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John Keats

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John Keats

John Keats (October 31, 1795 – February 23, 1821) was one of the main poets of the English Romantic movement.

Sourced quotes

  • My spirit is too weak- mortality
    Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
    And each imagin'd pinnacle and steep
    Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
    Like a sick Eagle looking at the sky.
Simple: I'm too weak in my spirit. The fact that I'm going to die feels like a heavy weight on my mind; it feels like falling asleep when I don't want to. And when I see each terrible trouble, like steep hills and mountain tops, then I know that I must die, like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
  • In drear-nighted December,
    Too happy, happy tree,
    Thy branches ne'er remember
    Their green felicity.
Simple: You tree who are happy -- too happy! In cold, dark December, your branches never remember their green happiness.
What it means: We are happy in the darkest times, because we do not remember what it was like when we were younger.
  • But were there ever any
    Writh'd not of passed joy?
    The feel of not to feel it,
    When there is none to heal it,
    Nor numbed sense to steel it,
    Was never said in rhyme.
    • Stanzas, st. 3
Simple: But were there ever any people who did not suffer when some joy (happiness) went away? No one ever wrote a rhyming poem about the feeling of not feeling that joy, when there is no one to help it heal, and you don't have frozen senses to save you from feeling it.
  • It keeps eternal whisperings around
    Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell
    Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell
    Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
Simple: The sea keeps whispering sounds that last forever around lonely shores, and with its great, strong waves it clears out twenty thousand caves, until the enchantment of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
  • When I have fears that I may cease to be
    Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
    Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
    Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
    When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
    Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
    And think that I may never live to trace
    Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
    And when I feel, fair creature of an hour!
    That I shall never look upon thee more,
    Never have relish in the faery power
    Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
    Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
    Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
Simple: When I am afraid that I might die before I've had time to write all the things my busy brain is thinking; when I'm afraid that I might die before a big pile of books holds my writing like farm buildings full of ripe grain; when I see the stars and think they're like clouds in the shape of signs meaning romance (emotions), and when I think I won't live long enough to draw the shapes of those clouds with the magic hand of chance; and when I feel, beautiful person! that I will never look at you again, never have a chance to enjoy the magic power of loving without thinking, then I stand on the shore of the wide world, and I keep on thinking, until Love and Fame don't seem important any more.
  • Shed no tear! O shed no tear!
    The flower will bloom another year.
    Weep no more! O weep no more!
    Young buds sleep in the root's white core.
    • Faery Songs, I (1818)
Simple: Don't let tears fall from your eyes! Don't let tears fall from your eyes! The flower will grow again another year. Don't cry any more! Don't cry any more! Inside the middle of the root of the plant, there are small parts sleeping that will grow into flowers later.
  • This living hand, now warm and capable
    Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
    And in the icy silence of the tomb,
    So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
    That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
    So in my veins red life might stream again,
    And thou be conscience-calm'd- see here it is-
    I hold it towards you.
Simple: My hand is alive and able to hold things firmly and with purpose. If my hand were cold and dead, in a cold, quiet place for dead people, my hand would follow you every day and make you cold and afraid when you dream at night. My hand would bother you so much that you would wish that you were dead too. You would wish that your heart had no blood in it, so that there would be blood in me instead, and so that you would not feel ashamed and sorry. See, here is my hand. I hold my hand out to you.
  • Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art-
    Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
    And watching with eternal lids apart,
    Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
    The moving waters at their priestlike task
    Of pure ablution round earth's human shores.
Simple: Hello, star in the sky! You are bright! I wish I was as steady as you. But not hanging in the night sky, beautifully, and alone, seeing, with my eyes never closed, like nature's patient hermit that never sleeps, seeing the waters move, as they work like a priest to make the earth pure and clean and holy around the Earth's human shores.
  • None can usurp this height...
    But those to whom the miseries of the world
    Are misery, and will not let them rest.
Simple: No one can come as high as this, except people who feel that the sad things in the world are sad, and who will not let those things stay sad.
  • Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
    • Epitaph for himself (1821)
Simple: The person lying here is someone whose name was written in water. (He wrote this so that when he was dead, someone could write it on his gravestone.) It means that, he did not fully finished his work, and his name dissapeared in waves, but ripples of it (his and his unfinished work) will go on forever after.

