e. motionless through grief, couchant : lying. 
90-4. Such a succession of simple sentences joined by and is 


characteristic of epic style — the construction gives simpUcity, con- 
tinuity, and dignity. 

94. horrid : " standing on end " — the original meaning of the 
word (Latin horreo), which later came to mean " causing the hair to 
stand on end with fright." aspen-malady : one of Keats's pregnant 
compound words, meaning " sickness which made him tremble like 
an aspen tree." 

96. Thea : Thia, sister of Saturn and wife of Hyperion, to whom 
she bore Hehos (the sun), Eos (Aurora), and Selene (the moon). 
Hyperion was thus really the father of the sun, not the sun himself. 

105. nervous : " strong, vigorous." 

108. influence benign . . . pale : " kindly rule of the (movements of 
the) white planets " : the placing of the adjectives after the noun is 
a Miltonic device. 

112-16. I am gone . . . earth : " I am no longer myseU, since I 
have lost my power ; when I fell from my throne in Heaven aU that 
made me what I was left me." 

117. eteme : "eternal." sphere: "roll." 

118. lorn of light: " unhghted " ; lorn was originally the past 
participle of lose ; hence ber^t. 

119. region'd with life-air : " made a region filled with air, which 
alone makes life possible." barren void : " space empty of air and 
so unable to produce Ufe." 

120. yawn : " gulf." 

125. be of ripe progress : " go on satisfactorily." 

129. metropolitan : " of the chief city " (of the gods). 

130. voices of soft proclaim : " voices which make proclamation 
in gentle accents." sUver . . . shells : " the silvery notes of instru- 
ments made by stretching across hoUow shells." 

136. Druid : the Druids or ancient British priests are generally 
represented as old men with long, white hair. 

138. fever out : " start out from his head, bright with fever." 

140. snatch'd utterance : " spoke," but the phrase admirably 
suggests sudden desperate speech. 

146. chaos : " the primeval confusion from which the universe 
was formed." Saturn asks where he can find raw material for 
another universe. 

146. Olympus : the mountain of Thessaly in Greece upon which 
the gods were supposed to Hve. 

147. rebel three : i.e. Jupiter, Neptune, and Pluto, who had 
usurped rule over heaven, the sea, and Hades respectively. 

156-7. like . . . nest : as often with Keats, the simile has also a 
secondary appropriateness — if the boughs yield hke mist, Saturn and 
Thea are " upmounting " hke eagles, the royal birds. 

NOTES. 33 

161. Titans : i.e. the other Titans. The Titans were the six sons 
and daughters of Uranus and Ge, who, after their parents were 
dethroned, formed a dynasty of gods, Saturn being chief among 
them. They were in turn dethroned by the sons of Saturn, headed 
by Zeus (Jupiter), self-hid : " having hidden themselves." prison- 
bound : " fettered and imprisoned." 

162. groan'd . . . allegiance : " groaned with longing for the rule 
of their old leader Saturn." 

164. mammoth-brood : " mighty race " of Titans. 

166. on his orbed fire : " on the blazing globe of the sun." 

171. dog's . . . screech : the howling of dogs and the screeching of 
owls were supposed to foretell disaster. 

172-3. familiar . . . bell : " the appearance of the ghost of a friend 
at the first note of a bell tolled for his death." 

174. prophesjong . . . lamp : omens were read into the way in which 
a wick burnt down, etc. 

175. portion'd : " proportioned," i.e. the horrors were as much 
greater than ordinary horrors as Hyperion's nerves were stronger 
than human nerves. 

177. bastion'd : i.e. protected by bastions or fortifications pro- 
jecting from the angles of a rampart. 

181. Aurorian : belonging to Aurora, the goddess of the dawn. 

182. angerly : a more striking word than angrily : Keats probably 
took it from Shakespeare's Ki7ig John, IV. i. 82. 

183-5. These almost identical lines give the haunting beauty 
peculiar to refrains, besides emphasising the strangeness of the omens. 

188. metal sick : a reference to the unpleasant taste of metals. 

192. For : " instead of." 

197. minions : " followers, retainers." 

204. slope : " moving on a slope " ; this use of the word is 

206. solemn tubes : i.e. trumpets. 

207. Zeph3a"s : " breezes " : Zephyrus was the west wind. 
209. vermeil : vermdion, rosy. 

211. inlet : " entrance," another Mdtonic word. 

216. Hours : the daughters of Zeus (Jupiter) : their dove-wings 
seem to be Keats's invention, since they are generally represented 
as wingless. 

226. despite of godlike curb : " in spite of his divine attempt to 
repress his feelings." 

227. dreams : i.e. the portentous shapes, " horrors portion'd to a 
giant nerve," which had appeared to foretell his ruin, the lank-ear'd 
Phantoms of line 230. 

KTS. 3 


246. Tellus and her briny robes : i.e. the earth and the sea which 
surrounds it. 

249. infant thunderer, rebel Jove : Jove (Jupiter) or Zeus had 
driven his father from the throne by hurhng tliunder bolts. 

253-5. For . . . Hush ! : perhaps the only passage in the poem 
which, under the influence of the " Cockney school," falls below epic 

262. convuls'd : i.e. rolled back convulsively : there is here some- 
thing of the force of the Latin convulsum ; the word is one of Keats's 

274. broad-belting colure : the colures are the two circles of the 
celestial sphere, supposed to intersect each other in points corre- 
sponding to the terrestrial poles. Keats probably took the word 
from Milton. 

276. nadir : the part of the heavens directly under our feet, the 
lowest point, opposite the zenith or highest point. 

287. outspreaded : probably Keats thought this a more graphic 
and dignified form than outspread. 

288. dazzling . . . eclipse : i.e. the globe remained dark until 
Hyperion commanded hght to appear, that is, until the sun rose. 

296. sisterly : " Uke two sisters." 

297. sail : " make to sail." 

298. dusk demesnes : " dark dominions." 

307. Coelus : the Latin equivalent of Uranus (see hues 309-10, and 
note on Une 4) ; Keats, in opposition to the legendary account, 
makes him pity his dethroned offspring instead of rejoicing revenge- 
fully that they have met the doom which he suffered at their hands. 

311-12. All unrevealed . . . creating : unknown even to thy 

315. at . . . thereof : i.e. at his children, the children of earth and 

319-20. Of these . . . goddesses : i.e. " thou, thy brethren and the 
goddesses are among these new-form'd manifestations." 

326. wox : " grew." 

338. an evident god : " obviously divine, not dethroned and 
powerless as I am." 

340. ethereal : " heavenly." 

343-5. Be . . . circumstance : " do thou therefore lead events 
instead of awaiting them." seize . . . murmur : "seize the point of 
the arrow aimed at thee before the taut bowstring hums as the arrow 
is shot," i.e. anticipate attack. 

349. region-whisper : " whisper from the heavenly regions." 

354. incline : " inclination, bending." 



1-4. Just . . . moum'd : these lines link the close of Book I. to the 
events immediately following those narrated in Book I., lines 155-7. 

4. Cybele : or Rhea, a daughter of Uranus and the wife of Saturn. 

5. insulting : the word keeps something of the original force of 
leaping in and something of the derived sense of jumping upon a 
fallen foe. 

7. for : " in consequence of." 

9. Pouring . . . where : " constantly pouring down the same 
volume of water, without any knowledge of the direction taken " : 
the extreme compression is again characteristic of the Miltonic style. 

17. stubbom'd : " made stubborn or firm." 

19. Coeus . . . Briareus : sons of Uranus and Ge ; Gyges and 
Briareus were giants with 100 arms and 50 heads. Here Keats, like 
Milton, uses a succession of proper names to add sonority to the 

20. Typhon : a monster, described sometimes as a hurricane 
(hence typhoon) and sometimes as a fire-breathing giant. 

Dolor : there was no Titan or giant of this name, but Keats 
apparently took the name from the Latin author Hyginus, where 
the personified abstraction Dolor (grief) is mentioned in close 
connection with the Titans. Porphyrion : one of the giants who 
fought on the side of Saturn against Jupiter. 

22. pent . . . breath : " confined in places where it was hard to 

23. opaque element : " thick air." 

28. sanguine . . . pulse : " ^vith fevered, pulsing flow of blood." 

29. Mnemos3me : Memory, a daughter of Uranus. 

30. Phoebe : daughter of Uranus and Ge, and really the grand- 
mother of the moon-goddess Phoebe. Keats here confuses the two 

32. for the main : " for the most part." covert : " shelter." 

33. scarce . . . life : " scarcely appearing to Uve." 

34. cirque . . . moor : Keats obviously has Stonehenge in mind : 
the pictorial simile is one of his finest. 

41. Creiis : another son of Uranus and brother of Saturn, as were 
also lapetus (1. 44), and Cottus (1. 49) who was not a Titan but a 
giant hke Briareus (see note on Book II., 1. 19). 

45. plashy : " speckled, as if with splashes of dye." 

46. gorge : " throat." 

47. and because : i.e. " and it was dead because." 

53. Asia : generally reputed the daughter of Oceanus and Tethys. 
Keats gives her a new parentage — TeUus, the Earth, and Kaf, a 


mythical mountain mentioned in the Arabian Nights. She is 
identified with the continent Asia ; hence dusky face (1. 56). 

55. though feminine : it would be interesting to know what 
incident, when he walked the hospitals, gave Keats the curious idea 
that it is easier to bear girls than boys. 

61. as hope . . . leans : critics have objected to this mingling of 
classical mythology and hope with her anchor, but all the great 
Ehzabethan writers draw indiscriminately upon pagan and Christian 

66. shadow'd Enceladus : i.e. Enceladus cast a shadow ; Enceladus 
was usually identified with Typhon, but Keats makes them two 

70. was hurling : i.e. imagined himself already hmling. second 
war : i.e. the war against Zeus, in which the Titans hurled moimtains 
at him. 

73. Atlas : son of lapetus and Asia : he later took part in the 
Titans' war against Zeus and was condemned as a pimishment to 
bear heaven on his head and hands. 

74. Phorcus . . . Gorgons : Phorcus was a sea-god, the son of 
Pontus and Ge ; Ceto bore him the three monstrous maidens, the 
gorgons, whose hair was serpents and who had wings, brazen claws 
and enormous teeth. Medusa, who alone of the gorgons was mortal, 
was killed by Perseus : her head was so terrible that anyone looking 
upon it was changed into stone. 

75. Oceanus : he was the one Titan who had not joined in war 
against Zeus and the other Olympians. 

76. Clymene : generally identified with Asia, whom, however, 
Keats made a different goddess with different parents (see note on 
Book II., 1. 53). 

77. Themis : another daughter of Uranus and Ge. 

78. Ops : identical with Cybele (see note on Book II., 1. 4). 

79. more than : we should say any more than. 

82. when the Muse's . . . flight ? : i.e. " when the poet is about to 
sing a loftier strain, who shaU delay him ? " The nine Muses, 
daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, were the goddesses who inspired 
song ; later, they were regarded as presiding over the different 
kinds of poetry and the arts and sciences. 

92. supreme : the word is here probably stressed on both syllables, 
thus emphasising the majesty of Saturn. 

95. spleen : " anger," the spleen being formerly considered the 
seat of anger. 

97. mortal : probably such that it cJuinged him to a mortal, i.e. 
robbed liim of his divinity ; actually, of course, Saturn, though 
c''>throned, did not lose his immortality. 

NOTES. 37 

98. disanointing : i.e. such that it undid the effects of the anoint- 
ing oil used at a coronation : Saturn is no longer king. 

99. kept her still : " kept herself motionless." 
120. utterless : " unutterable." 

122. Such . . . pines : the echo-effect of this half -repetition of 1. 116 
itself suggests the reverberant roar in the pines. 

128. dinn'd : " filled with noise " ; for the conciseness attained 
by the coinage, cp. mouniuin'd loorld in 1. 123. silverly : silver, as 
applied to sound, is one of Keats's favourite words. 

133. spirit-leaved book : presumably book whose leaves were written 
by spirits : the book appears to be Keats's invention. 

140. element : there were thought to be four elements — earth, 
air, fire, and water — out of which everything else was composed. 

153. the first-bom . . . gods : Saturn and his brothers and sisters 
were the first gods to be born : Uranus sprang from primeval Chaos. 
See below, U. 191-200. 

155. untremendous : " not to be trembled at." 

165. astonied : " astonished." 

168. Sophist . . . grove : the sophists of ancient Athens were wise 
men (sages) who taught, often out-of-doors, philosophy, rhetoric, 
and poUtics. 

171. first-endeavouring : a reference to the fact that he is 
beginning his speech. 

176. bellows unto ire : " incitement to anger," anger being treated 
as a fire. 

183. atom-universe : a reference to the theory developed by 
Lucretius (95 B.C.-52 B.C.) in his De Berum Natura that the whole 
universe is formed from minute atoms. 

185. only . . . supremacy : i.e. Saturn is so high above others that 
he misses small points obvious to meaner minds. 

192. Light . . . broil : i.e. light, which sprang from the internal 
conflict of darkness and chaos. 

202. to whom 'tis pain : " pain, that is, for those who find truth 

204-5. to envisage . . . sovereignty : " the true height of supremacy 
is the abHity to look facts in the face calmly." 

208. show beyond : " appear superior to." 

214. pass : " surpass." 240. dolorous : " sad." 

244. poz'd : " posed, perplexed, at a loss for a retort." 

250. hectic : " fevered." 

256. bode of evil : " prophesy evil." 

270. mouthed shell : some of the earliest musical instruments 
were made from the shells of animals. 


277. drown . . . ears : " deafen me and make me listen.' 
293. Apollo : the god of poetry and song, son of Zeus. 

304. Enceladus : see note on Book II., 1. 66. 

305. the ponderous waves : the whole of this passage gives one 
of the best examples of Keats's use of onomatopoeia and word- 

310. Or to . . . Gods : it has been ingeniously conjectured that the 
true reading should be Or to the over-foolish, giant-gods ? 

312. Jove : Zeus, son of Saturn, who had led the rebeUion, 
showering thunderbolts upon his father and the other ancient gods. 

319-20. Dost . . . seas : Enceladus is addressing Oceanus, who was 
cast down into the sea by the revolting Olympian deities. 

365. mantled : " covered as with a mantle." 

369-70. the misery . . . itself : i.e. the wretchedness of the 
dethroned gods, who could now, in the light of Hyperion the sun- 
god, see how miserable they appeared. 

371. Numidian : Numidia was the name of a country of N. Africa ; 
the reference is thus to the short curly hair of the negroes. 

374. Memnon's image : there was a statue of Memnon, the son of 
Tithonus and Aiirora (the dawn), near Thebes, which uttered a 
mournful sound when the first beams of the sun struck it, as if 
Memnon were greeting his mother. 


5-6. A solitary . . . grief : Keats's brother Tom had just died, 
antheming : " commemorating in an anthem." 

9. bewildered : a transferred epithet ; in sense it qualifies Divinity. 

