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THE Hon. WILLIAM SPENCER. 1770-1837.


Too late I've stay'd-forgive the crime

Unheeded flew the hours :
How noiseless falls the foot of Time

That only treads on flowers !
And who, with clear account, remarks

The ebbings of his glass,
When all its sands are diamond sparks,

That dazzle as they pass ?
And who to sober measurement

Time's happy swiftness brings,
When birds of paradise have lent

Their plumage to his wings?

JOHN KEATS. 1796–1821.


My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains

My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains

One minute past, and Lethe-ward had sunk.
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-wingʻd Dryad of the trees,

In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.
Oh for a draught of vintage, that hath been

Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth, Tasting of Flora and the country green,

Dance, and Provençal song, and sunburnt mirth!



Oh for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stain'd mouth ;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,

And with thee fade away into the forest dim:
Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget

What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret

Here, where men sit and hear each other groan;
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs,
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow

And leaden-eyed despairs,
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes,

Or new love pine at them beyond to-morrow.
Away! away! for I will fly to thee,

Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards,
But on the viewless wings of Poesy,

Though the dull brain perplexes and retards :
Already with thee! tender is the night,
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
Cluster'd around by all her starry fays;

But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,

Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalm’d darkness, guess each sweet

Wherewith the seasonable month endows
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild ;
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine ;
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves ;

And mid-May's eldest child,
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine,
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.

Darkling I listen ; and, for many a time

I have been half in love with easeful Death, Calld him soft names in many a mused rhyme, To take into the air my quiet breath ;

Now more than ever seems it rich to die,
To cease upon the midnight with no pain,
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad

In such an ecstasy!
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain-

To thy high requiem become a sod.
Thou wast not born for death, immortal bird !

No hungry generations tread thee down ;
The voice I hear this passing night was heard

In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the selfsame song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for She stood in tears amid the alien corn; [home,

The same that ofttimes hath Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam

Of perilous seas, in fairy lands forlorn. Forlorn! the very word is like a bell

To toll me back from thee to my sole self !
Adieu ! the fancy cannot cheat so well

As she is famed to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hillside; and now 'tis buried deep

In the next valley-glades :
Was it a vision or a waking dream ?

Fled is that music : do I wake or sleep?


Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness!

Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time,
Sylvan historian, who canst thus express
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme :

What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape Of deities or mortals, or of both,

In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? [loth? What men or gods are these? What maidens What mad pursuit ? What struggle to escape ?

What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy ? Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard

Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd,

Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone : Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare ;

Bold lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal : yet do not grieve ; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss,

For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!

Ah, happy, happy boughs! that cannot shed

Your leaves, nor ever bid the Spring adieu ;
And, happy melodist, unwearied,

For ever piping songs for ever new;
More happy love! more happy, happy love!
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd,

For ever panting and for ever young ;
All breathing human passion far above,
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd,

A burning forehead and a parching tongue.
Who are these coming to the sacrifice ?

To what green altar, oh mysterious priest, Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies,

And all her silken flanks with garlands dress'd? What little town by river or seashore, Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel,

Is emptied of this folk this pious morn ? And, little town, thy streets for evermore Will silent be ; and not a soul to tell

Why thou art desolate can e'er return.

Oh, Attic shape! Fair attitude! with brede

Of marble men and maidens overwrought, With forest branches and the trodden weed ;

Thou, silent form! dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral ! When old age shall this generation waste,

Thou shalt remain, in midst of other wo Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say'st

Beauty is truth, truth beauty ;" that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


Oh, goddess ! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung

By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear, And pardon that thy secrets should be sung,

Even into thine own soft-couched ear : Surely I dream'd to day, or did I see

The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes ! I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,

And on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side

In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran

A brooklet, scarce espied :
Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,

Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay, calm-breathing on the bedded grass ;

Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
At tender eye-dawn of Aurorean love':

The winged boy I knew ;
But who wast thou, oh happy, happy dove ?

His Psyche true!

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