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by John Keats |

Endymion: Book I


A Poetic Romance.


Book I

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its loveliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read:
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

 Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast,
They alway must be with us, or we die.

 Therefore, 'tis with full happiness that I
Will trace the story of Endymion.
The very music of the name has gone
Into my being, and each pleasant scene
Is growing fresh before me as the green
Of our own vallies: so I will begin
Now while I cannot hear the city's din;
Now while the early budders are just new,
And run in mazes of the youngest hue
About old forests; while the willow trails
Its delicate amber; and the dairy pails
Bring home increase of milk. And, as the year
Grows lush in juicy stalks, I'll smoothly steer
My little boat, for many quiet hours,
With streams that deepen freshly into bowers.
Many and many a verse I hope to write,
Before the daisies, vermeil rimm'd and white,
Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober gold,
Be all about me when I make an end.
And now at once, adventuresome, I send
My herald thought into a wilderness:
There let its trumpet blow, and quickly dress
My uncertain path with green, that I may speed
Easily onward, thorough flowers and weed.

 Upon the sides of Latmos was outspread
A mighty forest; for the moist earth fed
So plenteously all weed-hidden roots
Into o'er-hanging boughs, and precious fruits.
And it had gloomy shades, sequestered deep,
Where no man went; and if from shepherd's keep
A lamb strayed far a-down those inmost glens,
Never again saw he the happy pens
Whither his brethren, bleating with content,
Over the hills at every nightfall went.
Among the shepherds, 'twas believed ever,
That not one fleecy lamb which thus did sever
From the white flock, but pass'd unworried
By angry wolf, or pard with prying head,
Until it came to some unfooted plains
Where fed the herds of Pan: ay great his gains
Who thus one lamb did lose. Paths there were many,
Winding through palmy fern, and rushes fenny,
And ivy banks; all leading pleasantly
To a wide lawn, whence one could only see
Stems thronging all around between the swell
Of turf and slanting branches: who could tell
The freshness of the space of heaven above,
Edg'd round with dark tree tops? through which a dove
Would often beat its wings, and often too
A little cloud would move across the blue.

 Full in the middle of this pleasantness
There stood a marble altar, with a tress
Of flowers budded newly; and the dew
Had taken fairy phantasies to strew
Daisies upon the sacred sward last eve,
And so the dawned light in pomp receive.
For 'twas the morn: Apollo's upward fire
Made every eastern cloud a silvery pyre
Of brightness so unsullied, that therein
A melancholy spirit well might win
Oblivion, and melt out his essence fine
Into the winds: rain-scented eglantine
Gave temperate sweets to that well-wooing sun;
The lark was lost in him; cold springs had run
To warm their chilliest bubbles in the grass;
Man's voice was on the mountains; and the mass
Of nature's lives and wonders puls'd tenfold,
To feel this sun-rise and its glories old.

 Now while the silent workings of the dawn
Were busiest, into that self-same lawn
All suddenly, with joyful cries, there sped
A troop of little children garlanded;
Who gathering round the altar, seemed to pry
Earnestly round as wishing to espy
Some folk of holiday: nor had they waited
For many moments, ere their ears were sated
With a faint breath of music, which ev'n then
Fill'd out its voice, and died away again.
Within a little space again it gave
Its airy swellings, with a gentle wave,
To light-hung leaves, in smoothest echoes breaking
Through copse-clad vallies,--ere their death, oer-taking
The surgy murmurs of the lonely sea.

 And now, as deep into the wood as we
Might mark a lynx's eye, there glimmered light
Fair faces and a rush of garments white,
Plainer and plainer shewing, till at last
Into the widest alley they all past,
Making directly for the woodland altar.
O kindly muse! let not my weak tongue faulter
In telling of this goodly company,
Of their old piety, and of their glee:
But let a portion of ethereal dew
Fall on my head, and presently unmew
My soul; that I may dare, in wayfaring,
To stammer where old Chaucer used to sing.

 Leading the way, young damsels danced along,
Bearing the burden of a shepherd song;
Each having a white wicker over brimm'd
With April's tender younglings: next, well trimm'd,
A crowd of shepherds with as sunburnt looks
As may be read of in Arcadian books;
Such as sat listening round Apollo's pipe,
When the great deity, for earth too ripe,
Let his divinity o'er-flowing die
In music, through the vales of Thessaly:
Some idly trailed their sheep-hooks on the ground,
And some kept up a shrilly mellow sound
With ebon-tipped flutes: close after these,
Now coming from beneath the forest trees,
A venerable priest full soberly,
Begirt with ministring looks: alway his eye
Stedfast upon the matted turf he kept,
And after him his sacred vestments swept.
From his right hand there swung a vase, milk-white,
Of mingled wine, out-sparkling generous light;
And in his left he held a basket full
Of all sweet herbs that searching eye could cull:
Wild thyme, and valley-lilies whiter still
Than Leda's love, and cresses from the rill.
His aged head, crowned with beechen wreath,
Seem'd like a poll of ivy in the teeth
Of winter hoar. Then came another crowd
Of shepherds, lifting in due time aloud
Their share of the ditty. After them appear'd,
Up-followed by a multitude that rear'd
Their voices to the clouds, a fair wrought car,
Easily rolling so as scarce to mar
The freedom of three steeds of dapple brown:
Who stood therein did seem of great renown
Among the throng. His youth was fully blown,
Shewing like Ganymede to manhood grown;
And, for those simple times, his garments were
A chieftain king's: beneath his breast, half bare,
Was hung a silver bugle, and between
His nervy knees there lay a boar-spear keen.
A smile was on his countenance; he seem'd,
To common lookers on, like one who dream'd
Of idleness in groves Elysian:
But there were some who feelingly could scan
A lurking trouble in his nether lip,
And see that oftentimes the reins would slip
Through his forgotten hands: then would they sigh,
And think of yellow leaves, of owlets cry,
Of logs piled solemnly.--Ah, well-a-day,
Why should our young Endymion pine away!

 Soon the assembly, in a circle rang'd,
Stood silent round the shrine: each look was chang'd
To sudden veneration: women meek
Beckon'd their sons to silence; while each cheek
Of virgin bloom paled gently for slight fear.
Endymion too, without a forest peer,
Stood, wan, and pale, and with an awed face,
Among his brothers of the mountain chase.
In midst of all, the venerable priest
Eyed them with joy from greatest to the least,
And, after lifting up his aged hands,
Thus spake he: "Men of Latmos! shepherd bands!
Whose care it is to guard a thousand flocks:
Whether descended from beneath the rocks
That overtop your mountains; whether come
From vallies where the pipe is never dumb;
Or from your swelling downs, where sweet air stirs
Blue hare-bells lightly, and where prickly furze
Buds lavish gold; or ye, whose precious charge
Nibble their fill at ocean's very marge,
Whose mellow reeds are touch'd with sounds forlorn
By the dim echoes of old Triton's horn:
Mothers and wives! who day by day prepare
The scrip, with needments, for the mountain air;
And all ye gentle girls who foster up
Udderless lambs, and in a little cup
Will put choice honey for a favoured youth:
Yea, every one attend! for in good truth
Our vows are wanting to our great god Pan.
Are not our lowing heifers sleeker than
Night-swollen mushrooms? Are not our wide plains
Speckled with countless fleeces? Have not rains
Green'd over April's lap? No howling sad
Sickens our fearful ewes; and we have had
Great bounty from Endymion our lord.
The earth is glad: the merry lark has pour'd
His early song against yon breezy sky,
That spreads so clear o'er our solemnity."

 Thus ending, on the shrine he heap'd a spire
Of teeming sweets, enkindling sacred fire;
Anon he stain'd the thick and spongy sod
With wine, in honour of the shepherd-god.
Now while the earth was drinking it, and while
Bay leaves were crackling in the fragrant pile,
And gummy frankincense was sparkling bright
'Neath smothering parsley, and a hazy light
Spread greyly eastward, thus a chorus sang:

 "O THOU, whose mighty palace roof doth hang
From jagged trunks, and overshadoweth
Eternal whispers, glooms, the birth, life, death
Of unseen flowers in heavy peacefulness;
Who lov'st to see the hamadryads dress
Their ruffled locks where meeting hazels darken;
And through whole solemn hours dost sit, and hearken
The dreary melody of bedded reeds--
In desolate places, where dank moisture breeds
The pipy hemlock to strange overgrowth;
Bethinking thee, how melancholy loth
Thou wast to lose fair Syrinx--do thou now,
By thy love's milky brow!
By all the trembling mazes that she ran,
Hear us, great Pan!

 "O thou, for whose soul-soothing quiet, turtles
Passion their voices cooingly 'mong myrtles,
What time thou wanderest at eventide
Through sunny meadows, that outskirt the side
Of thine enmossed realms: O thou, to whom
Broad leaved fig trees even now foredoom
Their ripen'd fruitage; yellow girted bees
Their golden honeycombs; our village leas
Their fairest-blossom'd beans and poppied corn;
The chuckling linnet its five young unborn,
To sing for thee; low creeping strawberries
Their summer coolness; pent up butterflies
Their freckled wings; yea, the fresh budding year
All its completions--be quickly near,
By every wind that nods the mountain pine,
O forester divine!

