Tag Archives: John Keats

To Autumn

John Keats. William Hilton.


To Autumn

John Keats, September 19, 1819


Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness,

Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless

With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eves run;

To bend with apples the moss’d cottage-trees,

And fill all fruit with ripeness to the core;

To swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells

With a sweet kernel; to set the budding more,

And still more, later flowers for the bees,

Until they think warm days will never cease,

For summer has o’er-brimm’d their clammy cells.


Who hath not seen thee oft amid thy store?

Sometimes whoever seeks abroad may find

Thee sitting careless on a granary floor,

Thy hair soft-lifted by the winnowing wind;

Or on a half-reap’d furrow cound asleep,

Drows’d with the fume of poppies, while thy hook

Spares the next swath and all it twined flowers:

And sometimes like a gleaner thou dost keep

Steady thy laden head across a brook;

Or by a cyder-press, with patient look,

Thou watchest the last oozing hours by hours.


Where are the songs of spring? Ay, Where are they?

Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,—

While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day,

And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue;

Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn

Among the river sallows, borne aloft

Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies;

And full-grown lambs loud bleat from hilly bourn;

Hedge crickets sing; and now with treble soft

The red-breast whistles from a garden-croft;

And gathering swallows twitter in the skies.

Today is the birthday of English Romantic poet John Keats, who was born October 31, 1795.

To Solitude

Kindred Spirits. Asher Durand. 1849.


To Solitude

John Keats, 1816


O Solitude! If I must with thee dwell,

Let it not be among the jumbled heap

Of murky buildings;—climb with me the steep,

Nature’s Observatory—whence the dell,

Its flowery slopes—its rivers crystal swell,

May seem a span: let me thy vigils keep

‘Mongst boughs pavilioned where the Deer’s swift leap

Startles the wild Bee from the Fox-glove bell.

Ah! fain would I frequent such scenes with thee;

But the sweet converse of an innocent mind,

Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,

Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be

Almost the highest bliss of human kind,

When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.


A Fine Picture—Asher Durand’s painting portrays the American landscapist Thomas Cole with his friend, the American nature-poet William Cullen Bryant. The painting was commissioned by Jonathan Sturges in gratitude for Bryant’s eulogy to Thomas Cole, who had died suddenly in 1848.

A Little Poetry—“To Solitude” was published on May 5, 1816 under the initials J.K. It was Keats’s first published work, and, though the poem attracted little public attention at the time, Keats would give up his medical practice that year to pursue a literary career.

A similar sentiment is expressed in William Cowper’s previously featured quatrain that begins “I praise the Frenchman, his remark was shrewd.”

La Belle Dame Sans Merci

La Belle Dam San Merci. Sir Frank Dicksee.


La Belle Dam Sans Merci

John Keats, 1820


O what can ail thee, wretched wight,

Alone and palely loitering?

The sedge is wither’d from the lake,

And no birds sing.


O what can ail thee, wretched wight,

So haggard and so wo-begone?

The squirrel’s granary is full,

And the harvest’s done.

I see a lily on thy brow

With anguish moist and fever dew,

And on thy cheeks a fading rose

Fast withereth too.


I met a lady in the meads,

Full beautiful—a faery’s child;

Her hair was long, her foot was light,

And her eyes were wild.


I set her on my pacing steed,

And nothing else saw all day long,

For sidelong she would bend, and sing

A faery’s song.

She found me roots of relish sweet,

And honey wild, and manna-dew,

And sure in language strange she said—

“I love thee true.”

She took me to her elfin grot,

And there she wept and sigh’d full sore,

And there I shut her wild eyes

With kisses four.


And there she lulled me asleep

And there I dreamed—ah! woe betide!—

The latest dream I ever dreamt

On the cold hillside.


I saw pale kings and princes too,

Pale warriors, death-pale were they all;

They cried—”La Belle Dam Sans Merci

Hath thee in thrall!”


I saw their starved lips in the gloam,

With horrid warning gaped wide,

And awoke and found me here,

On the cold hill’s side.

And this is why I sojourn here

Alone and palely loitering,

Though the sedge is withered from the lake,

And no birds sing.


A Little Poetry—”La Belle Dam Sans Merci” is translated “The Beautiful Lady without Mercy.” Much medieval literature involves a young knight being tempted by a beautiful woman who is actually an evil enchantress. Keat’s cautionary ballad reveals the plight of one who yielded.

A ‘wight’ is a ghost. A ‘grot’ is a grotto, a small cave. To have ‘in thrall’ is to have great power over another. The ‘gloam’ is twilight.