Keats' Poems and Letters

Imitation of Spenser

Now Morning from her orient chamber came,

And her first footsteps touch'd a verdant hill;

Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame,

Silv'ring the untainted gushes of its rill;

Which, pure from mossy beds, did down distill,

And after parting beds of simple flowers,

By many streams a little lake did fill,

Which round its marge reflected woven bowers,

And, in its middle space, a sky that never lowers.

There the king-fisher saw his plumage bright

Vieing with fish of brilliant dye below;

Whose silken fins, and golden scales' light

Cast upward, through the waves, a ruby glow:

There saw the swan his neck of arched snow,

And oar'd himself along with majesty;

Sparkled his jetty eyes; his feet did show

Beneath the waves like Afric's ebony,

And on his back a fay reclined voluptuously.

Ah! could I tell the wonders of an isle

That in that fairest lake had placed been,

I could e'en Dido of her grief beguile;

Or rob from aged Lear his bitter teen:

For sure so fair a place was never seen,

Of all that ever charm'd romantic eye:

It seem'd an emerald in the silver sheen

Of the bright waters; or as when on high,

Through clouds of fleecy white, laughs the coerulean sky.

And all around it dipp'd luxuriously

Slopings of verdure through the glossy tide,

Which, as it were in gentle amity,

Rippled delighted up the flowery side;

As if to glean the ruddy tears, it tried,

Which fell profusely from the rose-tree stem!

Haply it was the workings of its pride,

In strife to throw upon the shore a gem

Outvieing all the buds in Flora's diadem.

Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain,

Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies;

Without that modest softening that enhances

The downcast eye, repentant of the pain

That its mild light creates to heal again:

E'en then, elate, my spirit leaps, and prances,

E'en then my soul with exultation dances

For that to love, so long, I've dormant lain:

But when I see thee meek, and kind, and tender,

Heavens! how desperately do I adore

Thy winning graces;--to be thy defender

I hotly burn--to be a Calidore--

A very Red Cross Knight--a stout Leander--

Might I be loved by thee like these of yore.

Light feet, dark violet eyes, and parted hair;

Soft dimpled hands, white neck, and creamy breast,

Are things on which the dazzled senses rest

Till the fond, fixed eyes, forget they stare.

From such fine pictures, heavens! I cannot dare

To turn my admiration, though unpossess'd

They be of what is worthy,--though not drest

In lovely modesty, and virtues rare.

Yet these I leave as thoughtless as a lark;

These lures I straight forget,--e'en ere I dine,

Or thrice my palate moisten: but when I mark

Such charms with mild intelligences shine,

My ear is open like a greedy shark,

To catch the tunings of a voice divine.

Ah! who can e'er forget so fair a being?

Who can forget her half retiring sweets?

God! she is like a milk-white lamb that bleats

For man's protection. Surely the All-seeing,

Who joys to see us with his gifts agreeing,

Will never give him pinions, who intreats

Such innocence to ruin,--who vilely cheats

A dove-like bosom. In truth there is no freeing

One's thoughts from such a beauty; when I hear

A lay that once I saw her hand awake,

Her form seems floating palpable, and near;

Had I e'er seen her from an arbour take

A dewy flower, oft would that hand appear,

And o'er my eyes the trembling moisture shake.