 "Thou, to whom every fawn and satyr flies
For willing service; whether to surprise
The squatted hare while in half sleeping fit;
Or upward ragged precipices flit
To save poor lambkins from the eagle's maw;
Or by mysterious enticement draw
Bewildered shepherds to their path again;
Or to tread breathless round the frothy main,
And gather up all fancifullest shells
For thee to tumble into Naiads' cells,
And, being hidden, laugh at their out-peeping;
Or to delight thee with fantastic leaping,
The while they pelt each other on the crown
With silvery oak apples, and fir cones brown--
By all the echoes that about thee ring,
Hear us, O satyr king!

 "O Hearkener to the loud clapping shears,
While ever and anon to his shorn peers
A ram goes bleating: Winder of the horn,
When snouted wild-boars routing tender corn
Anger our huntsman: Breather round our farms,
To keep off mildews, and all weather harms:
Strange ministrant of undescribed sounds,
That come a swooning over hollow grounds,
And wither drearily on barren moors:
Dread opener of the mysterious doors
Leading to universal knowledge--see,
Great son of Dryope,
The many that are come to pay their vows
With leaves about their brows!

 Be still the unimaginable lodge
For solitary thinkings; such as dodge
Conception to the very bourne of heaven,
Then leave the naked brain: be still the leaven,
That spreading in this dull and clodded earth
Gives it a touch ethereal--a new birth:
Be still a symbol of immensity;
A firmament reflected in a sea;
An element filling the space between;
An unknown--but no more: we humbly screen
With uplift hands our foreheads, lowly bending,
And giving out a shout most heaven rending,
Conjure thee to receive our humble Paean,
Upon thy Mount Lycean!

 Even while they brought the burden to a close,
A shout from the whole multitude arose,
That lingered in the air like dying rolls
Of abrupt thunder, when Ionian shoals
Of dolphins bob their noses through the brine.
Meantime, on shady levels, mossy fine,
Young companies nimbly began dancing
To the swift treble pipe, and humming string.
Aye, those fair living forms swam heavenly
To tunes forgotten--out of memory:
Fair creatures! whose young children's children bred
Thermopylæ its heroes--not yet dead,
But in old marbles ever beautiful.
High genitors, unconscious did they cull
Time's sweet first-fruits--they danc'd to weariness,
And then in quiet circles did they press
The hillock turf, and caught the latter end
Of some strange history, potent to send
A young mind from its bodily tenement.
Or they might watch the quoit-pitchers, intent
On either side; pitying the sad death
Of Hyacinthus, when the cruel breath
Of Zephyr slew him,--Zephyr penitent,
Who now, ere Phoebus mounts the firmament,
Fondles the flower amid the sobbing rain.
The archers too, upon a wider plain,
Beside the feathery whizzing of the shaft,
And the dull twanging bowstring, and the raft
Branch down sweeping from a tall ash top,
Call'd up a thousand thoughts to envelope
Those who would watch. Perhaps, the trembling knee
And frantic gape of lonely Niobe,
Poor, lonely Niobe! when her lovely young
Were dead and gone, and her caressing tongue
Lay a lost thing upon her paly lip,
And very, very deadliness did nip
Her motherly cheeks. Arous'd from this sad mood
By one, who at a distance loud halloo'd,
Uplifting his strong bow into the air,
Many might after brighter visions stare:
After the Argonauts, in blind amaze
Tossing about on Neptune's restless ways,
Until, from the horizon's vaulted side,
There shot a golden splendour far and wide,
Spangling those million poutings of the brine
With quivering ore: 'twas even an awful shine
From the exaltation of Apollo's bow;
A heavenly beacon in their dreary woe.
Who thus were ripe for high contemplating,
Might turn their steps towards the sober ring
Where sat Endymion and the aged priest
'Mong shepherds gone in eld, whose looks increas'd
The silvery setting of their mortal star.
There they discours'd upon the fragile bar
That keeps us from our homes ethereal;
And what our duties there: to nightly call
Vesper, the beauty-crest of summer weather;
To summon all the downiest clouds together
For the sun's purple couch; to emulate
In ministring the potent rule of fate
With speed of fire-tailed exhalations;
To tint her pallid cheek with bloom, who cons
Sweet poesy by moonlight: besides these,
A world of other unguess'd offices.
Anon they wander'd, by divine converse,
Into Elysium; vieing to rehearse
Each one his own anticipated bliss.
One felt heart-certain that he could not miss
His quick gone love, among fair blossom'd boughs,
Where every zephyr-sigh pouts and endows
Her lips with music for the welcoming.
Another wish'd, mid that eternal spring,
To meet his rosy child, with feathery sails,
Sweeping, eye-earnestly, through almond vales:
Who, suddenly, should stoop through the smooth wind,
And with the balmiest leaves his temples bind;
And, ever after, through those regions be
His messenger, his little Mercury.
Some were athirst in soul to see again
Their fellow huntsmen o'er the wide champaign
In times long past; to sit with them, and talk
Of all the chances in their earthly walk;
Comparing, joyfully, their plenteous stores
Of happiness, to when upon the moors,
Benighted, close they huddled from the cold,
And shar'd their famish'd scrips. Thus all out-told
Their fond imaginations,--saving him
Whose eyelids curtain'd up their jewels dim,
Endymion: yet hourly had he striven
To hide the cankering venom, that had riven
His fainting recollections. Now indeed
His senses had swoon'd off: he did not heed
The sudden silence, or the whispers low,
Or the old eyes dissolving at his woe,
Or anxious calls, or close of trembling palms,
Or maiden's sigh, that grief itself embalms:
But in the self-same fixed trance he kept,
Like one who on the earth had never stept.
Aye, even as dead-still as a marble man,
Frozen in that old tale Arabian.

 Who whispers him so pantingly and close?
Peona, his sweet sister: of all those,
His friends, the dearest. Hushing signs she made,
And breath'd a sister's sorrow to persuade
A yielding up, a cradling on her care.
Her eloquence did breathe away the curse:
She led him, like some midnight spirit nurse
Of happy changes in emphatic dreams,
Along a path between two little streams,--
Guarding his forehead, with her round elbow,
From low-grown branches, and his footsteps slow
From stumbling over stumps and hillocks small;
Until they came to where these streamlets fall,
With mingled bubblings and a gentle rush,
Into a river, clear, brimful, and flush
With crystal mocking of the trees and sky.
A little shallop, floating there hard by,
Pointed its beak over the fringed bank;
And soon it lightly dipt, and rose, and sank,
And dipt again, with the young couple's weight,--
Peona guiding, through the water straight,
Towards a bowery island opposite;
Which gaining presently, she steered light
Into a shady, fresh, and ripply cove,
Where nested was an arbour, overwove
By many a summer's silent fingering;
To whose cool bosom she was used to bring
Her playmates, with their needle broidery,
And minstrel memories of times gone by.

 So she was gently glad to see him laid
Under her favourite bower's quiet shade,
On her own couch, new made of flower leaves,
Dried carefully on the cooler side of sheaves
When last the sun his autumn tresses shook,
And the tann'd harvesters rich armfuls took.
Soon was he quieted to slumbrous rest:
But, ere it crept upon him, he had prest
Peona's busy hand against his lips,
And still, a sleeping, held her finger-tips
In tender pressure. And as a willow keeps
A patient watch over the stream that creeps
Windingly by it, so the quiet maid
Held her in peace: so that a whispering blade
Of grass, a wailful gnat, a bee bustling
Down in the blue-bells, or a wren light rustling
Among seer leaves and twigs, might all be heard.

 O magic sleep! O comfortable bird,
That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind
Till it is hush'd and smooth! O unconfin'd
Restraint! imprisoned liberty! great key
To golden palaces, strange minstrelsy,
Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves,
Echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves
And moonlight; aye, to all the mazy world
Of silvery enchantment!--who, upfurl'd
Beneath thy drowsy wing a triple hour,
But renovates and lives?--Thus, in the bower,
Endymion was calm'd to life again.
Opening his eyelids with a healthier brain,
He said: "I feel this thine endearing love
All through my bosom: thou art as a dove
Trembling its closed eyes and sleeked wings
About me; and the pearliest dew not brings
Such morning incense from the fields of May,
As do those brighter drops that twinkling stray
From those kind eyes,--the very home and haunt
Of sisterly affection. Can I want
Aught else, aught nearer heaven, than such tears?
Yet dry them up, in bidding hence all fears
That, any longer, I will pass my days
Alone and sad. No, I will once more raise
My voice upon the mountain-heights; once more
Make my horn parley from their foreheads hoar:
Again my trooping hounds their tongues shall loll
Around the breathed boar: again I'll poll
The fair-grown yew tree, for a chosen bow:
And, when the pleasant sun is getting low,
Again I'll linger in a sloping mead
To hear the speckled thrushes, and see feed
Our idle sheep. So be thou cheered sweet,
And, if thy lute is here, softly intreat
My soul to keep in its resolved course."

