Obrazy na stronie

Which nought but vagrant bird, or wanton wind,
Orfalling spear-grass, or their own decay,
Had e'er disturbed before. The poet longed
| To deck with their bright hues his withered hair;
But on his heart its solitude returned,
And he forbore. Not the strong impulse hid
In those flushed cheeks, bent eyes, and shadowy frame,
Had yet performed its ministry: it hung
§. his life as lightning in a cloud
Gleams, hovering ere it vanish, ere the floods
Of night close over it.
The noonday sun

Now shone upon the forest, one vast mass
Of mingling shade, whose brown magnificence
A narrow vale embosoms. There huge caves,
Scooped in the dark base of those airy rocks,
Mocking its moans, respond and roar for ever.
The meeting boughs and implicated leaves
Wove twilight o'er the poet's path, as, led
By love, or dream, or god, or mightier death,
He sought in nature's dearest haunt, some bank,
Her cradle and his sepulchre. More dark
And dark the shades accumulate—the oak,
Expanding its immense and knotty arms,
Embraces the light beech. The pyramids
Of the tall cedar overarching frame
Most solemn domes within, and far below,
Like clouds suspended in an emerald sky,
The ash and the acacia floating hang,
Tremulous and pale. Like restless serpents clothed
In rainbow and in fire, the parasites,
Starred with ten thousand blossoms, flow around
The gray trunks; and, as gamesome infants' eyes,
With gentle meanings and most innocent wiles,
Fold their beams round the hearts of those that love,
These twine their tendrils with the wedded boughs,
Uniting their close union; the woven leaves
Make network of the dark blue light of da
And the night's noontide clearness, mutable
As shapes in the weird clouds. Soft mossy lawns
Ben these canopies extend their swells,
Fragrant with perfumed herbs, and eyes with blooms
Minute yet beautiful. One darkest glen
Sends from its woods of musk-rose, twined with jasmine,
A soul-dissolving odour, to invite
To some more lovely mystery. Through the dell
Silence and twilight here, twin sisters, keep
Their noonday watch, and sail among the shades,
Like vaporous shapes half seen; beyond, a well,
Dark, gleaming, and of most translucent wave,
Images all the woven boughs above;
And each depending leaf, and every speck
Of azure sky, darting between their chasms;
Nor aught else in the liquid mirror laves
Its portraiture, but some inconstant star
Between one foliaged lattice twinkling fair,
Or painted i. beneath the moon,
Or gorgeous insect, floating motionless,
Unconscious of the day, ere yet his wings
Have spread their glories to the gaze of noon.

Hither the poet came. His eyes beheld
Their own wan light through the reflected lines
Of his thin hair, distinct in the dark depth

Of that still fountain; as the human heart,
Gazing in dreams over the gloomy grave,
Sees its own treacherous likeness there. He heard
The motion of the leaves; the grass that sprung
| Startled, and glanced, and trembled even to feel
An unaccustomed presence, and the sound
Of the sweet brook that from the secret springs
Of that dark fountain rose. A spirit seemed
To stand beside him—clothed in no bright robes
Of shadowy silver or enshrining light,
Borrowed from aught the visible world affords
Of grace, or majesty, or mystery;

But undulating woods, and silent well,

And rippling rivulet, and evening gloom
Now deepening the dark shades, for speech assuming
Held commune with him, as if he and it
Were all that was ; only—when his regard
Was raised by intense pensiveness—two eyes,
Two starry eyes, hung in the gloom of thought,
And seemed with their serene and azure smiles
To beckon him.

