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Best Famous John Keats Poems

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by John Keats |

Ode on a Grecian Urn

THOU still unravish'd bride of quietness  
Thou foster-child of Silence and slow Time  
Sylvan historian who canst thus express 
A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: 
What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape 5 
Of deities or mortals or of both  
In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? 
What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? 
What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? 
What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy? 10 

Heard melodies are sweet but those unheard 
Are sweeter; therefore ye soft pipes play on; 
Not to the sensual ear but more endear'd  
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone: 
Fair youth beneath the trees thou canst not leave 15 
Thy song nor ever can those trees be bare; 
Bold Lover never never canst thou kiss  
Though winning near the goal¡ªyet do not grieve; 
She cannot fade though thou hast not thy bliss  
For ever wilt thou love and she be fair! 20 

Ah happy happy boughs! that cannot shed 
Your leaves nor ever bid the Spring adieu; 
And happy melodist unweari¨¨d  
For ever piping songs for ever new; 
More happy love! more happy happy love! 25 
For ever warm and still to be enjoy'd  
For ever panting and for ever young; 
All breathing human passion far above  
That leaves a heart high-sorrowful and cloy'd  
A burning forehead and a parching tongue. 30 

Who are these coming to the sacrifice? 
To what green altar O mysterious priest  
Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies  
And all her silken flanks with garlands drest? 
What little town by river or sea-shore 35 
Or mountain-built with peaceful citadel  
Is emptied of its folk this pious morn? 
And little town thy streets for evermore 
Will silent be; and not a soul to tell 
Why thou art desolate can e'er return. 40 

O Attic shape! fair attitude! with brede 
Of marble men and maidens overwrought  
With forest branches and the trodden weed; 
Thou silent form! dost tease us out of thought 
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 45 
When old age shall this generation waste  
Thou shalt remain in midst of other woe 
Than ours a friend to man to whom thou say'st  
'Beauty is truth truth beauty ¡ªthat is all 
Ye know on earth and all ye need to know.' 50 

by John Keats |

When I have Fears that I may cease to be

WHEN I have fears that I may cease to be 
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain  
Before high pil`d books in charact'ry  
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain; 
When I behold upon the night's starr'd face 5 
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance  
And feel that I may never live to trace 
Their shadows with the magic hand of chance; 
And when I feel fair creature of an hour! 
That I shall never look upon thee more 10 
Never have relish in the faery power 
Of unreflecting love;¡ªthen on the shore 
Of the wide world I stand alone and think  
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. 

by John Keats |

To Sleep

O SOFT embalmer of the still midnight! 
Shutting with careful fingers and benign 
Our gloom-pleased eyes embower'd from the light  
Enshaded in forgetfulness divine; 
O soothest Sleep! if so it please thee close 5 
In midst of this thine hymn my willing eyes  
Or wait the amen ere thy poppy throws 
Around my bed its lulling charities; 
Then save me or the pass¨¨d day will shine 
Upon my pillow breeding many woes; 10 
Save me from curious conscience that still lords 
Its strength for darkness burrowing like a mole; 
Turn the key deftly in the oil¨¨d wards  
And seal the hush¨¨d casket of my soul. 

by John Keats |

Last Sonnet

BRIGHT Star! would I were steadfast as thou art¡ª 
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night  
And watching with eternal lids apart  
Like Nature's patient sleepless Eremite  
The moving waters at their priest-like task 5 
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores  
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask 
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors¡ª 
No¡ªyet still steadfast still unchangeable  
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast 10 
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell  
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest  
Still still to hear her tender-taken breath  
And so live ever¡ªor else swoon to death. 

by John Keats |

To Autumn

SEASON of mists and mellow fruitfulness! 
Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; 
Conspiring with him how to load and bless 
With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; 
To bend with apples the moss'd cottage-trees 5 
And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core; 
To swell the gourd and plump the hazel shells 
With a sweet kernel; to set budding more  
And still more later flowers for the bees  
Until they think warm days will never cease 10 
For Summer has o'er-brimm'd their clammy cells. 

Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store? 
Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find 
Thee sitting careless on a granary floor  
Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind; 15 
Or on a half-reap'd furrow sound asleep  
Drowsed with the fume of poppies while thy hook 
Spares the next swath and all its twin¨¨d flowers; 
And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep 
Steady thy laden head across a brook; 20 
Or by a cider-press with patient look  
Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours. 

Where are the songs of Spring? Ay where are they? 
Think not of them thou hast thy music too ¡ª 
While barr¨¨d clouds bloom the soft-dying day 25 
And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; 
Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn 
Among the river sallows borne aloft 
Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies; 
And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn; 30 
Hedge-crickets sing; and now with treble soft 
The redbreast whistles from a garden-croft; 
And gathering swallows twitter in the skies. 

by John Keats |

Ode on Melancholy

NO no! go not to Lethe neither twist 
Wolf's-bane tight-rooted for its poisonous wine; 
Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kist 
By nightshade ruby grape of Proserpine; 
Make not your rosary of yew-berries 5 
Nor let the beetle nor the death-moth be 
Your mournful Psyche nor the downy owl 
A partner in your sorrow's mysteries; 
For shade to shade will come too drowsily  
And drown the wakeful anguish of the soul. 10 

But when the melancholy fit shall fall 
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud  
That fosters the droop-headed flowers all  
And hides the green hill in an April shroud; 
Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose 15 
Or on the rainbow of the salt sand-wave  
Or on the wealth of glob¨¨d peonies; 
Or if thy mistress some rich anger shows  
Emprison her soft hand and let her rave  
And feed deep deep upon her peerless eyes. 20 

She dwells with Beauty¡ªBeauty that must die; 
And Joy whose hand is ever at his lips 
Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh  
Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips: 
Ay in the very temple of Delight 25 
Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine  
Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue 
Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; 
His soul shall taste the sadness of her might  
And be among her cloudy trophies hung. 30 

by John Keats |

Ode to a Nightingale

MY heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains 
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk, 
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains 
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk: 
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot, 5 
But being too happy in thine happiness, 
That thou, light-wing¨¨d Dryad of the trees, 
In some melodious plot 
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless, 
Singest of summer in full-throated ease. 10 

O for a draught of vintage! that hath been 
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delv¨¨d earth, 
Tasting of Flora and the country-green, 
Dance, and Proven?al song, and sunburnt mirth! 
O for a beaker full of the warm South! 15 
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene, 
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim, 
And purple-stain¨¨d mouth; 
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen, 
And with thee fade away into the forest dim: 20 

Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget 
What thou among the leaves hast never known, 
The weariness, the fever, and the fret 
Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; 
Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last grey hairs, 25 
Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; 
Where but to think is to be full of sorrow 
And leaden-eyed despairs; 
Where beauty cannot keep her lustrous eyes, 
Or new Love pine at them beyond to-morrow. 30 

Away! away! for I will fly to thee, 
Not charioted by Bacchus and his pards, 
But on the viewless wings of Poesy, 
Though the dull brain perplexes and retards: 
Already with thee! tender is the night, 35 
And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne, 
Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays 
But here there is no light, 
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown 
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways. 40 

I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, 
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, 
But, in embalm¨¨d darkness, guess each sweet 
Wherewith the seasonable month endows 
The grass, the thicket, and the fruit-tree wild; 45 
White hawthorn, and the pastoral eglantine; 
Fast-fading violets cover'd up in leaves; 
And mid-May's eldest child, 
The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, 
The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves. 50 

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time 
I have been half in love with easeful Death, 
Call'd him soft names in many a mus¨¨d rhyme, 
To take into the air my quiet breath; 
Now more than ever seems it rich to die, 55 
To cease upon the midnight with no pain, 
While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad 
In such an ecstasy! 
Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain¡ª 
To thy high requiem become a sod. 60 

Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! 
No hungry generations tread thee down; 
The voice I hear this passing night was heard 
In ancient days by emperor and clown: 
Perhaps the self-same song that found a path 65 
Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, 
She stood in tears amid the alien corn; 
The same that ofttimes hath 
Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam 
Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn. 70 

Forlorn! the very word is like a bell 
To toll me back from thee to my sole self! 
Adieu! the fancy cannot cheat so well 
As she is famed to do, deceiving elf. 
Adieu! adieu! thy plaintive anthem fades 75 
Past the near meadows, over the still stream, 
Up the hill-side; and now 'tis buried deep 
In the next valley-glades: 
Was it a vision, or a waking dream? 
Fled is that music:¡ªdo I wake or sleep? 80 

by John Keats |

Song of the Indian Maid

Song of the Indian Maid 

Why dost borrow 
The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?¡ª 
To give maiden blushes 
To the white rose bushes? 5 
Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips? 

O Sorrow! 
Why dost borrow 
The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?¡ª 
To give the glow-worm light? 10 
Or, on a moonless night, 
To tinge, on siren shores, the salt sea-spry? 

O Sorrow! 
Why dost borrow 
The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?¡ª 15 
To give at evening pale 
Unto the nightingale, 
That thou mayst listen the cold dews among? 

O Sorrow! 
Why dost borrow 20 
Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?¡ª 
A lover would not tread 
A cowslip on the head, 
Though he should dance from eve till peep of day¡ª 
Nor any drooping flower 25 
Held sacred for thy bower, 
Wherever he may sport himself and play. 

To Sorrow 
I bade good morrow, 
And thought to leave her far away behind; 30 
But cheerly, cheerly, 
She loves me dearly; 
She is so constant to me, and so kind: 
I would deceive her 
And so leave her, 35 
But ah! she is so constant and so kind. 

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side, 
I sat a-weeping: in the whole world wide 
There was no one to ask me why I wept,¡ª 
And so I kept 40 
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears 
Cold as my fears. 

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side, 
I sat a-weeping: what enamour'd bride, 
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds, 45 
But hides and shrouds 
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side? 

And as I sat, over the light blue hills 
There came a noise of revellers: the rills 
Into the wide stream came of purple hue¡ª 50 
'Twas Bacchus and his crew! 
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills 
From kissing cymbals made a merry din¡ª 
'Twas Bacchus and his kin! 
Like to a moving vintage down they came, 55 
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame; 
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley, 
To scare thee, Melancholy! 
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name! 
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly 60 
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June 
Tall chestnuts keep away the sun and moon:¡ª 
I rush'd into the folly! 

Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood, 
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood, 65 
With sidelong laughing; 
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued 
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white 
For Venus' pearly bite; 
And near him rode Silenus on his ass, 70 
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass 
Tipsily quaffing. 

'Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye, 
So many, and so many, and such glee? 
Why have ye left your bowers desolate, 75 
Your lutes, and gentler fate?'¡ª 
'We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing, 
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide, 
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:¡ª 80 
Come hither, lady fair, and join¨¨d be 
To our wild minstrelsy!' 

'Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye, 
So many, and so many, and such glee? 
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left 85 
Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?'¡ª 
'For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree; 
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms, 
And cold mushrooms; 
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth; 90 
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth! 
Come hither, lady fair, and join¨¨d be 
To our mad minstrelsy!' 

Over wide streams and mountains great we went, 
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent, 95 
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants, 
With Asian elephants: 
Onward these myriads¡ªwith song and dance, 
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance, 
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles, 100 
Bearing upon their scaly backs, in files, 
Plump infant laughers mimicking the coil 
Of seamen, and stout galley-rowers' toil: 
With toying oars and silken sails they glide, 
Nor care for wind and tide. 105 

Mounted on panthers' furs and lions' manes, 
From rear to van they scour about the plains; 
A three days' journey in a moment done; 
And always, at the rising of the sun, 
About the wilds they hunt with spear and horn, 110 
On spleenful unicorn. 

