John Keats: To George Felton Mathew
To George Felton Mathew
Sweet are the pleasures that to verse belong, And doubly sweet a brotherhood in song; Nor can remembrance, Mathew! bring to view A fate more pleasing, a delight more true Than that in which the brother Poets joy'd, Who with combined powers, their wit employ'd To raise a trophy to the drama's muses. The thought of this great partnership diffuses Over the genius loving heart, a feeling Of all that's high, and great, and good, and healing.
Too partial friend! fain would I follow thee Past each horizon of fine poesy; Fain would I echo back each pleasant note As o'er Sicilian seas, clear anthems float 'Mong the light skimming gondolas far parted, Just when the sun his farewell beam has darted: But 'tis impossible; far different cares Beckon me sternly from soft "Lydian airs," And hold my faculties so long in thrall, That I am oft in doubt whether at all I shall again see Phoebus in the morning: Or flush'd Aurora in the roseate dawning! Or a white Naiad in a rippling stream; Or a rapt seraph in a moonlight beam; Or again witness what with thee I've seen, The dew by fairy feet swept from the green, After a night of some quaint jubilee Which every elf and fay had come to see: When bright processions took their airy march Beneath the curved moon's triumphal arch.
But might I now each passing moment give To the coy muse, with me she would not live In this dark city, nor would condescend 'Mid contradictions her delights to lend. Should e'er the fine-eyed maid to me be kind, Ah! surely it must be whene'er I find Some flowery spot, sequester'd, wild, romantic, That often must have seen a poet frantic; Where oaks, that erst the Druid knew, are growing, And flowers, the glory of one day, are blowing; Where the dark-leav'd laburnum's drooping clusters Reflect athwart the stream their yellow lustres, And intertwined the cassia's arms unite, With its own drooping buds, but very white. Where on one side are covert branches hung, 'Mong which the nightingales have always sung In leafy quiet; where to pry, aloof, Atween the pillars of the sylvan roof, Would be to find where violet beds were nestling, And where the bee with cowslip bells was wrestling. There must be too a ruin dark, and gloomy, To say "joy not too much in all that's bloomy."
Yet this is vain--O Mathew lend thy aid To find a place where I may greet the maid-- Where we may soft humanity put on, And sit, and rhyme and think on Chatterton; And that warm-hearted Shakspeare sent to meet him Four laurell'd spirits, heaven-ward to intreat him. With reverence would we speak of all the sages Who have left streaks of light athwart their ages: And thou shouldst moralize on Milton's blindness, And mourn the fearful dearth of human kindness To those who strove with the bright golden wing Of genius, to flap away each sting Thrown by the pitiless world. We next could tell Of those who in the cause of freedom fell: Of our own Alfred, of Helvetian Tell; Of him whose name to ev'ry heart's a solace, High-minded and unbending William Wallace. While to the rugged north our musing turns We well might drop a tear for him, and Burns.
Felton! without incitements such as these, How vain for me the niggard Muse to tease: For thee, she will thy every dwelling grace, And make "a sun-shine in a shady place:" For thou wast once a flowret blooming wild, Close to the source, bright, pure, and undefil'd, Whence gush the streams of song: in happy hour Came chaste Diana from her shady bower, Just as the sun was from the east uprising; And, as for him some gift she was devising, Beheld thee, pluck'd thee, cast thee in the stream To meet her glorious brother's greeting beam. I marvel much that thou hast never told How, from a flower, into a fish of gold Apollo chang'd thee; how thou next didst seem A black-eyed swan upon the widening stream; And when thou first didst in that mirror trace The placid features of a human face: That thou hast never told thy travels strange. And all the wonders of the mazy range O'er pebbly crystal, and o'er golden sands; Kissing thy daily food from Naiad's pearly hands.