Obedient to the light
That shone within his soul, he went, pursuing
The windings of the dell. The rivulet,
Wanton and wild, through many a green ravine
Beneath the forest flowed. Sometimes it fell
Among the moss with hollow harmony,
Dark and profound. Now on the polished stones
It danced, like childhood, laughing as it went:
Then, through the plain in tranquil wanderings crept,
Reflecting every herb and drooping bud
That overhung its quietness. “O stream 1
Whose source is inaccessibly profound,
Whither do thy mysterious waters tend?
Thou imagest my life. Thy darksome stillness,
Thy dazzling waves, thy loud and hollow gulfs,
Thy searchless fountain and invisible course,
Have each their type in me: and the wide sky
And measureless ocean may declare as soon
What oozy cavern or what wandering cloud
Contains thy waters, as the universe
Tell where #. living thoughts reside, when, stretched
Upon thy flowers, my bloodless limbs shall waste
I” the passing wind!’

Beside the grassy shore Of the small stream he went ; he did impress On the green moss his tremulous step, that caught Strong shuddering from his burning limbs. As one Roused by some joyous madness from the couch Of fever, he did move; yet, not like him, Forgetful of the grave, where, when the flame Of his frail exultation shall be spent, He must descend. With rapid steps he went Beneath the shade of trees, beside the flow Of the wild babbling rivulet; and now The forest's solemn canopies were changed For the uniform and lightsome evening sky. Gray rocks did peep from the spare moss, and stemmed The struggling brook: tall spires of windlestrae Threw their thin shadows down the rugged slope, And nought but gnarled roots of ancient pines, Branchless and blasted, clenched with grasping roots The unwilling soil. A gradual change was here, Yet ghastly. For, as fast years flow away, The smooth brow gathers, and the hair grows thin And white; and where irradiate dewy eyes Had shone, gleam stony orbs: so from his steps Bright flowers departed, and the beautiful shade Of the green groves, with all their odorous winds And musical motions. Calm, he still pursued The stream, that with a larger volume now Rolled through the labyrinthine dell; and there Fretted a path through its descending curves With its wintry speed. On every side now rose Rocks, which, in unimaginable forms, Lifted their black and barren pinnacles In the light of evening, and its precipice Obscuring the ravine, disclosed above, "Mid toppling stones, black gulfs, and yawning caves, Whose windings gave ten thousand various tongues To the loud stream. Lo! where the pass expands Its stony jaws, the abrupt mountain breaks, And seems, with its accumulated crags, To overhang the world; for wide expand Beneath the wan stars and descending moon Islanded seas, blue mountains, mighty streams, Dim tracks and vast, robed in the lustrous gloom Of leaden-coloured even, and fiery hills Mingling their flames with twilight, on the *:::


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Of the remote horizon. The near scene,
In naked and severe simplicity,
Made contrast with the universe. A pine,
Rock-rooted, stretched athwart the vacancy,
Its swinging boughs to each inconstant blast
Yielding one only response, at each pause,
In most familiar cadence, with the howl,
The thunder, and the hiss of homeless streams,
Mingling its solemn song; whilst the broad river,
Foaming and hurrying o'er its rugged path,
Fell into that immeasurable void,
Scattering its waters to the passing winds.
Yet the gray precipice, and solemn pine,
And torrent, were not all; one silent nook
Was there. Even on the edge of that vast mountain,
Upheld by knotty roots and fallen rocks,
It overlooked, in its serenity,
The dark earth and the bending vault of stars.
It was a tranquil spot, that seemed to smile
Even in the lap of horror; ivy clasped
The fissured stones with its entwining arms,
And did embower with leaves for ever green,
And berries dark, the smooth and even space
Of its inviolated floor; and here
The children of the autumnal whirlwind bore,
In wanton sport, those bright leaves whose decay,
Red, yellow, or ethereally pale,
Rival the pride of summer. 'Tis the haunt
Of every gentle wind whose breath can teach
The wilds to love tranquillity.

Stanzas Written in Dojection, near Naples.

The sun is warm, the sky is clear,
The waves are dancing fast and bright,
Blue isles and snowy mountains wear
The purple noon's transparent light.
* * * 1

Around its unexpanded buds; Like many a voice of one delight, The winds, the birds, the ocean floods, The city's voice itself is soft, like solitude's.

