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John Keats (1795-1821)

If By Dull Rhymes Our English Must Be Chain'd


              1If by dull rhymes our English must be chain'd,
              2     And, like Andromeda, the Sonnet sweet
              3Fetter'd, in spite of pained loveliness;
              4Let us find out, if we must be constrain'd,
              5     Sandals more interwoven and complete
              6To fit the naked foot of poesy;
              7Let us inspect the lyre, and weigh the stress
              8Of every chord, and see what may be gain'd
              9     By ear industrious, and attention meet:
            10Misers of sound and syllable, no less
            11     Than Midas of his coinage, let us be
            12     Jealous of dead leaves in the bay wreath crown;
            13So, if we may not let the Muse be free,
            14     She will be bound with garlands of her own.

Notes

2] Andromeda: Ethiopian princess who was rescued from amonster by Perseus, her husband-to-be.

11] Midas: Phrygian king who wished for gold, more than anything, and was granted the ambiguous gift of turning everything he touched into gold.


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, Life, Letters, and Literary Remains, ed. Richard Monckton Milnes (New York: George P. Putnam, 1848): 391 (sonnet no. XVII). PR 4836 A4 1848 Robarts Library.
First publication date: 1848
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/20

Composition date: 1819
Form: Sonnet (variant)
Rhyme: abcabdcabcdede


Other poems by John Keats