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he had not studied "Paradise Lost," as he did afterwards. His taste would naturally have rather attracted him to those poems which Milton had drawn out of the heart of old mythology, "Lycidas" and "Comus;" and those two exquisite jewels, hung, as it were, in the ears of antiquity," the "Penseroso" and "Allegro," had no doubt been well enjoyed; but his full appreciation of the great Poem was reserved for the period which produced "Hyperion" as clearly under Miltonic influence, as "Endymion " is imbued with the spirit of Spenser, Fletcher, and Ben Jonson.

From a letter to Mr. Reynolds.

HAMPSTEAD, Jan. 31st, 1818.

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Now I purposed to write to you a serious poetical letter, but I find that a maxim I met with the other day is a just one : "On cause mieux quand on ne dit pas causons.' I was hindered, however, from my first intention by a mere muslin handkerchief, very neatly pinned-but "Hence, vain deluding," &c. Yet I cannot write in prose; it is a sunshiny day and I cannot, so here goes.

VOL. I.

Hence Burgundy, Claret, and Port,
Away with old Hock and Madeira,
Too earthly ye are for my sport;

G

There's a beverage brighter and clearer. Instead of a pitiful rummer,

My wine overbrims a whole summer;

My bowl is the sky,

And I drink at my eye,

Till I feel in the brain

A Delphian pain—

Then follow, my Caius! then follow:

On the green of the hill

We will drink our fill

Of golden sunshine,

Till our brains intertwine

With the glory and grace of Apollo !

God of the Meridian,

And of the East and West,

To thee my soul is flown,

And my body is earthward press'd.—

It is an awful mission,

A terrible division;

And leaves a gulph austere

To be filled with worldly fear.

Aye, when the soul is fled

To high above our head,

Affrighted do we gaze
After its airy maze,
As doth a mother wild,

When her young infant child
Is in an eagle's claws-

And is not this the cause

Of madness?-God of Song,

Thou bearest me along

Through sights I scarce can bare :

O let me, let me share

With the hot lyre and thee,

The staid Philosophy.

Temper my lonely hours,

And let me see thy bow'rs
More unalarm'd!

My dear Reynolds, you must forgive all this ranting; but the fact is, I cannot write sense this morning; however, you shall have some. I will copy out my last sonnet.

When I have fears that I may cease to be, &c. *

I must take a turn, and then write to Teignmouth. Remember me to all, not excepting yourself.

Your sincere friend,

JOHN KEATS.

MY DEAR REYNOLDS,

HAMPSTEAD, Feb. 3, 1818.

I thank you for your dish of filberts. Would I could get a basket of them by way of dessert every day for the sum of twopence (two sonnets on Robin Hood sent by the twopenny post). Would we were a sort of ethereal pigs, and turned loose to feed upon spiritual mast and acorns! which would be merely being a squirrel and feeding upon filberts; for what is a squirrel but an airy pig, or a filbert but a sort of archangelical acorn? About the nuts being

* See the "Literary Remains."

worth cracking, all I can say is, that where there are a throng of delightful images ready drawn, simplicity is the only thing. It may be said that we ought to read our contemporaries, that Wordsworth, &c., should have their due from us. But, for the sake of a few fine imaginative or domestic passages, are we to be bullied Vinto a certain philosophy engendered in the whims of an egotist? Every man has his speculations, but every man does not brood and peacock over them till he makes a false coinage and deceives himself. Many a man can travel to the very bourne of Heaven, and yet want confidence to put down his half-seeing. Sancho will invent a journey heavenward as well as anybody. We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us, and, if we do not agree, seems to put its hand into its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject. How beautiful are the retired flowers! How would they lose their beauty were they to throng into the highway, crying out, "Admire me, I am a violet! Dote upon me, I am a primrose!" Modern poets differ from the Elizabethans in this: each of the moderns, like an Elector of Hanover, governs his petty state, and knows how many straws are swept daily from the causeways in all his dominions, and has a continual itching that all the house

wives should have their coppers well scoured. The ancients were Emperors of vast provinces; they had only heard of the remote ones, and scarcely cared to visit them. I will cut all this. I will have no more of Wordsworth or Hunt in particular. Why should we be of the tribe of Manasseh, when we can wander with Esau? Why should we kick against the pricks when we can walk on roses? Why should we be owls, when we can be eagles? Why be teased with "nice-eyed wagtails, " when we have in sight "the cherub Contemplation?" Why with Wordsworth's “Matthew with a bough of wilding in his hand," when we can have Jacques "under an oak," &c.? The secret of the "bough of wilding" will run through your head faster than I can write it. Old Matthew spoke to him some years ago on some nothing, and because he happens in an evening walk to imagine the figure of the old man, he must stamp it down in black and white, and it is henceforth sacred. I don't mean to deny Wordsworth's grandeur and Hunt's merit, but I mean to say we need not be teased with grandeur and merit when we can have them uncontaminated and unobtrusive. Let us have the old Poets and Robin Hood. Your letter and its sonnets gave me more pleasure than will the Fourth Book of "Childe Harold," and the whole of anybody's life and opinions.

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