Verse > Anthologies > T. H. Ward, ed. > The English Poets > Vol. IV. Wordsworth to Rossetti
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Thomas Humphry Ward, ed.  The English Poets.  1880–1918.
Vol. IV. The Nineteenth Century: Wordsworth to Rossetti
 
Extracts from Hyperion: Saturn
By John Keats (1795–1821)
 
(From Book I.)

DEEP in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat grey-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;        5
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feathered grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.        10
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade: the Naiad ’mid her reeds
Pressed her cold finger closer to her lips.
 
  Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,        15
No further than to where his feet had strayed,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bowed head seem’d listening to the Earth,        20
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet.
 
  It seem’d no force could wake him from his place;
But there came one, who with a kindred hand
Touched his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.        25
She was a Goddess of the infant world;
By her in stature the tall Amazon
Had stood a pigmy’s height: she would have ta’en
Achilles by the hair and bent his neck;
Or with a finger stayed Ixion’s wheel.        30
Her face was large as that of Memphian sphinx,
Pedestal’d haply in a palace-court,
When sages look’d to Egypt for their lore.
But oh! how unlike marble was that face:
How beautiful, if sorrow had not made        35
Sorrow more beautiful than Beauty’s self.
There was a listening fear in her regard,
As if calamity had but begun;
As if the vanward clouds of evil days
Had spent their malice, and the sullen rear        40
Was with its stored thunder labouring up.
One hand she pressed upon that aching spot
Where beats the human heart, as if just there,
Though an immortal, she felt cruel pain:
The other upon Saturn’s bended neck        45
She laid, and to the level of his ear
Leaning with parted lips, some words she spake
In solemn tenour and deep organ tone:
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
Would come in these like accents; O how frail        50
To that large utterance of the early Gods!
 
 
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