John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

Extracts From An Opera


O! were I one of the Olympian twelve,
Their godships should pass this into law,--
That when a man doth set himself in toil
After some beauty veiled far away,
Each step he took should make his lady's hand
More soft, more white, and her fair cheek more fair;
And for each briar-berry he might eat,
A kiss should bud upon the tree of love,
And pulp and ripen richer every hour,
To melt away upon the traveller's lips.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

1.
The sun, with his great eye,
Sees not so much as I;
And the moon, all silve-proud,
Might as well be in a cloud.

2.
And O the spring -- the spring!
I lead the life of a king!
Couch'd in the teeming grass,
I spy each pretty lass.

3.
I look where no one dares,
And I stare where no one stares,
And when the night is nigh,
Lambs bleat my lullaby.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Folly's Song.

When wedding fiddles are a-playing,
Huzza for folly O!
And when maidens go a-Maying,
Huzza for folly O!
When a milk-pail is upset,
Huzza for folly O!
And the clothes left in the wet,
Huzza for folly O!
When the barrel's set abroach,
Huzza for folly O!
When Kate Eyebrow keeps a coach,
Huzza for folly O!
When the pig is over-roasted,
Huzza for folly O!
And the cheese is over-toasted,
Huzza for folly O!
When Sir Snap is with his lawyer,
Huzza for folly O!
And Miss Chap has kiss'd the sawyer,
Huzza for folly O!

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Oh, I am frighten'd with most hateful thoughts!
Perhaps her voice is not a nightingale's,
Perhaps her teeth are not the fairest pearl;
Her eye-lashes may be, for aught I know,
Not longer than the May-fly's small fan-horns;
There may not be one dimple on her hand;
And freckles many; ah! a careless nurse,
In haste to teach the little thing to walk,
May have crumpt up a pair of Dian's legs,
And warpt the ivory of a Juno's neck.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Song.

1.
The stranger lighted from his steed,
And ere he spake a word,
He seiz'd my lady's lily hand,
And kiss'd it all unheard.

2.
The stranger walk'd into the hall,
And ere he spake a word,
He kiss'd my lady's cherry lips,
And kiss'd 'em all unheard.

3.
The stranger walk'd into the bower,--
But my lady first did go,--
Aye hand in hand into the bower,
Where my lord's roses blow.

4.
My lady's maid had a silken scarf,
And a golden ring had she,
And a kiss from the stranger, as off he went
Again on his fair palfrey.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Asleep! O sleep a little while, white pearl!
And let me kneel, and let me pray to thee,
And let me call Heaven’s blessing on thine eyes,
And let me breathe into the happy air,
That doth enfold and touch thee all about,
Vows of my slavery, my giving up,
My sudden adoration, my great love!

Submitted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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