10. Delphic : connected with Delphi, a small town in Greece, 
famous for its oracle of Apollo, the god of poetry and of the sun. 

12. Dorian : the Dorians, one of the gi'eat Greek tribes, whose 
name is associated with a special mode of music, characterised by its 
severe tone, and particularly suited for rehgious and martial 

13. Father of all verse : Apollo. 

23. Cyclades : a group of islands in the Aegean Sea, which lay in 
a circle round Delos, the most important of them : upon Delos 
Latona bore Apollo and his twin-sister Artemis. 

26. In which . . . song : " in which there is no wind harsher than 
Zephyr, the West wind." 

29. Giant of the Sun : Hyperion. 

43. golden bow : Apollo is frequently represented in ancient art 
with a bow and arrows : his bow is here golden, probably because 
he is the sun-god who shoots golden rays. 

NOTES. 39 

44. suffused : " filled ^dth tears." 

46. an awful goddess : Mnemosyne or Memory, daughter of 
Uranus and mother of the Muses. See 1. 82. 

74. witless: "unconsciously"; "without thought." 

92. liegeless : " without a liege-lord, imconquered." 

93. aspirant : " aspiring." 

114. grey : " old," a notable example of Keats's instinctive choice 
of a beautiful epithet. 

115. sovran: "sovereign." 

119. peerless: "unequalled"; the placing of the noun elixir 
between two adjectives is a Miltonic device. 

128. pale immortal death : another of Keats's beautiful and 
pregnant phrases : see also the striking die into life (1. 130). 

129. convulse : " convulsion." 

132. kept undulation : " waved incessantly." 





Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel ! 

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye ! 
They could not in the self-same mansion dwell 

Without some stir of heart, some malady ; 
They could not sit at meals but feel how well 5 

It soothed each to be the other by ; 
They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep 
But to each other dream, and nightly weep. 


With every morn their love grew tenderer. 

With every eve deeper and tenderer still ; 10 

He might not in house, field, or garden stir, 
But her full shape would all his seeing fill ; 

And his continual voice was pleasanter 
To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill ; 

Her lute-string gave an echo of his name, 15 

She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same. 

He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch 
Before the door had given her to his eyes ; 
And from her chamber-window he would catch 

Her beauty farther than the falcon spies ; 20 



And constant as her vespers would he watch, 

Because her face was turn'd to the same skies 
And with sick longing all the night outwear, 
To hear her morning-step upon the stair. 

A whole long month of May in this sad plight 25 

Made their cheeks paler by the break of June : 

" To-morrow will I bow to my delight, 
To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon." — 

" may I never see another night, 

Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune." — 30 

So spake they to their pillows ; but, alas, 

Honeyless days and days did he let pass ; 

Until sweet Isabella's uutouch'd cheek 

Fell sick within the rose's just domain. 
Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek 35 

By every lull to cool her infant's pain : 
" How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak. 

And yet I will, and tell my love all plain : 
If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears. 
And at the least 'twill startle off her cares." 40 

So said he one fair morning, and all day 
His heart beat awfully against his side ; 

And to his heart he inwardly did pray 

For power to speak ; but still the ruddy tide 

Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away — 45 

Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride. 

Yet brought him to the meekness of a child : 

Alas ! when passion is both meek and wild ! 


So once more he had wak'd and anguished 

A dreary night of love and misery, 50 

If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed 
To every symbol on his forehead high ; 

She saw it waxing very pale and dead, 

And straight all flush'd ; so, lisped tenderly, 

" Lorenzo ! " — here she ceas'd her timid quest, 55 

But in her tone and look he read the rest. 

" Isabella, I can half perceive 

That I may speak my grief into thine ear ; 

If thou didst ever anything believe. 

Believe how I love thee, believe how near 60 

My soul is to its doom : I would not grieve 

Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear 

Thine eyes by gazing ; but I cannot Uve 

Another night, and not my passion shrive. 

" Love ! thou art leading me from wintry cold, 65 
Lady ! thou leadest me to summer clime, 

And I must taste the blossoms that unfold 

In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time." 

So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold, 

And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme : 70 

Great bliss was with them, and great happiness 

Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress. 

Parting they seem'd to tread upon the air, 
Twin roses by the zephyr blown apart 


Only to meet again more close, and share 75 

The inward fragrance of each other's heart. 

She, to her chamber gone, a ditty fair 
Sang, of delicious love and honey'd dart ; 

He with light steps went up a western hill. 

And bade the sun farewell, and joy'd his fill. 80 

All close they met again, before the dusk 
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil, 

All close they met, all eves, before the dusk 
Had taken from the stars its pleasant veil, 

Close in a bower of hyacinth and musk, 85 

Unknown of any, free from whispering tale. 

Ah ! better had it been for ever so. 

Than idle ears should pleasure in their woe. 


Were they unhappy then 1 — It cannot be — 

Too many tears for lovers have they shed, 90 

Too many sighs give we to them in fee, 
Too much of pity after they are dead. 

Too many doleful stories do we see, 

Whose matter in bright gold were best be read ; 

Except in such a page where Theseus' spouse 95 

Over the pathless waves towards him bows. 

But, for the general award of love. 

The little sweet doth kill much bitterness ; 

Though Dido silent is in under-grove. 
And Isabella's was a great distress. 

Though young Lorenzo in warm Indian clove 
Was not embalm'd, this truth is not the less- 


Even bees, the little almsmen of spring-bowers, 
Know there is richest juice in poison- flowers. 

With her two brothers this fair lady dwelt, 105 

Enriched from ancestral merchandize, 
And for them many a weary hand did swelt 

In torched mines and noisy factories, 
And many once proud quiver'd loins did melt 

In blood from stinging whip ; — with hollow eyes no 

Many all day in dazzUng river stood. 
To take the rich-or'd driftings of the flood. 

For them the Ceylon diver held his breath. 

And went all naked to the hungry shark ; 
For them his ears gush'd blood ; for them in death 115 

The seal on the cold ice with piteous bark 
Lay full of darts ; for them alone did seethe 

A thousand men in troubles wideand dark : 
Half-ignorant, they turn'd an easy wheel, 
That set sharp racks at work, to pinch and peel. 120 

Why were they proud ? Because their marble founts 
Gush'd with more pride than do a wretch's tears ?— 

Why were they proud ? Because fair orange-mounts 
Were of more soft ascent than lazar stairs ? — ■ 

Why were they proud ? Because red-lin'd accounts 125 
Were richer than the songs of Grrecian years ? — 

Why were they proud ? again we ask aloud. 

Why in the name of Glory were they proud ? 


Yet were these Florentines as self-retired 

In hungry pride and gainful cowardice, 130 

As two close Hebrews in that land inspired, 

Pal'd in and vineyarded from beggar-spies ; 
The hawks of ship-mast forests — the untired 

And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies — 
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away, — 135 
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay. 

How was it these same ledger-men could spy 

Fair Isabella in her downy nest ? 
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye 

A straying from his toil ? Hot Egypt's pest 140 
Into their vision covetous and sly ! 

How could these money-bags see east and west ? — 
Yet so they did — and every dealer fair 
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare. 

eloquent and famed Boccaccio ! 145 

Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon, 

And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow, 
And of thy roses amorous of the moon. 

And of thy lilies, that do paler grow 

Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune, 150 

For venturing syllables that ill beseem 

The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme. 


Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale 
Shall move on soberly, as it is meet ; 


There is no other crime, no mad assail 155 

To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet : 

But it is done — succeed the verse or fail — 
To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet ; 

To stead thee as a verse in English tongue. 

An echo of thee in the north-wind sung. 160 

These brethren having found by many signs 

What love Lorenzo for their sister had, 
And how she lov'd him too, each unconfines 

His bitter thoughts to other, well nigh mad 
That he, the servant of their trade designs, 165 

Should in their sister's love be blithe and glad, 
When 'twas their plan to coax her by degrees 
To some high noble and his olive-trees. 

And many a jealous conference had they. 

And many times they bit their lips alone, 170 

Before they fix'd upon a surest way 

To make the youngster for his crime atone ; 
And at the last, these men of cruel clay 

Cut Mercy with a sharp knife to the bone ; 
For they resolved in some forest dim 175 

To kill Lorenzo, and there bury him. 

So on a pleasant morning, as he leant 

Into the sun-rise, o'er the balulstrade 
Of the garden-terrace, towards him they bent 

Their footing through the dews ; and to him said, 180 
" You seem there in the quiet of content, 

Lorenzo, and we are most loth to invade 


Calm speculation ; but if you are wise, 
Bestride your steed while cold is in the skies. 

To-day we purpose, aye, this hour we mount 185 

To spur three leagues towards the Apennine ; 

Come down, we pray thee, ere the hot sun count 
His dewy rosary on the eglantine." 

Lorenzo, courteously, as he was wont, 

Bow'd a fair greeting to these serpents' whine ; 190 

And went in haste, to get in readiness. 

With belt, and spur, and bracing huntsman's dress. 

And as he to the court-yard pass'd along, 

Each third step did he pause, and listen'd oft 

If he could hear his lady's matin-song, 195 

Or the light whisper of her footstep soft ; 

And as he thus over his passion hung. 
He heard a laugh full musical aloft ; 

When, looking up, he saw her features bright 

Smile through an in-door lattice, all dehght. 200 

" Love, Isabel ! " said he, " I was in pain 

Lest I should '"miss to bid thee a good morrow : 

Ah ! what if I should lose thee, when so fain 
I am to stifle all the heavy sorrow 

Of a poor three hours' absence 1 but we'll gain 205 

Out of the amorous dark what day doth borrow. 

Good bye ! I'll soon be back." — "Good bye ! " said she : — - 

And as he went she chanted merrily. 

So the two brothers and their murder'd man 

Rode past fair Florence, to where Arno's stream 210 

Gurgles through straiten'd banks, and still doth fan 
Itself with dancing bulrush, and the bream 

Keeps head against the freshets. Sick and wan 
The brothers' faces in the ford did seem, 

Lorenzo's flush with love. — They pass'd the water 215 

Into a forest quiet for the slaughter. 

There was Lorenzo slain and buried in. 

There in that forest did his great love cease ; 

Ah ! when a soul doth thus its freedom win. 

It aches in loneUness — is ill at peace 220 

As the break-covert blood-hounds of such sin : 

They dipp'd their swords in the water, and did tease 

Their horses homeward, with convulsed spur, 

Each richer by his being a murderer. 


They told their sister how, with sudden speed, 225 

Lorenzo had ta'en ship for foreign lands. 

Because of some great urgency and need 
In their affairs, requiring trusty hands. 

Poor girl ! put on thy stifling widow's weed. 

And 'scape at once from Hope's accursed bands ; 230 

To-day thou wilt not see him, nor to-morrow, 

And the next day will be a day of sorrow. 


She weeps alone for pleasures not to be ; 
Sorely she wept until the night came on, 


50 KEATS : 

And then, in stead of love, misery ! 235 

She brooded o'er the luxury alone : * 
His image in the dusk she seem'd to see. 

And to the silence made a gentle moan, 
Spreading her perfect arms upon the air. 
And on her couch low murmuring " Where ? where ? " 240 

But Selfishness, Love's cousin, held not long 

Its fiery vigil in her single breast ; 
She fretted for the golden hour, and hung 

Upon the time with feverish unrest — 
Not long^ — for soon into her heart a throng 245 

Of higher occupants, a richer zest. 
Came tragic ; passion not to be subdu'd, 
And sorrow for her love in travels rude. 

In the mid days of autumn, on their eves 

The breath of Winter comes from far away, 250 

And the sick west continually bereaves 

Of some gold tinge, and plays a roundelay 
Of death among the bushes and the leaves. 

To make all bare before he dares to stray 
From his north cavern. So sweet Isabel 255 

By gradual decay from beauty fell, 


Because Lorenzo came not. Oftentimes 
She ask'd her brothers, with an eye all pale, 

Striving to be itself, what dungeon climes 

Could keep him off so long ? They spake a tale 260 

Time after time, to quiet her. Their crimes 

Came on them, like a smoke from Hinnom's vale ; 


And every night in dreams they groan'd aloud, 
To see their sister in her snowy shroud. 

And she had died in drowsy ignorance, 265 

But for a thing more deadly dark than all ; 

It came like a fierce potion, drunk by chance, 
Which saves a sick man from the feather'd pall 

For some few gasping moments ; like a lance. 

Waking an Indian from his cloudy hall 270 

With cruel pierce, and bringing him again 

Sense of the gnawing fire at heart and brain. 

It was a vision. — In the drowsy gloom, 
The dull of midnight, at her couch's foot 

Lorenzo stood, and wept : the forest tomb 275 

Had marr'd his glossy hair which once could shoot 

Lustre into the sun, and put cold doom 
Upon his lips, and taken the soft lute 

From his lorn voice, and past his loamed ears 

Had made a miry channel for his tears. 280 

Strange sound it was, when the pale shadow spake ; 

For there was striving, in its piteous tongue. 
To speak as when on earth it was awake, 

And Isabella on its music hung : 
Languor there was in it, and tremulous shake, 285 

As in a palsied Druid's harp unstrung ; 
And through it moan'd a ghostly under-song. 
Like hoarse night-gusts sepidchral briars among. 


Its eyes, though wild, were still all dewy bright 

With love, and kept all phantom fear aloof 290 

From the poor girl by magic of their light, 
The while it did unthread the horrid woof 

Of the late darken'd time, — the murderous spite 
Of pride and avarice, — the dark pine roof 

In the forest, — and the sodden turfed dell, 295 

Where, without any word, from stabs he fell. 

Saying moreover, " Isabel, my sweet ! 

Red whortle-berries droop above my head, 
And a large flint-stone weighs upon my feet ; 

Around me beeches and high chestnuts shed 300 

Their leaves and prickly nuts ; a sheep-fold bleat 

Comes from beyond the river to my bed : 
Go, shed one tear upon my heather-bloom. 
And it shall comfort me within the tomb. 


I am a shadow now, alas ! alas ! 305 

Upon the skirts of human-nature dwelling 

Alone : I chant alone the holy mass. 

While little sounds of life are round me kneeling, 

And glossy bees at noon do fieldward pass. 

And many a chapel bell the hour is telling, 310 

Paining me through : those sounds grow strange to me, 

And thou art distant in Humanity. 


I know what was, I feel full well what is. 
And I should rage, if spirits could go mad ; 


Though I forget the taste of earthly bliss, 315 

That paleness warms my grave, as though I had 

A Seraph chosen from the bright abyss 

To be my spouse : thy paleness makes me glad ; 

Thy beauty grows upon me, and I feel 

A greater love through all my essence steal." 320 

The Spirit mourn'd " Adieu ! " — dissolv'd and left 

The atom darkness in a slow turmoil ; 
As when of healthful midnight sleep bereft, 

Thinking on rugged hours and fruitless toil. 
We put our eyes into a pillowy cleft, 325 

And see the spangly gloom froth up and boil : 
It made sad Isabella's eyelids ache. 
And in the dawn she started up awake ; 


" Ha ! ha ! " said she, " I knew not this hard life, 
I thought the worst was simple misery ; 330 

I thought some Fate with pleasure or with strife 
Portion'd us^ — happy days, or else to die ; 

But there is crime — a brother's bloody knife ! 
Sweet Spirit, thou hast school'd my infancy : 

I'll visit thee for this, and kiss thine eyes, 335 

And greet thee morn and even in the skies." 