Letters (1817-1820)

  • I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination—what the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth—whether it existed before or not.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
Simple: I am certain of nothing except how holy the feelings of the heart are, and how true the imagination is. What the imagination thinks is beautiful must be true, whether it was something real or not.
  • The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream—he awoke and found it truth.
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
Simple: The imagination is like Adam's dream. He woke up and saw that his dream was true (Adam from John Milton's paradise lost not Bible..
  • O for a life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
Simple: I wish I lived a life of Feelings instead of Thoughts!
  • I scarcely remember counting upon happiness—I look not for it if it be not in the present hour—nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.    
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (November 22, 1817)
Simple: I almost do not remember ever relying on happiness. I only expect happiness right now; I do not expect it at other times. When I see the Sun going down, that always makes me feel good. If a small bird comes near my window, I imagine myself being part of the bird, and I look for food between the little stones with my beak.
  • At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously—I mean negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
    • Letter to George and Thomas Keats (December 22, 1817)
Simple: Suddenly I realized (started to think) how much quality is needed to make a man who does great things, especially in writing. Shakespeare had a great amount of that quality. I mean "negative capability" (the opposite of being able): that is, when a man is able to be in the middle of being uncertain, in the middle of mysteries and doubts, of not knowing things, without being bothered by trying to find truth or reason.
  • They will explain themselves - as all poems should do without any comment.
    • Letter to George Keats (1818)
Simple: The poems will tell you what the poems mean. All poems should do that, and the poems shouldn't need someone to tell you what they mean.
  • We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us—and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle or amaze with itself, but with its subject.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (February 3, 1818)
Simple: We hate poems when we can feel that the poem is trying to do something to us. If we don't agree with a poem like that, it puts its hand in the pocket of its pants, as if it doesn't want to talk to us about it. Poetry should be great and not pushing itself at us. It should come into our soul, and it should not be the poem that surprises us, but what it's talking about should surprise us.
  • In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their center. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity—it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance— Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him—shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight—but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it—and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
    • Letter to John Taylor (February 27, 1818)
Simple: For poems, I have a few rules, and you will see how far I am from their center. I think poems should surprise the reader by carefully going too far, not by being unusual. The poem should seem to the reader to be a way of saying the reader's best thoughts. It should seem almost as if the reader is remembering, not reading. The bits of beauty in a poem should never only go halfway, making the reader breathe hard instead of being happy. The going up, the moving forward, putting words about pictures should be like the sun and come naturally to the reader. They should shine over the reader and go down like the sun in the evening, calmly. With the beauty of the sun going down, they should leave the reader lucky enough to be in half-darkness. But it is easier to think what poems should be like, than to write poems like that. And this makes me remember another rule: that if poems don't come as easily and naturally as the leaves come to a tree, then it would be better if the poems don't come at all.
  • Scenery is fine—but human nature is finer.    
    • Letter to Benjamin Bailey (March 13, 1818)
Simple: Looking at natural places is nice, but the way human beings are is nicer.
What it means: The most beautiful things in the world are the qualities of human beings.
  • Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses: we read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (May 3, 1818)
Simple: Things that people write about philosophy are not rules until we really feel them in our heartbeat. We read very nice things but never fully feel them until we have lived the same experiences as the author.
  • I compare human life to a large mansion of many apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (May 3, 1818)
Simple: I think that human life is like a very big house with many rooms. I can only tell people about two of the rooms, because the doors of the other rooms are shut for me.
What it means: Life is big and complicated. I only know about my own experience. There are many interesting things in the other rooms, that maybe other people know, but that I don't know.
  • There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of immortality.
    • Letter to John Hamilton Reynolds (September 22, 1818)
Simple: My heart feels terribly warm, as if it has to carry the weight of immortality (living forever)
What it means: Even after he dies, his poems will still live.
  • I begin to get a little acquainted with my own strength and weakness. Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works.
    • Letter to James Hessey (October 9, 1818)
Simple: I'm starting to know some things about the ways that I am strong or weak. When people say good or bad things about someone, it does something to him for only a short time, if it's the kind of person who loves beauty as an abstract thing (beauty all by itself, not just the beauty of one thing) and that makes him be very strict about his opinions about his own work.
