John Keats on Saturday 29 June 1816

 

Rose

John Keats writes this sonnet:

To a Friend who Sent me some Roses

As late I rambled in the happy fields—
What time the skylark shakes the tremulous dew
From his lush covert, when anew
Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields—
I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,
A fresh-blown musk-rose; ’twas the first that threw
Its sweets upon the summer:  graceful it grew
As is the wand that queen Titania wields.
And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,
I thought the garden-rose it far excelled:
But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me
My sense with their deliciousness was spelled:
Soft voices had they, that with tender plea
Whispered of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquelled.

Context

A sonnet to Charles Wells (1800-1879), a school-friend of Keats’s younger brother Tom. The roses were a peace-offering after some disagreement between Keats and Wells. Two years later, there would be far worse disagreements between them.
The sonnet appeared in Poems, by John Keats (1817).
Photograph by Anne Stringfellow.

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