 Hereat Peona, in their silver source,
Shut her pure sorrow drops with glad exclaim,
And took a lute, from which there pulsing came
A lively prelude, fashioning the way
In which her voice should wander. 'Twas a lay
More subtle cadenced, more forest wild
Than Dryope's lone lulling of her child;
And nothing since has floated in the air
So mournful strange. Surely some influence rare
Went, spiritual, through the damsel's hand;
For still, with Delphic emphasis, she spann'd
The quick invisible strings, even though she saw
Endymion's spirit melt away and thaw
Before the deep intoxication.
But soon she came, with sudden burst, upon
Her self-possession--swung the lute aside,
And earnestly said: "Brother, 'tis vain to hide
That thou dost know of things mysterious,
Immortal, starry; such alone could thus
Weigh down thy nature. Hast thou sinn'd in aught
Offensive to the heavenly powers? Caught
A Paphian dove upon a message sent?
Thy deathful bow against some deer-herd bent,
Sacred to Dian? Haply, thou hast seen
Her naked limbs among the alders green;
And that, alas! is death. No, I can trace
Something more high perplexing in thy face!"

 Endymion look'd at her, and press'd her hand,
And said, "Art thou so pale, who wast so bland
And merry in our meadows? How is this?
Tell me thine ailment: tell me all amiss!--
Ah! thou hast been unhappy at the change
Wrought suddenly in me. What indeed more strange?
Or more complete to overwhelm surmise?
Ambition is no sluggard: 'tis no prize,
That toiling years would put within my grasp,
That I have sigh'd for: with so deadly gasp
No man e'er panted for a mortal love.
So all have set my heavier grief above
These things which happen. Rightly have they done:
I, who still saw the horizontal sun
Heave his broad shoulder o'er the edge of the world,
Out-facing Lucifer, and then had hurl'd
My spear aloft, as signal for the chace--
I, who, for very sport of heart, would race
With my own steed from Araby; pluck down
A vulture from his towery perching; frown
A lion into growling, loth retire--
To lose, at once, all my toil breeding fire,
And sink thus low! but I will ease my breast
Of secret grief, here in this bowery nest.

 "This river does not see the naked sky,
Till it begins to progress silverly
Around the western border of the wood,
Whence, from a certain spot, its winding flood
Seems at the distance like a crescent moon:
And in that nook, the very pride of June,
Had I been used to pass my weary eves;
The rather for the sun unwilling leaves
So dear a picture of his sovereign power,
And I could witness his most kingly hour,
When he doth lighten up the golden reins,
And paces leisurely down amber plains
His snorting four. Now when his chariot last
Its beams against the zodiac-lion cast,
There blossom'd suddenly a magic bed
Of sacred ditamy, and poppies red:
At which I wondered greatly, knowing well
That but one night had wrought this flowery spell;
And, sitting down close by, began to muse
What it might mean. Perhaps, thought I, Morpheus,
In passing here, his owlet pinions shook;
Or, it may be, ere matron Night uptook
Her ebon urn, young Mercury, by stealth,
Had dipt his rod in it: such garland wealth
Came not by common growth. Thus on I thought,
Until my head was dizzy and distraught.
Moreover, through the dancing poppies stole
A breeze, most softly lulling to my soul;
And shaping visions all about my sight
Of colours, wings, and bursts of spangly light;
The which became more strange, and strange, and dim,
And then were gulph'd in a tumultuous swim:
And then I fell asleep. Ah, can I tell
The enchantment that afterwards befel?
Yet it was but a dream: yet such a dream
That never tongue, although it overteem
With mellow utterance, like a cavern spring,
Could figure out and to conception bring
All I beheld and felt. Methought I lay
Watching the zenith, where the milky way
Among the stars in virgin splendour pours;
And travelling my eye, until the doors
Of heaven appear'd to open for my flight,
I became loth and fearful to alight
From such high soaring by a downward glance:
So kept me stedfast in that airy trance,
Spreading imaginary pinions wide.
When, presently, the stars began to glide,
And faint away, before my eager view:
At which I sigh'd that I could not pursue,
And dropt my vision to the horizon's verge;
And lo! from opening clouds, I saw emerge
The loveliest moon, that ever silver'd o'er
A shell for Neptune's goblet: she did soar
So passionately bright, my dazzled soul
Commingling with her argent spheres did roll
Through clear and cloudy, even when she went
At last into a dark and vapoury tent--
Whereat, methought, the lidless-eyed train
Of planets all were in the blue again.
To commune with those orbs, once more I rais'd
My sight right upward: but it was quite dazed
By a bright something, sailing down apace,
Making me quickly veil my eyes and face:
Again I look'd, and, O ye deities,
Who from Olympus watch our destinies!
Whence that completed form of all completeness?
Whence came that high perfection of all sweetness?
Speak, stubborn earth, and tell me where, O Where
Hast thou a symbol of her golden hair?
Not oat-sheaves drooping in the western sun;
Not--thy soft hand, fair sister! let me shun
Such follying before thee--yet she had,
Indeed, locks bright enough to make me mad;
And they were simply gordian'd up and braided,
Leaving, in naked comeliness, unshaded,
Her pearl round ears, white neck, and orbed brow;
The which were blended in, I know not how,
With such a paradise of lips and eyes,
Blush-tinted cheeks, half smiles, and faintest sighs,
That, when I think thereon, my spirit clings
And plays about its fancy, till the stings
Of human neighbourhood envenom all.
Unto what awful power shall I call?
To what high fane?--Ah! see her hovering feet,
More bluely vein'd, more soft, more whitely sweet
Than those of sea-born Venus, when she rose
From out her cradle shell. The wind out-blows
Her scarf into a fluttering pavilion;
'Tis blue, and over-spangled with a million
Of little eyes, as though thou wert to shed,
Over the darkest, lushest blue-bell bed,
Handfuls of daisies."--"Endymion, how strange!
Dream within dream!"--"She took an airy range,
And then, towards me, like a very maid,
Came blushing, waning, willing, and afraid,
And press'd me by the hand: Ah! 'twas too much;
Methought I fainted at the charmed touch,
Yet held my recollection, even as one
Who dives three fathoms where the waters run
Gurgling in beds of coral: for anon,
I felt upmounted in that region
Where falling stars dart their artillery forth,
And eagles struggle with the buffeting north
That balances the heavy meteor-stone;--
Felt too, I was not fearful, nor alone,
But lapp'd and lull'd along the dangerous sky.
Soon, as it seem'd, we left our journeying high,
And straightway into frightful eddies swoop'd;
Such as ay muster where grey time has scoop'd
Huge dens and caverns in a mountain's side:
There hollow sounds arous'd me, and I sigh'd
To faint once more by looking on my bliss--
I was distracted; madly did I kiss
The wooing arms which held me, and did give
My eyes at once to death: but 'twas to live,
To take in draughts of life from the gold fount
Of kind and passionate looks; to count, and count
The moments, by some greedy help that seem'd
A second self, that each might be redeem'd
And plunder'd of its load of blessedness.
Ah, desperate mortal! I ev'n dar'd to press
Her very cheek against my crowned lip,
And, at that moment, felt my body dip
Into a warmer air: a moment more,
Our feet were soft in flowers. There was store
Of newest joys upon that alp. Sometimes
A scent of violets, and blossoming limes,
Loiter'd around us; then of honey cells,
Made delicate from all white-flower bells;
And once, above the edges of our nest,
An arch face peep'd,--an Oread as I guess'd.

 "Why did I dream that sleep o'er-power'd me
In midst of all this heaven? Why not see,
Far off, the shadows of his pinions dark,
And stare them from me? But no, like a spark
That needs must die, although its little beam
Reflects upon a diamond, my sweet dream
Fell into nothing--into stupid sleep.
And so it was, until a gentle creep,
A careful moving caught my waking ears,
And up I started: Ah! my sighs, my tears,
My clenched hands;--for lo! the poppies hung
Dew-dabbled on their stalks, the ouzel sung
A heavy ditty, and the sullen day
Had chidden herald Hesperus away,
With leaden looks: the solitary breeze
Bluster'd, and slept, and its wild self did teaze
With wayward melancholy; and r thought,
Mark me, Peona! that sometimes it brought
Faint fare-thee-wells, and sigh-shrilled adieus!--
Away I wander'd--all the pleasant hues
Of heaven and earth had faded: deepest shades
Were deepest dungeons; heaths and sunny glades
Were full of pestilent light; our taintless rills
Seem'd sooty, and o'er-spread with upturn'd gills
Of dying fish; the vermeil rose had blown
In frightful scarlet, and its thorns out-grown
Like spiked aloe. If an innocent bird
Before my heedless footsteps stirr'd, and stirr'd
In little journeys, I beheld in it
A disguis'd demon, missioned to knit
My soul with under darkness; to entice
My stumblings down some monstrous precipice:
Therefore I eager followed, and did curse
The disappointment. Time, that aged nurse,
Rock'd me to patience. Now, thank gentle heaven!
These things, with all their comfortings, are given
To my down-sunken hours, and with thee,
Sweet sister, help to stem the ebbing sea
Of weary life."