  • The genius of poetry must work out its own salvation in a man; it cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself. That which is creative must create itself—In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable sdvice.
    • Letter to James Hessey (October 9, 1818)
Simple: The cleverness of poetry must find its own way to save itself in a man. It can't be made fully grown by using laws and rules, but only by feeling and awareness by itself. Something that is creative must create itself. When writing Endymion, I jumped head-first into the sea, and by doing that I have learned to know better the depths of the bottom of the sea, the dangerous sands you can sink in, and the rocks. I would not have learned so much if I had stayed on the green shore and made music with a silly pipe, and taken tea and advice that makes things easy.
  • I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
    • Letter to James Hessey (October 9, 1818)
Simple: I would like it better if I fail than if I am not one of the best.
  • I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (October 14, 1818)
Simple: I think that after I die, I will be with the English Poets.
What it means: Maybe it means that after he dies, people will see that he's one of the great English poets. Or maybe it means that after he dies, in the afterlife he'll be together with other English poets.
  • The poetical character...is not itself—it has no self—it is everything and nothing...It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen.
    • Letter to Richard Woodhouse (October 27, 1818)
Simple: The quality of a poet (the way a poet is) is not a thing in itself. It has no self. It is everything. It is nothing. It likes to imagine an Iago as much as it likes to imagine an Imogen.
What it means: (Iago and Imogen are characters from plays by Shakespeare. Iago is very bad, and Imogen is very good.)
  • A poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence; because he has no identity—he is continually informing—and filling some other body.
    • Letter to Richard Woodhouse (October 27, 1818)
Simple: A person who writes poems is the one thing that is the most different from poems. He has no self. He is always filling up the shape of some other body.
  • A man's life of any worth is a continual allegory—and very few eyes can see the mystery of life—a life like the Scriptures, figurative...Lord Byron cuts a figure, but he is not figurative. Shakespeare led a life of allegory: his works are the comments on it.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (February 14-May 3, 1819)
Simple: If a man's life has any value, then it's a continuing symbolic story. Very few eyes are able to see the mystery of life, a life like the Scriptures, made of symbols and words saying that one thing is like another. Lord Byron "cuts a figure" (looks good when he walks) but he is not figurative (using symbols). Shakespeare led a life of symbolism; his works are the comment on it.
  • Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced—Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (February 14-May 3, 1819)
What it means: Nothing ever seems real to a person until the person lives through it. Even a proverb (a wise quote) doesn't seem like a proverb to you until your own life has shown you something like that.
  • I myself am pursuing the same instinctive course as the veriest human animal you can think of—I am, however young, writing at random—straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness—without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion. Yet may I not in this be free from sin?
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (March 19, 1819)
Simple: I am trying to follow the way the feelings I was born with tell me to go, the same way to go as someone who is most like a human animal of anyone you can think of. I am young, however, and writing randomly – trying hard to see small bits of light in the middle of a great darkness – without knowing in what direction anything that is said, or any opinion, may go. But could I please, while doing this, be free from doing wrong?
  • Call the world if you please "The vale of soul-making."
    • Letter to George and Georgiana Keats (April 21, 1819)
What it means: The world is the place where peoples' souls grow and learn.
  • I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.
    • To Fanny Brawne (July 25, 1819)
Simple: I have two very nice things to think about when I walk. One is your beauty, and the other is the time when I will die. I wish I could have both of them at the same time.
  • "If I should die," said I to myself, "I have left no immortal work behind me—nothing to make my friends proud of my memory—but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered."
    • To Fanny Brawne (c. February 1820)
Simple: I said to myself: "If I die, I don't have any work that I can leave behind me that will continue living after I die. I don't have anything to make my friends proud of me after I die. But I have loved the idea that there is beauty in all things, and if I had had more time I would have made people remember me.
What it means: If I had had more time, I would have written beautiful poems so that people would remember me after I died.
  • You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.
    • Letter to Fanny Brawne (March 1820)
What it means: You are always new. The last kiss you gave me was the nicest of all the kisses you gave me.. The last smile you gave me was the brightest of all the smiles you gave me. The last way you moved your body was the most beautiful of all the ways you moved.
  • You might curb your magnanimity, and be more of an artist, and load every rift of your subject with ore.
    • Letter to Shelley (August 1820)
Simple: You might stop being so nice, and be more like an artist, and put the kind of rocks that people get metal from into every crack of what you're writing.
  • I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow. God bless you!
    • Letter to Charles Armitage Brown (November 30, 1820)
Simple: It's difficult for me to say good-bye to you, even when I'm writing a letter to you. Whenever I bow to say good-bye to someone, I'm not very good at it: I do it in an uncomfortable way. I hope God is good to you!