When the full morning came, she had devised 
How she might secret to the forest hie ; 

How she might find the clay, so dearly prized, 

And sing to it one latest lullaby ; 340 

How her short absence might be unsurmised. 
While she the inmost of the dream would try. 


Resolv'd, she took with her an aged nurse, 
And went into that dismal forest-hearse. 

See, as they creep along the river side, 345 

How she doth whisper to that aged Dame, 

And, after looking round the champaign wide, 
Shows her a knife. — ■" What feverous hectic flame 

Burns in thee, child ? — What good can thee betide. 

That thou should 'st smile again ? " — The evening came, 

And they had found Lorenzo's earthy bed ; 351 

The flint was there, the berries at his head. 

Who hath not loiter'd in a green church-yard. 

And let his spirit, like a demon-mole, 
Work through the clayey soil and gravel hard, 355 

To see scull, cofiin'd bones, and funeral stole ; 
Pitying each form that hungry Death hath marr'd. 

And filling it once more with human soul ? 
Ah ! this is holiday to what was felt 
When Isabella by Lorenzo knelt. 360 

She gaz'd into the fresh-thrown mould, as though 

One glance did fully all its secrets tell ; 
Clearly she saw, as other eyes would know 

Pale limbs at bottom of a crystal well ; 
Upon the murderous spot she seem'd to grow, 365 

Like to a native lily of the dell : 
Then with her knife, all sudden, she began 
To dig more fervently than misers can. 



Soon she turn'd up a soiled glove, whereon 

Her silk had play'd in purple phantasies, 370 

She kiss'd it with a lip more chill than stone, 
And put it in her bosom, where it dries 

And freezes utterly unto the bone 

Those dainties made to still an infant's cries : 

Then 'gan she work again ; nor stay'd her care, 375 

But to throw back at times her veiling hair. 


That old nurse stood beside her wondering, 

Until her heart felt pity to the core 
At sight of such a dismal labouring. 

And so she kneeled, with her locks of hoar, 380 

And put her lean hands to the horrid thing : 

Three hours they labour'd at this travail sore ; 
At last they felt the kernel of the grave. 
And Isabella did not stamp and rave. 

Ah ! wherefore all this wormy circumstance ? 385 

Why linger at the yawning tomb so long ? 

for the gentleness of old Romance, 

The simjjle plaining of a minstrel's song ! 

Fair reader, at the old tale take a glance, 

For here, in truth, it doth not well belong 390 

To speak : — turn thee to the very tale, 

And taste the music of that vision pale. 


With duller steel than the Persean sword 
They cut away no formless monster's head, 


But one, whose gentleness did well accord 395 

With death, as life. The ancient harps have said, 

Love never dies, but lives, immortal Lord : 
If love impersonate was ever dead, 

Pale Isabella kiss'd it, and low moan'd. 

'Twas love ; cold, — dead indeed, but not dethron'd. 400 

In anxious secrecy they took it home, 

And then the prize was all for Isabel : 
She calm'd its wild hair with a golden comb. 

And all around each eye's sepulchral cell 
Pointed each fringed lash ; the smeared loam 405 

With tears, as chilly as a dripping well. 
She drench'd away :■ — and still she comb'd, and kept 
Sighing all day — and still she kiss'd, and wept. 

Then in a silken scarf, — sweet with the dews 

Of precious flowers pluck 'd in Araby, 410 

And divine liquids come with odorous ooze 
Through the cold serpent-pipe refreshfully, — 

She wrapp'd it up ; and for its tomb did choose 
A garden-pot, wherein she laid it by. 

And cover'd it with mould, and o'er it set 415 

Sweet Basil, which her tears kept ever wet. 

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun. 

And she forgot the blue above the trees, 
And she forgot the dells where waters run, 

And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze ; 420 


She had no knowledge when the day was done, 

And the new morn she saw not : but in peace 
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore, 
And moisten 'd it with tears unto the core. 

And so she ever fed it with thin tears, 425 

Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew, 

So that it smelt more balmy than its peers 
Of Basil-tufts in Florence ; for it drew 

Nurture besides, and life, from human fears, 

From the fast mouldering head there shut from view : 430 

So that the jewel, safely casketed, 

Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread. 

Melancholy, linger here awhile ! 

Music, Music, breathe despondingly ! 
Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle, 435 

Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us — sigh ! 
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile ; 

Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily. 
And make a pale light in your cypress glooms, 
Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs. 440 

Moan hither, all ye syllables of woe. 

From the deep throat of sad Melpomene ! 
Through bronzed lyre in tragic order go. 

And touch the strings into a mystery ; 
Sound mournfully upon the winds and low ; 445 

For simple Isabel is soon to be 


Among tlie dead : She withers, like a palm 
Cut by an Indian for its juicy balm. 

leave the palm to wither by itself ; 

Let not quick Winter chill its dying hour ! — 450 

It may not be — those Baalites of pelf, 

Her brethren, noted the continual shower 
From her dead eyes ; and many a curious elf, 

Among her kindred, wonder'd that such dower 
Of youth and beauty should be thrown aside 455 

By one mark'd out to be a Noble's bride. 

And, furthermore, her brethren wonder'd much 
Why she sat drooping by the Basil green. 

And why it fiourish'd, as by magic touch ; 

Greatly they wonder'd what the thing might mean : 

They could not surely give belief, that such 461 

A very nothing would have power to wean 

Her from her own fair youth, and pleasures gay. 

And even remembrance of her love's delay. 

Therefore they watch'd a time when they might sift 465 
This hidden whim ; and long they watch'd in vain ; 

For seldom did she go to chapel-shrift, 
And seldom felt she any hunger-pain ; 

And when she left, she hurried back, as swift 

As bird on wing to breast its eggs again ; 470 

And, patient as a hen-bird, sat her there 

Beside her Basil, weeping through her hair. 


Yet they contriv'd to steal the Basil-pot, 

And to examine it in secret place : 
The thing was vile with green and livid spot, 475 

And yet they knew it was Lorenzo's face : 
The guerdon of their murder they had got. 

And so left Florence in a moment's space. 
Never to turn again. — Away they went. 
With blood upon their heads, to banishment. 480 


Melancholy, turn thine eyes away ! 

Music, Music, breathe despondingly I 
Echo, Echo, on some other day. 

From isles Lethean, sigh to us — sigh ! 
Spirits of grief, sing not your " Well-a-way ! " 485 

For Isabel, sweet Isabel, will die ; 
Will die a death too lone and incomplete. 
Now they have ta'en away her Basil sweet. 

Piteous she look'd on dead and senseless things, 

Asking for her lost Basil amorously ; 490 

And with melodious chuckle in the strings 

Of her lorn voice, she oftentimes would cry 
After the Pilgrim in his wanderings. 

To ask him where her Basil was ; and why 
'Twas hid from her : " For cruel 'tis," said she, 495 
" To steal my Basil-pot away from me." 


And so she pin'd and so she died forlorn. 
Imploring for her Basil to the last. 


No heart was there in Florence but did mourn 

In pity of her love, so overcast. 500 

And a sad ditty of this story born 

From mouth to mouth through all the country pass'd : 

Still is the burthen sung — " cruelty, 

To steal my Basil-pot away from me ! " 


St. Agnes' Eve — Ah, bitter ckill it was ! 
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold ; 
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, 
And silent was the flock in woolly fold : 
Numb were the Beadsman's fingers, while he told 
His rosary, and while his frosted breath. 
Like pious incense from a censer old, 
Seem'd taking flight for heaven, without a death, 
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith. 

His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man ; 
Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees. 
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan, 
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees : 
The sculptur'd dead, on each side, seem to freeze, 
Emprison'd in black, purgatorial rails : 
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat'ries. 
He passeth by ; and his weak spirit fails 
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails. 

Northward he turneth through a Uttle door, 
And scarce three steps, ere Music's golden tongue 
Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor ; 

62 KEATS : 

But no — already had his deathbell rung : 
The joys of all his life were said and sung : 
His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve : 
Another way he went, and soon among 25 

Rough ashes sat he for his soul's reprieve, 
And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve. 


That ancient Beadsman heard the prelude soft ; 
And so it chanc'd, for many a door was wide, 
From hurry to and fro. Soon, up aloft, 30 

The silver, snarling trumpets 'gan to chide : 
The level chambers, ready with their pride, 
Were glowing to receive a thousand guests : 
The carved angels, ever eager-ey'd, 

Star'd, where upon their heads the cornice rests, 35 

With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their 


At length burst in the argent revelry, 
With plume, tiara, and all rich array, 
Numerous as shadows haunting faerily 
The brain, new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay 40 
Of old romance. These let us wish away. 
And turn, sole-thoughted, to one Lady there. 
Whose heart had brooded, all that wintry day, 
On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care, 
As she had heard old dames full many times declare. 45 

They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve, 
Young virgins might have visions of delight, 
And soft adorings from their loves receive 
Upon the honey'd middle of the night, 


If ceremonies due they did aright ; 50 

As, supperless to bed they must retire, 
And couch supine their beauties, lily white ; 
Nor look behind, nor sideways, but require 
Of Heaven with upward eyes for aU that they desire. 

Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline : 55 

The music, yearning like a God in pain, 
She scarcely heard : her maiden eyes divine, 
Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train 
Pass by — she heeded not at all : in vain 
Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier, 60 

And back retir'd ; not cool'd by high disdain, 
But she saw not : her heart was otherwhere : 
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year. 

She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes, 
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short : 65 

The haUow'd hour was near at hand : she sighs 
Amid the timbrels, and the throng'd resort 
Of whisperers in anger, or in sport ; 
'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn, 
Hoodwink'd with faery fancy ; aU amort, 70 

Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn, 
And all the bhss to be before to-morrow morn. 

So, purposing each moment to retire, 

She hnger'd still. Meantime, across the moors. 

Had come young Porph}To, with heart on fire 75 

For MadeUne. Beside the portal doors, 

Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores 


All saints to give him sight of Madeline, 
But for one moment in the tedious hours, 
That he might gaze and worship all unseen ; 80 

Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss — in sooth such things 
have been. 

He ventures in : let no buzz'd whisper tell : 
All eyes be muflEled, or a hundred swords 
Will storm his heart. Love's fev'rous citadel : 
For him, those chambers held barbarian hordes, 85 

Hyena foemen, and hot-blooded lords, 
Whose very dogs would execrations howl 
Against his lineage : not one breast affords 
Him any mercy, in that mansion foul, 
Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul. 90 

Ah, happy chance ! the aged creature came, 
Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand, 
To where he stood, hid from the torch's flame. 
Behind a broad hall-pillar, far beyond 
The sound of merriment and chorus bland : 95 

He startled her ; but soon she knew his face. 
And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand, 
Saying, " Mercy, Porphyro ! hie thee from this place ; 
They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race ! 


Get hence ! get hence ! there's dwarfish Hildebrand ; lOO 

He had a fever late, and in the fit 

He cursed thee and thine, both house and land : 

Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit 

More tame for his gray hairs — Alas me ! flit ! 


Flit like a ghost away." — " Ah, Gossip dear, 105 

We're safe enough ; here in this arm-chair sit. 
And tell me how " — " Good Saints ! not here, not here ; 
Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier." 


He foUow'd through a lowly arched way. 
Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume, no 

And as she mutter 'd " Well-a — -well-a-day ! " 
He found him in a httle moonlight room. 
Pale, lattic'd, chill, and silent as a tomb. 
Now teU me where is Madehne," said he, 
tell me, Angela, by the holy loom 115 

Which none but secret sisterhood may see, 
When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously." 

" St. Agnes ! Ah ! it is St. Agnes' Eve — 
Yet men will murder upon holy days : 
Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve, 
And be liege-lord of all the Elves and Fayt 
To venture so : it fills me with amaze 
To see thee, Porphyro ! — -St. Agnes' Eve ! 
God's help ! my lady fair the conjuror 
This very night : good angels her deceive ! 125 

But let me laugh awhile, I've mickle time to grieve." 

Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon, 

While Porphyro upon her face doth look. 

Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone 

Who keepeth clos'd a wond'rous riddle-book, 130 

As spectacled she sits in chimney nook. 

But soon his eyes grew brilliant, when she told 

KTS. 5 

66 KEATS : 

His lady's purpose ; and he scarce could brook 
Tears, at the thought of those enchantments cold, 
And Madeline asleep in lap of legends old. 135 

Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose, 
Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart 
Made purple riot : then doth he propose 
A stratagem, that makes the beldame start : 
" A cruel man and impious thou art : 140 

Sweet lady, let her pray, and sleep, and dream 
Alone with her good angels, far apart 
From wicked men like thee. Go, go ! — I deem 
Thou canst not surely be the same that thou didst seem." 

" I will not harm her, by all saints I swear," 145 

Quoth Porphyro : " may I ne'er find grace 
When my weak voice shall whisper its last prayer, 
If one of her soft ringlets I displace. 
Or look with ruffian passion in her face : 
Good Angela, believe me by these tears ; 150 

Or I will, even in a moment's space. 
Awake with horrid shout, my foemen's ears. 
And beard them, though they be more fang'd than wolves 
and bears." 

" Ah ! why wilt thou affright a feeble soul ? 
A poor, weak, palsy-stricken, churchyard thing, 155 

Whose passing-bell may ere the midnight toll ; 
Whose prayers for thee, each morn and evening. 
Were never miss'd."- — Thus plaining, doth she bring 
A gentler speech from burning Porphyro ; 


So woeful, and of such deep sorrowing, i6o 

That Angela gives promise she will do 
Whatever he shall wish, betide her weal or woe. 

Which was, to lead him, in close secrecy. 
Even to Madeline's chamber, and there hide 
Him in a closet, of such privacy 165 

That he might see her beauty unespy'd. 
And win perhaps that night a peerless bride, 
While legion'd faeries pac'd the coverlet, ; 
And pale enchantment held her sleepy-ey'd. 
Never on such a night have lovers met, 170 

Since Merlin paid his Demon all the monstrous debt. 


" It shall be as thou wishest," said the Dame : 
" All cates and dainties shall be stored there 
Quickly on this feast-night : by the tambour frame 
Her own lute thou wilt see : no time to spare, 175 

For I am slow and feeble, and scarce dare 
On such a catering trust my dizzy head. 
Wait here, my child, with patience ; kneel in prayer 
The while : Ah ! thou must needs the lady wed, 
Or may I never leave my grave among the dead," 180 

So saying, she hobbled off with busy fear. 

