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7.16: Keats, John. Selected Poems. (1819)

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    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 summer in full-throated ease.

    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 Provençal 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 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:

    Already with thee! tender is the night,

    And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,

    Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;

    But 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 upon the boughs,

    But, in embalmed 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-May's 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 seems it rich to die,

    To cease upon the midnight with no pain,

    While thou art pouring forth thy soul 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?

    Ode on a Grecian Urn

    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."

    To Autumn

    Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

    Conspiring with him how to load and bless

    With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

    To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees,

    And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

    To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

    With a sweet kernel; to set budding more,

    And still more, later flowers for the bees,

    Until they think warm days will never cease,

    For summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells.

    Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

    Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

    Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

    Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

    Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep,

    Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

    Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers:

    And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

    Steady thy laden head across a brook;

    Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

    Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours.

    Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

    Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

    While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

    And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

    Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

    Among the river sallows, borne aloft

    Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

    And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

    Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft

    The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

    And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

    This page titled 7.16: Keats, John. Selected Poems. (1819) is shared under a CC BY-NC 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Heather Ringo & Athena Kashyap (ASCCC Open Educational Resources Initiative) .