Poems (1817)

  • I stood tip-toe upon a little hill,
    The air was cooling, and so very still,
    That the sweet buds which with a modest pride
    Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside,
    Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems,
    Had not yet lost those starry diadems
    Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
Simple: I stood on a hill, standing on just my toes, not my whole feet, so I would be taller. The air was cooling, and very still. Some buds on a tree pulled on their stems, which had only small amounts of leaves, and which got thinner at one end in a nice way. The buds pulled in a way that made the buds hang down and the branch curve and slant to one side; and the buds did this in a way that showed they were proud but quiet about being proud. They still had water on them from the early morning crying, and it looked like stars and like jewels that someone would put on their head.
What it means: The buds with dew (drops of water that come in the morning) on them were beautiful.
  • And then there crept
    A little noiseless noise among the leaves,
    Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.
    • I Stood Tiptoe, l. 10
Simple: And then a little sound that didn't make any sound moved in the leaves like something hiding. It was a child of the sigh that silence breathes.
  • Open afresh your round of starry folds,
    Ye ardent marigolds!
    • I Stood Tiptoe, l. 47
Simple: Open again your flowers which are like stars, you shining marigolds!
  • Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
    To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach
    A natural sermon o’er their pebbly beds;
    Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
    Staying their wavy bodies ’gainst the streams,
    To taste the luxury of sunny beams
    Temper’d with coolness.
    • I Stood Tiptoe, l. 72
Simple: Well! You might read two sonnets (a kind of poem) before those poems are able to reach as far as where the fast-moving water says a natural sermon (speech by a religious leader) over the bottom of the stream which is covered with small stones, where large groups of small fish show their little heads, keeping their curved bodies in one place by swimming against the moving water, to taste the richness of rays of sunshine softened by coolness.
What it means: Poems are not as beautiful as nature.
  • Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
    From low hung branches; little space they stop;
    But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
    Then off at once, as in a wanton freak:
    Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings
    Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
    • I Stood Tiptoe, l. 87
Simple: Sometimes goldfinches (small birds) will come down from branches of trees that are hanging close to the ground. They stay for only a short time. They drink small amounts of water and make little singing sounds, and they make their feathers smooth. Then they all fly away together, as if they are being crazy without trying to stop themselves from being crazy. Or maybe they wait for a short time while they are flying, to show us their black and golden wings.
Simple: Woman! When I see you moving carelessly, thinking you're great,
Not following the same rules all the time,

proud, and full of imaginative ideas.