The lover's endless minutes slowly pass'd ; 

The dame return'd, and whisper'd in his ear 

To follow her ; with aged eyes aghast 

From fright of dim espial. Safe at last, 185 

Through many a dusky gallery, they gain 

68 KEATS : 

The maiden's chamber, silken, hush'd, and chaste ; 
Where Porphyro took covert, pleas'd amain. 
His poor guide hurried back with agues in her brain. 

Her falt'ring hand upon the balustrade, 190 

Old Angela was feeling for the stair, 
When Madeline, St. Agnes' charmed maid, 
Rose, like a mission'd spirit, unaware : 
With silver taper's light, and pious care. 
She turn'd, and down the aged gossip led 195 

To a safe level matting. Now prepare, 
Young Porphyro, for gazing on that bed ; 
She comes, she comes again, like ring-dove fray'd and fled. 

Out went the taper as she hurried in ; 
Its Kttle smoke, in palUd moonshine, died : 200 

She clos'd the door, she panted, all akin 
To spirits of the air, and visions wide : 
No uttered syllable, or, woe betide ! 
But to her heart, her heart was voluble, 
Paining with eloquence her balmy side ; 205 

As though a tongueless nightingale should swell 
Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell. 

A casement high and triple-arch'd there was, 

All garlanded with carven imag'ries 

Of fruits, and flowers, and bunches of knot-grass, 

And diamonded with panes of quaint device. 

Innumerable of stains and splendid dyes. 

As are the tiger-moth's deep-damask'd wings ; 


And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries, 
And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, 215 

A shielded scutcheon blush'd with blood of queens and kings. 

Full on this casement shone the wintry moon. 
And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast. 
As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon ; 
Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest, 220 

And on her silver cross soft amethyst. 
And on her hair a glory, like a saint : 
She seem'd a splendid angel, newly drest, 
Save wings, for heaven : — Porphyro grew faint : 
She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint. 225 

Anon his heart revives : her vespers done. 
Of all its wreathed pearls her hair she frees ; 
Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one ; 
Loosens her fragrant boddice ; by degrees 
Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees : 230 

Half-hidden, like a mermaid in sea-weed. 
Pensive awhile she dreams awake, and sees. 
In fancy, fair St. Agnes in her bed, 
But dares not look behind, or all the charm is fled. 

Soon, trembling in her soft and chilly nest, 235 

In sort of wakeful swoon, perplex'd she lay, 

Until the poppied warmth of sleep oppress'd 

Her soothed limbs, and soul fatigued away ; 

Flown, like a thought, until the morrow-day ; 

BUssfuUy haven'd both from joy and pain ; 

Clasp'd like a missal where swart Paynims pray ; 240 


BKnded alike from sunshine and from rain, 
As thougli a rose should shut, and be a bud again. 

Stol'n to this paradise, and so entranced, 
Porphyro gaz'd upon her empty dress, 245 

And listen'd to her breathing, if it chanced 
To wake into a slumberous tenderness ; 
Which when he heard, that minute did he bless, 
And breath'd himself : then from the closet crept. 
Noiseless as fear in a wide wilderness, 250 

And over the hush'd carpet, silent, stept, 
And 'tween the curtains peep'd, where, lo ! — how fast she 

Then by the bed-side, where the faded moon 
Made a dim, silver twilight, soft he set 
A table, and, half anguish'd, threw thereon 255 

A cloth of woven crimson, gold, and jet : — 
for some drowsy Morphean amulet ! 
The boisterous, midnight, festive clarion. 
The kettle-drum, and far-heard clarinet, 
Affray his ears, though but in dying tone : — 260 

The hall door shuts again, and all the noise is gone. 

And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep. 

In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd, 

While he from forth the closet brought a heap 

Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd ; 265 

With jelUes soother than the creamy curd. 

And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon ; 

Manna and dates, in argosy transferr'd 


From Fez ; and spiced dainties, every one, 
From silken Samarcand to cedar'd Lebanon. 270 

These delicates he heap'd with glowing hand 
On golden dishes and in baskets bright 
Of wreathed silver : sumptuous they stand 
In the retired quiet of the night, 

Filling the chilly room with perfume light. — 275 

" And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake ! 
Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite : 
Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake. 
Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache." 

Thus whispering, his warm, unnerved arm 280 

Sank in her pillow. Shaded was her dream 
By the dusk curtains : — 'twas a midnight charm 
Impossible to melt as iced stream : 
The lustrous salvers in the moonlight gleam ; 
Broad golden fringe upon the carpet lies : 285 

It seem'd he never, never could redeem 
From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes ; 
So mus'd awhile, entoil'd in woofed phantasies. 

Awakening up, he took her hollow lute, — 

Tumultuous, — and, in chords that tenderest be, 290 

He play'd an ancient ditty, long since mute. 

In Provence call'd, " La belle dame sans mercy : " 

Close to her ear touching the melody ; — 

Wherewith disturb 'd, she utter 'd a soft moan : 

He ceas'd — she panted quick — and suddenly 295 

72 KEATS : 

Her blue afirayed eyes wide open shone : 
Upon his knees he sank, pale as smooth-sculptured stone. 

Her eyes were open, but she still beheld, 
Now wide awake, the vision of her sleep : 
There was a painful change, that nigh expeU'd 300 

The blisses of her dream so pure and deep 
At which fair Madeline began to weep, 
And moan forth witless words with many a sigh ; 
While still her gaze on Porph}To would keep ; 
Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye, 305 

Fearing to move or speak, she look'd so dreamingly. 

" Ah, Porphyro ! " said she, " but even now 
Thy voice was at sweet tremble in mine ear, 
Made tuneable with every sweetest vow ; 
And those sad eyes were spiritual and clear : 310 

How chang'd thou art ! how pallid, chill, and drear ! 
Give me that voice again, my Porphyro, 
Those looks immortal, those complainings dear ! 
Oh leave me not in this eternal woe. 
For if thou diest, my Love, I know not where to go." 315 

Beyond a mortal man impassion'd far 
At these voluptuous accents, he arose, 
Ethereal, flush'd, and like a throbbing star 
Seen mid the sapphire heaven's deep repose ; 
Into her dream he melted, as the rose 320 

Blendeth its odour with the violet, — 
Solution sweet : meantime the frost-wind blows 
Like Love's alarum pattering the sharp sleet 
Against the window-panes ; St. Agnes' moon hath set. 


'Tis dark : quick pattereth the flaw-blown sleet : 325 
" This is no dream, my bride, my Madeline ! " 
'Tis dark : the iced gusts still rave and beat : 
" No dream, alas ! alas ! and woe is mine ! 
Porphyro will leave me here to fade and pine. — 
Cruel ! what traitor could thee hither bring 1 330 

I curse not, for my heart is lost in thine, 
Though thou forsakest a deceived thing ; — 
A dove forlorn and lost with sick unpruned wing." 

" My Madeline ! sweet dreamer ! lovely bride ! 
Say, may I be for aye thy vassal blest ? 335 

Thy beauty's shield, heart-shap'd and vermeil dy'd ? 
Ah, silver shrine, here will I take my rest 
After so many hours of toil and quest, 
A famish'd pilgrim, — sav'd by miracle. 
Though I have found, I will not rob thy nest 340 

Saving of thy sweet self ; if thou think'st well 
To trust, fair Madeline, to no rude infidel. 

Hark ! 'tis an elfin-storm from faery land, 
Of haggard seeming, but a boon indeed : 
Arise — arise ! the morning is at hand ; — - 345 

The bloated wassaillers will never heed : — 
Let us away, my love, with happy speed ; 
There are no ears to hear, or eyes to see, — 
Drown'd all in Rhenish and the sleepy mead : 
Awake ! arise ! my love, and fearless be, 350 

For o'er the southern moors I have a home for thee." 


She hurried at his words, beset with fears, 
For there were sleeping dragons all around. 
At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears — 
Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found. — 355 
In all the house was heard no human sound. 
A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door ; 
The arras, rich with horsemen, hawk, and hound, 
Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar ; 
And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor. 360 

They glide, like phantoms, into the wide hall ; 
Like phantoms, to the iron porch, they glide ; 
Where lay the Porter, in uneasy sprawl, 
With a huge empty flaggon by his side : 
The wakeful bloodhound rose, and shook his hide, 365 
But his sagacious eye an inmate owns : 
By one, and one, the bolts full easy slide : — 
The chains lie silent on the footworn stones ; — 
The key turns, and the door upon its hinges groans. 

And they are gone : aye, ages long ago 370 

These lovers fled away into the storm. 
That night the Baron dreamt of many a woe. 
And all his warrior-guests, with shade and form 
Of witch, and demon, and large coffin-worm. 
Were long be-nightmar'd. Angela the old 375 

Died palsy-twitch'd, with meagre face deform ; 
The Beadsman, after thousand aves told, 
For aye unsought for slept among his ashes cold. 



Upon a time, before the faery broods 
Drove Nymph and Satyr from the prosperous woods, 
Before King Oberon's bright diadem, 
Sceptre, and mantle, clasp'd with dewy gem, 
Frighted away the Dryads and the Fauns 5 

From rushes green, and brakes, and cowslip'd lawns. 
The ever-smitten Hermes empty left 
His golden throne, bent warm on amorous theft : 
From high Olympus had he stolen light. 
On this side of Jove's clouds, to escape the sight 10 

Of his great summoner, and made retreat 
Into a forest on the shores of Crete. 
For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt 
A nymph, to whom all hoofed Satyrs knelt ; 
At whose white feet the languid Tritons poured 15 

Pearls, while on land they wither'd and adored. 
Fast by the springs where she to bathe was wont, 
And in those meads where sometime she might haunt. 
Were strewn rich gifts, unknown to any Muse, 
Though Fancy's casket were unlock'd to choose. 20 

Ah, what a world of love was at her feet ! 
So Hermes thought, and a celestial heat 
Burnt from his winged heels to either ear. 
That from a whiteness, as the lily clear, 
Blush'd into roses 'mid his golden hair, 25 

Fallen in jealous curls about his shoulders bare. 

76 KEATS : 

From vale to vale, from wood to wood, he flew, 
Breathing upon the flowers his passion new. 
And wound with many a river to its head. 
To find where this sweet nymph prepar'd her secret bed :- 
In vain ; the sweet nymph might nowhere be found, 31 
And so he rested, on the lonely ground. 
Pensive, and full of painful jealousies 
Of the Wood-Grods, and even the very trees. 
There as he stood, he heard a mournful voice, 35 

Such as once heard, in gentle heart, destroys 
All pain but pity : thus the lone voice spake : 
" When from this wreathed tomb shall I awake ! 
When move in a sweet body fit for life. 
And love, and pleasure, and the ruddy strife 40 

Of hearts and lips ! Ah, miserable me ! " 
The God, dove-footed, glided silently 
Round bush and tree, soft-brushing, in his speed, 
The taller grasses and full-flowering weed. 
Until he found a palpitating snake, 45 

Bright, and cirque-couchant in a dusky brake. 

She was a gordian shape of dazzling hue, 
Vermillion-spotted, golden, green, and blue ; 
Strip'd like a zebra, freckled like a pard, 
Ey'd like a peacock, and all crimson barr'd ; 50 

And full of silver moons, that, as she breathed, 
Dissolv'd, or brighter shone, or interwreathed 
Their lustres with the gloomier tapestries — 
So rainbow-sided, touch'd with miseries. 
She seem'd, at once, some penanc'd lady elf, 55 

Some demon's mistress, or the demon's self. 
Upon her crest she wore a wannish fire 
Sprinkled with stars, like Ariadne's tiar : 
Her head was serpent, but ah, bitter-sweet ! 
She had a woman's mouth with all its pearls complete : 60 

And for her eyes : what could such eyes do there 

But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair ? 

As Proserpine still weeps for her Silician air. 

Her throat was serpent, but the words she spake 

Came, as through bubbling honey, for Love's sake, 65 

And thus ; while Hermes on his pinions lay, 

Like a stoop'd falcon ere he takes his prey. 

" Fair Hermes, crown'd with feathers, fluttering light, 
I had a splendid dream of thee last night : 
I saw thee sitting, on a throne of gold, 70 

Among the Gods, upon Olympus old. 
The only sad one ; for thou didst not hear 
The soft, lute-finger'd Muses chaunting clear, 
Nor even Apollo when he sang alone. 

Deaf to his throbbing throat's long, long melodious moan. 75 
I dreamt I saw thee, rob'd in purple flakes. 
Break amorous through the clouds, as morning breaks, 
And, swiftly as a bright Phoebean dart, 
Strike for the Cretan isle ; and here thou art ! 
Too gentle Hermes, hast thou found the maid ? " 80 

Whereat the star of Lethe not delay'd 
His rosy eloquence, and thus inquired : 
" Thou smooth-Upp'd serpent, surely high inspired ! 
Thou beauteous wreath, with melancholy eyes, 
Possess whatever bliss thou canst devise, 85 

Telling me only where my nymph is fled, — 
Where she doth breathe ! " " Bright planet, thou hast 

Return'd the snake, " but seal with oaths, fair God ! " 
" I swear," said Hermes, " by my serpent rod. 
And by thine eyes, and by thy starry crown ! " 90 

Light flew his earnest words, among the blossoms blown. 
Then thus again the brilliance feminine : 
" Too frail of heart ! for this lost nymph of thine, 

78 KEATS : 

Free as the air, invisibly, she strays 

About these thornless wilds ; her" pleasant days 95 

She tastes unseen ; unseen her nimble feet 

Leave traces in the grass and flowers sweet ; 

From weary tendrils, and bow'd branches green, 

She plucks the fruit unseen, she bathes unseen : 

And by my power is her beauty veil'd ipo 

To keep it unafEronted, unassail'd 

By the love-glances of unlovely eyes, 

Of Satyrs, Fauns, and blear'd Silenus' sights. 

Pale grew her immortality, for woe 

Of all these lovers, and she grieved so 105 

I took compassion on her, bade her steep 

Her hair in weird syrops, that would keep 

Her loveliness invisible, yet free 

To wander as she loves, in liberty. 

Thou shalt behold her, Hermes, thou alone, no 

If thou wilt, as thou swearest, grant my boon ! " 

Then, once again, the charmed God began 

An oath, and through the serpent's ears it ran 

Warm, tremulous, devout, psalterian. 

Ravish'd, she lifted her Circean head, 115 

Blush'd a live damask, and swift-lisping said, 

" I was a woman, let me have once more 

A woman's shape, and charming as before. 

I love a youth of Corinth — ^0 the bliss ! 

Give me my woman's form, and place me where he is. 120 

Stoop, Hermes, let me breathe upon thy brow, 

And thou shalt see thy sweet nymph even now." 

The God on half-shut feathers sank serene. 

She breath'd upon his eyes, and swift was seen 

Of both the guarded nymph near-smiling on the green. 125 

It was no dream ; or say a dream it was, 

Real are the dreams of Gods, and smoothly pass 

Their pleasures in a long immortal dream. 

