Verse > Anthologies > Robert Bridges, ed. > The Spirit of Man: An Anthology

Robert Bridges, ed. (1844–1930).  The Spirit of Man: An Anthology.  1916.
From Sleep and Poetry

John Keats (1795–1821)
.. AND 1 can I ever bid these joys 2 farewell?
Yes, I must pass them for a nobler life,
Where I may find the agonies, the strife
Of human hearts: for lo! I see afar,
O’er-sailing the blue cragginess, a car        5
And steeds with streamy manes—the charioteer
Looks out upon the winds with glorious fear:
And now the numerous tramplings quiver lightly
Along a huge cloud’s ridge; and now with sprightly
Wheel downward come they into fresher skies,        10
Tipt round with silver from the sun’s bright eyes.
Still downward with capacious whirl they glide;
And now I see them on a green hill-side
In breezy rest among the nodding stalks.
The charioteer with wondrous gesture talks        15
To the trees and mountains; and there soon appear
Shapes of delight, of mystery, and fear,
Passing along before a dusky space
Made by some mighty oaks—as they would chase
Some ever-fleeting music, on they sweep.        20
Lo! how they murmur, laugh, and smile, and weep
Some with upholden hand and mouth severe;
Some with their faces muffled to the ear
Between their arms; some clear in youthful bloom,
Go glad and smilingly athwart the gloom;        25
Some looking back, and some with upward gaze…
            Most awfully intent
The driver of those steeds is forward bent,
And seems to listen: O that I might know
All that he writes with such a hurrying glow!        30
  The visions all are fled—the car is fled
Into the light of heaven, and in their stead
A sense of real things comes doubly strong,
And, like a muddy stream, would bear along
My soul to nothingness: but I will strive        35
Against all doubtings, and will keep alive
The thought of that same chariot, and the strange
Journey it went …
Note 1. Keats. From Sleep and Poetry. 1817. Keats tells how the luxury of Poetry, in which he was indulging, was broken by a vision, that revealed to him the true meaning of Poetry. He foresees that it must lead him to a life of action. He narrates the vision with this intention. [back]
Note 2. these joys are the mere luxuries of poetry. [back]

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