Simple: For someone who has been kept closed into the small space of a city for a long time,

It is very nice to look into the beautiful open face of heaven.

What it means: It is very nice to look into the sky when one is outside the city.
  • E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
    That falls through the clear ether silently.
    • Sonnet. To One Who Has Been Long in City Pent
Simple: Just like an angel's tear moving past, falling silently through empty space.
  • Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
    And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
    Round many western islands have I been
    Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Simple: I have travelled a lot in countries of gold, and I have seen many good states and places ruled by monarchs (kings). I have been around many western islands, which the people who sing old songs believe belong to Apollo.
  • Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    When a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
    He star’d at the Pacific—and all his men
    Look’d at each other with a wild surmise—
    Silent, upon a peak in Darien.
    • On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
Simple: Then I felt like someone who is watching the sky when a new planet swims into the places he can see and know; or like strong Cortez, when, with eyes that can see as well as an eagle can, Cortez stared at the Pacific, and all his men looked at each other, wildly realizing what it was about, silent, at the top of a hill in Darien.
What it means: Cortez explored across Mexico to the Pacific ocean. The first time he and his men came to where they could see the Pacific ocean, it was a wonderful feeling.
  • And other spirits there are standing apart
    Upon the forehead of the age to come;
    These, these will give the world another heart,
    And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum
    Of mighty workings in a distant mart?
    Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.
Simple: And there are other spirits standing some distance away, on the forehead (top part of the face) of the next big period of time; These spirits will give the world a different heart, and different rhythms (heartbeats). Don't you hear the steady sound of great things happening in a place far away where people are buying and selling things? Listen for some time, you nations, and be silent.
  • Stop and consider! life is but a day;
    A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way
    From a tree’s summit.
Simple: Stop and think! Life is only a day. Life is like a drop of dew (water) that can easily be broken, falling through places where it can easily be hurt, from the top of a tree.
What it means: We are alive for only a short time.
  • O for ten years, that I may overwhelm
    Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed
    That my own soul has to itself decreed.
    • Sleep and Poetry, st. 6
Simple: I wish I had ten years, so that I could dive completely into poetry; so that I could do the action that my own soul has told itself formally that it must do.
  • A drainless shower
    Of light is poesy; ’tis the supreme of power;
    ’Tis might half slumb’ring on its own right arm.
    • Sleep and Poetry, st. 11
Simple: Poetry is a shower of light that doesn't go away. It's the highest power. It's strength, half-asleep on its own right arm.
  • But strength alone though of the Muses born
    Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn,
    Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
    Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs,
    And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
    Of poesy, that it should be a friend
    To sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.
    • Sleep and Poetry, st. 11
Simple: Even though it comes from the Muses, Strength (the quality of being strong), by itself, is only like an angel that has fallen. It very much likes trees pulled out of the ground, darkness, worms, cloths that are used to cover dead people and rooms underground where dead people are put. Strength eats burrs (prickly things that grow on plants and have seeds in them), and thorns of life. Strength forgets the great purpose of poetry: to be a friend, to help troubled people feel better, and lift peoples' thoughts.

Endymion (1818)

