Sunday, September 20, 2009

In Honor of Keats

So, I was reading through various friends' blogs when I came upon the trailer for "Bright Star" (thanks for posting this Liz). I'm not often drawn to films of romance (though some are good and worth watching) but this film is about one of my favorite poets of all time: John Keats (in truth, he is second only to Wordsworth and had Keats lived longer to write more verse he very well may have eclipsed Wordsworth). Hence, I must see it!

Needless to say, I should like to post a few poems written by John Keats in his honor (keep in mind he only lived to the age of 24--amazing work for such a young man).


To one who has been long in city pent,
'Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven--to breath a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with heart's content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel--an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet's bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E'en like the passage of an angel's tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.


Bright star! Would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in 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 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,
Pillowed upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft swell and fall,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.


When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripened grain;
When I behold upon the night's starred face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!-then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.


You say you love; but with a voice
Chaster than a nun's, who singeth
The soft Vespers to herself
While the chime-bell ringeth--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but with a smile
Cold as sunrise in September,
As you were Saint Cupid's nun,
And kept his weeks of Ember.
O love me truly!

You say you love--but then your lips
Coral tinted teach no blisses,
More than coral in the sea--
They never pout for kisses--
O love me truly!

You say you love; but then your hand
No soft squeeze for squeeze returneth,
It is like a statue's dead--
While mine to passion burneth--
O love me truly!

O breathe a word or two of fire!
Smile, as if those words should burn me,
Squeeze as lovers should--O kiss
And in my heart inurn me!
O love me truly!


A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. . .

And there are so many more poems that are just breathtakingly awesome! Keats' Odes are amazing (you really must read them--they are just to long for me to type them all up, especially at this late hour when I should be dreaming. Let me know which of Keats' poems is among your favorite, and do yourself a favor and go see this movie (I hope it is good--I will be sorely disappointed if they screw Keats up).

1 comment:

Jennette said...

"The poetry of the earth is ceasing never..."
I love the way Keats describes the simple things of nature, of passions, and of the soul so richly. "A thing of beauty" is one of my favorites. Thanks for sharing!