I see the deep’s untrampled floor With green and o sea-weeds strown; I see the waves upon the shore, Like light dissolved in star-showers thrown; I sit upon the sands alone, The lightning of the noontide ocean Is flashing round me, and a tone Arises from its measured motion; How sweet, did any heart now share in my emotion

Alas! I have nor hope, nor health, Nor peace within, nor calm around, Nor that content, surpassing wealth, The sage in meditation found, And walked with inward glory crowned ; Nor faine, nor power, nor love, nor leisure. Others I see whom these surround— Siniling they live, and call life pleasure; To me that cup has been dealt in another measure.

Yet now despair itself is mild, Even as the winds and waters are ; I could lie down like a tired child, And weep away the life of care Which I have borne, and yet must bear, Till death like sleep might steal on me, And I might feel in the warm air My cheek grow cold, and hear the sea Breathe o'er my dying brain its last monotony.

' A line seems to have been lost at this place, probably by an oversight of the transcriber.

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Shelley, “are described to me to have resembled insanity, and it was by assiduous watching that he was restrained from effecting purposes of suicide. The agony of his sufferings at length produced the rup

John Keats,

ture of a blood-vessel in the lungs, and the usual process of consumption appears to have begun.” The process had begun, as was too soon apparent; but Keats continued his studies, and in 1820 brought out his second volume—Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes, and other Poems. These falling into the hands of Jeffrey, were criticised in the Edinburgh Review in a spirit of kindliness and just appreciation, which must have soothed the wounded feelings of the poet, and, with an author of a more healthy and robust frame, would have amply atoned for the previous injustice that had been done him. “Mr Keats,’ says the eloquent critic, ‘is, we understand, | still a very young man; and his whole works, indeed, bear evidence enough of the fact. They manifestly require, therefore, all the indulgence that can be claimed for a first attempt; but we think it no less plain that they deserve it; for they are flushed all over with the rich lights of fancy, and so coloured and bestrown with the flowers of poetry, that, even while perplexed and bewildered in their labyrinths, it is impossible to resist the intoxication of their sweetness, or to shut our hearts to the enchantments they so lavishly present. The models upon which he has formed himself in the “Endymion,” the earliest and by much the most considerable of his poems, are obviously the Faithful Shepherdess of Fletcher, and the Sad Shepherd of Ben Jonson, the exquisite metres and inspired diction of which he has copied with great boldness and fidelity; and, like his great originals, has also contrived to impart to the whole piece that true rural and poetical air which breathes only in them and in Theocritus—which is at once homely and majestic, luxurious and rude, and sets before us the genuine sights, and sounds, and smells of the country, with all the magic and grace of Elysium. His subject has the disadvantage of being | mythological; and in this respect, as well as on account of the raised and rapturous tone it consequently assumes, his poetry may be better compared perhaps to the Comus and the Arcades of Milton, of which, also, there are many traces of imitation. The great distinction, however, between him and these

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consumption. As a last resource, he resolved to try the milder climate of Italy—going first to Naples, and from thence to Rome. “He suffered so much in his lingering,’ says Mr Leigh Hunt, “that he used to watch the countenance of his physician for the favourable and fatal sentence, and express his regret when he found it delayed. Yet no impatience escaped him—he was manly and gentle to the last, and grateful for all services. A little before he died, he said that he felt the daisies growing over him.’ He died on the 27th of December 1820, and was buried, as his friend Shelley relates, ‘in the romantic and lonely cemetery of the Protestants in that city, under the pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, and the massy walls and towers, now mouldering and desolate, which formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.”