  • There is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object.
    • Preface
Simple: Nothing is worse than this: when you fail while you are trying to complete a great purpose.
  • The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thicksighted: thence proceeds mawkishness, and the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.
    • Preface
  • A thing of beauty is a joy forever:
    Its loveliness increases; it will never
    Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
    A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
    Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
    • Bk. I, l. 1
  • In spite of all,
    Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
    From our dark spirits.
    • Bk. I, l. 11
  • And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
    We have imagined for the mighty dead;
    All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
    An endless fountain of immortal drink,
    Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
    • Bk. I, l. 20
  • Nor do we merely feel these essences
    For one short hour; no, even as the trees
    That whisper round a temple become soon
    Dear as the temple’s self, so does the moon,
    The passion poesy, glories infinite,
    Haunt us till they become a cheering light
    Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
    That, whether there be shine, or gloom o’ercast,
    They alway must be with us, or we die.
    • Bk. I, l. 25
  • O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
    That broodest o’er the troubled sea of the mind
    Till it is hush’d and smooth!
    • Bk. I, l. 453
  • Time, that aged nurse,
    Rocked me to patience.
    • Bk. I, l. 705
  • Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks
    Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
    A fellowship with essence; till we shine,
    Full alchemiz’d, and free of space. Behold
    The clear religion of heaven!
    • Bk. I, l. 777
  • The crown of these
    Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
    Upon the forehead of humanity.
    • Bk. I, l. 800
  • My restless spirit never could endure
    To brood so long upon one luxury,
    Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
    A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
    • Bk. I, l. 854
  • Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain
    Clings cruelly to us.
    • Bk. I, l. 906
  • He ne'er is crown'd
    With immortality, who fears to follow
    Where airy voices lead.
    • Bk. II, l. 211
  • 'Tis the pest
    Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest.
    • Bk. II, l. 365
  • To Sorrow
    I bade good-morrow,
    And thought to leave her far away behind;
    But cheerly, cheerly,
    She loves me dearly;
    She is so constant to me, and so kind:
    I would deceive her
    And so leave her,
    But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
    • Bk. IV, l. 173

La Belle Dame Sans Merci (1819)

  • O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms,
    Alone and palely loitering?
    The sedge has wither'd from the lake,
    And no birds sing.
    • Stanza I
  • I met a lady in the meads,
    Full beautiful- a faery's child,
    Her hair was long, her foot was light,
    And her eyes were wild.
    • Stanza IV
  • I made a garland for her head,
    And bracelets too, and fragrant zone;
    She look'd at me as she did love,
    And made sweet moan.
    • Stanza V
  • I saw pale kings and princes too,
    Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;
    They cried- "La Belle Dame sans Merci
    Hath thee in thrall!"
    • Stanza X

Poems (1820)

  • And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there
    But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
  • Love in a hut, with water and a crust,
    Is—Love, forgive us!—cinders, ashes, dust.
  • Philosophy will clip an Angel’s wings,
    Conquer all mysteries by rule and line,
    Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine—
    Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made
    The tender-person’d Lamia melt into a shade.
    • Lamia, Pt. II, l. 234
  • St. Agnes’ Eve—Ah, bitter chill it was!
    The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;
    The hare limp’d trembling through the frozen grass,
    And silent was the flock in woolly fold.
  • The music, yearning like a God in pain.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 7
  • Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose,
    Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart
    Made purple riot.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 16
  • As though a tongueless nightingale should swell
    Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 23
  • Full on this casement shone the wintry moon,
    And threw warm gules on Madeline’s fair breast,
    As down she knelt for heaven’s grace and boon;
    Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 25
  • Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one;
    Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees
    Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 26
  • And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep,
    In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender’d.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 30
  • She hurried at his words, beset with fears,
    For there were sleeping dragons all around,
    At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears—
    Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.—
    In all the house was heard no human sound.
    A chain-droop’d lamp was flickering by each door;
    The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound,
    Flutter’d in the besieging wind’s uproar;
    And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 40
  • And they are gone: ay, ages long ago
    These lovers fled away into the storm.
    • The Eve of St. Agnes, st. 42
  • So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
    Upon the midnight hours
  • And there shall be for thee all soft delight
    That shadowy thought can win,
    A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
    To let the warm Love in!
    • Ode to Psyche, st. 5
  • Ever let the Fancy roam,
    Pleasure never is at home.
  • Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
    Ye have left your souls on earth!
    Have ye souls in heaven too,
    Double-lived in regions new?
    • Ode, The Fair Maid of the Inn
  • Souls of Poets dead and gone,
    What Elysium have ye known,
    Happy field or mossy cavern,
    Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
    Have ye tippled drink more fine
    Than mine host’s Canary wine?
  • Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,
    Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
  • 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.
    • To Autumn, st. 2

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