John Keats writes 200 years ago, around Monday 19 August 1816

The-Steep web

These are the living pleasures of the bard:
But richer far posterity’s award.
What does he murmur with his latest breath,
While his proud eye looks through the film of death?
‘What though I leave this dull, and earthly mould,
Yet shall my spirit lofty converse hold
With after times.  The patriot shall feel
My stern alarum, and unsheathe his steel;
Or, in the senate thunder out my numbers
To startle princes from their easy slumbers…

‘To sweet rest
Shall the dear babe, upon its mother’s breast,
Be lulled with songs of mine.  Fair world, adieu!
Thy dales and hills, are fading from my view:
Swiftly I mount, upon wide spreading pinions,
Far from the narrow bounds of thy dominions.
Full joy I feel, while thus I cleave the air,
That my soft verse will charm thy daughters fair,
And warm thy sons!’  Ah, my dear friend and brother,
Could I, at once, my mad ambition smother,
For tasting joys like these, sure I should be
Happier, and dearer to society.
At times, ’tis true, I’ve felt relief from pain
When some bright thought has darted through my brain:
Through all that day I’ve felt a greater pleasure
Than if I’d brought to light a hidden treasure.
As to my sonnets, though none else should heed them,
I feel delighted, still, that you should read them…

Continuation of the verse epistle ‘To my brother George’, lines 67-76; 101-118, written in Margate during August 1816 while Keats is on holiday after qualifying as an apothecary, trying to decide whether to devote his life to medicine or to poetry. Keats dreams of poetic fame.


To My Brother George

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