Imágenes de páginas
PDF
[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

It is my intention to subjoin to the London edition of this poem, a criticism upon the claims of its lamented object to be classed among the writers of the highest genius who have adorned our age. My known repugnance to the narrow principles of taste on which several of his earlier compositions were modelled, prove at least that I am an impartial judge. I consider the fragment of “Hyperion,” as second to nothing that was ever produced by a writer of the same years. John Keats died at Rome, of a consumption, in his twenty-fourth year, on the 27th of December, 1820, and was buried in the romantic and lonely cemetery of the protestants in that city, under the pyramid which is the tomb of Cestius, and the massy walls and towers, now mouldering and desolate, which formed the circuit of ancient Rome. The cemetery is an open space among the ruins, covered in winter with violets and daisies. It might make one in love with death, to think that one should be buried in so sweet a place. The genius of the lamented person to whose memory I have dedicated these unworthy verses, was not less delicate and fragile than it was beautiful ; and where canker-worms abound, what wonder, if its young flower was blighted in the bud? The savage criticism on his “Endymion,” which appeared in the Quarterly Review, produced the most violent effect on his susceptible mind; the agitation thus originated ended in the rupture of a blood-vessel in the lungs; a rapid consumption ensued; and the succeeding acknowledgments from more candid critics, of the true greatness of his powers, were ineffectual to heal the wound thus wantonly inflicted. It may be well said, that these wretched men know not what they do. They scatter their insults and their slanders without heed as to whether the poisoned

shaft lights on a heart made callous by many blows, or one, like Keats's, composed of more penetrable stuff. One of their associates is, to my knowledge, a most base and unprincipled calumniator. As to “Endymion,” was it a poem, whatever might be its defects, to be treated contemptuously by those who had celebrated with various degrees of complacency and panegyric, “Paris,” and “Woman,” and a “Syrian Tale,” and

[blocks in formation]

Lord Byron P What gnat did they strain at here, after having swallowed all those camels? Against what woman taken in adultery dares the foremost of these literary prostitutes to cast his opprobrious stone? Miserable man | you, one of the meanest, have wantonly defaced one of the noblest specimens of the workmanship of God. Nor shall it be your excuse, that, murderer as you are, you have spoken daggers, but used none. The circumstances of the closing scene of poor Keats's life were not made known to me until the Elegy was ready for the press. I am given to understand that the wound which his sensitive spirit had received from the criticism of “Endymion” was exasperated at the bitter sense of unrequited benefits; the poor fellow seems to have been hooted from the stage of life, no less by those on whom he had wasted

[blocks in formation]

1. I weep for ADoNAIs—he is dead! Oh, weep for Adonais ! though our tears Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head : And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers, And teach them thine own sorrow; say: with me Died Adonais; till the Future dares Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be

An echo and a light unto eternity

it.

Where wert thou, mighty Mother, when he lay, When thy son lay, pierced by the shaft which flies In darkness? where was lorn Urania When Adonais died? With veiled eyes, | "Mid listening Echoes, in her Paradise

She sate, while one, with soft enamoured breath,

Rekindled all the fading melodies,

With which, like flowers that mock the corse

beneath,

He had adorned and hid the coming bulk of death.

ini. Oh, weep for Adonais—he is dead! Wake, melancholy Mother, wake and weep ! Yet wherefore Quench within their burning bed Thy fiery tears, and let thy loud heart keep, Like his, a mute and uncomplaining sleep ; For he is gone, where all things wise and fair Descend:—oh, dream not that the amorous Deep Will yet restore him to the vital air;

Death feeds on his mute voice, and laughs at our

despair. i Iv. Most musical of mourners, weep again :

Lament anew, Urania!—He died,

Who was the Sire of an immortal strain,

Blind, old, and lonely, when his country's pride

The priest, the slave, and the liberticide,

i

|

Trampled and mocked with many a loathed rite Of lust and blood; he went, unterrified, Into the gulf of death; but his clear Sprite Yet reigns o'er earth; the third among the sons of light.

v.

Most musical of mourners, weep anew 1
Not all to that bright station dared to climb :
And happier they their happiness who knew,
Whose tapers yet burn through that night of time
In which suns perished ; others more sublime,
Struck by the envious wrath of man or God,
Have sunk, extinct in their refulgent prime;
And some yet live, treading the thorny road,

Which leads, through toil and hate, to Fame's

serene abode.

