John Keats


John Keats

I find sometimes the need of great calmness. Sometimes I retire to the psalms, sometimes, to bad vintage television. But here I post one of the most delightful and relaxing ways I come to terms with the world. I don't post the entire poem, merely for length. If you wish to find it, visit the Representative Poetry On-Line and Look for Keats. His poetry, even though he isn't 17th century, is among the very best in the language.

from "Ode to a Nightingale"
John Keats

My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness,--
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees
In some melodious plot
Of beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated ease.

O, for a draught of vintage! that hath been
Cool'd a long age in the deep-delved earth,
Tasting of Flora and the country green,
Dance, and Provenšal song, and sunburnt mirth!
O for a beaker full of the warm South,
Full of the true, the blushful Hippocrene,
With beaded bubbles winking at the brim,
And purple-stained mouth;
That I might drink, and leave the world unseen,
And with thee fade away into the forest dim:

I don't know what I find so calming--perhaps it is just the loveliness of some of the image, or some of the words. "A drowsy numbness pains/ My sense." Say it aloud, let the words roll over the tongue and echo in the brain. "With beaded bubbles winking at the brim. . ." Just be lulled by the gentle language, the beautiful images and let the blood pressure drop. The very best of the Romantic Era of poetry seems to do this as a matter of course. Yes, you have Shelley occasionally railing away, and Byron tends to be more sardonic than pastoral. But Keats, Wordsworth and Coleridge all seem to have a sense of the beauty of nature that is embedded and inextricable from their beautiful language. Read "Kubla Khan" or "Ode: Intimations of Immortality Recollected from Early Childhood."

You know, until you get to the modern era I like more poetry than I dislike. And perhaps with such an able guide as Dylan I can even convert my anti-modernism.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on September 28, 2002 4:58 PM.

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