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pleasure," characteristically observes Mr. Hunt," was left unnoticed by us or unenjoyed, from the recollection of the bards and patriots of old, to the luxury of a summer rain at our windows, or the clicking of the coal in winter time." Thus he became intimate

with Hazlitt, Shelley, Haydon, and Godwin, with Mr. Basil Montague and his distinguished family, and with Mr. Ollier, a young publisher, himself a poet, who, out of sheer admiration, offered to publish a volume of his productions. The poem with which it commences was suggested to Keats by a delightful summers-day, as he stood beside the gate that leads from the Battery, on Hampstead Heath, into a field by Caen Wood; and the last, "Sleep and Poetry," was occasioned by his sleeping in Mr. Hunt's pretty cottage, in the vale of Health, in the same quarter. These two pieces, being of considerable length, tested the strength of the young poet's fancy, and it did not fail. For the masters of song will not only rise lark-like with quivering wings in the sunlight, but must train their powers to sustain a calm and protracted flight, and pass, as if poised in air, over the heads of mankind. Yet it was to be expected that the apparent faults of Keats's style would be here more manifest than in his shorter efforts; poetry to him was not yet an Art; the irregularities of his own and other verse were no more to him than the

inequalities of that nature, of which he regarded

himself as the interpreter ;

"For what has made the sage or poet write,
But the fair paradise of Nature's light?

In the calm grandeur of a sober line

We see the waving of the mountain pine,
And when a tale is beautifully staid,

We feel the safety of a hawthorn glade."

He had yet to learn that Art should purify and elevate the Nature that it comprehends, and that the ideal loses nothing of its truth by aiming at perfection of form as well as of idea. Neither did he like to regard poetry as a matter of study and anxiety, or as a representative of the struggles and troubles of the mind and heart of men. He said most exquisitely,

that

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a drainless shower

Of light is Poesy-'tis the supreme of power;

'Tis Might half-slumbering on its own right arm."

He thought that—

66

strength alone, though of the Muses born,

Is like a fallen angel-trees uptorn,

Darkness and worms and shrouds and sepulchres
Delight it for it feeds upon the burrs

And thorns of life, forgetting the great end

Of Poesy, that it should be a friend

To soothe the cares and lift the thoughts of men."

And yet Keats did not escape the charge of sacrificing beauty to supposed intensity, and of merging the abiding grace of his song in the passionate fantasies of

the moment. Words indeed seem to have been often selected by him rather for their force and their harmony, than according to any just rules of diction; if he met with a word anywhere in an old writer that took his fancy he inserted it in his verse on the first opportunity; and one has a kind of impression that he must have thought aloud as he was writing, so that many an ungainly phrase has acquired its place by its assonance or harmony, or capability to rhyme, (for he took great pleasure in fresh and original rhymes) rather than for its grammatical correctness or even justness of expression. And when to this is added the example set him by his great master Spenser, of whom a noted man of letters has been heard irreverently to assert "that every Englishman might be thankful that Spenser's gibberish had never become part and parcel of the language," the wonder is rather that he sloughed off so fast so many of his offending peculiarities, and in his third volume attained so great a purity and concinnity of phraseology, that little was left to designate either his poetical education or his literary associates.

At the completion of the matter for this first volume he gave a striking proof of his facility in composition; he was engaged with a lively circle of friends when the last proof-sheet was brought in, and he was requested by the printer to send the Dedication directly,

if he intended to have one: he went to a side-table, and while all around were noisily conversing, he sat down and wrote the sonnet

"Glory and loveliness have passed away," &c. &c.

which, but for the insertion of one epithet of doubtful taste, is excellent in itself, and curious, as showing how he already had possessed himself with the images of Pagan beauty, and was either mourning over their decay and extinction, or attempting, in his own way, to bid them live again. For in him was realised the mediæval legend of the Venus-worshipper, without its melancholy moral; and while the old Gods rewarded him for his love with powers and perceptions that a Greek might have envied, he kept his affections high and pure above these sensuous influences, and led a temperate and honest life in an ideal world that knows nothing of duty and repels all images that do not please.

This little book, the beloved first-born of so great a genius, scarcely touched the public attention. If, indeed, it had become notable, it would only have been to the literary formalist the sign of the existence of a new Cockney poet whom he was bound to criticise and annihilate, and to the political bigot the production of a fresh member of a revolutionary Propaganda to be hunted down with ridicule or obloquy, as the case

might require. But these honours were reserved for maturer labours; beyond the circle of ardent friends and admirers, which comprised most of the most remarkable minds of the period, it had hardly a purchaser; and the contrast between the admiration he had, perhaps in excess, enjoyed among his immediate acquaintance, and the entire apathy of mankind without, must have been a hard lesson to his sensitive spirit. It is not surprising therefore, that he attributed his want of success to the favourite scape-goat of unhappy authors, an inactive publisher, and incurred the additional affliction of a breach of his friendship with Mr. Ollier.

Mr. Haydon, Mr. Dilke, Mr. Reynolds, Mr. Woodhouse, Mr. Rice, Mr. Taylor, Mr. Hessey, Mr. Bailey, and Mr. Haslam, were his chief companions and correspondents at this period. The first name of this list now excites the most painful associations: it recals a life of long struggle without a prize, of persevering hope stranded on despair; high talents laboriously applied earning the same catastrophe as waits on abilities vainly wasted; frugality, self-denial, and simple habits, leading to the penalties of profligacy and the death of distraction; an independent genius starving on the crumbs of ungenial patronage, and even these failing him at the last! It might be that Haydon did not so realise his conceptions as to

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