 Thus ended he, and both
Sat silent: for the maid was very loth
To answer; feeling well that breathed words
Would all be lost, unheard, and vain as swords
Against the enchased crocodile, or leaps
Of grasshoppers against the sun. She weeps,
And wonders; struggles to devise some blame;
To put on such a look as would say, Shame
On this poor weakness! but, for all her strife,
She could as soon have crush'd away the life
From a sick dove. At length, to break the pause,
She said with trembling chance: "Is this the cause?
This all? Yet it is strange, and sad, alas!
That one who through this middle earth should pass
Most like a sojourning demi-god, and leave
His name upon the harp-string, should achieve
No higher bard than simple maidenhood,
Singing alone, and fearfully,--how the blood
Left his young cheek; and how he used to stray
He knew not where; and how he would say, nay,
If any said 'twas love: and yet 'twas love;
What could it be but love? How a ring-dove
Let fall a sprig of yew tree in his path;
And how he died: and then, that love doth scathe,
The gentle heart, as northern blasts do roses;
And then the ballad of his sad life closes
With sighs, and an alas!--Endymion!
Be rather in the trumpet's mouth,--anon
Among the winds at large--that all may hearken!
Although, before the crystal heavens darken,
I watch and dote upon the silver lakes
Pictur'd in western cloudiness, that takes
The semblance of gold rocks and bright gold sands,
Islands, and creeks, and amber-fretted strands
With horses prancing o'er them, palaces
And towers of amethyst,--would I so tease
My pleasant days, because I could not mount
Into those regions? The Morphean fount
Of that fine element that visions, dreams,
And fitful whims of sleep are made of, streams
Into its airy channels with so subtle,
So thin a breathing, not the spider's shuttle,
Circled a million times within the space
Of a swallow's nest-door, could delay a trace,
A tinting of its quality: how light
Must dreams themselves be; seeing they're more slight
Than the mere nothing that engenders them!
Then wherefore sully the entrusted gem
Of high and noble life with thoughts so sick?
Why pierce high-fronted honour to the quick
For nothing but a dream?" Hereat the youth
Look'd up: a conflicting of shame and ruth
Was in his plaited brow: yet his eyelids
Widened a little, as when Zephyr bids
A little breeze to creep between the fans
Of careless butterflies: amid his pains
He seem'd to taste a drop of manna-dew,
Full palatable; and a colour grew
Upon his cheek, while thus he lifeful spake.

 "Peona! ever have I long'd to slake
My thirst for the world's praises: nothing base,
No merely slumberous phantasm, could unlace
The stubborn canvas for my voyage prepar'd--
Though now 'tis tatter'd; leaving my bark bar'd
And sullenly drifting: yet my higher hope
Is of too wide, too rainbow-large a scope,
To fret at myriads of earthly wrecks.
Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks
Our ready minds to fellowship divine,
A fellowship with essence; till we shine,
Full alchemiz'd, and free of space. Behold
The clear religion of heaven! Fold
A rose leaf round thy finger's taperness,
And soothe thy lips: hist, when the airy stress
Of music's kiss impregnates the free winds,
And with a sympathetic touch unbinds
Eolian magic from their lucid wombs:
Then old songs waken from enclouded tombs;
Old ditties sigh above their father's grave;
Ghosts of melodious prophecyings rave
Round every spot where trod Apollo's foot;
Bronze clarions awake, and faintly bruit,
Where long ago a giant battle was;
And, from the turf, a lullaby doth pass
In every place where infant Orpheus slept.
Feel we these things?--that moment have we stept
Into a sort of oneness, and our state
Is like a floating spirit's. But there are
Richer entanglements, enthralments far
More self-destroying, leading, by degrees,
To the chief intensity: the crown of these
Is made of love and friendship, and sits high
Upon the forehead of humanity.
All its more ponderous and bulky worth
Is friendship, whence there ever issues forth
A steady splendour; but at the tip-top,
There hangs by unseen film, an orbed drop
Of light, and that is love: its influence,
Thrown in our eyes, genders a novel sense,
At which we start and fret; till in the end,
Melting into its radiance, we blend,
Mingle, and so become a part of it,--
Nor with aught else can our souls interknit
So wingedly: when we combine therewith,
Life's self is nourish'd by its proper pith,
And we are nurtured like a pelican brood.
Aye, so delicious is the unsating food,
That men, who might have tower'd in the van
Of all the congregated world, to fan
And winnow from the coming step of time
All chaff of custom, wipe away all slime
Left by men-slugs and human serpentry,
Have been content to let occasion die,
Whilst they did sleep in love's elysium.
And, truly, I would rather be struck dumb,
Than speak against this ardent listlessness:
For I have ever thought that it might bless
The world with benefits unknowingly;
As does the nightingale, upperched high,
And cloister'd among cool and bunched leaves--
She sings but to her love, nor e'er conceives
How tiptoe Night holds back her dark-grey hood.
Just so may love, although 'tis understood
The mere commingling of passionate breath,
Produce more than our searching witnesseth:
What I know not: but who, of men, can tell
That flowers would bloom, or that green fruit would swell
To melting pulp, that fish would have bright mail,
The earth its dower of river, wood, and vale,
The meadows runnels, runnels pebble-stones,
The seed its harvest, or the lute its tones,
Tones ravishment, or ravishment its sweet,
If human souls did never kiss and greet?

 "Now, if this earthly love has power to make
Men's being mortal, immortal; to shake
Ambition from their memories, and brim
Their measure of content; what merest whim,
Seems all this poor endeavour after fame,
To one, who keeps within his stedfast aim
A love immortal, an immortal too.
Look not so wilder'd; for these things are true,
And never can be born of atomies
That buzz about our slumbers, like brain-flies,
Leaving us fancy-sick. No, no, I'm sure,
My restless spirit never could endure
To brood so long upon one luxury,
Unless it did, though fearfully, espy
A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
My sayings will the less obscured seem,
When I have told thee how my waking sight
Has made me scruple whether that same night
Was pass'd in dreaming. Hearken, sweet Peona!
Beyond the matron-temple of Latona,
Which we should see but for these darkening boughs,
Lies a deep hollow, from whose ragged brows
Bushes and trees do lean all round athwart,
And meet so nearly, that with wings outraught,
And spreaded tail, a vulture could not glide
Past them, but he must brush on every side.
Some moulder'd steps lead into this cool cell,
Far as the slabbed margin of a well,
Whose patient level peeps its crystal eye
Right upward, through the bushes, to the sky.
Oft have I brought thee flowers, on their stalks set
Like vestal primroses, but dark velvet
Edges them round, and they have golden pits:
'Twas there I got them, from the gaps and slits
In a mossy stone, that sometimes was my seat,
When all above was faint with mid-day heat.
And there in strife no burning thoughts to heed,
I'd bubble up the water through a reed;
So reaching back to boy-hood: make me ships
Of moulted feathers, touchwood, alder chips,
With leaves stuck in them; and the Neptune be
Of their petty ocean. Oftener, heavily,
When love-lorn hours had left me less a child,
I sat contemplating the figures wild
Of o'er-head clouds melting the mirror through.
Upon a day, while thus I watch'd, by flew
A cloudy Cupid, with his bow and quiver;
So plainly character'd, no breeze would shiver
The happy chance: so happy, I was fain
To follow it upon the open plain,
And, therefore, was just going; when, behold!
A wonder, fair as any I have told--
The same bright face I tasted in my sleep,
Smiling in the clear well. My heart did leap
Through the cool depth.--It moved as if to flee--
I started up, when lo! refreshfully,
There came upon my face, in plenteous showers,
Dew-drops, and dewy buds, and leaves, and flowers,
Wrapping all objects from my smothered sight,
Bathing my spirit in a new delight.
Aye, such a breathless honey-feel of bliss
Alone preserved me from the drear abyss
Of death, for the fair form had gone again.
Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain
Clings cruelly to us, like the gnawing sloth
On the deer's tender haunches: late, and loth,
'Tis scar'd away by slow returning pleasure.
How sickening, how dark the dreadful leisure
Of weary days, made deeper exquisite,
By a fore-knowledge of unslumbrous night!
Like sorrow came upon me, heavier still,
Than when I wander'd from the poppy hill:
And a whole age of lingering moments crept
Sluggishly by, ere more contentment swept
Away at once the deadly yellow spleen.
Yes, thrice have I this fair enchantment seen;
Once more been tortured with renewed life.
When last the wintry gusts gave over strife
With the conquering sun of spring, and left the skies
Warm and serene, but yet with moistened eyes
In pity of the shatter'd infant buds,--
That time thou didst adorn, with amber studs,
My hunting cap, because I laugh'd and smil'd,
Chatted with thee, and many days exil'd
All torment from my breast;--'twas even then,
Straying about, yet, coop'd up in the den
Of helpless discontent,--hurling my lance
From place to place, and following at chance,
At last, by hap, through some young trees it struck,
And, plashing among bedded pebbles, stuck
In the middle of a brook,--whose silver ramble
Down twenty little falls, through reeds and bramble,
Tracing along, it brought me to a cave,
Whence it ran brightly forth, and white did lave
The nether sides of mossy stones and rock,--
'Mong which it gurgled blythe adieus, to mock
Its own sweet grief at parting. Overhead,
Hung a lush screen of drooping weeds, and spread
Thick, as to curtain up some wood-nymph's home.
"Ah! impious mortal, whither do I roam?"
Said I, low voic'd: "Ah whither! 'Tis the grot
Of Proserpine, when Hell, obscure and hot,
Doth her resign; and where her tender hands
She dabbles, on the cool and sluicy sands:
Or 'tis the cell of Echo, where she sits,
And babbles thorough silence, till her wits
Are gone in tender madness, and anon,
Faints into sleep, with many a dying tone
Of sadness. O that she would take my vows,
And breathe them sighingly among the boughs,
To sue her gentle ears for whose fair head,
Daily, I pluck sweet flowerets from their bed,
And weave them dyingly--send honey-whispers
Round every leaf, that all those gentle lispers
May sigh my love unto her pitying!
O charitable echo! hear, and sing
This ditty to her!--tell her"--so I stay'd
My foolish tongue, and listening, half afraid,
Stood stupefied with my own empty folly,
And blushing for the freaks of melancholy.
Salt tears were coming, when I heard my name
Most fondly lipp'd, and then these accents came:
‘Endymion! the cave is secreter
Than the isle of Delos. Echo hence shall stir
No sighs but sigh-warm kisses, or light noise
Of thy combing hand, the while it travelling cloys
And trembles through my labyrinthine hair."
At that oppress'd I hurried in.--Ah! where
Are those swift moments? Whither are they fled?
I'll smile no more, Peona; nor will wed
Sorrow the way to death, but patiently
Bear up against it: so farewel, sad sigh;
And come instead demurest meditation,
To occupy me wholly, and to fashion
My pilgrimage for the world's dusky brink.
No more will I count over, link by link,
My chain of grief: no longer strive to find
A half-forgetfulness in mountain wind
Blustering about my ears: aye, thou shalt see,
Dearest of sisters, what my life shall be;
What a calm round of hours shall make my days.
There is a paly flame of hope that plays
Where'er I look: but yet, I'll say 'tis naught--
And here I bid it die. Have not I caught,
Already, a more healthy countenance?
By this the sun is setting; we may chance
Meet some of our near-dwellers with my car."

