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Is measured by the pants of their calm sleep.
The living soul, of this elysian isle—
Where secure sleep may kill thine innocent lights—
Our breath shall intermix, our bosoms bound,
As mountain-springs under the morning sun.
Those spheres instinct with it become the same,
In one another's substance finding food,
And one annihilation!
Woe is me!
The winged words on which my soul would pierce
Are chains of lead around its flight of fire-
Weak verses, go, kneel at your Sovereign's feet,
Which, if not here, it builds beyond the grave."
Marina, Vanna, Primus, and the rest,
And bid them love each other, and be blessed : And leave the troop which errs and which reproves, And come and be my guest-for I am Love's.
AN ELEGY ON THE DEATH OF JOHN KEATS.
̓Αστὴρ πρὶν μὲν ἔλαμπες ἐνὶ ζώοισιν ἐῶος.
Φάρμακον ἦλθε Βίων τοτὶ σὸν στόμα φάρμακον εἶδες·
MOSCHUS, EPITAPH. BION.
IT is my intention to subjoin to the London edition of this poem a criticism upon the claims of its lamented object to be classed among the writers of the highest genius who have adorned our age. My known repugnance to the narrow principles of taste on which several of his earlier compositions were modelled proves at least that I am an impartial judge. I consider the fragment of Hyperion as second to nothing that was ever produced by a writer of the same years.
John Keats died at Rome of a consumption, in his twenty-fourth year, on the 27th of December 1820; and was buried in the romantic and lonely cemetery of the protestants in that city, under the pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, and the massy walls and towers, now mouldering and desolate, which formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place.
The genius of the lamented person to whose memory I have dedicated these unworthy verses was not less delicate and fragile than it was beautiful; and, where canker-worms abound, what wonder if its young flower was blighted in the bud? The savage criticism on his Endymion which appeared in the Quarterly Review produced the most violent effect on his susceptible mind. The agitation thus originated ended in the rupture of a blood-vessel in the lungs; a rapid consumption ensued; and the succeeding acknowledgments, from more candid critics, of the true greatness of his powers, were ineffectual to heal the wound thus wantonly inflicted. It may be well said that these wretched men know not what they do. They scatter their insults and their slanders without heed as to whether the poisoned shaft lights on a heart made callous by many blows, or one, like Keats's, composed of more penetrable stuff. One of their associates is, to my knowledge, a most base and unprincipled calumniator. As to Endymion, was it a poem, whatever might be its defects, to be treated contemptuously by those who had celebrated with various degrees of complacency and panegyric Paris, and Woman, and A Syrian Tale, and Mrs. Lefanu, and Mr. Barret, and Mr. Howard Payne, and a long list of the illustrious obscure? Are these the men who, in their venal good-nature, presumed to draw a parallel between the Rev. Mr. Milman, and Lord Byron? What gnat did they strain at here, after having swallowed all those camels? Against what woman taken in adultery dares the foremost of these literary prostitutes to cast his opprobri
ous stone? Miserable man! you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest, specimens of the workmanship of God. Nor shall it be your excuse that, murderer as you are, you have spoken daggers, but used none.
The circumstances of the closing scene of poor Keats's life were not made known to me until the Elegy was ready for the press. I am given to understand that the wound which his sensitive spirit had received from the criticism of Endymion was exasperated by the bitter sense of unrequited benefits; the poor fellow seems to have been hooted from the stage of life, no less by those on whom he had wasted the promise of his genius than those on whom he had lavished his fortune and his care. He was accompanied to Rome, and attended in his last illness, by Mr. Severn, a young artist of the highest promise, who, I have been informed, "almost risked his own life, and sacrificed every prospect to unwearied attendance upon his dying friend." Had I known these circumstances before the completion of my poem, I should have been tempted to add my feeble tribute of applause to the more solid recompense which the virtuous man finds in the recollection of his own motives. Mr. Severn can dispense with a reward from "such stuff as dreams are made of." His conduct is a golden augury of the success of his future career. May the unextinguished spirit of his illustrious friend animate the creations of his pencil, and plead against oblivion for his name!
I WEEP for Adonais-he is dead!
Oh! weep for Adonais, though our tears
Forget the past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity."
Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay,
In darkness? Where was lorn Urania
When Adonais died? With veiled eyes,
'Mid listening Echoes, in her paradise
She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath,
Rekindled all the fading melodies
With which, like flowers that mock the corse beneath,
Oh! weep for Adonais-he is dead!
Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep!—
Descend. Oh! dream not that the amorous deep
Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our despair.
Most musical of mourners, weep again!
Who was the sire of an immortal strain,
Blind, old, and lonely, when his country's pride The priest, the slave, and the liberticide, Trampled and mocked with many a loathed rite
Of lust and blood. He went unterrified
Into the gulf of death; but his clear sprite
Most musical of mourners, weep anew!
Not all to that bright station dared to climb:
Struck by the envious wrath of man or god,
Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime;
And some yet live, treading the thorny road
Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame's serene abode.
But now thy youngest, dearest one has perished,
Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last,
The bloom whose petals, nipped before they blew,
Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;
The broken lily lies-the storm is overpassed.