* Preface to Adonais, an elegy on the death of Keats. In Shelley's correspondence is a letter by Mr Finch, giving an account of Keats's last moments, less pleasing, but much more striking than that of Hunt. “Almost despairing of his case, he left his native shores by sea in a merchant-vessel for Naples, where he arrived, having received no benefit during the passage, and brooding over the most melancholy and mortifying reflections; and nursing a deeply-rooted disgust to life and to the world, owing to having been infamously treated by the very persons whom his generosity had rescued from want and wo. He journeyed from Naples to Rome, and occupied, at the latter place, lodgings which I had, on former occasions, more than once inhabited. Here he soon took to his bed, from which he never rose more. His passions were always violent, and his sensibility most keen. It is extraordinary that, proportionally as his strength of body declined, these acquired fresh vigour; and his temper at length became so outrageously violent, as to injure himself, and annoy every one around him. He eagerly wished for death. After leaving England, I believe that he seldom courted the muse. He was accompanied by a friend of

mine, Mr severn, a young painter, who will, I think, one day be the Coryphaeus of the English school. He left all, and sacrificed

every prospect, to accompany and watch over his friend Keats. For many weeks previous to his death, he would see no one but Mr Severn, who had almost risked his own life by unwearied attendance upon his friend, who rendered his situation doubly

r t by the viol of his p exhibited even towards him, so much that he might be judged insane. His intervals of remorse, too, were poignantly bitter. I believe that Mr Severn, the heir of what little Keats left behind him at Rome, has only come into possession of very few manuscripts of his friend. The poetical volume which was the inseparable companion of Keats, and which he took for his most darling model in composition, was the Minor Poems of Shakspeare.” Byron (who thought the death of Keats a loss to our literature, and who said, “His fragment of Hyperion seems actually inspired by the Titans, and is as sublime as Eschylus') alludes,

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It was the misfortune of Keats, as a poet, to be either extravagantly praised or unmercifully condemned. The former was owing to the generous partialities of friendship, somewhat obtrusively displayed; the latter, in some degree, to resentment of that friendship, connected as it was with party politics and peculiar views of society as well as of poetry. In the one case his faults, and in the other his merits, were entirely overlooked. An interval of more than twenty years should have dispelled these illusions and prejudices. Keats was a true poet: he had the creative fancy, the ideal enthusiasm, and the nervous susceptibility of the poetical temperament. If we consider his extreme youth and delicate health, his solitary and interesting self-instruction, the severity of the attacks made upon him by his hostile and powerful critics, and, above all, the original richness and picturesqueness of his conceptions and imagery, even when they run to waste, he appears to be one of the greatest of the young self-taught poets. Michael Bruce or Henry Kirke White cannot for a moment be compared with him : he is more like the Milton of “Lycidas,” or the Spenser of the ‘Tears of the Muses.” What easy, finished, statuesque beauty and classic expression, for example, are displayed in this picture of Saturn and Thea –

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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-haired Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs one light seed from the feathered grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Pressed her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin sand large footmarks went
No further than to where his feet had strayed,
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 bowed head seemed listening to the earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
It seemed no force could wake him from his place;
But there came one, who with a kindred hand
Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.

She was a goddess of the infant world; By her in stature the tall Amazon Had stood a pigmy's height: she would have ta'en | Achilles by the hair, and bent his neck; | Or with a finger stayed Ixion's wheel. Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx, | Pedestaled haply in a palace court, When sages looked to Egypt for their lore. But oh how unlike marble was that face 1 How beautiful, if sorrow had not made

playfully and wittily, in his Don Juan, to the death of the

young poet:-
John Keats, who was killed off by one critique,
Just as he really promised something great,
If not intelligible, without Greek
Contrived to talk about the gods of late,
Much as they might have been supposed to speak.
Poor fellow ! His was an untoward fate;
"Tis strange the mind, that very fiery particle,
Should let itself be snuffed out by an article.

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
Was, with its stored thunder, labouring up.
One hand she pressed upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain;
The other upon Saturn's bended neck
She laid, and to the level of his ear
Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake
In solemn tenor and deep organ tone;
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
Would come in these like accents—0 ! how frail,
To that large utterance of the early gods —
“Saturn, look up ! though wherefore, poor old
king? -
I cannot say, “O wherefore sleepest thou?”
For heaven is parted from thee, and the earth
Knows thee not thus afflicted for a god;
And ocean, too, with all its solemn noise,
Has from thy sceptre passed, and all the air
Is emptied of thine hoary majesty. -
Thy thunder, conscious of the new command,
Rumbles reluctant o'er our fallen house;
And thy sharp lightning in unpractised hands
Scorches and burns our once serene domain.
0 aching time ! O moments big as years!
All, as ye pass, swell out the monstrous truth,
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on 1 0, thoughtless, why did I
Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude?
Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.”