I saw Osirian Egypt kneel adown 
Before the vine-wreath crown! 
I saw parch'd Abyssinia rouse and sing 
To the silver cymbals' ring! 115 
I saw the whelming vintage hotly pierce 
Old Tartary the fierce! 
The kings of Ind their jewel-sceptres vail, 
And from their treasures scatter pearl¨¨d hail; 
Great Brahma from his mystic heaven groans, 120 
And all his priesthood moans, 
Before young Bacchus' eye-wink turning pale. 
Into these regions came I, following him, 
Sick-hearted, weary¡ªso I took a whim 
To stray away into these forests drear, 125 
Alone, without a peer: 
And I have told thee all thou mayest hear. 

Young Stranger! 
I've been a ranger 
In search of pleasure throughout every clime; 130 
Alas! 'tis not for me! 
Bewitch'd I sure must be, 
To lose in grieving all my maiden prime. 

Come then, Sorrow, 
Sweetest Sorrow! 135 
Like an own babe I nurse thee on my breast: 
I thought to leave thee, 
And deceive thee, 
But now of all the world I love thee best. 

There is not one, 140 
No, no, not one 
But thee to comfort a poor lonely maid; 
Thou art her mother, 
And her brother, 
Her playmate, and her wooer in the shade. 145 

by John Keats |

La Belle Dame sans Merci

'O WHAT can ail thee knight-at-arms  
Alone and palely loitering? 
The sedge is wither'd from the lake  
And no birds sing. 

'O what can ail thee knight-at-arms 5 
So haggard and so woe-begone? 
The squirrel's granary is full  
And the harvest 's done. 

'I see a lily on thy brow 
With anguish moist and fever dew; 10 
And on thy cheeks a fading rose 
Fast withereth too.' 

'I met a lady in the meads  
Full beautiful¡ªa faery's child  
Her hair was long her foot was light 15 
And her eyes were wild. 

'I made a garland for her head  
And bracelets too and fragrant zone; 
She look'd at me as she did love  
And made sweet moan. 20 

'I set her on my pacing steed 
And nothing else saw all day long  
For sideways would she lean and sing 
A faery's song. 

'She found me roots of relish sweet 25 
And honey wild and manna dew  
And sure in language strange she said  
I love thee true!  

'She took me to her elfin grot  
And there she wept and sigh'd fill sore; 30 
And there I shut her wild wild eyes 
With kisses four. 

'And there she lull¨¨d me asleep  
And there I dream'd¡ªAh! woe betide! 
The latest dream I ever dream'd 35 
On the cold hill's side. 

'I saw pale kings and princes too  
Pale warriors death-pale were they all; 
They cried¡ª"La belle Dame sans Merci 
Hath thee in thrall!" 40 

'I saw their starved lips in the gloam 
With horrid warning gap¨¨d wide  
And I awoke and found me here  
On the cold hill's side. 

'And this is why I sojourn here 45 
Alone and palely loitering  
Though the sedge is wither'd from the lake  
And no birds sing.' 

by John Keats |


IN a drear-nighted December  
Too happy happy tree  
Thy branches ne'er remember 
Their green felicity: 
The north cannot undo them 5 
With a sleety whistle through them; 
Nor frozen thawings glue them 
From budding at the prime. 

In a drear-nighted December  
Too happy happy brook 10 
Thy bubblings ne'er remember 
Apollo's summer look; 
But with a sweet forgetting  
They stay their crystal fretting  
Never never petting 15 
About the frozen time. 

Ah! would 'twere so with many 
A gentle girl and boy! 
But were there ever any 
Writhed not at pass¨¨d joy? 20 
To know the change and feel it  
When there is none to heal it  
Nor numb¨¨d sense to steal it  
Was never said in rhyme.