LAMIA. 79 

One warm, flush'd momeut, hovering, it might seem 

Dash'd by the wood-nymph's beauty, so he burn'd ; 130 

Then, Hghting on the printless verdure, turn'd 

To the swoon'd serpent, and with languid arm, 

Delicate, put to proof the Mhe Caducean charm. 

So done, upon the nymph his eyes he bent 

Full of adoring tears and blandishment, 135 

And towards her stept : she, like a moon in wane, 

Faded before him, cower'd, nor could restrain 

Her fearful sobs, self-folding like a flower 

That faints into itself at evening hour : 

But the God fostering her chilled hand, 140 

She felt the warmth, her eyelids open'd bland, 

And, like new flowers at morning song of bees, 

Bloom'd, and gave up her honey to the lees. 

Into the green-recessed woods they flew ; 

Nor grew they pale, as mortal lovers do. 145 

Left to herself, the serpent now began 
To change ; her elfin blood in madness ran. 
Her mouth foam'd, and the grass, therewith besprent, 
Wither'd at dew so sweet and virulent ; 
Her eyes in torture fix'd, and anguish drear, 150 

Hot, glaz'd, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear, 
Flash'd phosphor and sharp sparks, without one cooling tear. 
The colours all inflam'd throughout her train. 
She writh'd about, convuLs'd with scarlet pain : 
A deep volcanian yellow took the place 155 

Of all her milder-mooned body's grace ; 
And, as the lava ravishes the mead. 
Spoilt all her silver mail, and golden brede ; 
Made gloom of all her freckhngs, streaks and bars, 
Eclips'd her crescents, and lick'd -up her stars : 160 

So that, in moments few, she was undrest 
Of all her sapphires, greens, and amethyst, 

80 KEATS : 

And rubious-argent : of all these bereft, 

Nothing but pain and ugliness were left. 

Still shone her crown ; that vanish'd, also she 165 

Melted and disappear'd as suddenly ; 

And in the air, her new voice luting soft, 

Cry'd, " Lycius ! gentle Lycius ! " — Borne aloft 

With the bright mists about the mountains hoar 

These words dissolv'd : Crete's forests heard no more. 170 

Whither fled Lamia, now a lady bright, 
A full-born beauty new and exquisite 1 
She fled into that valley they pass o'er 
Who go to Corinth from Cenchreas' shore ; 
And rested at the foot of those wild hiUs, 175 

The rugged founts of the Peraean rills, 
And of that other ridge whose barren back 
Stretches, with all its mist and cloudy rack. 
South-westward to Cleone. There she stood 
About a young bird's flutter from a wood, 180 

Fair, on a sloping green of mossy tread, 
By a clear pool, wherein she passioned 
To see herself escap'd from so sore ills, 
While her robes flaunted with the daffodils. 

Ah, happy Lycius ! — for she was a maid 185 

More beautiful than ever twisted braid, 
Or sigh'd, or blush'd, or on spring-flowered lea 
Spread a green kirtle to the minstrelsy : 
A virgin purest lipp'd, yet in the lore 

Of love deep learned to the red heart's core : 190 

Not one hour old, yet of sciential brain 
To unperplex bhss from its neighbour pain ; 
Define their pettish limits, and estrange 
Their points of contact, and swift counterchange ; 
Intrigue with the specious chaos, and dispart 195 

LAMIA. 81 

Its most ambiguous atoms with sure art ; 
As though in Cupid's college she had spent 
Sweet days a lovely graduate, still unshent, 
And kept his rosy terms in idle languishment. 

Why this fair creature chose so faerily 200 

By the wayside to linger, we shall see ; 
But first 'tis fit to tell how she could muse 
And dream, when in the serpent prison-house, 
Of all she list, strange or magnificent : 
How, ever, where she wiU'd, her spirit went ; 205 

Whether to faint Elysium, or where 
Down through tress-lifting waves the Nereids fair 
Wind into Thetis' bower by many a pearly stair ; 
Or where God Bacchus drains his cups divine, 
Stretch'd out, at ease, beneath a glutinous pine ; 210 

Or where in Pluto's gardens palatine 
Mulciber's columns gleam in far piazzian line. 
And sometimes into cities she would send 
Her dream, with feast and rioting to blend ; 
And once, while among mortals dreaming thus, 215 

She saw the young Corinthian Lycius 
Charioting foremost in the envious race. 
Like a young Jove with calm uneager face. 
And fell into a swooning love of him. 

Now on the moth-time of that evening dim 220 

He would return that way, as well she knew. 
To Corinth from the shore ; for freshly blew 
The eastern soft wind, and his galley now 
Grated the quaystones with her brazen prow 
In port Cenchreas, from Egina isle 225 

Fresh anchor'd ; whither he had been awhile 
To sacrifice to Jove, whose temple there 
Waits with high marble doors of blood and incense rare. 
Jove heard his vows, and better'd his desire ; 

82 KEATS : 

For by some freakful chance he made retire 230 

From his companions, and set forth to walk, 

Perhaps grown wearied of their Corinth talk : 

Over the solitary hills he fared, 

Thoughtless at first, but ere eve's star appeared 

His phantasy was lost, where reason fades, 235 

In the calm'd twilight of Platonic shades. 

Lamia beheld him coming, near, more near — • 

Close to her passing, in indifference drear, 

His silent sandals swept the mossy green ; 

So neighbour'd to him, and yet so unseen 240 

She stood : he pass'd, shut up in mysteries. 

His mind wrapp'd like his mantle, while her eyes 

FoUow'd his steps, and her neck regal white 

Turn'd — syllabling thus, " Ah, Lycius bright. 

And will you leave me on the hills alone ? 245 

Lycius, look back ! and be some pity shown." 

He did ; not with cold wonder fearingly, 

But Orpheus-like at an Eurydice ; 

For so delicious were the words she sung. 

It seem'd he had lov'd them a whole summer long : 250 

And soon his eyes had drunk her beauty up. 

Leaving no drop in the bewildering cup. 

And still the cup was full,— while he, afraid 

Lest she should vanish ere his lip had paid 

Due adoration, thus began to adore ; 255 

Her soft look growing coy, she saw his chain so sure : 

" Leave thee alone ! Look back ! Ah, Goddess, see 

Whether my eyes can ever turn from thee ! 

For pity do not this sad heart belie — 

Even as thou vanishest so shall I die. 260 

Stay ! though a Naiad of the rivers, stay ! 

To thy far wishes will thy streams obey : 

Stay ! though the greenest woods be thy domain, 

Alone they can drink up the morning rain : 

LAMIA. 83 

Though a descended Pleiad, will not one 265 

Of thine harmonious sisters keep in tune 

Thy spheres, and as thy silver proxy shine ? 

So sweetly to these ravish 'd ears of mine 

Came thy sweet greeting, that if thou shouldst fade 

Thy memory will waste me to a shade : — 270 

For pity do not melt ! " — " If I should stay," 

Said Lamia, " here, upon this floor of clay, 

And pain my steps upon these flowers too rough, 

What canst thou say or do of charm enough 

To dull the nice remembrance of my home ? 275 

Thou canst not ask me with thee here to roam 

Over these hills and vales, where no joy is, — 

Empty of immortality and bUss ! 

Thou art a scholar, Lycius, and must know 

That finer spirits cannot breathe below 280 

In human climes, and live : Alas ! poor youth, 

What taste of purer air hast thou to soothe 

My essence ? What serener palaces. 

Where I md,y all my many senses please, 

And by mysterious sleights a hundred thirsts appease ? 285 

It cannot be— Adieu ! " So said, she rose 

Tiptoe with white arms spread. He, sick to lose 

The amorous promise of her lone complain, 

Swoon'd, mixrmuring of love, and pale with pain. 

The cruel lady, without any show 290 

Of sorrow for her tender favourite's woe. 

But rather, if her eyes could brighter be. 

With brighter eyes and slow amenity. 

Put her new Ups to his, and gave afresh 

The life she had so tangled in her mesh : 295 

And as he from one trance was wakening 

Into another, she began to sing, 

Happy in beauty, life, and love, and every thing, 

A song of love, too sweet for earthly lyres, 

84 KEATS : 

While, like held breath, the stars drew in their panting fires. 

And then she whisper'd in such trembling tone, 301 

As those who, safe together met alone 

For the first time through many anguish'd days, 

Use other speech than looks ; bidding him raise 

His drooping head, and clear his soul of doubt, 305 

For that she was a woman, and without 

Any more subtle fluid in her veins 

Than throbbing blood, and that the self-same pains 

Inhabited her frail-strung heart as his. 

And next she wonder'd how his eyes could miss 310 

Her face so long in Corinth, where, she said, 

She dwelt but half retir'd, and there had led 

Days happy as the gold coin could invent 

Without the aid of love ; yet in content 

Till she saw him, as once she pass'd him by, 315 

Where 'gainst a column he leant thoughtfully 

At Venus' temple porch, 'mid baskets heap'd 

Of amorous herbs and flowers, newly reap'd 

Late on that eve, as 'twas the night before 

The Adonian feast ; whereof she saw no more, 320 

But wept alone those days, for why should she adore ? 

Lycius from death awoke into amaze. 

To see her still, and singing so sweet lays ; 

Then from amaze into delight he fell 

To hear her whisper woman's lore so well ; 325 

And every word she spake entic'd him on 

To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known. 

Let the mad poets say whate'er they please 

Of the sweets of Faeries, Peris, Goddesses, 

There is not such a treat among them all, 330 

Haunters of cavern, lake, and waterfall, 

As a real woman, lineal indeed 

From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed. 

Thus gentle Lamia judg'd, and judg'd aright. 

LAMIA. 85 

That Lycius could not love in half a fright, 335 

So threw the goddess off, and won his heart 

More pleasantly by playing woman's part, 

With no more awe than what her beauty gave, 

That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save. 

Lycius to aU made eloquent reply, 340 

Marrying to every word a twinborn sigh ; 

And last, pointing to Corinth, ask'd her sweet, 

If 'twas too far that night for her soft feet. 

The way was short, for Lamia's eagerness 

Made, by a spell, the triple league decrease 345 

To a few paces ; not at all surmised 

By blinded Lycius, so in her comprized. 

They pass'd the city gates, he knew not how, 

So noiseless, and he never thought to know. 

As men talk in a dream, so Corinth all, 350 

Throughout her palaces imperial. 
And all her populous streets and temples lewd, 
Mutter'd, like tempest in the distance brew'd, 
To the wide-spreaded night above her towers. 
Men, women, rich and poor, in the cool hours, 355 

Shuffled their sandals o'er the pavement white, 
Companion'd or alone ; while many a light 
Flar'd, here and there, from wealthy festivals. 
And threw their moving shadows on the walls. 
Or found them cluster'd in the cornic'd shade 360 

Of some arch'd temple door, or dusky colonnade. 

Muffling his face, of greeting friends in fear, 
Her fingers he press'd hard, as one came near 
With curl'd gray beard, sharp eyes, and smooth bald crown, 
Slow-stepp'd, and rob'd in philosophic gown : 365 

Lycius shrank closer, as they met and past. 
Into his mantle, adding wings to haste, 


While hurried Lamia trembled : " Ah," said he, 

" Why do you shudder love, so ruefully ? 

Why does your tender palm dissolve in dew ? "— 370 

" I'm wearied," said fair Lamia : " tell me who 

Is that old man ? I cannot bring to mind 

His features : — Lycius ! wherefore did you blind 

Yourself from his quick eyes ? " Lycius reply 'd, 

" 'Tis ApoUonius sage, my trusty guide 375 

And good instructor ; but to-night he seems 

The ghost of folly haunting my sweet dreams." 

While yet he spake they had arriv'd before 
A pillar'd porch, with lofty portal door. 
Where hung a silver lamp, whose phosphor glow 380 

Eeflected in the slabbed steps below, 
Mild as a star in water ; for so new, 
And so unsully'd was the marble's hue, 
So through the crystal polish, liquid fine, 
Ean the dark veins, that none but feet divine 385 

Could e'er have touch'd there. Sounds Aeolian 
Breath'd from the hinges, as the ample span 
Of the wide doors disclos'd a place unknown 
Some time to any, but those two alone. 
And a few Persian mutes, who that same year 390 

Were seen about the markets : none knew where 
They could inhabit ; the most curious 
Were foil'd, who watch'd to trace them to their house : 
And but the flitter-winged verse must tell. 
For truth's sake, what woe afterwards befel, 395 

'Twould humour many a heart to leave them thus. 
Shut from the busy world of more incredulous. 


Love in a hut, with water and a crust, 

Is — Love, forgive us ! — cinders, ashes, dust ; 

Love in a palace is perhaps at last 

More grievous torment than a hermit's fast : — 

That is a doubtful tale from faery land, 5 

Hard for the non-elect to understand. 

Had Lycius liv'd to hand his story down. 

He might have given the moral a fresh frown, 

Or clench'd it quite : but too short was their bliss 

To breed distrust and hate, that make the soft voice hiss. lo 

Besides, there, nightly, with terrific glare. 

Love, jealous grown of so complete a pair, 

Hover'd and buzz'd his wings, with fearful roar, 

Above the lintel of their chamber door, 

And down the passage cast a glow upon the floor. 15 

For all this came a ruin : side by side 
They were enthroned, in the even tide. 
Upon a couch, near to a curtaining 
Whose airy textuxe, from a golden string, 
Floated into the room, and let appear 20 

Unveil'd the summer heaven, blue and clear. 
Betwixt two marble shafts :■ — there they reposed. 
Where use had made it sweet, with eyelids closed. 
Saving a tythe which love still open kept. 
That they might see each other while they almost slept ; 25 
When from the slope side of a suburb hill. 
Deafening the swallow's twitter, came a thrill 
Of trumpets — Lycius startled — the sounds fled, 

But left a thought, a buzzing in his head. 

For the first time, since first he harbour'd in 30 

That purple-lined palace of sweet sin, 

His spirit pass'd beyond its golden bourn 

Into the noisy world almost forsworn. 

The lady, ever watchful, penetrant. 

Saw this with pain, so arguing a want 35 

Of something more, more than her empery 

Of joys ; and she began to moan and sigh 

Because he mus'd beyond her, knowing well 

That but a moment's thought is passion's passing bell. 

" Why do you sigh, fair creature ? " whisper'd he : 40 

" Why do you think ? " return'd she tenderly : 

" You have deserted me ; — where am I now ? 

" Not in your heart while care weighs on your brow : 

No, no, you have dismiss'd me ; and I go 

From your breast houseless : aye, it must be so." 45 

He answer'd, bending to her open eyes, 

Where he was mirror'd small in paradise, 

" My silver planet, both of eve and morn ! 

Why will you plead yourself so sad forlorn. 

While I am striving how to fill my heart 50 

With deeper crimson, and a double smart ? 

How to entangle, trammel up and snare 

Your soul in mine, and labyrinth you there 

Like the hid scent in an unbudded rose ? 

Aye, a sweet kiss — you see your mighty woes. 55 

My thoughts ! shall I unveil them ? Listen then ! 

