200 years ago Keats was working on ‘The Eve of St Mark’

On Monday 15 February 1819, after Keats had finished writing ‘The Eve of St Agnes’ (suggested by Mrs Isabella Jones) he started on another poem based on her suggestion, ‘The Eve of Saint Mark’.

Upon a Sabbath-day it fell;
Twice holy was the sabbath bell
That call’d the folk to evening prayer.
The City Streets were clean and fair
From wholesome drench of April rains,
And, on the western window pains
The chilly sunset faintly told
Of immaturd, green vallies cold,
Of the green, thorny, bloomless hedge,
Of Rivers new with spring tide sedge,
Of Primroses by sheltered rills,
And daisies on the aguish hills.
Twice holy was the sabbath bell:
The silent streets were crowded well
With staid and pious companies
Warm from their fire-side oratries,
And moving with demurest air
To even song and vesper prayer.
Each arched porch and entry low
Was fill’d with patient crowd and slow,
With whispers hush, and shuffling feet
While play’d the organ loud and sweet.

The bells had ceas’d, the Prayers begun,
And Bertha had not yet half done
A curious volume, patch’d and torn,
That all day long, from earliest morn,
Had taken captive her fair eyes.
Among its golden broideries:—
Perplex’d her with a thousand things—
The Stars of heaven, and Angels wings;
Martyrs in a fiery blaze;
Azure saints ’mid silver rays;
Aron’s breastplate, and the seven
Candlesticks John saw in heaven;
The winged Lion of Saint Mark,
And the Covenental Arck
With its many Mysteries
Cherubim and golden Mice.

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