Romantic Selections II

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John Keats

– Bright Star, Would I Were Steadfast as Thou Art –
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art Not in the lone splendour hung aloft the night.
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature’s patient sleepless eremite.
The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask of snow upon the mountains and the moors;
No yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest.
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever or else swoon to death.

– 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 thine happiness,–
That thou, light winged Dryad of the trees In some melodious plot Of beechen green,
and shadows numberless, Singest of the summer in full-throated east.
O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been Cool’d a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provencal song, and sunburnt 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 unsean,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget
What thou amoung the leaves hast never known.
The weariness, the dever, 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:
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is her throne.
Cluster’d around by all her starry Fays;
But the here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown Through verdurous glooms
and winding mossy ways.
I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upont he boughts,
But, in enbalmed darkness guess each sweet
Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine;
Fast fading violets cover’d up in leaves;
And mid-Mays eldest child The coming musk-rose,
full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
Darkling I listen; and, for many a time I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;
Now more than ever seem it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art abroad In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain–
To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
No hungry generations tread thee down;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard
In ancient days by emperor and clown:
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth,
when, sick for home.
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;
The same that oft-times hath
Charm’d magic casements, opening on the foam
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
Forlorn! the very word is like a bell
To toll me back from thee to my sole self!
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well
As she is fam’d to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill-side; and now ’tis buried deep
In the next valley-glades: Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:–Do I wake or sleep?

Last modified: May 21, 2011

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