What mortal hath a prize, that other men 

May be confounded and abash'd withal. 

But lets it sometimes pace abroad majestical, 

And triumph, as in thee I should rejoice 60 

Amid the hoarse alarm of Corinth's voice. 

Let my foes choke, and my friends shout afar, 

While through the thronged streets your bridal car 

LAMIA, 89 

Wheels round its dazzling spokes." — The lady's cheek 

Trembled ; she nothing said, but, pale and meek, 65 

Arose and knelt before him, wept a rain 

Of sorrows at his words ; at last with pain 

Beseeching him, the while his hand she wrung, 

To change his purpose. He thereat was stung, 

Perverse, with stronger fancy to reclaim 70 

Her wild and timid nature to his aim : 

Besides, for all his love, in self despite. 

Against his better self, he took delight 

Luxurious in her sorrows, soft and new. 

His passion, cruel grown, took on a hue 75 

Fierce and sanguineous as 'twas possible 

In one whose brow had no dark veins to swell. 

Fine was the mitigated fury, like 

Apollo's presence when in act to strike 

The serpent — Ha, the serpent ! certes, she 80 

Was none. She burnt, she lov'd the tyranny, 

And, all subdu'd, consented to the hour 

When to the bridal he should lead his paramour. 

Whispering in midnight silence, said the youth, 

" Sure some sweet name thou hast, though, by my truth, 85 

I have not ask'd it, ever thinking thee 

Not mortal, but of heavenly progeny, 

As still I do. Hast any mortal name, 

Fit appellation for this dazzling frame ? 

Or friends or kinsfolk on the cited earth, 90 

To share our marriage feast and nuptial mirth ? " 

" I have no friends," said Lamia, " no, not one ; 

My presence in wide Corinth hardly known : 

My parents' bones are in their dusty urns 

Sepulchred, where no kindled incense burns, 95 

Seeing all their luckless race are dead, save me, 

And I neglect the holy rite for thee. 

Even as you list invite your many guests ; 

90 KEATS : 

But if, as now it seems, your vision rests 

With any pleasure on me, do not bid lOO 

Old ApoUonius — from him keep me hid." 

Lycius, perplex'd at words so blind and blank. 

Made close inquiry ; from whose touch she shrank, 

Feigning a sleep ; and he to the dull shade 

Of deep sleep in a moment was betray'd. 105 

It was the custom then to bring away 
The bride from home at blushing shut of day, 
Veil'd, in a chariot, heralded along 
By strewn flowers, torches, and a marriage song. 
With other pageants : but this fair unknown no 

Had not a friend. So being left alone, 
(Lycius was gone to summon all his kin) 
And knowing surely she could never win 
His foolish heart from its mad j>ompousness. 
She set herself, high-thoughted, how to dress 115 

The misery in fit magnificence. 
She did so, but 'tis doubtful how and whence 
Came, and who were her subtle servitors. 
About the halls, and to and from the doors. 
There was a noise of wings, till in short space 120 

The glowing banquet-room shone with wide-arched grace. 
A haunting music, sole perhaps and lone 
Supportress of the faery-roof, made moan 
Throughout, as fearful the whole charm might fade. 
Fresh carved cedar, mimicking a glade 125 

Of palm and plantain, met from either side. 
High in the midst, in honor of the bride : 
Two palms and then two plantains, and so on, 
From either side their stems branch'd one to one 
All down the aisled place ; and beneath all 130 

There ran a stream of lamps straight on from wall to wall. 
So canopy'd, lay an untasted feast 

LAMIA. 91 

Teeming with odours. Lamia, regal drest, 

Silently pac'd about, and as she went, 

In pale contented sort of discontent, 135 

Mission'd her viewless servants to enrich 

The fretted splendour of each nook and niche. 

Between the tree-stems, marbled plain at first, 

Came jasper pannels ; then, anon, there burst 

Forth creeping imagery of slighter trees, 140 

And with the large wove in small intricacies. 

Approving all, she faded at self-will, 

And shut the chamber up, close, hush'd and still, 

Complete and ready for the revels rude, 

When dreadful guests would come to spoil her solitude. 145 

The day appear'd, and all the gossip rout. 
senseless Lycius ! Madman ! wherefore flout 
The silent-blessing fate, warm cloister'd hours. 
And show to common eyes these secret bowers ? 
The herd approach'd ; each guest, with busy brain, 150 
Arriving at the portal, gaz'd amain, 
And enter'd marvehng : for they knew the street, 
Remember'd it from childhood all complete 
Without a gap, yet ne'er before had seen 
That royal porch, that high-built fair demesne ; 155 

So in they hurried all, maz'd, curious and keen : 
Save one, who look'd thereon with eye severe, 
And with calm-planted steps walk'd in austere ; 
'Twas Apollonius : something too he laugh'd, 
As though some knotty problem, that had daft 160 

His patient thought, had now begun to thaw, 
And solve and melt :• — 'twas just as he foresaw. 

He met within the murmurous vestibule 
His young disciple. " 'Tis no common rule, 
Lycius," said he, " for uninvited guest 165 

To force himself upon you, and infest 

With an unbidden presence the bright throng 

Of younger friends ; yet must I do this wrong, 

And you forgive me." Lycius blush'd, and led 

The old man through the inner doors broad-spread ; 170 

With reconcihng words and courteous mien 

Turning into sweet milk the sophist's spleen. 

Of wealthy lustre was the banquet-room, 
Fill'd with pervading brilliance and perfume : 
Before each lucid pannel fuming stood 175 

A censer fed with myrrh and spiced wood, 
Each by a sacred tripod held aloft. 
Whose slender feet wide-swerv'd upon the soft 
W^ool-woofed carpets : fifty wreaths of smoke 
From fifty censers their light voyage took 180 

To the high roof, still mimick'd as they rose 
Along the mirror'd walls by twin-clouds odourous. 
Twelve sphered tables, by silk seats inspher'd. 
High as the level of a man's breast rear'd 
On libbard's paws, upheld the heavy gold 185 

Of cups and goblets, and the store thrice told 
Of Ceres' horn, and, in huge vessels, wine 
Come from the gloomy tun with merry shine. 
Thus loaded with a feast the tables stood. 
Each shrining in the midst the image of a God. 190 

When in an antichamber every guest 
Had felt the cold full sponge to pleasure press'd, 
By minist'ring slaves, upon his hands and feet, 
And fragrant oils with ceremony meet 
Pour'd on his hair, they all mov'd to the feast 195 

In white robes, and themselves in order plac'd 
Around the silken couches, wondering 
Whence all this mighty cost and blaze of wealth could spring. 

LAMIA. 93 

Soft went the music the soft air along, 
While fluent Greek a vowel'd undersong 200 

Kept up among the guests, discoursing low 
At first, for scarcely was the wine at flow ; 
But when the happy vintage touch'd their brains. 
Louder they talk, and louder come the strains 
Of powerful instruments : — the gorgeous dyes 205 

The space, the splendour of the draperies, 
The roof of awful richness, nectarous cheer. 
Beautiful slaves, and Lamia's self, appear. 
Now, when the wine has done its rosy deed. 
And every soul from human trammels freed, 210 

No more so strange ; for merry wine, sweet wine, 
Will make Elysian shade not too fair, too divine. 
Soon was God Bacchus at meridian height ; 
Flush'd were their cheeks, and bright eyes double bright : 
Garlands of every green, and every scent 215 

From vales deflower'd, or forest-trees branch-rent. 
In baskets of bright osier'd gold were brought 
High as the handles heap'd, to suit the thought 
Of every guest ; that each, as he did please, 
Slight fancy-fit his brows, silk-pillow'd at his ease. 220 

What wreath for Lamia ? What for Lycius ? 
AVhat for the sage, old Apollonius ? 
Upon her aching forehead be there hung 
The leaves of willow and of adder's tongue ; 
And for the youth, quick, let us strip for him 225 

The thyrsus, that his watching eyes may swim 
Into forgetfulness ; and, for the sage, 
Let spear-grass and the spiteful thistle wage 
War on his temples. Do not all charms fly 
At the mere touch of cold philosophy ? 230 

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven : 
We know her woof, her texture ; she is given 

94 KEATS : 

In the dull catalogue of common things. 

Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, 

Conquer all mysteries by rule and Hne, 235 

Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine — 

Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made 

The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade. 

By her glad Lycius sitting, in chief place. 
Scarce saw in all the room another face, 240 

Till, checking his love trance, a cup he took 
Full brimm'd, and opposite sent forth a look 
'Cross the broad table, to beseech a glance 
From his old teacher's wrinkled countenance, 
And pledged him. The bald-head philosopher 245 

Had fix'd his eye, without a twinkle or stir 
Full on the alarmed beauty of the bride, 
Brow-beating her fair form, and troubling her sweet pride. 
Lycius then press'd her hand, with devout touch. 
As pale it lay upon the rosy couch : 250 

'Twas icy, and the cold ran through his veins ; 
Then sudden it grew hot, and all the pains 
Of an unnatural heat shot to his heart. 
" Lamia, what means this ? Wherefore dost thou start ? 
Know'st thou that man ? " Poor Lamia answer 'd not. 
He gaz'd into her eyes, and not a jot 256 

Own'd they the lovelorn piteous appeal : 
More, more he gaz'd : his human senses reel : 
Some hungry spell that loveHness absorbs ; 
There was no recognition in those orbs. 260 

" Lamia ! " he cry'd — and no soft-ton'd reply. 
The many heard, and the loud revelry 
Grew hush ; the stately music no more breathes ; 
The myrtle sicken'd in a thousand wreaths. 
By faint degrees, voice, lute, and pleasure ceased ; 265 

A deadly silence step by step increased, 

LAMIA. 95 

Until it seem'd a horrid presence there, 

And not a man but felt the terror in his hair. 

" Lamia ! " he shriek'd ; and nothing but the shriek 

With its sad echo did the silence break. 270 

" Begone, foul dream ! " he cry'd, gazing again 

In the bride's face, where now no azure vein 

Wander'd on fair-spac'd temples ; no soft bloom 

Slisted the cheek ; no passion to illume 

The deep-recessed vision : — all was blight ; 275 

Lamia, no longer fair, there sat a deadly white. 

" Shut, shut those juggling eyes, thou ruthless man ! 

Turn them aside, wretch ! or the righteous ban 

Of all the Gods, whose dreadful images 

Here represent their shadowy presences, 280 

May pierce them on the sudden with the thorn 

Of painful blindness ; leaving thee forlorn, 

In trembUng dotage to the feeblest fright 

Of conscience, for their long ofiended might, 

For all thine impious proud-heart sophistries, 285 

Unlawful magic, and enticing lies. 

Corinthians ! look upon that gray-beard wretch ! 

Mark how, possess'd, his lashless eyelids stretch 

Around his demon eyes ! Corinthians, see ! 

My sweet bride withers at their potency." 290 

" Fool ! " said the sophist, in an under-tone 

GrufE with contempt ; which a death-nighing moan 

From Lycius answer'd, as heart-struck and lost. 

He sank supine beside the aching ghost. 

" Fool ! Fool ! " repeated he, while his eyes still 295 

Relented not, nor mov'd ; " from every ill 

Of life have I preserv'd thee to this day. 

And shall I see thee made a serpent's prey ? " 

Then Lamia breath'd death breath ; the sophist's eye. 

Like a sharp spear, went through her utterly, 300 

Keen, cruel, perceant, stinging : she, as well 


As her weak hand could any meaning tell, 

Motion'd him to be silent ; vainly so, 

He look'd and look'd again a level — No ! 

" A serpent ! " echoed he ; no sooner said, 305 

Than with a frightful scream she vanished : 

And Lycius' arms were empty of delight, 

As were his limbs of life, from that same night. 

On the high couch he lay ! — his friends came round — 

Supported him — no pulse, or breath they found, 310 

And, in its marriage robe, the heavy body wound. 



Isabella was intended for inclusion in a collection of tales from 
Boccaccio* to be versified by Keats's friend Reynolds, but Reynolds 
thought it too good to publish with the only two attempts he himself 
found time to complete. The poem was begun in February 1818 
and finished before the end of April. It follows its source (Decameron, 
Day iv. Novel 5) closely as to facts, merely giving Isabella two 
brothers instead of three, providing the brothers with a mercenary 
motive for the murder, and transferring the scene of the story from 
Messina to Florence ; but Keats's treatment of the story is com- 
pletely original. 

The metre is the ottava rima, a favourite with Italian writers, used 
frequently by the Elizabethan poets and resuscitated about this 
time, notably by Lord Byron, who, however, used it for humorous 
purposes : it consists of eight iambic pentameters, rhyming ab ah ah 
cc. Keats manages his metre skilfully, avoiding monotony by change 
of pause rather than by variation of accent : apart from the frequent 
substitution of a trochee {e.g. Grew, like) for the iamb in the first foot, 
there is little departure from strict regularity — 1. 62, where there is 
an extra short syllable, by unwelcome — is an exception. 

But the great beauty of the poem imdoubtedly lies not in the 
metre but in the narrative and the diction. The story is told simply 
and directly, and our sympathy is enlisted throughout — indeed, one 
captious critic, ignoring the distinction between a classic and a roman- 
tic poet, has complained that Keats occasionally in his sympathy with 
his heroine appeals to us in his own person instead of leaving the plain 
tale to have its own effect. The insight into character and feeling 
shown is indeed remarkable for so young a poet ; apart from the 
realistic detail of the first three stanzas — in which the youth of the 
poet was probably an advantage — stanzas xlvi. and xlvii. have 
been particularly praised, while the insane laughter of the distraught 
girl (stanza Ixii.) adds a graphic and unexpected touch of horror 
and realism combined. 

* Giovanni Boccaccio (1313-75) was the author of the great 
Italian collection of tales, the Decameron. 

KTS. 97 7 


Here, too, though perhaps not so much as in Hyperion and The 
Eve of St. Agnes, Keats's wonderful picture-making power is evident : 
see, forinstance, 11. 199-200, 213-15, 239, 298-304 — Keats has imagined 
his characters and their surroundings so vividly that with his miud's 
eye he can see them more clearly and in greater detail than the 
common man can see objects which have a material existence. 

The diction, again, though there are not quite so many magic 
phrases as in some other of his poems, has " every rift loaded with 
ore." Except for a very few prosaic coUoquiahsms which are the 
legacy of Leigh Hunt, and the repeated invocation of Melancholy, 
Music, and Melpomene in stanzas Iv., Ivi., and Ixi., which, though 
beautiful in itself, is a thought too artificial for the simple tragedy 
of the theme, there is hardly a phrase which could be improved. 
Especially noteworthy is the lovely effect of the repetition in stanzas 
xi. and liii. and the concentrated poetry of such phrases as lazar 
stairs (1. 124), torched mines (1. 108), Cut Mercy with a sharp knife 
to the bone (1. 174), Hope's accursed bands (1. 230). 

2. palmer : a pilgrim to the Holy Land who carried a palm- 
branch as a memento of his pilgrimage ; Lorenzo is a pilgrim to the 
Holy Land of love. 

