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Short poem

John Keats (1795-1821)

On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again

              1O golden-tongued Romance with serene lute!
              2      Fair plumed Syren! Queen of far away!
              3      Leave melodizing on this wintry day,
              4Shut up thine olden pages, and be mute:
              5Adieu! for once again the fierce dispute,
              6      Betwixt damnation and impassion'd clay
              7      Must I burn through; once more humbly assay
              8The bitter-sweet of this Shakespearian fruit.
              9Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
            10      Begetters of our deep eternal theme,
            11When through the old oak forest I am gone,
            12      Let me not wander in a barren dream,
            13But when I am consumed in the fire,
            14Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.


1] golden-tongued Romance. The meaning and identification is uncertain. Keats may be contrasting poetic romance and poetic tragedy in general in the sonnet; he may be thinking particularly of The Faerie Queene and King Lear; or in putting aside romance, he may have in mind, to some degree, his own Endymion: A Poetic Romance which he was revising for the press at this time.

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: Richard Monckton Milnes, Life, Letters and Literary Remains of John Keats (New York: Putnam, 1848). PR 4836 A4 1848 ROBA
First publication date: 1838
RPO poem editor: J. R. MacGillivray
RP edition: 3RP 2.622.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28

Composition date: January 1818
Composition date note: January 22, 1818
Form: Italian Sonnet (variant)
Rhyme: abbaabbacdcdee
Form note: Keats's quatrain-and-couplet rhyme scheme in the sestet is a common variation that recalls the English sonnet.

Other poems by John Keats