AD ON A IS.

vt. But now, thy youngest, dearest one, has perished, The nursling of thy widowhood, who grew, Like a pale flower by some sad maiden cherished, And fed with true love tears instead of dew ; Most musical of mourners, weep anew 1 Thy extreme hope, the loveliest and the last, The bloom, whose petals nipt before they blew Died on the promise of the fruit, is waste;

The broken lily lies—the storm is overpast.

vir. To that high Capital, where kingly Death Keeps his pale court in beauty and decay, He came ; and bought, with price of purest

breath,

A grave among the eternal.—Come away!
Haste, while the vault of blue Italian day
Is yet his fitting charnel-roof! while still
He lies, as if in dewy sleep he lay :
Awake him not surely he takes his fill

Of deep and liquid rest, forgetful of all ill.

viii. He will awake no more, oh, never more 1 Within the twilight chamber spreads apace The shadow of white Death, and at the door Invisible Corruption waits to trace His extreme way to her dim dwelling-place ; The eternal Hunger sits, but pity and awe Soothe her pale rage, nor dares she to deface So fair a prey, till darkness and the law Of change, shall o'er his sleep the mortal curtain draw.

Ix. Oh, weep for Adonais !—The quick Dreams, The passion-winged Ministers of thought, Who were his flocks, whom near the living streams Of his young spirit he fed, and whom he taught The love which was its music, wander not Wander no more, from kindling brain to brain, But droop there, whence they sprung; and mourn their lot Round the cold heart, where, after their sweet pain, They ne'er will gather strength, nor find a home again.

x. And one with trembling hand clasps his cold head, And fans him with her moonlight wings, and cries, “Our love, our hope, our sorrow, is not dead; See, on the silken fringe of his faint eyes, Like dew upon a sleeping flower, there lies A tear some Dream has loosened from his brain.” Lost Angel of a ruined Paradise ! She knew not 'twas her own; as with no stain She faded, like a cloud which had outwept its Ital Il.

- - - - - - - - - - - --

xi. One from a lucid urn of starry dew Washed his light limbs, as if embalming them; Another clipt her profuse locks, and threw, The wreath upon him, like an anadem, Which frozen tears instead of pearls begem; Another in her wilful grief would break Her bow and winged reeds, as if to stem A greater loss with one which was more weak ;

And dull the barbed fire against his frozen cheek.

XII. Another Splendour on his mouth alit, That mouth whence it was wont to draw the breath Which gave it strength to pierce the guarded wit, And pass into the panting heart beneath With lightning and with music: the damp death Quenched its caress upon its icy lips; And, as a dying meteor stains a wreath Of moonlight vapour, which the cold night clips, It flushed through his pale limbs, and passed to its eclipse. xiii. And others came, Desires and Adorations, Winged Persuasions, and veiled Destinies, Splendours, and Glooms, and glimmering Incarnations Of hopes and fears, and twilight Phantasies; And Sorrow, with her family of Sighs, And Pleasure, blind with tears, led by the gleam Of her own dying smile instead of eyes, Cameinslow pomp ;-the moving pomp mightseem Like pageantry of mist on an autumnal stream.

xiv. All he had loved, and moulded into thought From shape, and hue, and odour, and sweet sound, Lamented Adonais. Morning sought Her eastern watch-tower, and her hair unbound, Wet with the tears which shouldadorn the ground, Dimmed the aerial eyes that kindle day; Afar the melancholy thunder moaned, Pale Ocean in unquiet slumber lay, And the wild winds flew around, sobbing in their dismay. xv. Lost Echo sits amid the voiceless mountains, And feeds her grief with his remembered lay, And will no more reply to winds or fountains, Or amorous birds perched on the young green' spray, Or herdsman's horn, or bell at closing day; Since she can mimic not his lips, more dear Than those for whose disdain they pined away Into a shadow of all sounds :—a drear Murmur, between their songs, is all the woodmen hear. xvi. Grief made the young Spring wild, and she threw Her kindling buds, as if she Autumn were, [down Or they dead leaves; since her delight is flown, For whom should she have waked the sullen year? To Phoebus was not Hyacinth so dear, Nor to himself Narcissus, as to both Thou Adonais; wan they stand and sere Amid the faint companions of their youth, With dew all turned to tears; odour, to sighing ruth.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small]

