own salvation in a man. It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself. He had the courage of his errors too; he knew Endymions defect: In Endymion I leaped headlong into the sea, he said afterwards, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore and piped a silly pipe. What Soundings, and what avoiding of rocks and sands there had been, one perceives, as reading in Hyperion, one comes upon a speech like that of Clus, speaking, clear and sonorous, out of universal space:
For I have seen my sons most unlike Gods.
Divine ye were created, and divine
In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturbd.
Unruffled, like high Gods, ye lived 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, O Son!
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;
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 arrows barb
Before the tense string murmur.
There is surely the greatest writing in that kind which a poet of Keats years has ever given us. The poetry that is re-born out of old poetry and that brings new blood into the literary antiquity never rose to a more majestic harmony. But if this is in too august a mode, try The Eve of St. Mark, which he left unfinished at his death, and which one of the most accomplished and original women I have known has termed Pre-Raphaelitism in a nutshell.
Twice holy was the Sabbath-bell,
That calld the folk to evening prayer,
The city streets were clean and fair
From wholesome drench of April rains,
And, on the western window panes,
The chilly sunset faintly told
Of unmatured green, valleys cold,
Of the green thorny bloomless hedge,
Of rivers new with spring-tide sedge,
Of primroses by shelterd rills,
And daisies on the aguish hills.
There is no consolation in thinking that the poet who was capable of writing in the two different but equally authentic modes of Hyperion and The Eve of St. Mark, when he died had written his best. He was developing, advancing by great strides in his art, up to the very eve of his death. He had left behind his early masters, even those who, like Leigh Hunt, had largely aided him both for good and evil; he had thrown away the mistaken guitar that Leigh Hunt lent him, and turned to other instruments. So we read that on finishing Endymion in November 1817, Keats had taken up expressly the study of Shakespeares Sonnets.
One of the three books I have with me is Shakespeares Poems, he wrote on one occasion to Reynolds. I never found so many beauties in the Sonnets; they seem to be full of fine things said unintentionallyin the intensity of working out conceits. Is this to be borne? Hark ye!
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd,
And Summers green all girded up in sheaves,
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard.
He overwhelms a genuine lover of poetry with all manner of abuse, talking about
And stretched metre of an antique song,
which, by the by, will be a capital motto for my poem, wont it? He speaks too of Times antique pen, and Aprils first-born flowers, and Deaths eternal cold.By the Whim-King! Ill give you a stanza, because it is not material in connection, and when I wrote it I wanted you to give your vote, pro or con
Aquarius! to whom King Jove hath given
Two liquid pulse- streams, stead of featherd wings
Two fan-like fountainsthine illuminings
Dissolve the frozen purity of air;
Let thy white shoulders, silvery and bare,
Show cold through watry pinions: make more bright
The Star-Queens crescent on her marriage-night:
Haste, haste away!
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