John Keats Sonnets

I. John Keats To My Brother George Sonnet.

Many the wonders I this day have seen:
The sun, when first he kist away the tears
That fill’d the eyes of morn;–the laurel’d peers
Who from the feathery gold of evening lean:–
The ocean with its vastness, its blue green,
Its ships, its rocks, its caves, its hopes, its fears,–
Its voice mysterious, which whoso hears
Must think on what will be, and what has been.
E’en now, dear George, while this for you I write,
Cynthia is from her silken curtains peeping
So scantly, that it seems her bridal night,
And she her half-discover’d revels keeping.
But what, without the social thought of thee,
Would be the wonders of the sky and sea?

Poet: John Keats

II. John Keats To Sonnet

Had I a man’s fair form, then might my sighs
Be echoed swiftly through that ivory shell,
Thine ear, and find thy gentle heart; so well
Would passion arm me for the enterprize:
But ah! I am no knight whose foeman dies;
No cuirass glistens on my bosom’s swell;
I am no happy shepherd of the dell
Whose lips have trembled with a maiden’s eyes;
Yet must I dote upon thee,–call thee sweet.
Sweeter by far than Hybla’s honied roses
When steep’d in dew rich to intoxication.
Ah! I will taste that dew, for me ’tis meet,
And when the moon her pallid face discloses,
I’ll gather some by spells, and incantation.

Poet: John Keats

III. John Keats Written on the day that Mr. Leigh Hunt left Prison Sonnet.

What though, for showing truth to flatter’d state
Kind Hunt was shut in prison, yet has he,
In his immortal spirit, been as free
As the sky-searching lark, and as elate.
Minion of grandeur! think you he did wait?
Think you he nought but prison walls did see,
Till, so unwilling, thou unturn’dst the key?
Ah, no! far happier, nobler was his fate!
In Spenser’s halls he strayed, and bowers fair,
Culling enchanted flowers; and he flew
With daring Milton through the fields of air:
To regions of his own his genius true
Took happy flights. Who shall his fame impair
When thou art dead, and all thy wretched crew?

Poet: John Keats

IV. John Keats Sonnet.

How many bards gild the lapses of time!
A few of them have ever been the food
Of my delighted fancy,–I could brood
Over their beauties, earthly, or sublime:
And often, when I sit me down to rhyme,
These will in throngs before my mind intrude:
But no confusion, no disturbance rude
Do they occasion; ’tis a pleasing chime.
So the unnumber’d sounds that evening store;
The songs of birds–the whisp’ring of the leaves–
The voice of waters–the great bell that heaves
With solemn sound,–and thousand others more,
That distance of recognizance bereaves,
Make pleasing music, and not wild uproar.

Poet: John Keats

V. John Keats To a Friend who sent me some Roses Sonnet.

As late I rambled in the happy fields,
What time the sky-lark shakes the tremulous dew
From his lush clover covert;–when anew
Adventurous knights take up their dinted shields:
I saw the sweetest flower wild nature yields,
A fresh-blown musk-rose; ’twas the first that threw
Its sweets upon the summer: graceful it grew
As is the wand that queen Titania wields.
And, as I feasted on its fragrancy,
I thought the garden-rose it far excell’d:
But when, O Wells! thy roses came to me
My sense with their deliciousness was spell’d:
Soft voices had they, that with tender plea
Whisper’d of peace, and truth, and friendliness unquell’d.

Poet: John Keats

VI. John Keats To G. A. W Sonnet.

Nymph of the downward smile, and sidelong glance,
In what diviner moments of the day
Art thou most lovely? When gone far astray
Into the labyrinths of sweet utterance?
Or when serenely wand’ring in a trance
Of sober thought? Or when starting away,
With careless robe, to meet the morning ray,
Thou spar’st the flowers in thy mazy dance?
Haply ’tis when thy ruby lips part sweetly,
And so remain, because thou listenest:
But thou to please wert nurtured so completely
That I can never tell what mood is best.
I shall as soon pronounce which grace more neatly
Trips it before Apollo than the rest.

Poet: John Keats

VII. John Keats Sonnet.

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 river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
‘Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet 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.

Poet: John Keats

VIII. John Keats To My Brother Sonnet.

Small, busy flames play through the fresh laid coals,
And their faint cracklings o’er our silence creep
Like whispers of the household gods that keep
A gentle empire o’er fraternal souls.
And while, for rhymes, I search around the poles,
Your eyes are fix’d, as in poetic sleep,
Upon the lore so voluble and deep,
That aye at fall of night our care condoles.
This is your birth-day Tom, and I rejoice
That thus it passes smoothly, quietly.
Many such eves of gently whisp’ring noise
May we together pass, and calmly try
What are this world’s true joys,–ere the great voice,
From its fair face, shall bid our spirits fly.

