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
 
The Bard Speaks (from The Epistle to My Brother George)
By John Keats (1795–1821)
 
(See full text.)

WHAT though I leave this dull and earthly mould,
Yet shall my spirit lofty converse hold
With after times.—The patriot shall feel
My stern alarum, and unsheath his steel;
Or in the senate thunder out my numbers,        5
To startle princes from their easy slumbers.
The sage will mingle with each moral theme
My happy thoughts sententious: he will teem
With lofty periods when my verses fire him,
And then I ’ll stoop from heaven to inspire him.        10
Lays have I left of such a dear delight
That maids will sing them on their bridal-night
Gay villagers, upon a morn of May,
When they have tired their gentle limbs with play,
And formed a snowy circle on the grass,        15
And placed in midst of all that lovely lass
Who chosen is their queen,—with her fine head
Crowned with flowers purple, white, and red:
For there the lily and the musk-rose sighing,
Are emblems true of hapless lovers dying:        20
Between her breasts, that never yet felt trouble,
A bunch of violets full blown, and double,
Serenely sleep:—she from a casket takes
A little book,—and then a joy awakes
About each youthful heart,—with stifled cries,        25
And rubbing of white hands, and sparkling eyes:
For she ’s to read a tale of hopes and fears;
One that I fostered in my youthful years:
The pearls, that on each glistening circlet sleep,
Gush ever and anon with silent creep,        30
Lured by the innocent dimples. To sweet rest
Shall the dear babe, upon its mother’s breast,
Be lulled with songs of mine. Fair world, adieu!
Thy dales and hills are fading from my view:
Swiftly I mount, upon wide-spreading pinions,        35
Far from the narrow bounds of thy dominions.
Full joy I feel, while thus I cleave the air,
That my soft verse will charm thy daughters fair,
And warm thy sons!’
 
 
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