1821 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Keats

P., "Verses to the Memory of John Keats, the Poet" The Literary Chronicle 3 (31 March 1821) 206.



If many kings and senators had died,
My heart could not have given mine eyes a tide
So strong and deep as that which drowns my breath,
Departed spirit of Keats! to bathe thy death!
Like an ethereal minstrel, born for love—
To give a foretaste of the joys above,
O! thou wert wond'rous in thy gentle youth,
Giving delicious songs in lovely truth!
Nature thy guide — Simplicity thy aim,
Thou sang'st thy passage to the heaven of fame.
Like White, thy hallow'd ecstacies were zoned,
Celestial for the beauty which they toned;
Terrestrial ears were charm'd to hear thee sing,
And drank thy music from thy wells and spring.
Erewhile the fleeting pageantries of earth
Inspire Laureates to give Vision birth,
Thou, on the blossoms of thine own sweet leaves,
"Borne with the very sigh that silences heaves,"
Hast soon ascended to receive thy crown
Of fadeless bays eternal and renown.
Not like the mermaid that enchants the sea,
Then leaves the tar in hopeless destiny;
Not like the lark that goes to heavenly skies
And comes to earth again and songless dies;
Nor like the bird of night in thorns, that sings
To silent moonlight, form'd by Shadow's wings;
Nor yet the cuckoo heralding the air
To love's companionship the lives that bear:—
—Though in the worm's own mansion for mankind,
Though risen to rest, thy works are left behind,—
These transcripts of thy fancy and thy heart,
With life will live, immortal as thou art!
The flatt'ring and the vain will drop unwept,
And millions sleep with those who've centuries slept;
Ages will roll and empires sink to dust—
Ruins be traceless, though by victory nurst,—
But thy descriptive and pathetic page
Shall yield delight to each succeeding age,
Like thy lov'd Chaucer and thy Spenser, be
Time's choice memorial to eternity!
Islington Green, March 25, 1821.