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John Keats

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

Lines On Seeing A Lock Of Milton's Hair


Chief of organic Numbers!
Old Scholar of the Spheres!
Thy spirit never slumbers,
But rolls about our ears
For ever and for ever.
O, what a mad endeavour
Worketh he
Who, to thy sacred and ennobled hearse,
Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
And Melody!

How heavenward thou soundedst
Live Temple of sweet noise;
And discord unconfoundedst:
Giving delight new joys,
And Pleasure nobler pinions--
O where are thy Dominions!
Lend thine ear
To a young delian oath--aye, by thy soul,
By all that from thy mortal Lips did roll;
And by the Kernel of thine earthly Love,
Beauty, in things on earth and things above,
When every childish fashion
Has vanish'd from my rhyme
Will I grey-gone in passion
Give to an after-time
Hymning and harmony
Of thee, and of thy Words and of thy Life:
But vain is now the bruning and the strife--
Pangs are in vain -- until I grow high-rife
With Old Philosophy
And mad with glimpses at futurity!

For many years my offerings must be hush'd:
When I do speak I'll think upon this hour,
Because I feel my forehead hot and flush'd,
Even at the simplest vassal of thy Power,--
A Lock of thy bright hair!
Sudden it came,
And I was startled when I heard thy name
Coupled so unaware--
Yet, at the moment, temperate was my blood:
Methought I had beheld it from the flood.

Submitted: Tuesday, March 23, 2010

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