16. She . . . same : i.e. by inattentive stitching as she uttered his 

21. vespers : " evening prayers." 

32. honeyless days : " days without the sweetness of acknowledged 

33. untouch'd : i.e. unkissed. 

34. within . . . domain : " where it should have been rosy." 

36. cool : a more poetical because a more exact and vivid word 
than the usual soothe. 

39. If looks . . . tears : " if her looks mean that she loves me, I 
will dry her tears." 

44. ruddy tide : i.e. of his blood which throbbed so fiercely (puls'd) 
that his decision melted and he could not speak. 

46. conceit : " thought, imagination." 

62. fear : " affright." 

64. shrive : " confess." 

70. poesied . . . rhyme : " made poetry by kissing hers," the two 
pair of Ups corresponding to the two rhymes. 

78. honey'd dart : Cupid, the god of love, is always represented 
as armed with bow and arrows, the wounds from which cause love. 

88. pleasure : " find pleasure." 

94. in bright gold . . . read : i.e. should be considered happy. 

95. Theseus' spouse : Ariadne, daughter of Minos, who fell in love 

NOTES. 99 

with Theseus when he was sent to carry the tribute of the Athenians 
to a monster called the IMinotaur, who Kved in a labj-rinth. She 
helped him to kiU the monster and escape, and then fled with him ; 
he, however, deserted her on the island of Naxos. Tales of desertion, 
Keats imphes, are truly sad, but most sorrowing lovers are really 

97. for . . . award : " as regards the usual upshot." 

99. Dido : Dido, the Queen of Carthage, deserted by Aeneas, killed 

101-2. though . . . embalm'd : a reference to the fashion in which 
Lorenzo was buried, without coffin, shroud, or ceremony. 

103. almsmen of spring bowers : " those who beg their living from 
the flowers of spring." 

107. swell : " toil, swelter." 

108. torched : " Ughted by torches." 

109. quiver'd : " now quivering " : another suggestion is once 
proud-quiver' d — " once proudly bearing a quiver fuU of arrows." 

112. rich-or'd . . . flood : " the gold washed dowTi by the river." 

113. Ceylon diver : i.e. the diver for pearls : the accent is on the 
first syllable of Ceylon, as in a passage of Dryden's Annus Mirabilis, 
which probably suggested some phrases in these lines. 

124. lazar stairs : i.e. stairs on which lepers lay asking alms, the 
allusion being to the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (St. Luke, 
xvi. 19-31, especially verse 20). 

125-6. Because . . . years : " because they took more pleasure in 
their account-books ruled with red lines than in old Greek poems ? " 

127-8. Why . . . proud : this absurd and feeble repetition is one of 
the few weak passages in the poem. 

131-2. that land . . . beggar-spies : probably a reference to the 
Holy Land, pal'd : "fenced." 

133-6. hawks . . . Malay : the brothers were ready to swoop like 
hawks upon the forest of masts, i.e. upon trading-vessels. They 
bore as easilj' as mules a load of money and the hes needed to gain it, 
snatched as quick as cat's paws at any unwary and open-hearted 
victim, and were fluent in the foreign languages most useful for 

140. Hot Egjrpt's pest : probably " all the plagues of Egypt," 
with reference to Exodus vii.-xi. 

146. forgiving boon : " the boon of forgiveness." 

147. thy spicy myrtles : a reference to the ItaUan scenery in which 
Boccaccio hved. 

150. ghittem : gittern or cittern, an instrument hke a guitar ; 
Keats took the word from Chaucer. 

155. assail : " attempt " ; Keats uses the verb as a noun. 


159. stead thee : " benefit thee." 

163. unconfines : " releases, discloses." 

168. To some . . . noble : i.e. " to wed some great noble." 

174. Cut . . . bone : " destroyed mercy, became mercdess " : the 
metaphor is very vivid and pecuharly appropriate when applied to 

183. speculation : " meditation." 

184. while . . . skies : " before the day grows hot." 

187-8. ere the hot sun . . . eglantine : " before the sun has dried 
up one of the drops of dew on the dog-rose, as if he were telling the 
beads of his rosary one by one." 

189. was wont : " was accustomed to do." 

195. matin-song : " morning song." 

203. fain : strictly " glad," but here rather " hard put to it." 

207. Goodbye . . . back : a feeble coUoquiaUsm which shows the 
influence of Leigh Hunt. 

209. their murder'd man : rightly the most famous phrase in the 

211. straiten'd : " narrowed." 

243. single : " with undivided love and allegiance." 

246. higher . . . zest : i.e. passion and sorrow. 

259. dungeon climes : " foreign countries which served as a 
prison to keep him from her." 

262. like . . . vale : a reference to II. Chronicles, xxviii. 3 ; the 
smoke recalled to Ahaz his murder of his children. 

268. from . . . pall : i.e. from death. 

270. from his cloudy hall : " from the dim other-world of his 
behef to which he has almost gone," i.e. from death. 

278. lute : i.e. notes soft Uke those of the lute. 

279. lorn : " lost." loamed : " stopped with earth." 

312. in Humanity : " because stUl forming part of humanity, still 

322. left the atom darkness . . . turmoil : " left the darkness, aU 
composed of tiny particles, slowly whirling." Keats is probably 
thinking of the theory that everything is composed of atoms, a 
theory put forward in the De Rerum Natura of Lucretius (95 b.c- 
52 B.C.). 

325. pillowy cleft : " hollow in the pillow " : Keats himself in his 
illness often experienced such nights of wretchedness. 

334. school'd my infancy : " taught me, who was inexperienced 
as a child." 

339. the clay : i.e. the corpse. 

NOTES. 101 

347. champaign : " field." 

352. The flint . . . head : see II. 298-9. 

370. Her silk . . . phantasies : " she had embroidered fanciful 
patterns in purple silk." 

380. locks of hoar : " grey hair " ; a peculiar use of hoar as a 

384. And . . . rave : an unexpectedly weak line, clearly due to the 
necessity of rhyming with grave. 

385. wormy circumstance : " details of the grave." 
388. plaining : " complaining, mourning." 

393. Persean sword : the sword of Perseus, who cut off the head 
of Medusa, the gorgon, a monstrous maiden with serpents for hair, 
the sight of whose face turned the beholder to stone. 

398. love impersonate : " love incarnate in human form," i.e. 

412. serpent-pipe : " pipe twisted like a serpent." 

427. its peers . . . tufts : " the other plants of Basil." peers = 
" equals." 

432. leafits : " leaflets " ; the form was used by Coleridge in the 
first edition of his Nightingale. 

436. Lethean : " forgotten " ; the waters of the river Lethe in 
the underworld gave obUvion. 

439. cjrpress : the cypress is sjTnbohcal of grief. 

442. Melpomene : one of the nine Muses ; she presided over 

451. BaaMtes of pelf: worshippers of the Baal of money. Baal 
was the chief male divinity of the Phoenicians, and was also 
worshipped by the Canaanites. He appears to have been a sun-god. 

453. elf : " person," simply. 

465. sift : " examine closely." 

467. chapel-shrift : " confession." 

477. guerdon : " reward." 

485. Well-a-way : " alas ! ", from the Old Enghsh wa la wa, i.e. 
woe, lo ! woe. 

493. the Pilgrim : i.e. any passing pilgrim. 


The Eve of St. Agnes was written in 1819 ; it was begun in January, 
and it is pleasant to imagine that the date may have been St. Agnes' 
Eve itself — the 20th. The story is of Keats's own invention, founded 
upon the superstitions connected with the day : like many of our 
best narratives it has a very simple plot, so simple that the common 
man would think it incapable of arousing interest. But in Keats's 
hands it has become one of the most entrancing of English verse 

The narrative itself is well-sustained — there is no irrelevance, no 
digression, no intricate side-plot ; but these are negative virtues : 
in themselves they would not give the poem its fascination. What 
really attracts us is the series of wonderful pictures and fine phrases, 
the skilful contrast — in a word, the glamorous appeal to the eye 
and the ear. First we have a striking description of the cold and 
silent night, a study in black and frosty white : from this we pass 
to the " chambers ready with their pride," full of light and colour, 
sound and warmth, and then again to the quiet of Madeline's room. 
Where all is beautiful it is hard to pick out beauties, but the descrip- 
tions of the " carved angels " (stanza iv.), of Madeline in the glow of 
the moonlighted windows (stanzas xxiv. and xxv.), of MadeUne 
asleep " in lap of legends old " perhaps linger in our memories more 
vividly than any others. The poem has all the brightness of a 
mediaeval illuminated manuscript, all the old-world charm of 
Spenser, whose stanza Keats has here used. 

5. Beadsman : a man who prayed for the soul of others ; generally, 
as here, an almsman praying for the soul of his benefactor. 

12. meagre, barefoot, wan : Keats uses elsewhere similar sets of 
three adjectives placed side by side so as to give cumulative effect ; 
he probably learnt the device from Chatterton, the boy-poet (1752- 

15. black purgatorial rails : the rails are regarded as cramping in 
the effigies, thus inflicting the pains of purgatory : as Leigh Hunt 
pointed out, the idea is reminiscent of a passage in the Purgatorio 
of the great Italian poet Dante (1265-1321), which Keats had read 
in translation : he adds " the very colour of the rails is made to . . . 
shadow forth the gloom of the punishment." 

NOTES. 103 

16. dumb orat'ries : dumb is a transferred epithet ; in meaning, it 
is applicable only to knights, ladies. 

21. Flatter'd to tears : the music moved the old man to tears of 
hope and self-pity ; he flattered himself that a brighter fate would 
now be his lot. 

26. for his soul's reprieve : " to save his soul from future torment." 

29. And ... fro : " and he happened to hear it because many a 
door was open in consequence of the hurried coming and going." 

49. honey'd : " sweet," a favourite word with Keats. 

51. As : " for instance." 

52. couch supine : " lay flat." 

53. require : " ask." 

54. After this Une the manuscript in the British Museum has 
another stanza to the effect that the lover would bring delicious 
food and soft music — thus accounting for Porphyrio's otherwise 
meaningless behaviour later in providing food which Madeline was 
not expected to eat. 

61. not . . . saw not : " not because his ardour was frozen by a 
disdainful glance from Madeline but because she did not see him." 
64. regardless : " unseeing." 

70. Hoodwink'd . . . fancy : i.e. cheated of a sense of her surround- 
ings by her imagination, that " deceiving elf." amort : " dead to 
all around." 

71. St. Agnes . . . unshorn : the name Agnes being connected with 
the Latin agnxis, " a lamb," two lambs were brought to Mass on St. 
Agnes' day and offered during the chanting of the Agnus Dei (" 
Lamb of God, who takest away the sins of the world," etc.). Their 
wool was afterwards clipped and woven by the nuns. See 11. 115-18. 

77. Buttress'd from moonlight : i.e. protected by a buttress from 
the moonhght, which would have disclosed his presence. 

84. his heart . . . citadel : " his heart in which, as in a fortress, 
love feverishly keeps guard." 

90. beldame : literally, fair dame ; but used only of old hags. 

105. gossip : " friend," hterally " one related in God, i.e. by 
baptism : a sponsor." 

120. hold . . . sieve : witches were credited with the abihty to 
make a sieve non-porous : cp. Macbeth, I. iii. 8, " But in a sieve I'll 
thither sail." 

124-5. my lady . . . deceive : i.e. this very night Madeline is trying 
to conjure up a vision ; may the good angels send her a dream 
which she may mistake for a miracle. 

126. mickle : " much." 

127. moon : i.e. " moonlight," the moon being personified so as 
to admit of the beautiful epithet languid. 


133. brook : " check, restrain," a misuse of the word, which means 
use, enjoy, or endure. 

155. chiirchyard thing : " creature only fit to be buried." 

158. plaining : " complaining, lamenting." 

165. closet : " cupboard." 

168. While . . . coverlet : " while in her dreams she saw legions of 
fairies walking upon her bed." 

171. Since . . . debt : Merlin was the son of a demon and conse- 
quently had to return to hell, Vivian working upon him one of his 
own speUs. 

173. Gates : " dainties, delicacies " ; cp. catering. 

174. tambour frame : " embroidery frame." 

185. From . . . espial : " from fear that Porphyro might be spied 
in the half-dark." 

192. St. Agnes' charmed maid : " a maid working St. Agnes's 

193. mission'd : " sent upon a mission." 
198. fray'd : " frightened." 

204. But . . . voluble : i.e. but her heart, beating quickly, told her 
heart [i.e. told her) how agitated she was. 
213. deep-damask'd : " richly embroidered." 

215. emblazonings : " heraldic decorations." 

216. scutcheon : " a shield on which the heraldic arms of a family 
are emblazoned." 

218. gules : the heraldic term for red. 

237. poppied : poppies, since they contain opium, are an emblem 
of sleep. 

238. soul fatigued away : the soul is conceived as leaving the body 
during sleep. 

241. Clasp'd . . . pray : i.e. clasped closely and lovingly, since a 
missal or prayer-book would be doubly precious in a pagan land, 
swart Paynims : " dark pagans." 

246-7. if it . . . tenderness : i.e. to hear when her breathing took 
the slow regularity which showed she was asleep. 

253. faded moon : i.e. setting moon. 

257. Morphean amulet : " charm to give sleep " so that the noise 
should not wake Madeline before the table was prepared : Morpheus 
was the god of sleep. 

266. soother : " more soothing." 

267. lucent: " reflecting or giving out Mght." tinct : "coloured." 
277. eremite : " hermit." 

286. redeem : " bring back " : it seemed as if he could never 
break the spell which kept Madeline asleep. 

NOTES. 105 

288. So . . . phantasies : " so he mused for a time, caught in a 
web of fancies." woofed : " woven." 

292. La belle dame sans mercy : " the merciless fair lady " ; the 
reference shows Keats's preoccupation ^\•ith the siibject which he 
was later to treat in his own fine poem with this title : the mediaeval 
poem extant with this title is an impoetic and monotonous dialogue 
between a lover and his disdainful mistress. It was in Provence 
that the famous mediaeval school of love-poetry had its origin. 

296. aflErayed : " frightened." 

322. Solution : " intermingling." 

325. flaw-blown : " wind-blown " ; a flaw is a gust of wind. 

333. unpnined : " rufiled, imtrimmed." 

336. heart . . . dy'd : heart-shaped because his heart is hers, and 
flushed with love. 

344. haggard seeming : " wretched appearance " ; the adjective 
haggard is one of Keats's strikingly poetic epithets. 

346. bloated wassailers : this and the following stanzas probably 
contain reminiscences of Hamlet and Macbeth — the fondness of the 
" bloat king " Claudius for " Rhenish " in the first play and the 
drunken Porter in the second. 

349. Rhenish : i.e. Rhenish wine. 

353. sleeping dragons : i.e. her kinsmen, the foes of Porphyro. 

357. chain-droop'd : " hanging from a chain." 

358. arras : " tapestry." 

