Imágenes de páginas

growing preponderance of the imagination is a frequent phenomenon in poetical psychology.

To his brother George, then a clerk in Mr. Abbey's house, his next Epistle is addressed, and Spenser is there too. But by this time the delightful complacency of conscious genius had already dawned upon his mind and gives the poem an especial interest. After a brilliant sketch of the present happiness of the Poet, "his proud eye looks through the film of death;" he thinks of leaving behind him lays

"of such a dear delight,

That maids will sing them on their bridal night;"

he foresees that the patriot will thunder out his numbers,

"To startle princes from their easy slumbers;"

and while he checks himself in what he calls

mad ambition," yet he owns he has felt

"relief from pain,

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When some bright thought has darted through my brain-
Through all the day, I've felt a greater pleasure

Than if I'd brought to light a hidden treasure."

Although this foretaste of fame is in most cases a delusion (as the fame itself may be a greater delusion still), yet it is the best and purest drop in the cup of intellectual ambition. It is enjoyed, thank God, by

thousands, who soon learn to estimate their own capacities aright and tranquilly submit to the obscure and transitory condition of their existence: it is felt by many, who look back on it in after years with a smiling pity to think they were so deceived, but who nevertheless recognise in that aspiration the spring of their future energies and usefulness in other and far different fields of action; and the few, in whom the prophecy is accomplished-who become what they have believed -will often turn away with uneasy satiety from present satisfaction to the memory of those happy hopes, to the thought of the dear delight they then derived from one single leaf of those laurels that now crowd in at the window, and which the hand is half inclined to push away to let in the fresh air of heaven.

The lines

"As to my Sonnets-though none else should heed them,
I feel delighted still that you should read them,"

occur in this Epistle, and several of these have been . preserved besides those published or already mentioned. Some, indeed, are mere experiments in this difficult but attractive form of composition, and others evidently refer to forgotten details of daily life and are unmeaning without them. A few of unequal power and illustrative of the progress of genius should not be forgotten, while those contained in the first volume of his Poems are perhaps the most remarkable pieces ✓✓

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in it. They are as noble in thought, rich in expression, and harmonious in rhythm as any in the language, and among the best may be ranked that "On first looking into Chapman's Homer." Unable as he was to read the original Greek, Homer had as yet been to him a name of solemn significance, and nothing more. His friend and literary counsellor, Mr. Clarke, happened to borrow Chapman's translation, and having invited Keats to read it with him one evening, they continued their study till daylight. He describes Keats's delight as intense, even to shouting aloud, as some passage of especial energy struck his imagination. It was fortunate that he was introduced to that heroic company through an interpretation which preserves so much of the ancient simplicity, and in a metre that, after all various attempts, including that of the hexameter, still appears the best adapted, from its pauses and its length, to represent in English the Greek epic verse. An accomplished scholar may perhaps be unwilling, or unable, to understand how thoroughly the imaginative reader can fill up the necessary defects of any translation which adheres, as far as it may, to the tone and spirit of the original, and does not introduce fresh elements of thought, incongruous ornaments, or cumbrous additions; be it bald and tame, he can clothe and colour it-be it harsh and ill-jointed, he can perceive the smoothness and completeness that

has been lost; only let it not be like Pope's Homer, a new work with an old name-a portrait, itself of considerable power and beauty, but in which the features of the individual are scarcely to be recognised. The Sonnet in which these his first impressions are concentrated, was left the following day on Mr. Clarke's table, realising the idea of that form of verse expressed by Keats himself in his third Epistle, as

"swelling loudly

Up to its climax, and then dying proudly."

This Epistle is written in a bolder and freer strain than the others; the Poet in excusing himself for not having addressed his Muse to Mr. Clarke before, on account of his inferiority to the great masters of song, implies that he is growing conscious of a possible brotherhood with them; and his terse and true description of the various orders of verse, with which his friend has familiarised his mind-the Sonnet, as above cited-the Ode,

"Growing, like Atlas, stronger from its load,"

the Epic,

"of all the king,

Round, vast, and spanning all, like Saturn's ring,"

and last,

"The sharp, the rapier-pointed Epigram,—"

betokens the justness of perception generally allied with redundant fancy.

These notices have anticipated the period of the termination of Keats's apprenticeship and his removal to London, for the purpose of walking the hospitals. He lodged in the Poultry, and having been introduced by Mr. Clarke to some literary friends soon found himself in a circle of minds which appreciated his genius and stimulated him to exertion. One of his first acquaintance, at that time eminent for his poetical originality and his political persecutions, was Mr. Leigh Hunt, who was regarded by some with admiration, by others with ridicule, as the master of a school of poets, though in truth he was only their encourager, ✓ sympathiser, and friend; while the unpopularity of his

liberal and cosmopolite politics was visited with indiscriminating injustice on all who had the happiness of his friendship or even the gratification of his society. In those days of hard opinion, which we of a freer and worthier time look upon with indignation and surprise, Mr. Hunt had been imprisoned for the publication of phrases which, at the most, were indecorous expressions of public feeling, and became a traitor or a martyr according to the temper of the spectator. The heart of Keats leaped towards him in human and poetic brotherhood, and the earnest Sonnet on the day he left his prison riveted the connexion. They read and walked together, and wrote verses in competition on a given subject. "No imaginative


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