As when, upon a tranced summer night,
Those green-robed senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went.

The antique grace and solemnity of passages like

this must be felt by every reader of poetry. The chief defects of Keats are his want of distinctness and precision, and the carelessness of his style. There would seem to have been even affectation in his disregard of order and regularity; and he heaps up images and conceits in such profusion, that they often form grotesque and absurd combinations, which fatigue the reader. Deep feeling and passion are rarely given to young poets redolent of fancy and warm from the perusal of the ancient authors. The difficulty with which Keats had mastered the classic mythology gave it an undue importance in his mind: a more perfect knowledge would have harmonised its materials, and shown him the beauty of chaste

ness and simplicity of style—the last but the greatest

advantage of classic studies. In poets like Gray, Rogers, and Campbell, we see the ultimate effects of this taste; in Keats we have only the materials, unselected, and often shapeless. is imagination was prolific of forms of beauty and grandeur, but the judgment was wanting to symmetrise and arrange them, assigning to each its due proportion and its proper place. His fragments, however, are the fragments of true genius—rich, original, and various; and Mr Leigh Hunt is right in his opinion, that the poems of Keats, with all their defects, will be the ‘sure companions in field and grove' of those who love to escape ‘out of the strife of commonplaces into the haven of solitude and imagination.'

[The Lady Madeline at her Devotions.] [From the “Eve of St Agnes']

Out went the taper as she hurried in; Its little smoke in pallid moonshine died: She closed the door, she panted, all akin To spirits of the air and visions wide: No uttered syllable, or, wo betide 1 But to her heart her heart was voluble, Paining with eloquence her balmy side; As though a tongueless nightingale should swell Her throat in vain, and die heart-stifled in her dell.

A casement high and triple-arched there was, All garlanded with carven imageries 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 damasked wings; And in the midst, 'mong thousand heraldries, And twilight saints, and dim emblazonings, A shielded scutcheon blushed 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, And on her silver cross soft amethyst, And on her hair a glory like a saint: She seemed a splendid angel newly drest, Save wings, for heaven; Porphyro grew faint: She knelt, so pure a thing, so free from mortal taint.

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And gather up all fancifullest shells
For thee to tumble into Naiads' cells,
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping;
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
The while they pelt each other on the crown
With silvery oak-apples, and fir cones brown—
By all the echoes that about thee ring,
Hear us, O satyr king !

O hearkener to the loud-clapping shears, While ever and anon to his shorn peers A ram goes bleating: winder of the horn, When snouted wild boars routing tender corn Anger our huntsmen: breather round our farms, To keep off mildews and all weather harms: Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds, That come a-swooning over hollow grounds, And wither drearily on barren moors: Dread opener of the mysterious doors Leading to universal knowledge—see, Great son of Dryope, The many that are come to pay their vows With leaves about their brows 1

Be still the unimaginable lodge For solitary thinkings; such as dodge Conception to the very bourne of heaven, Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven, That, spreading in this dull and clodded earth, Gives it a touch ethereal—a new birth: Be still a symbol of immensity; A firmament reflected in a sea; An element filling the space between ; An unknown—but no more : we humbly screen With uplift hands our foreheads lowly bending, And giving out a shout most heaven-rending, Conjure thee to receive our humble Paean, Upon thy Mount Lycean

Ode to a Nightingale.

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

0 for a draught of vintage, that hath been
Cooled a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance and Provencal song and sun-burnt mirth !
O for a beaker full of the warm south, -
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
- That I might drink and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou among the leaves hast never known,
The weariness, the fever, and the fret
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies;
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow
And leaden-eyed despairs;
Where Beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow.

Away! away ! for I will fly to thee
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards:

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