Saturday, February 9, 2008

Keats

From Lamia: Part I

...Lycius from death awoke into amaze,
To see her still, and singing so sweet lays;
Then from amaze into delight he fell
To hear her whisper woman's lore so well;
And every word she spake entic'd him on
To unperplex'd delight and pleasure known.
Let the mad poets say whate'er they please
Of the sweets of Fairies, Peris, Goddesses,
There is not such a treat among them all,
Haunters of cavern, lake and waterfall,
As a real woman, lineal indeed
From Pyrrha's pebbles or old Adam's seed.
Thus gentle Lamia judg'd, and judg'd aright,
That Lycius could not love in half a fright,
So threw the goddess off, and won his heart
More pleasantly by playing woman's part,
With no more awe than what her beauty gave,
That, while it smote, still guaranteed to save.

Nature withheld Cassandra in the Skies

Nature withheld Cassandra in the Skies
For meet adornment a full thousand years;
She took their cream of Beauty, fairest dies
And shaped and tinted her above all peers;
Love meanwhile held her dearly with his wings
And underneath their shadow charm'd her eyes
To such a richness, that the cloudy Kings
Of high Olympus uttered slavish sighs -
When i beheld her on the Earth descend
My heart began to burn - and only pains
They were my pleasures - they my sad Life's end -
Love pour'd her Beauty into my warm veins -

From Ode On a Grecian Urn

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,' - that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.


This is real poetry, the words of John Keats, a man i first read over two decades ago. These three passages, although not the only ones of his, are singlehandedly responsible for honing my approach to the female creation. I remember reading these words and reacting to them as if they were a long lost friend. They completed so many abbreviated thoughts and ideas that swam around in my head. This man, who'd written a century and a half before me, had enunciated my voice.

Recently, i had the wonderful opportunity to visit with a friend who i hadn't seen or spoken to in over three years. She, in the wonderful parallel circumstance of getting to see her again, gave me a surprise gift. I had lent her my well-used paperback copy of Keat's poetry, and she had returned it to me. I'd really missed the book, actually thinking that i'd lost it. He'd aged well, and the dog-eared pages quickly led me to these above poems. Reading them over brought a warm remembrance of the young boy who, when looking for a companion, found one named John.

3 comments:

Z said...

I remember doing Lamia in school, and being struck by her extraordinary power, and the way that Keat's language so sensuously celebrated it. Thanks for reminding me - now I must go and unearth my copy.

doll said...

It has been a pleasure to view these treasures you have posted for us. A rich reward to soothe tired eyes and quicken the heart after a long day of work.

Deity said...

z,
my pleasure. my friend's gift is a great trickle-down effect.

doll,
keats is definitely someone to read at the end of a long day. cleanses the mind.