 This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star
Through autumn mists, and took Peona's hand:
They stept into the boat, and launch'd from land.

by Thomas Chatterton |

A Hymn for Christmas Day

 Almighty Framer of the Skies! 
O let our pure devotion rise, 
Like Incense in thy Sight! 
Wrapt in impenetrable Shade 
The Texture of our Souls were made 
Till thy Command gave light. 
The Sun of Glory gleam'd the Ray, 
Refin'd the Darkness into Day, 
And bid the Vapours fly; 
Impell'd by his eternal Love 
He left his Palaces above 
To cheer our gloomy Sky. 

How shall we celebrate the day, 
When God appeared in mortal clay, 
The mark of worldly scorn; 
When the Archangel's heavenly Lays, 
Attempted the Redeemer's Praise 
And hail'd Salvation's Morn! 

A Humble Form the Godhead wore, 
The Pains of Poverty he bore, 
To gaudy Pomp unknown; 
Tho' in a human walk he trod 
Still was the Man Almighty God 
In Glory all his own. 

Despis'd, oppress'd, the Godhead bears 
The Torments of this Vale of tears; 
Nor bade his Vengeance rise; 
He saw the Creatures he had made, 
Revile his Power, his Peace invade; 
He saw with Mercy's Eyes. 

How shall we celebrate his Name, 
Who groan'd beneath a Life of shame 
In all Afflictions tried! 
The Soul is raptured to concieve 
A Truth, which Being must believe, 
The God Eternal died. 

My Soul exert thy Powers, adore, 
Upon Devotion's plumage sar 
To celebrate the Day; 
The God from whom Creation sprung 
Shall animate my grateful Tongue; 
From him I'll catch the Lay!

by Thomas Chatterton |

A New Song

 Ah blame me not, Catcott, if from the right way 
My notions and actions run far. 
How can my ideas do other but stray, 
Deprived of their ruling North-Star? 

A blame me not, Broderip, if mounted aloft, 
I chatter and spoil the dull air; 
How can I imagine thy foppery soft, 
When discord's the voice of my fair? 

If Turner remitted my bluster and rhymes, 
If Hardind was girlish and cold, 
If never an ogle was got from Miss Grimes, 
If Flavia was blasted and old; 

I chose without liking, and left without pain, 
Nor welcomed the frown with a sigh; 
I scorned, like a monkey, to dangle my chain, 
And paint them new charms with a lie. 

Once Cotton was handsome; I flam'd and I burn'd, 
I died to obtain the bright queen; 
But when I beheld my epistle return'd, 
By Jesu it alter'd the scene. 

She's damnable ugly, my Vanity cried, 
You lie, says my Conscience, you lie; 
Resolving to follow the dictates of Pride, 
I'd view her a hag to my eye. 

But should she regain her bright lustre again, 
And shine in her natural charms, 
'Tis but to accept of the works of my pen, 
And permit me to use my own arms.

by Thomas Chatterton |

An Excelente Balade of Charitie: As Wroten bie the Gode Pri

 In Virgynë the sweltrie sun gan sheene, 
And hotte upon the mees did caste his raie; 
The apple rodded from its palie greene, 
And the mole peare did bende the leafy spraie; 
The peede chelandri sunge the livelong daie; 
'Twas nowe the pride, the manhode of the yeare, 
And eke the grounde was dighte in its moste defte aumere. 

The sun was glemeing in the midde of daie, 
Deadde still the aire, and eke the welken blue, 
When from the sea arist in drear arraie 
A hepe of cloudes of sable sullen hue, 
The which full fast unto the woodlande drewe, 
Hiltring attenes the sunnis fetive face, 
And the blacke tempeste swolne and gatherd up apace. 

Beneathe an holme, faste by a pathwaie side, 
Which dide unto Seyncte Godwine's covent lede, 
A hapless pilgrim moneynge did abide. 
Pore in his newe, ungentle in his weede, 
Longe bretful of the miseries of neede, 
Where from the hail-stone coulde the almer flie? 
He had no housen theere, ne anie covent nie. 

Look in his glommed face, his sprighte there scanne; 
Howe woe-be-gone, how withered, forwynd, deade! 
Haste to thie church-glebe-house, asshrewed manne! 
Haste to thie kiste, thie onlie dortoure bedde. 
Cale, as the claie whiche will gre on thie hedde, 
Is Charitie and Love aminge highe elves; 
Knightis and Barons live for pleasure and themselves. 

The gatherd storme is rype; the bigge drops falle; 
The forswat meadowes smethe, and drenche the raine; 
The comyng ghastness do the cattle pall, 
And the full flockes are drivynge ore the plaine; 
Dashde from the cloudes the waters flott againe; 
The welkin opes; the yellow levynne flies; 
And the hot fierie smothe in the wide lowings dies. 

Liste! now the thunder's rattling clymmynge sound 
Cheves slowlie on, and then embollen clangs, 
Shakes the hie spyre, and losst, dispended, drown'd, 
Still on the gallard eare of terroure hanges; 
The windes are up; the lofty elmen swanges; 
Again the levynne and the thunder poures, 
And the full cloudes are braste attenes in stonen showers. 

Spurreynge his palfrie oere the watrie plaine, 
The Abbote of Seyncte Godwynes convente came; 
His chapournette was drented with the reine, 
And his pencte gyrdle met with mickle shame; 
He aynewarde tolde his bederoll at the same; 
The storme encreasen, and he drew aside, 
With the mist almes craver neere to the holme to bide. 

His cope was all of Lyncolne clothe so fyne, 
With a gold button fasten'd neere his chynne; 
His autremete was edged with golden twynne, 
And his shoone pyke a loverds mighte have binne; 
Full well it shewn he thoughten coste no sinne: 
The trammels of the palfrye pleasde his sighte, 
For the horse-millanare his head with roses dighte. 

"An almes, sir prieste!" the droppynge pilgrim saide, 
"O! let me waite within your covente dore, 
Till the sunne sheneth hie above our heade, 
And the loude tempeste of the aire is oer; 
Helpless and ould am I alas! and poor; 
No house, ne friend, ne moneie in my pouche; 
All yatte I call my owne is this my silver crouche." 

"Varlet," replyd the Abbatte, "cease your dinne; 
This is no season almes and prayers to give; 
Mie porter never lets a faitour in; 
None touch mie rynge who not in honour live." 
And now the sonne with the blacke cloudes did stryve, 
And shettynge on the grounde his glairie raie, 
The Abbatte spurrde his steede, and eftsoones roadde awaie. 

Once moe the skie was blacke, the thunder rolde; 
Faste reyneynge oer the plaine a prieste was seen; 
Ne dighte full proude, ne buttoned up in golde; 
His cope and jape were graie, and eke were clene; 
A Limitoure he was of order seene; 
And from the pathwaie side then turned hee, 
Where the pore almer laie binethe the holmen tree. 

"An almes, sir priest!" the droppynge pilgrim sayde, 
"For sweete Seyncte Marie and your order sake." 
The Limitoure then loosen'd his pouche threade, 
And did thereoute a groate of silver take; 
The mister pilgrim dyd for halline shake. 
"Here take this silver, it maie eathe thie care; 
We are Goddes stewards all, nete of oure owne we bare. 

