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Muses bright, and muses pale,
Bare your faces of the veil ;
Let me see and let me write
Of the day, and of the night-
Both together:-let me slake
All my thirst for sweet heart-ache!
Let my bower be of yew,
Interwreath'd with myrtles new;
Pines and lime-trees full in bloom,
And my couch a low grass tomb.

*

A singular instance of Keats's delicate perception occurred in the composition of the "Ode on Melancholy." In the original manuscript, he had intended to represent the vulgar connection of Melancholy with gloom and horror, in contrast with the emotion that incites to,

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'glut thy sorrow on a morning rose, Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave, Or on the wealth of globed peonies;"

and which essentially

"lives in Beauty-Beauty that must die, And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu."

The first stanza, therefore, was the following: as

grim a picture as Blake or Fuseli could have dreamed and painted:

"Though you should build a bark of dead men's bones,

And rear a phantom gibbet for a mast,
Stitch shrouds together for a sail, with groans

To fill it out, blood-stained and aghast;
Although your rudder be a dragon's tail
Long severed, yet still hard with agony,
Your cordage large uprootings from the skull
Of bald Medusa, certes you would fail
To find the Melancholy—whether she
Dreameth in any isle of Lethe dull.”

But no sooner was this written, than the poet became conscious that the coarseness of the contrast would destroy the general effect of luxurious tenderness which it was the object of the poem to produce, and he confined the gross notion of Melancholy to less violent images, and let the ode at once begin,

"No, no! go not to Lethe, neither twist
Wolf's-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine;
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kissed
By nightshade, ruby grape of Proserpine," &c.

The "Eve of St. Agnes" was begun on a visit in Hampshire, at the commencement of this year, and finished on his return to Hampstead. It is written still under Spenserian influences, but with a striking improvement in form, both of diction and versification; the story is easily conducted, and the details

picturesque in the highest degree, without the intricate designing of the earlier poems. Lord Jeffrey remarks: "The glory and charm of the poem is the description of the fair maiden's antique chamber and of all that passes in that sweet and angel-guarded sanctuary, every part of which is touched with colours at once rich and delicate, and the whole chastened and harmonised in the midst of its gorgeous distinctness by a pervading grace and purity, that indicate not less clearly the exaltation, than the refinement of the author's fancy."

END OF VOL. I.

LONDON:

BRADBURY AND EVANS, PRINTERS, WHITEFRIARS.

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