Whence are we, and why are wet of what scene

The actors or spectators? Great and mean Meet massed in death, who lends what life must borrow. As long as skies are blue, and fields are green, Evening must usher night, night urge the morrow, Month follow month with woe, and year wake year to Sorrow. xxn. He will awake no more, oh, never more : “Wake thou,” cried Misery, “childless Mother, rise Out of thy sleep, and slake, in thy heart's core, A wound more fierce than his tears and sighs.” And all the Dreams that watched Urania's eyes, And all the echoes whom their sister's song Had held in holy silence, cried, “Arise I’ Swift as a Thought by the snake Memory stung, From her ambrosial rest the fading Splendour sprung.

xxiii. She rose like an autumnal Night, that springs Out of the East, and follows wild and drear The golden Day, which, on eternal wings, Even as a ghost abandoning a bier, Has left the Earth a corpse. Sorrow and fear So struck, so roused, so rapt, Urania, So saddened round her like an atmosphere Of stormy mist; so swept her on her way, Even to the mournful place where Adonais lay.

xxiv. Out of her secret Paradise she sped, [steel, Through camps and cities rough with stone, and And human hearts, which to her aery tread Yielding not, wounded the invisible Palms of her tender feet where'er they fell; And barbed tongues, and thoughts moresharp than Rent the soft Form they never could repel, [they Whose sacred blood, like the young tears of May, Paved with eternal flowers that undeserving way.

xxv.

In the death-chamber for a moment Death,
Shamed by the presence of that living Might,
Blushed to annihilation, and the breath
Revisited those lips, and life's pale light [delight.
Flashed through those limbs, so late her dear
“Leave me not wild and drear and comfortless,
As silent lightning leaves the starless night !
Leave me not l” cried Urania: her distress

Roused Death: Death rose and smiled, and mether

vain caress.

xxvi. “Stay yet awhile! speak to me once again; Kiss me, so long but as a kiss may live; And in my heartless breast and burning brain That word, that kiss shall all thoughts else survive, With food of saddest memory kept alive, Now thou art dead, as if it were a part Of thee, my Adonais ! I would give All that I am to be as thou now art, But I am chained to Time, and cannot thence departs

xxvii.

“O gentle child, beautiful as thou wert,
Why didst thou leave the trodden paths of men
Toosoon, and with weakhands though mighty heart
Dare the unpastured dragon in his den :
Defenceless as thou wert, oh! where was then
Wisdom the mirror'd shield, or scorn the spear !
Or hadst thou waited the full cycle, when
Thy spirit should have filled its crescent sphere,

The monsters of life's waste had fled from thee like

deer.

xxviii. “The herded wolves, bold only to pursue; The obscene ravens, clamorous o'er the dead; The vultures, to the conqueror's banner true, Who feed where Desolation first has fed, And whose wings rain contagion;–how they fled, When, like Apollo, from his golden bow, The Pythian of the age one arrow s And smiled !—The spoilers tempt no second blow, They fawn on the proud feet that spurn them lying

low.

“The sun comes forth, and many reptiles spawn; He sets, and each ephemeral insect then Is gathered into death without a dawn, And the immortal stars awake again ; So it is in the world of living men : A godlike mind soars forth, in its delight Making earth bare and veiling heaven, and when It sinks, theswarms that dimmed or shared its light Leave to its kindred lamps the spirit's awful night.”

xxx. Thus ceased she:and the mountainshepherds came, Their garlands sere, their magic mantles rent; The Pilgrim of Eternity, whose fame Over his living head like Heaven is bent, An early but enduring monument, Came, veiling all the lightnings of his song In sorrow ; from her wilds Ierne sent The sweetest lyrist of her saddest wrong, And love taught grief to fall like music from his tongue.

xxxi. "Midst others of less note, came one frail Form, A phantom among men, companionless As the last cloud of an expiring storm, Whose thunder is its knell ; he, as I guess, Had gazed on Nature's naked loveliness, Actaeon-like, and now he fled astray With feeble steps o'er the world's wilderness, And his own thoughts, along that rugged way,

Pursued, like raging hounds, their father and their

prey.
xxxii.

A pard-like Spirit beautiful and swift—
A love in desolation masked ;-a Power
Girt round with weakness;–it can scarce uplift
The weight of the superincumbent hour;
It is a dying lamp, a falling shower,
A breaking billow ;-even whilst we speak
Is it not broken On the withering flower
The killing sun smiles brightly : on a cheek

The life can burn in blood, even while the heart

may break.

