On My Carnal Attraction to Keats

February 7, 2010

I cannot help but develop these unfathomably awkward carnal crushes on posthumous poets. In the past six months I have passed through Eliot (Oh, Tom!) and Herbert (never have I felt so hot for churches!), and now I find myself lusting after Keats (damn!).

In reverence, I hereby present a Very Select Collection of Keats’ Most Perfect Lines According to My Own Inexcusably Limited Reading.*

Disclaimer: I do feel a little bad pulling these prettinesses from their resident poems. They do lose blood in the process. Titles subsequently are linked to online versions, for one’s ownest prosodic pleasure.

1. From Sonnet to a Lady seen for a few moments at Vauxhall

Time’s sea hath been five years at its slow ebb,
Long hours have to and fro let creep the sand,
Since I was tangled in thy beauty’s web
And snared by the ungloving of thine hand.

ll. 1-4.

2. From Ode on a Grecian Urn

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;

ll. 11-12.

When old age shall this generation waste,
Thou shalt remain, in midst of other woe
Than ours, a friend to man, to whom thou say’st,
“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.”

ll. 46-50.

3. From Ode to a Nightingale

But here there is no light,
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous glooms and winding mossy ways.

ll. 38-40.

Darkling I listen; and, for many a time
I have been half in love with easeful Death,
Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath;

ll. 51-54.

Was it a vision, or a waking dream?
Fled is that music:—Do I wake or sleep?

ll. 79-80.

4. From Ode on Melancholy

But when the melancholy fit shall fall
Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud,

ll. 11-12.

5. From Bright Star, Would I were Steadfast as Thou Art

The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,

ll. 5-6.

6. From Hyperion

O aching time! O moments big as years!
All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.

Book I: 64-67.

*Having “discovered” Keats for my lustful self only last tuesday (!), my reading has been limited to the shorter pieces in his Collected Poems that I have chanced upon as I flick anxiously through, trying to decide where to begin. No doubt once I’ve munched my full way through Endymion, The Eve of St. Agnes, Hyperion, and their like, I will have to update, yes!

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