"But ah! unhailie pilgrim, lerne of me, 
Scathe anie give a rentrolle to their Lorde. 
Here take my semecope, thou arte bare I see; 
Tis thyne; the Seynctes will give me mie rewarde." 
He left the pilgrim, and his waie aborde. 
Virgynne and hallie Seyncte, who sitte yn gloure, 
Or give the mittee will, or give the gode man power.

by Thomas Chatterton |

Colin Instructed

 Young Colin was as stout a boy 
As ever gave a maiden joy; 
But long in vain he told his tale 
To black-eyed Biddy of the Dale. 
Ah why, the whining shepherd cried, 
Am I alone your smiles denied? 
I only tell in vain my tale 
To black-eyed Biddy of the Dale. 

True Colin, said the laughing dame, 
You only whimper out your flame, 
Others do more than sigh their tale 
To black-eyed Biddy of the Dale. 

He took the hint &c.

by Thomas Chatterton |


 Eclogue the First. 

Whanne Englonde, smeethynge from her lethal wounde, 
From her galled necke dyd twytte the chayne awaie, 
Kennynge her legeful sonnes falle all arounde, 
(Myghtie theie fell, 'twas Honoure ledde the fraie,) 
Thanne inne a dale, bie eve's dark surcote graie, 
Twayne lonelie shepsterres dyd abrodden flie, 
(The rostlyng liff doth theyr whytte hartes affraie,) 
And whythe the owlette trembled and dyd crie; 
Firste Roberte Neatherde hys sore boesom stroke, 
Then fellen on the grounde and thus yspoke. 

Ah, Raufe! gif thos the howres do comme alonge, 
Gif thos wee flie in chase of farther woe, 
Oure fote wylle fayle, albeytte wee bee stronge, 
Ne wylle oure pace swefte as oure danger goe. 
To oure grete wronges we have enheped moe, 
The Baronnes warre! oh! woe and well-a-daie! 
I haveth lyff, bott have escaped soe 
That lyff ytsel mie senses doe affraie. 
Oh Raufe, comme lyste, and hear mie dernie tale, 
Comme heare the balefull dome of Robynne of the dale. 

Saie to mee nete; I kenne thie woe in myne; 
O! I've a tale that Sabalus mote telle. 
Swote flouretts, mantled meedows, forestes dynge; 
Gravots far-kend around the Errmiets cell; 
The swote ribible dynning yn the dell; 
The joyous dauncynge ynn the hoastrie courte; 
Eke the highe songe and everych joie farewell, 
Farewell the verie shade of fayre dysporte; 
Impestering trobble onn mie dernie tale, 
Ne one kynde Seyncte to warde the aye encreasynge dome. 

Oh! I could waile mie kynge-coppe-decked mees, 
Mie spreedynge flockes of shepe of lillie white, 
Mie tendre applynges; and embodyde trees, 
Mie Parker's Grange, far spreedynge to the syghte, 
Mie cuyen kyne, mie bullockes stringe yn fyghte, 
Mie gorne emblaunched with the comfreie plante, 
Mie floure Seyncte Marie shottyng wythe the lyghte, 
Mie store of all the blessynges Heaven can grant. 
I amm duressed unto sorrowes blowe, 
I hantend to the peyne, will lette ne salte teare flowe. 

Here I wille obaie untylle Dethe doe 'pere, 
Here lyche a foule empoysoned leathel tree, 
Whyche sleaeth everichone that commeth nere, 
Soe wille I, fyxed unto thys place, gre. 
I to bement haveth moe cause than thee; 
Sleene in the warre mie boolie fadre lies; 
Oh! joieous Ihys mortherer would slea, 
And bie hys syde for aie enclose myne eies. 
Calked from everych joie, heere wylle I blede; 
Fell ys the Cullys-yatte of mie hartes castle stede. 

Oure woes alyche, alyche our dome shal bee. 
Mie sonne, mie sonne alleyn, ystorven ys; 
Here wylle I staie, and end mie lyff with thee; 
A lyff leche myne a borden ys ywis. 
Now from e'en logges fledden is selyness, 
Mynsterres alleyn can boaste the hallie Seyncte, 
Now doeth Englonde wearea a bloudie dresse 
And wyth her champyonnes gore her face depeyncte; 
Peace fledde, disorder sheweth her dark rode, 
And thorow ayre doth flie, yn garments steyned with bloude. 

Eclogue the Second 


Sprytes of the bleste, the pious Nygelle sed, 
Pure owte yer pleasaunce onn mie fadres hedde. 


Rycharde of Lyons harte to fyghte is gon, 
Uponne the brede sea doe the banners gleme, 
The amenused nationnes be aston, 
To ken syke large a flete, syke fyne, syke breme, 
The barkis heafods coupe the lymed streme; 
Oundes synkeynge oundes upon the hard ake riese; 
The water slughornes ayre, and reche the skies. 
Sprytes of the bleste, on gouldyn trones astedde, 
Poure owte yer pleasaunce onn mie fadres hedde. 


The gule depeyncted oares from the black tyde, 
Decorn wyth fonnes rare, doe shemrynge ryse; 
Upswalynge doe heie shewe ynne drierie pryde, 
Lyche gore-red estells in the eve merk skyes; 
The nome-depeyncted shields, the speres aryse, 
Alyche talle roshes on the water syde; 
Alenge from bark to bark the bryghte sheene flyes; 
Sweft-kerv'd delyghtes doe on the water glyde. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everich Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte youre pleasaunce on mie fadres hedde. 


The Sarasen lokes owte: he doethe feere, 
That Englondes brondeous sonnes do cotte the waie. 
Lyke honted bockes, theye reineth here and there, 
Onknowlachynge inne whate place to obaie. 
The banner glesters on the beme of daie; 
The mitte crosse Jerusalim ys seene; 
Dhereof the syghte yer corragedoe affraie, 
In balefull dole their faces be ywreene. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everich Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte your pleasaunce on mie fadres hedde. 


The bollengers and cottes, so swyfte yn fyghte, 
Upon the sydes of everich bark appere; 
Foorthe to his office lepethe everych knyghte, 
Eftsoones hys squyer, with hys shielde and spere. 
The jynynge shieldes doe shemre and moke glare; 
The dosheynge oare doe make gemoted dynne; 
The reynyng foemen, thynckeynge gif to dare, 
Boun the merk swerde, theie seche to fraie, theie blyn. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everyche Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte yer pleasaunce onn mie fadres hedde. 


Now comm the warrynge Sarasyns to fyghte; 
Kynge Rycharde, lyche a lyoncel of warre, 
Inne sheenynge goulde, lyke feerie gronfers, dyghte, 
Shaketh alofe hys honde, and seene afarre. 
Syke haveth I espyde a greter starre 
Amenge the drybblett ons to sheene fulle bryghte; 
Syke sunnys wayne wyth amayl'd beames doe barr 
The blaunchie mone or estells to gev lyghte. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everich Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte your pleasaunce on mie fadres hedde. 


Distraughte affraie, wythe lockes of blodde-red die. 
Terroure, emburled yn the thonders rage, 
Deathe, lynked to dismaie, dothe ugsomme flie, 
Enchafynge echone champyonne war to wage. 
Speeres bevyle speres; swerdes upon swerdes engage; 
Armoure on armoure dynn, shielde upon shielde; 
Ne dethe of thosandes can the warre assuage, 
Botte falleynge nombers sable all the feelde. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everych Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte youre pleasaunce on mie fadres hedde. 


The foemen fal arounde; the cross reles hye; 
Steyned ynne goere, the harte of warre ys seen; 
Kynge Rycharde, thorough everyche trope dothe flie, 
And beereth meynte of Turkes onto the greene; 
Bie hymm the floure of Asies menn ys sleene; 
The waylynge mone doth fade before hys sonne; 
Bie hym hys knyghtes bee formed to actions deene, 
Doeynge syke marvels, strongers be aston. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everych Seyncte ydedde, 
Poure owte your pleasaunce onn mie fadres hedde. 


The fyghte ys wonne; 
Kynge Rycharde master is; 
The Englonde bannerr kisseth the hie ayre; 
Full of pure joie the armie is iwys, 
And everych one haveth it onne his bayre; 
Agayne to Englonde comme, and worschepped there, 
Twyghte into lovynge armes, and feasted eft; 
In everych eyne aredynge nete of wyere, 
Of all remembrance of past peyne berefte. 
Sprytes of the bleste, and everych Seyncte ydedde, 
Syke pleasures power upon mie fadres hedde. 

Syke Nigel sed, whan from the bluie sea 
The upswol sayle dyd daunce before hys eyne; 
Swefte as the wishe, hee toe the beeche dyd flee, 
And found his fadre steppeynge from the bryne. 
Letter thyssen menne, who haveth sprite of loove, 
Bethyncke unto hemselves how mote the meetynge proove. 


Manne, womanne, Sir Rogerre. 
Wouldst thou kenn nature in her better parte? 
Goe, serche the logges and bordels of the hynde; 
Gyff theie have anie, itte ys roughe-made arte, 
Inne hem you see the blakied forme of kynde. 
Haveth your mynde a lycheynge of a mynde? 
Woulde it kenne everich thynge, as it mote bee? 
Woulde ytte here phrase of vulgar from the hynde, 
Withoute wiseegger wordes and knowlage free? 
Gyfsoe, rede thys, whyche Iche dysportynge pende; 
Gif nete besyde, yttes rhyme maie ytte commende. 

