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ODE TO A NIGHTINGALE.18

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-wards had sunk.
'T is not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thy happiness,
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,

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

Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O for a draught of vintage, that hath been

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

Dance, and Provençal song, and sun-burnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,

And purple-stainèd 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 grey hairs;
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies,
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 ways. I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,

Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs,
But, in embalmèd 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,
Call d him soft names in many a musèd 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 ecstacy!
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 self-same song that found a path
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home,
She stood in tears amid the alien corn;

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

Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.19

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 fam'd to do, deceiving elf.
Adieu! adieu ! thy plaintive anthem fades
Past the near meadows, over the still stream,
Up the hill side ; and now't is buried deep

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

Fled is that music? Do I wake or sleep?

18 Ode to a Nightingale.—This poem was written in a house at the foot of Highgate Hill, on the border of the fields looking towards Hampstead. The poet had then his mortal illness upon him, and knew it. Never was the voice of death sweeter.

19 « Charm'd magic casements,” &c.—This beats Claude's Enchanted Castle, and the story of King Beder in the Arabian Nights. You do not know what the house is, or where, nor who the bird. Perhaps a king himself. But you see the window, open on the perilous sea, and hear the voice from out the trees in which it is nested, sending its warble over the foam. The whole is at once vague and particular, full of mysterious life. You see nobody, though something is heard; and you know not what of beauty or wickedness is to come over that sea. Perhaps it was suggested by some fairy tale. I remember nothing of it in the dream-like wildness of things in Palmerin of England, a book which is full of color and home landscapes, ending with a noble and affecting scene of war; and of which Keats was very fond.

ON FIRST LOOKING INTO CHAPMAN'S HOMER.

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 :
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told,

That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne;

Yet did I never breathe its pure serene,
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold :
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 Pacific20_and all his men
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise-

Silent, upon a peak in Darien.21

20 He stared at the Pacific,&c.—“Stared” has been thought by some too violent, but it is precisely the word required by the

occasion. The Spaniard was too original and ardent a man either to look, or to affect to look, coldly superior to it. His “eagle eyes” are from life, as may be seen by Titian's portrait of him.

The public are indebted to Mr. Charles Knight for a cheap reprint of Homer and Chapman.

2 « Silent, upon a peak in Darien.”-A most fit line to conclude our volume. We leave the reader standing upon it, with all the illimitable world of thought and feeling before him, to which his imagination will have been brought, while journeying through these “realms of gold.”

THE END.

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