The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 2/Number 5/The Poet Keats

Featured in Vol 2., No.5 of The Atlantic Monthly. Author not attributed.

The Poet Keats.

His was the soul, once pent in English clay,
Whereby ungrateful England seemed to hold
The sweet Narcissus, parted from his stream,—
Endymion, not unmindful of his dream,
Like a weak bird the flock has left behind.


Untimely notes the poet sung alone,
Checked by the chilling frosts of words unkind;
And his grieved soul, some thousand years astray,
Paled like the moon in most unwelcome day.

His speech betrayed him ere his heart grew cold;
With morning freshness to the world he told
Of man's first love, and fearless creed of youth,
When Beauty he believed the type of Truth.

In the vexed glories of unquiet Troy,
So might to Helen's jealous ear discourse
The flute, first tuned on Ida's haunted hill,
Against Œnone's coming, to betray
In what sweet solitude her shepherd lay.

Yet, Poet-Priest! the world shall ever thrill
To thy loved theme, its charm undying still!
Hearts in their youth are Greek as Homer's song,
And all Olympus half contents the boy,
Who from the quarries of abounding joy
Brings his white idols without thought of wrong.

With reverent hand he sets each votive stone,
And last, the altar "To the God Unknown."

As in our dreams the face that we love best
Blooms as at first, while we ourselves grow old,—
As the returning Spring in sunlight throws
Through prison-bars, on graves, its ardent gold,—
And as the splendors of a Syrian rose
Lie unreproved upon the saddest breast,—
So mythic story fits a changing world:
Still the bark drifts with sails forever furled.
An unschooled Fancy deemed the work her own,
While mystic meaning through each fable shone.


This work was published before January 1, 1927, and is in the public domain worldwide because the author died at least 100 years ago.