Botte whether, fayre mayde, do ye goe? 
O where do ye bende yer waie? 
I wille knowe whether you goe, 
I wylle not bee asseled naie. 

To Robin and Nell, all downe in the delle, 
To hele hem at mekeynge of haie. 

Syr Roggerre, the parsone, have hyred mee there, 
Comme, comme, lett us tryppe ytte awaie, 
We'lle wurke and we'lle synge, and weylle drenche of stronge beer 
As longe as the merrie sommers daie. 

How hard ys mie dome to wurch! 
Moke is mie woe. 
Dame Agnes, whoe lies ynne the Chyrche 
With birlette golde, 
Wythe gelten aumeres stronge ontolde, 
What was shee moe than me, to be soe? 

I kenne Syr Roger from afar 
Tryppynge over the lea; 
Ich ask whie the loverds son 
Is moe than mee. 

Syr Rogerre. 
The sweltrie sonne dothe hie apace hys wayne, 
From everich beme a seme of lyfe doe falle; 
Swythyn scille oppe the haie uponne the playne; 
Methynckes the cockes begynneth to gre talle. 
Thys ys alyche oure doome; the great the smalle, 
Moste withe and bee forwyned by deathis darte. 
See! the swote flourette hathe noe swote at alle; 
Itte wythe the ranke wede bereth evalle parte. 
The cravent, warrioure, and the wyse be blente, 
Alyche to drie awaie wythe those theie dyd bemente. 

All-a-boon, Syr Priest, all-a-boon. 
Bye yer preestshype nowe saye unto mee; 
Syr Gaufryd the knyghte, who lyvethe harde bie, 
Whie shoulde hee than mee 
Bee more greate, 
Inne honnoure, knyghtehoode and estate? 

Syr Rogerre. 
Attourne thy eyne arounde thys haied mee, 
Tentyflie loke around the chaper delle; 
An answere to thie barganette here see, 
Thys welked flourette wylle a leson telle; 
Arist it blew, itte florished, and dyd well, 
Lokeynge ascaunce upon the naighboure greene; 
Yet with the deigned greene yttes rennome felle, 
Eftsoones ytte shronke upon the daie-brente playne, 
Didde not yttes loke, whilest ytte there dyd stonde, 
To croppe ytte in the bodde move somme dred honde. 

Syke ys the waie of lyffe; 
the loverds ente 
Mooveth the robber hym therfor to slea; 
Gyf thou has ethe, the shadowe of contente, 
Believe the throthe, theres none moe haile yan thee. 
Thou wurchest; wlle, cann thatte a trobble bee? 
Slothe moe wulde jade thee than the roughest daie. 
Couldest thou the kivercled of soughlys see, 
Thou wouldst eftsoones see trothe ynne whatte I saie; 
Botte lette me heere thie waie of lyffe, and thenne 
Heare thou from me the lyffes of odher menne. 

I ryse wythe the sonne, 
Lyche hym to dryve the wayne, 
And eere mie wurche is don 
I synge a songe or twayne. 
I followe the plough-tayle, 
Wythe a longe jubb of ale. 
Botte of the maydens, oh! 
Itte lacketh notte to telle; 
Syre Preeste mote notte crie woe 
Culde hys bull do as welle. 
I daunce the beste heiedeygnes, 
And foile the wysest feygnes. 
On everych Seynctes hie daie 
Wythe the mynstrelle am I seene, 
All a footeynge it awaie, 
Wythe maydens on the greene. 
But oh! I wysheto be moe greate, 
In rennome, tenure, and estate. 

Syr Rogerre. 
Has thou ne seene a tree uponne a hylle, 
Whose unliste braunces rechen far toe syghte; 
Whan fuired unwers doe the heaven fylle, 
Itte shaketh deere yn dole and moke affryghte. 
Whylest the congeon flowrette abessie dyghte, 
Stondethe unhurte, unquaced bie the storme; 
Syke is a picte of lyffe: the manne of myghte 
Is tempest-chaft, hys woe greate as hys forme; 
Thieselfe a flowrette of a small accounte, 
Wouldst harderfelle the wynde, as hygher thee dydste mounte.

by Thomas Chatterton |

Sly Dick

 Sharp was the frost, the wind was high 
And sparkling stars bedeckt the sky 
Sly Dick in arts of cunning skill'd, 
Whose rapine all his pockets fill'd, 
Had laid him down to take his rest 
And soothe with sleep his anxious breast. 
'Twas thus a dark infernal sprite 
A native of the blackest night, 
Portending mischief to devise 
Upon Sly Dick he cast his eyes; 
Then straight descends the infernal sprite, 
And in his chamber does alight; 
In visions he before him stands, 
And his attention he commands. 
Thus spake the sprite-- hearken my friend, 
And to my counsels now attend. 
Within the garret's spacious dome 
There lies a well stor'd wealthy room, 
Well stor'd with cloth and stockings too, 
Which I suppose will do for you, 
First from the cloth take thou a purse, 
For thee it will not be the worse, 
A noble purse rewards thy pains, 
A purse to hold thy filching gains; 
Then for the stockings let them reeve 
And not a scrap behind thee leave, 
Five bundles for a penny sell 
And pence to thee will come pell mell; 
See it be done with speed and care 
Thus spake the sprite and sunk in air. 
When in the morn with thoughts erect 
Sly Dick did on his dreams reflect, 
Why faith, thinks he, 'tis something too, 
It might-- perhaps-- it might be true, 
I'll go and see-- away he hies, 
And to the garret quick he flies, 
Enters the room, cuts up the clothes 
And after that reeves up the hose; 
Then of the cloth he purses made, 
Purses to hold his filching trade.

by Thomas Chatterton |


 Begin, my muse, the imitative lay, 
Aonian doxies sound the thrumming string; 
Attempt no number of the plaintive Gay, 
Let me like midnight cats, or Collins sing. 
If in the trammels of the doleful line 
The bounding hail, or drilling rain descend; 
Come, brooding Melancholy, pow'r divine, 
And ev'ry unform'd mass of words amend. 

Now the rough goat withdraws his curling horns, 
And the cold wat'rer twirls his circling mop: 
Swift sudden anguish darts thro' alt'ring corns, 
And the spruce mercer trembles in his shop. 

Now infant authors, madd'ning for renown, 
Extend the plume, and him about the stage, 
Procure a benefit, amuse the town, 
And proudly glitter in a title page. 

Now, wrapt in ninefold fur, his squeamish grace 
Defies the fury of the howling storm; 
And whilst the tempest whistles round his face, 
Exults to find his mantled carcase warm. 

Now rumbling coaches furious drive along, 
Full of the majesty of city dames, 
Whose jewels sparkling in the gaudy throng, 
Raise strange emotions and invidious flames. 

Now Merit, happy in the calm of place, 
To mortals as a highlander appears, 
And conscious of the excellence of lace, 
With spreading frogs and gleaming spangles glares. 

Whilst Envy, on a tripod seated nigh, 
In form a shoe-boy, daubs the valu'd fruit, 
And darting lightnings from his vengeful eye, 
Raves about Wilkes, and politics, and Bute. 

Now Barry, taller than a grenadier, 
Dwindles into a stripling of eighteen; 
Or sabled in Othello breaks the ear, 
Exerts his voice, and totters to the scene. 

Now Foote, a looking-glass for all mankind, 
Applies his wax to personal defects; 
But leaves untouch'd the image of the mind, 
His art no mental quality reflects. 

Now Drury's potent kind extorts applause, 
And pit, box, gallery, echo, "how divine!" 
Whilst vers'd in all the drama's mystic laws, 
His graceful action saves the wooden line. 

Now-- but what further can the muses sing? 
Now dropping particles of water fall; 
Now vapours riding on the north wind's wing, 
With transitory darkness shadow all. 

Alas! how joyless the descriptive theme, 
When sorrow on the writer's quiet preys 
And like a mouse in Cheshire cheese supreme, 
Devours the substance of the less'ning bays. 

Come, February, lend thy darkest sky. 
There teach the winter'd muse with clouds to soar; 
Come, February, lift the number high; 
Let the sharp strain like wind thro' alleys roar. 

Ye channels, wand'ring thro' the spacious street, 
In hollow murmurs roll the dirt along, 
With inundations wet the sabled feet, 
Whilst gouts responsive, join th'elegiac song. 

Ye damsels fair, whose silver voices shrill, 
Sound thro' meand'ring folds of Echo's horn; 
Let the sweet cry of liberty be still, 
No more let smoking cakes awake the morn. 

O, Winter! Put away the snowy pride; 
O, Spring! Neglect the cowslip and the bell; 
O, Summer! Throw thy pears and plums aside; 
O, Autumn! Bid the grape with poison swell. 

The pension'd muse of Johnson is no more! 
Drown'd in a butt of wine his genius lies; 
Earth! Ocean! Heav'n! The wond'rous loss deplore, 
The dregs of nature with her glory dies. 

