The complete poetical works and letters of John Keats/To Some Ladies


This and the poem following were included in the 1817 volume. George Keats says further that it was 'written on receiving a copy of Tom Moore's "Golden Chain" and a most beautiful Dome shaped shell from a Lady.' The exact title of Moore's poem is 'The Wreath and the Chain,' and it will be readily seen how expressly imitative these lines are of Moore's verse in general. The poems are not dated, but they are the first in a group stated by Keats to have been 'written at an earlier period than the rest of the Poems;' it is safe to assume that they belong very near the beginning of Keats's poetical career. It is quite likely that they were included in the volume a few years later on personal grounds.

What though while the wonders of nature exploring,
I cannot your light, mazy footsteps attend;
Nor listen to accents, that almost adoring,
Bless Cynthia's face, the enthusiast's friend:

Yet over the steep, whence the mountain-stream rushes,
With you, kindest friends, in idea I rove;
Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,
Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.

Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?
Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?
Ah! you list to the nightingale's tender condoling,
Responsive to sylphs, in the moon-beamy air.

'Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping,
I see you are treading the verge of the sea:
And now! ah, I see it—you just now are stooping
To pick up the keepsake intended for me.

If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,
Had brought me a gem from the fretwork of heaven;
And smiles, with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,
The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;

It had not created a warmer emotion
Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you;
Than the shell, from the bright golden sands of the ocean,
Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.

For, indeed, 't is a sweet and peculiar pleasure,
(And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)
To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,
In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.