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John Keats (1795-1821)

Endymion
A Poetic Romance

(excerpt)


BOOK I
              1A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
              2Its loveliness increases; it will never
              3Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
              4A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
              5Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
              6Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
              7A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
              8Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
              9Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
            10Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
            11Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
            12Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
            13From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
            14Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
            15For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
            16With the green world they live in; and clear rills
            17That for themselves a cooling covert make
            18'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
            19Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
            20And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
            21We have imagined for the mighty dead;
            22All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
            23An endless fountain of immortal drink,
            24Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

            25     Nor do we merely feel these essences
            26For one short hour; no, even as the trees
            27That whisper round a temple become soon
            28Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
            29The passion poesy, glories infinite,
            30Haunt us till they become a cheering light
            31Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
            32That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast;
            33They always must be with us, or we die.

            34     Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
            35Will trace the story of Endymion.
            36The very music of the name has gone
            37Into my being, and each pleasant scene
            38Is growing fresh before me as the green
            39Of our own valleys: so I will begin
            40Now while I cannot hear the city's din;
            41Now while the early budders are just new,
            42And run in mazes of the youngest hue
            43About old forests; while the willow trails
            44Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
            45Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
            46Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer
            47My little boat, for many quiet hours,
            48With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
            49Many and many a verse I hope to write,
            50Before the daisies, vermeil rimm'd and white,
            51Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
            52Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
            53I must be near the middle of my story.
            54O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
            55See it half finish'd: but let Autumn bold,
            56With universal tinge of sober gold,
            57Be all about me when I make an end.
            58And now, at once adventuresome, I send
            59My herald thought into a wilderness:
            60There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
            61My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
            62Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

...

Notes

1] The poem tells of the love of Endymion, a Greek youth, for the goddess Cynthia. The introduction is here quoted. The poem was begun shortly after Keats left London for a visit to the Isle of Wight.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: John Keats, Endymion (1818).
First publication date: 1818
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.620.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/17*2:2001/12/18

Composition date note: April-Nov. 1817
Rhyme: couplets


Other poems by John Keats