• Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

Thou still unravish’d bride of quietness,

Thou foster-child of silence and slow time,

Sylvan historian, who canst thus express

A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme:

What leaf-fring’d legend haunts about thy shape

Of deities or mortals, or of both,

In Tempe or the dales of Arcady?

What men or gods are these? What maidens loth?

What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,

Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone:

Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave

Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare;

Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss,

Though winning near the goal yet, do not grieve;

She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,

For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu;

And, happy melodist, unwearied,

For ever piping songs for ever new;

More happy love! more happy, happy love!

For ever warm and still to be enjoy’d,

For ever panting, and for ever young;

All breathing human passion far above,

That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy’d,

A burning forehead, and a parching tongue.

Who are these coming to the sacrifice?

To what green altar, O mysterious priest,

Lead’st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,

And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?

What little town by river or sea shore,

Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,

Is emptied of this folk, this pious morn?

And, little town, thy streets for evermore

Will silent be; and not a soul to tell

Why thou art desolate, can e’er return.

O Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede

Of marble men and maidens overwrought,

With forest branches and the trodden weed;

Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought

As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!

When old age shall this generation waste,

Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe

Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty, — that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

Impoverished at a young age by the death of his father and by his mother’s failed second marriage, John Keats (1795–1821) was apprenticed to an apothecary but knew early in life that his real avocation was poetry. Befriended by Leigh Hunt and admired by Percy Shelley, Keats’s poetry — gorgeous, sensuous, and passionate — was on more than one occasion savagely attacked by the literary critics of his time. He died in poverty at 25 of tuberculosis and is now recognized as one of the great poets of the English Romantic Movement.

  • Story alerts
  • Letter to Editor
  • Pin it

More from SDReader

More from the web

Comments

Radical Uterus June 9, 2011 @ 8:47 p.m.

Died in poverty at the age of twenty five.

0

nan shartel June 10, 2011 @ 7:36 a.m.

what a shame DG

and the poem??

~~thou doest sigh in my soul like a Spring willows trembling leaves~~

0

Sign in to comment

Join our
newsletter list

Enter to win $25 at Broken Yolk Cafe

Each newsletter subscription
means another chance to win!

Close