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors]

xxxv. What softer voice is hushed over the dead? Athwart what brow is that dark mantle thrown What form leans sadly o'er the white death-bed, In mockery of monumental stone, The heavy heart heaving without a moan If it be he, who, gentlest of the wise, Taught, soothed, loved, honoured the departed one; Let me not vex, with inharmonious sighs, The silence of that heart's accepted sacrifice.

xxxvi.

Our Adonais has drunk poison—oh
What deaf and viperous murderer could crown
Life's early cup with such a draught of woe
The nameless worm would now itself disown:
It felt, yet could escape the magic tone
Whose prelude held all envy, hate and wrong,
But what was howling in one breast alone,
Silent with expectation of the song,

Whose master's hand is cold, whose silver lyre unstrung.

xxxvii. Live thou, whose infamy is not thy fame ! Live! fear no heavier chastisement from me, Thou noteless blot on a remembered name ! But be thyself, and know thyself to be And ever at thy season be thou free To spill the venom when thy fangs o'erflow: Remorse and Self-contempt shall cling to thee; Hot Shame shall burn upon thy secret brow, And likeabeatenhoundtremble thoushalt—as now.

xxxviii.

Nor let us weep that our delight is fled
Far from these carrion-kites that scream below :
He wakes or sleeps with the enduring dead;
Thou canst not soar where he is sitting now.
Dust to the dust! but the pure spirit shall flow
Back to the burning fountain whence it came,
A portion of the Eternal, which must glow
Through time and change, unquenchably the same,

Whilst thy cold embers choke the sordid hearth of

shame.

xxxix. Peace, peace! he is not dead, he doth not sleep— He hath awakened from the dream of life— 'Tis we, who, lost in stormy visions, keep With phantoms an unprofitable strife, And in mad trance strike with our spirit's knife Invulnerable nothings—We decay Like corpses in a charnel; fear and grief Convulse us and consume us day by day, And cold hopes swarm like worms within our living clay. XI. He has outsoared the shadow of our night; Envy and calumny, and hate and pain, And that unrest which men miscall delight, Can touch him not and torture not again ; From the contagion of the world's slow stain He is secure, and now can never mourn A heart grown cold, a head grown grey in vain; Nor, when the spirit's self has ceased to burn, With sparkless ashes load an unlamented urn.

xLI. He lives, he wakes—'tis Death is dead, not he ; Mourn not for Adonais.-Thou young Dawn, Turn all thy dew to splendour, for from thee The spirit thou lamentest is not gone ; Ye caverns and ye forests, cease to moan Cease ye faint flowers and fountains, and thou Air, Which like a morning veil thy scarf hadst thrown O'er the abandoned Earth, now leave it bare

Evento the joyous stars which smile on its despair!

x1,ii. He is made one with Nature: there is heard His voice in all her music, from the moan Of thunder, to the song of night's sweet bird; He is a presence to be felt and known In darkness and in light, from herb and stone, Spreading itself where'er that Power may move Which has withdrawn his being to its own ; Which wields the world with never wearied love,

Sustains it from beneath, and kindles it above.

xliii.

He is a portion of the loveliness
Which once he made more lovely: he doth bear
His part, while the one Spirit's plastic stress
Sweeps through the dull dense world, compelling
All new successions to the forms they wear [there
Torturing th'unwilling dross that checks its flight
To its own likeness, as each mass may bear;
And bursting in its beauty and its might

From trees and beasts and men into the Heavens'

light.

x1,iv. The splendours of the firmament of time May be eclipsed, but are extinguished not : Like stars to their appointed height they climb, And death is a low mist which cannot blot The brightness it may veil. When lofty thought Lifts a young heart above its mortal lair, And love and life contend in it, for what Shall be its earthly doom, the dead live there, And move like windsof lighton darkandstormy air.

xlv. The inheritors of unfulfilled renown Rose from their thrones, built beyond mortal Far in the unapparent. Chatterton [thought, Rose pale, his solemn agony had not Yet faded from him; Sidney, as he fought And as he fell and as he lived and loved, Sublimely mild, a Spirit without spot, Arose; and Lucan, by his death approved ; Oblivion as they rose shrank like a thing reproved.

xt.vi.

And many more, whose names on Earth are dark.
But whose transmitted effluence cannot die
So long as fire outlives the parent spark,
Rose, robed in dazzling immortality.
“Thou art become as one of us,” they cry;
“It was for thee yon kingless sphere has long
Swung blind in unascended majesty,
Silent alone amid a Heaven of song.

Assume thy winged throne, thou Vesper of our

throng!”

« AnteriorContinuar »