November 18, 1816.

Poet: John Keats

IX. John Keats Sonnet.

Keen, fitful gusts are whisp’ring here and there
Among the bushes half leafless, and dry;
The stars look very cold about the sky,
And I have many miles on foot to fare.
Yet feel I little of the cool bleak air,
Or of the dead leaves rustling drearily,
Or of those silver lamps that burn on high,
Or of the distance from home’s pleasant lair:
For I am brimfull of the friendliness
That in a little cottage I have found;
Of fair-hair’d Milton’s eloquent distress,
And all his love for gentle Lycid drown’d;
Of lovely Laura in her light green dress,
And faithful Petrarch gloriously crown’d.

Poet: John Keats

X. John Keats Sonnet.

To one who has been long in city pent,
‘Tis very sweet to look into the fair
And open face of heaven,–to breathe a prayer
Full in the smile of the blue firmament.
Who is more happy, when, with hearts content,
Fatigued he sinks into some pleasant lair
Of wavy grass, and reads a debonair
And gentle tale of love and languishment?
Returning home at evening, with an ear
Catching the notes of Philomel,–an eye
Watching the sailing cloudlet’s bright career,
He mourns that day so soon has glided by:
E’en like the passage of an angel’s tear
That falls through the clear ether silently.

Poet: John Keats

XI. John Keats On first looking into Chapman’s Homer Sonnet.

Much have I traveled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-brow’d Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific–and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise–
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

Poet: John Keats

XII. John Keats On leaving some Friends at an early Hour Sonnet.

Give me a golden pen, and let me lean
On heap’d up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
And let there glide by many a pearly car,
Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
And half discovered wings, and glances keen.
The while let music wander round my ears.
And as it reaches each delicious ending,
Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
And full of many wonders of the spheres:
For what a height my spirit is contending!
‘Tis not content so soon to be alone.

Poet: John Keats

XIII. John Keats Addressed To Haydon Sonnet.

Highmindedness, a jealousy for good,
A loving-kindness for the great man’s fame,
Dwells here and there with people of no name,
In noisome alley, and in pathless wood:
And where we think the truth least understood,
Oft may be found a “singleness of aim,”
That ought to frighten into hooded shame
A money mong’ring, pitiable brood.
How glorious this affection for the cause
Of stedfast genius, toiling gallantly!
What when a stout unbending champion awes
Envy, and Malice to their native sty?
Unnumber’d souls breathe out a still applause,
Proud to behold him in his country’s eye.

Poet: John Keats

XIV. John Keats Addressed To The Same Sonnet.

Great spirits now on earth are sojourning;
He of the cloud, the cataract, the lake,
Who on Helvellyn’s summit, wide awake,
Catches his freshness from Archangel’s wing:
He of the rose, the violet, the spring.
The social smile, the chain for Freedom’s sake:
And lo!–whose stedfastness would never take
A meaner sound than Raphael’s whispering.
And other spirits there are standing apart
Upon the forehead of the age to come;
These, these will give the world another heart,
And other pulses. Hear ye not the hum
Of mighty workings?————
Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.

Poet: John Keats

XV. John Keats On the Grasshopper and Cricket Sonnet.

The poetry of earth is never dead:
When all the birds are faint with the hot sun,
And hide in cooling trees, a voice will run
From hedge to hedge about the new-mown mead;
That is the Grasshopper’s–he takes the lead
In summer luxury,–he has never done
With his delights; for when tired out with fun
He rests at ease beneath some pleasant weed.
The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

December 30, 1816.

Poet: John Keats

XVI. John Keats To Kosciusko Sonnet.

Good Kosciusko, thy great name alone
Is a full harvest whence to reap high feeling;
It comes upon us like the glorious pealing
Of the wide spheres–an everlasting tone.
And now it tells me, that in worlds unknown,
The names of heroes, burst from clouds concealing,
And changed to harmonies, for ever stealing
Through cloudless blue, and round each silver throne.
It tells me too, that on a happy day,
When some good spirit walks upon the earth,
Thy name with Alfred’s, and the great of yore
Gently commingling, gives tremendous birth
To a loud hymn, that sounds far, far away
To where the great God lives for evermore.

Poet: John Keats

XVII. John Keats Sonnet.

Happy is England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown
Through its tall woods with high romances blent:
Yet do I sometimes feel a languishment
For skies Italian, and an inward groan
To sit upon an Alp as on a throne,
And half forget what world or worldling meant.
Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters;
Enough their simple loveliness for me,
Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging:
Yet do I often warmly burn to see
Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing,
And float with them about the summer waters.

Poet: John Keats