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nation towards a truth. My having written that argument will perhaps be of the greatest service to me of any thing I ever did. It set before me the gradations of happiness, even like a kind of pleasure-thermometer, and is my first step towards the chief attempt in the drama: the playing of different natures with joy and Do me this favor, and believe me, Your sincere friend,
I hope your next work will be of a more general interest. suppose you cogitate a little about it now and then.
HAMPSTEAD, Feb. 27, 1818.
MY DEAR TAYLOR,
Your alteration strikes me as being a great improvement. And now I will attend to the punctuation you speak of. The comma should be at soberly, and in the other passage the comma should follow quiet. I am extremely indebted to you for this alteration, and also for your after admonitions. It is a sorry thing for me that any one should have to overcome prejudices in reading my verses. That affects me more than any hypercriticism on any particular passage. In "Endymion," I have most likely but moved into the go-cart from the leading strings. In poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre.
Ist. I think poetry should surprise by a fine excess, and not by singularity; it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance.
2nd. Its touches of beauty should never be halfway, thereby making the reader breathless, instead of content. The rise, the progress, the setting of imagery, should, like the sun, come natural to him, shine over him, and set soberly, although in magnifi. cence, leaving him in the luxury of twilight. But it is easier to think what poetry should be, than to write it. And this leads me
Another axiom-That if poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree, it had better not come at all. However it
may be with me, I cannot help looking into new countries with Oh, for a muse of fire to ascend!" If "Endymion" serves me as a pioneer, perhaps I ought to be content, for, thank God, I can read, and perhaps understand, Shakspeare to his depths; and I have, I am sure, many friends, who, if I fail, will attribute any change in my life and temper to humbleness rather than prideto a cowering under the wings of great poets, rather than to a bitterness that I am not appreciated. I am anxious to get "Endymion" printed that I may forget it, and proceed. I have copied the Third Book, and begun the Fourth. I will take care the printer shall not trip up my heels.
Remember me to Percy Street.
Your sincere and obliged friend,
P. S.-You shall have a short preface in good time.
TEIGNMOUTH, 14 March, [1818.]
I escaped being blown over, and blown under, and trees and house being toppled on me. I have, since hearing of Brown's accident, had an aversion to a dose of parapet, and being also a lover of antiquities, I would sooner have a harmless piece of Herculaneum sent me quietly as a present than ever so modern a chimney-pot tumbled on to my head. Being agog to see some Devonshire, I would have taken a walk the first day, but the rain would not let me; and the second, but the rain would not let me; and the third, but the rain forbade it. Ditto fourth, ditto fifth, ditto-so I made up my mind to stop in doors, and catch a sight flying between the showers: and, behold, I saw a pretty valley, pretty cliffs, pretty brooks, pretty meadows, pretty trees, both standing as they were created, and blown down as they were uncreated. The green is beautiful, as they say, and pity it is that it is amphibious-mais! but, alas! the flowers here wait as naturally for the rain twice a day as the muscles do for the tide; so we look upon a brook in these parts as you look upon a splash in your country. There must be something to support this―aye,
fog, hail, snow, rain, mist, blanketing up three parts of the year. This Devonshire is like Lydia Languish, very entertaining when it smiles, but cursedly subject to sympathetic moisture. You have the sensation of walking under one great Lamp-lighter: and you can't go on the other side of the ladder to keep your frock clean. Buy a girdle, put a pebble in your mouth, loosen your braces-for I am going among scenery whence I intend to tip you the Damosel Radcliffe. I'll cavern you, and grotto you, and water-fall you, and wood you, and water you, and immense-rock you, and tremendous-sound you, and solitude you. I'll make a lodgment on your glacis by a row of pines, and storm your covered way with bramble-bushes. I'll have at you with hip-and-haw small-shot, and cannonade you with shingles. I'll be witty upon salt fish, and impede your cavalry with clotted-cream. But, ah! Coward! to talk at this rate to a sick man, or, I hope, to one that was sick-for I hope by this you stand on your right foot. If you are not-that's all-I intend to cut all sick people if they do not make up their minds to cut Sickness-a fellow to whom I have a complete aversion, and who, strange to say, is harbored and countenanced in several houses where I visit: he is sitting now, quite impudent, between me and Tom; he insults me at poor Jem Rice's; and you have seated him before now, between us at the Theatre, when I thought he looked with a longing eye at poor Kean. I shall say, once for all, to my friends, generally and severally, cut that fellow, or I cut you.
I went to the Theatre here the other night, which I forgot to tell George, and got insulted, which I ought to remember to forget to tell any body; for I did not fight, and as yet have had no redress-"Lie thou there, sweetheart!" I wrote to Bailey yesterday, obliged to speak in a high way, and a damme, who's afraid? for I had owed him [a letter] so long: however, he shall see I will be better in future. Is he in town yet? I have directed to Oxford as the better chance.
I have copied my fourth Book, and shall write the Preface soon. I wish it was all done; for I want to forget it, and make my mind free for something new. Atkins, the coachman, Bartlett, the surgeon, Simmons, the barber, and the girls over at the bonnet shop, say we shall now have a month of seasonable weather -warm, witty, and full of invention.
Write to me, and tell me that you are well, or thereabouts; or, by the holy Beaucœur, which I suppose is the Virgin Mary, or the repented Magdalen, (beautiful name, that Magdalen,) I'll take to my wings and fly away to any where, but old or Nova Scotia.
I wish I had a little bit of innocent metaphysic in my head, to criss-cross the letter: but you know a favorite tune is hardest to be remembered when one wants it most; and you, I know, have, long ere this, taken it for granted that I never have any speculations without associating you in them, where they are of a pleasant nature and you know enough of me to tell the places where I haunt most, so that if you think for five minutes after having read this, you will find it a long letter, and see written in the air before you.
Your affectionate friend,
TEIGNMOUTH, 25 March, 1818.
MY DEAR REYNOLDS,
In hopes of cheering you through a minute or two, I was determined, will he nill he, to send you some lines, so you will excuse the unconnected subjects and careless verse. You know, I am sure, Leland's "Enchanted Castle," and I wish you may be pleased with my remembrance of it. The rain is come on again. I think with me Devonshire stands a very poor chance. I shall damn it up hill and down dale, if it keep up to the average of six fine days in three weeks. Let me hear better news of you. Your affectionate friend, JOHN KEATS.
Dear Reynolds! as last night I lay in bed,
Old Socrates a tying his cravat,
And Hazlitt playing with Miss Edgeworth's Cat;
And Junius Brutus, pretty well, so so,
Few are there who escape these visitingsPerhaps one or two whose lives have patent wings, And thro' whose curtains peeps no hellish nose, No wild boar tushes, and no Mermaid's toes; But flowers bursting out with lusty pride, And young Eolian hearts personified; Some Titian colors touch'd into real lifeThe sacrifice goes on; the pontiff knife Gleams in the Sun, the milk-white heifer lows, The pipes go shrilly, the libation flows: A white sail shows above the green-head cliff, Moves round the point, and throws her anchor stiff; The mariners join hymn with those on land.
You know the enchanted Castle,-it doth stand Upon a rock, on the border of a Lake, Nested in trees, which all do seein to shake From some old magic-like Urganda's Sword. O Phœbus! that I had thy sacred word To show this Castle, in fair dreaming wise, Unto my friend, while sick and ill he lies!
You know it well enough, where it doth seem
Part of the Building was a chosen See,
The doors all look as if they oped themselves, The windows as if latched by Fays and Elves,