366. his . . . owns : " his wise eye recognises Madeline as a member 
of the household," so that he makes no sound. 

377. aves : prayers in honour of the Virgin Mary — " Ave Maria, 
gratia plena." — " HaU, Mary ! full of grace." 


Lamia, written in 1819, was the last long poem which Keats 
finished and pubhshed : it shows Keats at his best in sheer narrative 
power. Before writing the poem, he made a careful study of the 
work of Dryden, and he here uses the heroic couplet first perfected 
by that poet. Like Dryden, he varies his metre by the use of 
alexandrines (lines with six iambic feet instead of five) ; Uke Dryden 
he gains a force and sweep of rhythm and an easy stride of narrative 
by shifting the pause in the line and by a skilful mixture of lines 
which end with the sense and " run-on lines," where the sense is 
carried on to the next line : such a couplet, for instance as : 
" For somewhere in that sacred island dwelt 
A nymph, to whom all hoofed satyrs knelt " 
might have been written by Dryden himseK except for the " picture- 
word " hoofed. 

The source of his story Keats gave himself in a footnote to his 
poem :— 

" PhUostratus, in his fourth book de Vita Apollonii, hath a 
memorable instance of this kind, which I may not omit, of one 
Menippus Lycius, a young man twenty-five years of age, that going 
betwixt Cenchreas and Corinth, met such a phantasm in the liabit 
of a fair gentlewoman, which taking him by the hand, carried him 
home to her house, in the suburbs of Corinth, and told him she was 
a Phoenician by birth, and if he would tarry with her, he should hear 
her sing and play, and drink such wine as never any drank, and no 
man should molest him ; but she, being fair and lovely, would Uve 
and die with him, that was fair and lovely to behold. The young 
man, a philosopher, otherwise staid and discreet, able to moderate his 
passions, though not this of love, tarried with her a while to his 
great content, and at last married her, to whose wedding, amongst 
other guests, came Apollonius ; who, by some probable conjectures, 
found her out to be a serpent, a lamia ; and that all her furniture 
was, like Tantalus' gold, described by Homer, no substance but mere 
illusions. When she saw herself descried, she wept, and desired 
Apollonius to be silent, but he would not be moved, and thereupon 
she, plate, house, and all that was in it, vanished in an instant : 

NOTES. 107 

many thousands took notice of this fact, for it Avas done in the midst 
of Greece." 

Burton's " Anatomy of Melancholy." Part 3. Sect. 2. 
Memb. 1. Subs. 1. 

And it is interesting to see how much the poetic imagination can make 
of the merest hint. " All her furniture was, like Tantalus' gold . . . 
no substance, but mere illusions," for instance, provides all Keats's 
" authority " for U. 379-93 of Part I., and 11. 117-41 and 173-208 of 
Part II., perhaps the most splendid passages in the poem. 

But it is not merely these luxurious beauties that appeal to us ; 
not merely the incidental nature-touches such as " About a young 
bird's flutter from a wood " ; it is Lamia herself and her piteous fate. 
By all the laws of morality we ought to rejoice at the youth's escape 
from the serpent-woman, but Keats enUsts all our sympathy on 
behalf of the two lovers. Even illusion, he seems to say, is better 
than hard fact, if only it is beautiful. Perhaps we have here a 
revelation of his own feeling — the beauty which he saw in everything, 
the poetry which he wrote, what was it after all to the scientific 
mind but illusion and play-acting ? Keats is protesting against the 
narrowing of reason to mean mere logical reasoning, and against the 
gross materiahsm and the increasing ughness of his age quite as much 
as against the et-ernal opposition of cynical old age to the romantic 
love-foUies of youth. 


2. Nymph and Satyr : the nymphs were in classical mythology 
goddesses of mountains, lakes, woods, etc. ; satyrs were beings of 
the woods, with pointed ears, two small horns and a tail. 

3. Oberon : the fairy king. 

5. the Dryads and the Fa\ms : the Dryads were nymphs of the 
trees ; fauns were woodland beings, half-man, half-goat. 

7. ever-smitten Hermes : Mercury, the messenger of the gods, 
ever in love : sviitten in this sense is a vulgar colloquialism which 
the mature Keats would certainly not have used. 

9. Oljrmpus : the mountain of Thessaly in Greece on the top of 
which the gods were believed to Hve. light : " silently, un- 

10. Jove : Zeus, the chief of the gods, Hermes' " great summoner." 

15. Tritons : sea-deities, the top half of which was man, while 
below the waist they were fish. 

16. wither'd : because out of their native water. 

19. Muse : the nine Muses presided over poetry, music, the arts 
and sciences. 


23. winged heels : Hermes is always represented with wings at 
his ankles. 
38. wreathed tomb : i.e. the snake's twisted body. 

46. cirque-couchant : " lying curled in a circle." 

47. gordian : " intricate, twisted," in reference to the knot which 
the Phrygian king Gordius tied in his harness and which Alexander 
cut with his sword, an oracle having declared that whoever loosened 
the knot would rule over all Asia. 

49. pard : " leopard." 

55. penanc'd lady elf : " fairy undergoing penance." 

57. wannish : " pale." 

58. Ariadne's tiar : the crown of Ariadne, who, after helping 
Theseus to escape from the labyrinth of the monster Minotaur, was 
deserted by him at Naxos but wedded by Dionysus, the god of wine, 
who placed among the stars the crown which he gave her at her 

63. Proserpine . . . Silician air : Proserpine, daughter of Ceres, 
was gathering flowers in Sicily when Pluto, the god of the infernal 
regions, carried her off to be his queen. 

67. stoop'd falcon : " falcon hovering in readiness for the final 

74. Apollo : the god of the sun, of poetry, and of song ; also 
known as Phoebus (see 1. 78). 

81. star of Lethe : it was the duty of Hermes to lead the souls of 
the dead to the river Lethe in the underworld, whose waters gave 

85. Possess . . . fled : "thou shalt have whatever joy thou choosest 
if thou tellest me where my nymph is fled." 

92. brilliance feminine : a rather tasteless abstraction, though 
probably due to MUtonic influence. 

103. blear'd Silenus : Silenus, one of the satyrs, was a drunken, 
jovial, fat old man. sights : " glances." 

104. Pale grew her immortality : an admirably compressed phrase 
for " pale grew the immortal nymph," combined with a suggestion 
that her very immortahty was growing faint. 

107. weird : two syllables. 

114. psalterian : i.e. melodious as the notes of the psaltery, an 
ancient Jewish stringed instrument. 

115. Circean : Circe was an enchantress who turned men into 

116. live damask : " vivid red." 

131. printless verdure : " greensward unmarked by footprints." 
133. lythe Caducean charm : the spell of his slender caduceus or 
wand round which were twined two serpents. 

NOTES, 109 

138. fearful : " full of fear." 
148. besprent : " sprinkled." 

155. Volcanian : " as from a volcano " ; see 1. 157. 

156. milder-mooned : see 1. 136. 

158. brede : " embroidery," hence " ornamentation." 

163. rubious-argent : reddish sUver. 

167. luting : " sounding hke a lute." 

174. Cenchreas : Cenchreae was the East harbour of Corinth ; 
Cleonae (1. 179) was a town on the road from Corinth to Argos. 

182. passioned : " gave way to passion, grief." 

188. Spread . . . minstrelsy : " danced in a green skirt to the 
minstrels' music." 

191. sciential . . . pain : " full of knowledge sufficient to disentangle 
joy from the pain into which it so easily changes." 

193-4. estrange . . . counterchange : " make the points where they 
meet strangers to each other {i.e. keep them apart), and prevent the 
interchange between them which can so quickly take place." 

195. Intrigue . . . chaos : " entangle the fair-seeming confusion of 
joy and pain and place in their proper places even those atoms of 
each feelmg whose nature is most obscure." 

198. unshent : " imharmed." 

206. Elysium: part of the lower world, the abode of the spirits 
of the Blessed. 

207. Nereids : sea-nymphs, sisters of Thetis, and daughters of 
Nereus and Doris. 

209. Bacchus : the god of wine. 

210. glutinous pine : an allusion to the pitchy nature of the pine tree. 

211. Pluto : the god of the underworld, palatine : invested with 
royal privileges. 

212. Mulciber's . . • line : the alexandrine here echoes the sense. 
Mrdciber : a surname of Vulcan, the god of fire, and the artist of the 
gods : he made all the Olympian palaces, piazzian : connected with 
piazza — a walk imder a roof supported by pillars. 

217. envious race : " race of those anxious for victory and envious 
of others' success. 

219. swooning : all Keats's lovers swoon readily ; perhaps his 
own Ul-health made the idea of swooning come more readily to him 
than to the normal man. 

220. moth-time : " the time when moths come forth " — an 
exquisite phrase. 

225. Egina : a rocky island in a bay of the Aegean Sea. 
229. better'd his desire : " gave him a better boon than he had 


230. made retire from : " retired from, left." 

235-6. His . . . shades : his fancy strayed and, like reason, lost 
itseK in the doubtful philosophic speculations of Plato (429-347 B.C.), 
the great disciple of Socrates, who taught in the shady groves of 

240. neighbour 'd : " near, hke a neighbour." 

244. syllabling : " speaking " ; the word has four syllables. 

246. be : i.e. " let there be." 

248. But Orpheus-like . . . Eurydice : i.e. hke one devoured by 
love. Eurydice having died, her husband Orpheus descended to the 
underworld, and by his wonderful harping gained permission for 
Eurydice to follow him back to the world above, provided he did not 
look at her until they regained dayhght. On the way back, however, 
he could not refrain from looking round at her, and thus lost her for 

256. she saw . . . sure : " she saw that he was fast caught in the 
bonds of love." 

260. To thy . . . obey : " thy streams will obey thee even if thou 
commandest when far away from them." 

265. Pleiad : the Pleiades were the daughters of Atlas and 
Pleione ; they were metamorphosed into doves and placed among 
the stars. 

275. To . . . home : " to blunt my memory of my deUcate home " ; 
nice is probably another transferred epithet : otherwise nice may be 
taken as exact, precise. 

293. amenity : " pleasure, dehght." 

313-14. Days . . . love : " days as happy as money could provide 
for one without love." 

317. Venus : the goddess of love ; she fell in love with Adonis, 
who was killed by a boar : his death and return to life were celebrated 
in annual festivals ; hence Adonian feast (1. 320). 

329. Peris : in Persian mythology a fairy, a descendant of a 
fallen spirit excluded from Paradise. 

330. such a treat : a touch of vulgar colloquiaUsm, probably due 
to the influence of Leigh Hunt : so, too, half a fright in 1. 335 : the 
whole of this passage (330-9) is in poor taste. 

333. P3aTha's pebbles : according to classical mythology there was 
a flood in which aU except Deucahon and Pyrrha were destroyed : 
Pyrrha created a fresh race by throwing over her shoulders stones 
which changed into women ; in the same way Deucahon created 

345. made by a spell the triple . . . paces : " by magic made the 
distance, three leagues, shrink into a few steps." surmised : this 
eUiptically quahfies the idea in the whole preceding sentence — Lycius 
did not guess what she had done. 


347. comprized : " absorbed." 

359. their : this refers to men and women in 1. 355. 

381. slabbed : " covered with slabs of stone." 

386. Aeolian : " made by the wind Aeolus." 

394. but : " except that." flitter-winged : either " bat-winged " 
and hence "gloomy," flitter mouse meaning bat; or else "fluttering 
from subject to subject " : the word appears to be coined by Keats. 


6. non-elect : " those who are not love's chosen " ; the phrase 
originates in the Calvinistic theological doctrine that certain people 
are elect or chosen by God for salvation, the rest of mankind being 

8. given ... a fresh frown : frowned upon or disputed the moral 
that love in a palace is torment. 

9. clench'd it quite : " completely confirmed it." 

10. hiss : with anger ; in view of Lamia's origin, the word is here 
strikingly appropriate. 

26. slope : " sloping," a word borrowed by Keats from Milton. 

35. so arguing : qualifying this. 

36. empery : " empire, rule." 

39. That . . . bell : " that even a moment's reflection toUs the 
knell {i.e. means the death) of passion." 

47. Where . . . paradise : the reference is of course to the reflection 
of his face in miniature in her eyes. 

48. silver planet : " star." 

53. Iab3ninth : " hide, as in a labyrinth." 

57-60. What mortal hath a prize which may make other men 
abashed and confused with envy and yet keeps it hid from sight ? 

76. sanguineous : " flushed with angry blood." 

81. burnt : i.e. with love. 

90. cited earth : probably cited is a transferred epithet meaning 
" who should be summoned," and belongs to friends or kinsfolk. 

98. list : "please." 

107. shut : " close," the word in this connection is Milton's. 

122-3. The faery-roof was perhaps supported only by music. 

136. mission'd : " sent." 

137. fretted : " ornamented." 

141. And . . . intricacies : " and interwove small designs with the 
large ones." 

142. faded at self-will : " departed, to satisfy her own wish, from 
the crowded haunt of men ; shut herself up in solitude." 


146. gossip : " friendly " ; originally one related in God, i.e. a 

155. demesne : " dominion." 

160. daft : " baffled." 

172. sophist : the Greek sophists taught philosophy and rhetoric ; 
from the tendency of some to quibbling our modern meaning of the 
word — captious and insincere reasoner — is derived, spleen : the 
spleen was formerly thought to be the seat of anger. 

185. libbard : " leopard." 

187. Ceres : the goddess of earth and the protectress of agriculture 
(cp. cereal), horn : " horn of plenty, cornucopia." 

190. shrining : " holding as in a shrine." 

200. While . . . undersong : i.e. the guests were fluently talking 
Greek, a language full of sonorous vowels. 

207. nectareous cheer : " food and drink tasting Hke nectar, the 
wondrous drink of the gods." 

213. Soon . . . height : i.e. soon they had drunk deeply. Bacchus : 
the god of wine, meridian height : mid-day height, i.e. the highest 

220. fancy-fit : " fit according to his fancy." 

224. willow : symbol of desertion and unrequited love, adder's 
tongue : to recall her serpent origin. 

226. thyrsus : a staff entwined with ivy and vine leaves and 
grapes, with a cone at the top, carried at the festivals of Bacchus. 

238. spear-grass : long, stiff grass : both this and the prickly 
thistle inflict pain. 

229-38. Do not . . . shade : it is reported that Keats and Lamb at 
one of the meetings at Haydon's house, agreed that Sir Isaac Newton, 
the great scientist, " had destroyed all the poetry of the rainbow, by 
reducing it to the prismatic colom-s." 

236. gnomed : " filled with gnomes " ; it was supposed that 
gnomes worked the metals underground. 

274-5. no passion . . . vision : " no passion hghted her eyes, deep- 
sunk in her head." 

288. possess'd : i.e. possessed by an evil spirit. 

299. breath'd death breath : " drew her last breath as a woman." 

301. perceant : "piercing." 


i ■ '1 

PR Keats, John 

4B32 Hyperion 





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