What iron Stoic can suppress the tear; 
What sour reviewer read with vacant eye! 
What bard but decks his literary bier! 
Alas! I cannot sing-- I howl-- I cry--

by Thomas Chatterton |

Heccar and Gaira

 Where the rough Caigra rolls the surgy wave, 
Urging his thunders thro' the echoing cave; 
Where the sharp rocks, in distant horror seen, 
Drive the white currents thro' the spreading green; 
Where the loud tiger, pawing in his rage, 
Bids the black archers of the wilds engage; 
Stretch'd on the sand, two panting warriors lay, 
In all the burning torments of the day; 
Their bloody jav'lins reeked one living steam, 
Their bows were broken at the roaring stream; 
Heccar the Chief of Jarra's fruitful hill, 
Where the dark vapours nightly dews distil, 
Saw Gaira the companion of his soul, 
Extended where loud Caigra's billows roll; 
Gaira, the king of warring archers found, 
Where daily lightnings plough the sandy ground, 
Where brooding tempests bowl along the sky, 
Where rising deserts whirl'd in circles fly. 

Gaira, 'tis useless to attempt the chace, 
Swifter than hunted wolves they urge the race; 
Their lessening forms elude the straining eye, 
Upon the plumage of macaws they fly. 
Let us return, and strip the reeking slain 
Leaving the bodies on the burning plain. 

Heccar, my vengeance still exclaims for blood, 
'Twould drink a wider stream than Caigra's flood. 
This jav'lin, oft in nobler quarrels try'd, 
Put the loud thunder of their arms aside. 
Fast as the streaming rain, I pour'd the dart, 
Hurling a whirlwind thro' the trembling heart; 
But now my ling'ring feet revenge denies, 
O could I throw my jav'lin from my eyes! 

When Gaira the united armies broke, 
Death wing'd the arrow; death impell'd the stroke. 
See, pil'd in mountains, on the sanguine sand 
The blasted of the lightnings of thy hand. 
Search the brown desert, and the glossy green; 
There are the trophies of thy valour seen. 
The scatter'd bones mantled in silver white, 
Once animated, dared the force in fight. 
The children of the wave, whose pallid face, 
Views the faint sun display a languid face, 
From the red fury of thy justice fled, 
Swifter than torrents from their rocky bed. 
Fear with a sickened silver ting'd their hue; 
The guilty fear, when vengeance is their due. 

Rouse not Remembrance from her shadowy cell, 
Nor of those bloody sons of mischief tell. 
Cawna, O Cawna! deck'd in sable charms, 
What distant region holds thee from my arms? 
Cawna, the pride of Afric's sultry vales, 
Soft as the cooling murmur of the gales, 
Majestic as the many colour'd snake, 
Trailing his glories thro' the blossom'd brake; 
Black as the glossy rocks, where Eascal roars, 
Foaming thro' sandy wastes to Jaghir's shores; 
Swift as the arrow, hasting to the breast, 
Was Cawna, the companion of my rest. 

The sun sat low'ring in the western sky, 
The swelling tempest spread around the eye; 
Upon my Cawna's bosom I reclin'd, 
Catching the breathing whispers of the wind 
Swift from the wood a prowling tiger came; 
Dreadful his voice, his eyes a glowing flame; 
I bent the bow, the never-erring dart 
Pierced his rough armour, but escaped his heart; 
He fled, tho' wounded, to a distant waste, 
I urg'd the furious flight with fatal haste; 
He fell, he died-- spent in the fiery toil, 
I strip'd his carcase of the furry spoil, 
And as the varied spangles met my eye, 
On this, I cried, shall my loved Cawna lie. 
The dusky midnight hung the skies in grey; 
Impell'd by love, I wing'd the airy way; 
In the deep valley and mossy plain, 
I sought my Cawna, but I sought in vain, 
The pallid shadows of the azure waves 
Had made my Cawna, and my children slaves. 
Reflection maddens, to recall the hour, 
The gods had given me to the demon's power. 
The dusk slow vanished from the hated lawn, 
I gain'd a mountain glaring with the dawn. 
There the full sails, expanded to the wind, 
Struck horror and distraction in my mind, 
There Cawna mingled with a worthless train, 
In common slavery drags the hated chain. 
Now judge, my Heccar, have I cause for rage? 
Should aught the thunder of my arm assuage? 
In ever-reeking blood this jav'lin dyed 
With vengeance shall be never satisfied; 
I'll strew the beaches with the mighty dead 
And tinge the lily of their features red. 

When the loud shriekings of the hostile cry 
Roughly salute my ear, enraged I'll fly; 
Send the sharp arrow quivering thro' the heart 
Chill the hot vitals with the venom'd dart; 
Nor heed the shining steel or noisy smoke, 
Gaira and Vengeance shall inspire the stroke.

by Thomas Chatterton |

Narva and Mored

 Recite the loves of Narva and Mored 
The priest of Chalma's triple idol said. 
High from the ground the youthful warriors sprung, 
Loud on the concave shell the lances rung: 
In all the mystic mazes of the dance, 
The youths of Banny's burning sands advance, 
Whilst the soft virgin panting looks behind, 
And rides upon the pinions of the wind; 
Ascends the mountain's brow, and measures round 
The steepy cliffs of Chalma's sacred ground, 
Chalma, the god whose noisy thunders fly 
Thro' the dark covering of the midnight sky, 
Whose arm directs the close-embattled host, 
And sinks the labouring vessels on the coast; 
Chalma, whose excellence is known from far; 
From Lupa's rocky hill to Calabar. 
The guardian god of Afric and the isles, 
Where nature in her strongest vigour smiles; 
Where the blue blossom of the forky thorn, 
Bends with the nectar of the op'ning morn: 
Where ginger's aromatic, matted root, 
Creep through the mead, and up the mountains shoot. 
Three times the virgin, swimming on the breeze, 
Danc'd in the shadow of the mystic trees: 
When, like a dark cloud spreading to the view, 
The first-born sons of war and blood pursue; 
Swift as the elk they pour along the plain; 
Swift as the flying clouds distilling rain. 
Swift as the boundings of the youthful row, 
They course around, and lengthen as they go. 
Like the long chain of rocks, whose summits rise, 
Far in the sacred regions of the skies; 
Upon whose top the black'ning tempest lours, 
Whilst down its side the gushing torrent pours, 
Like the long cliffy mountains which extend 
From Lorbar's cave, to where the nations end, 
Which sink in darkness, thick'ning and obscure, 
Impenetrable, mystic, and impure; 
The flying terrors of the war advance, 
And round the sacred oak, repeat the dance. 
Furious they twist around the gloomy trees, 
Like leaves in autumn, twirling with the breeze. 
So when the splendor of the dying day 
Darts the red lustre of the watery way; 
Sudden beneath Toddida's whistling brink, 
The circling billows in wild eddies sink, 
Whirl furious round, and the loud bursting wave 
Sinks down to Chalma's sacerdotal cave, 
Explores the palaces on Zira's coast, 
Where howls the war-song of the chieftain's ghost; 
Where the artificer in realms below, 
Gilds the rich lance, or beautifies the bow; 
From the young palm tree spins the useful twine, 
Or makes the teeth of elephants divine. 
Where the pale children of the feeble sun, 
In search of gold, thro' every climate run: 
From burning heat to freezing torments go, 
And live in all vicissitudes of woe. 
Like the loud eddies of Toddida's sea, 
The warriors circle the mysterious tree: 
'Till spent with exercise they spread around 
Upon the op'ning blossoms of the ground. 
The priestess rising, sings the sacred tale, 
And the loud chorus echoes thro' the dale. 


Far from the burning sands of Calabar; 
Far from the lustre of the morning star; 
Far from the pleasure of the holy morn; 
Far from the blessedness of Chalma's horn: 
Now rests the souls of Narva and Mored, 
Laid in the dust, and number'd with the dead. 
Dear are their memories to us, and long, 
Long shall their attributes be known in song. 
Their lives were transient as the meadow flow'r. 
Ripen'd in ages, wither'd in an hour. 
Chalma, reward them in his gloomy cave, 
And open all the prisons of the grave. 
Bred to the service of the godhead's throne, 
And living but to serve his God alone, 
Narva was beauteous as the opening day 
When on the spangling waves the sunbeams play, 
When the mackaw, ascending to the sky, 
Views the bright splendour with a steady eye. 
Tall, as the house of Chalma's dark retreat; 
Compact and firm, as Rhadal Ynca's fleet, 
Completely beauteous as a summer's sun, 
Was Narva, by his excellence undone. 
Where the soft Togla creeps along the meads, 
Thro' scented Calamus and fragrant reeds; 
Where the sweet Zinsa spreads its matted bed 
Liv'd the still sweeter flower, the young Mored; 
Black was her face, as Togla's hidden cell; 
Soft as the moss where hissing adders dwell. 
As to the sacred court she brought a fawn, 
The sportive tenant of the spicy lawn, 
She saw and loved! and Narva too forgot 
His sacred vestment and his mystic lot. 
Long had the mutual sigh, the mutual tear, 
Burst from the breast and scorn'd confinement there. 
Existence was a torment! O my breast! 
Can I find accents to unfold the rest! 
Lock'd in each others arms, from Hyga's cave, 
They plung'd relentless to a wat'ry grave; 
And falling murmured to the powers above, 
"Gods! take our lives, unless we live to love."