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john keats Quotes

John Keats Quotes

Date of Death: 1819-02-23 (Tuesday, February 23rd, 1819)



    • My spirit is too weak- mortality Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep, And each imagin'd pinnacle and steep Of godlike hardship tells me I must die Like a sick Eagle looking at the sky.
    • In drear-nighted December, Too happy, happy tree, Thy branches ne'er remember Their green felicity.
    • But were there ever any Writh'd not of passed joy? The feel of not to feel it, When there is none to heal it, Nor numbed sense to steel it, Was never said in rhyme.
    • It keeps eternal whisperings around Desolate shores, and with its mighty swell Gluts twice ten thousand Caverns, till the spell Of Hecate leaves them their old shadowy sound.
    • When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charact'ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain; When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love!-then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.
    • Shed no tear! O shed no tear! The flower will bloom another year. Weep no more! O weep no more! Young buds sleep in the root's white core.
    • This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb, So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calm'd- see here it is- I hold it towards you.
    • Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art- Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night And watching with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores.
    • None can usurp this height... But those to whom the miseries of the world Are misery, and will not let them rest.
    • Here lies one whose name was writ in water.
    • I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the truth of imagination-what the imagination seizes as beauty must be truth-whether it existed before or not.
    • The imagination may be compared to Adam's dream-he awoke and found it truth.
    • O for a life of Sensations rather than of Thoughts!
    • I scarcely remember counting upon happiness-I look not for it if it be not in the present hour-nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.
    • At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously-I mean negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.
    • They will explain themselves - as all poems should do without any comment.
    • We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us-and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle or amaze with itself, but with its subject.
    • In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity--it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance- Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him-shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight-but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it-and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.
    • Scenery is fine-but human nature is finer.
    • Every mental pursuit takes its reality and worth from the ardour of the pursuer.
    • Axioms in philosophy are not axioms until they are proved upon our pulses: we read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.
    • I compare human life to a large mansion of many apartments, two of which I can only describe, the doors of the rest being as yet shut upon me.
    • There is an awful warmth about my heart like a load of immortality.
    • I begin to get a little acquainted with my own strength and weakness. Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works.
    • The genius of poetry must work out its own salvation in a man; it cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself. That which is creative must create itself-In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice.
    • I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.
    • I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death.
    • The poetical not itself-it has no self-it is everything and nothing...It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen.
    • A poet is the most unpoetical of anything in existence; because he has no identity-he is continually informing-and filling some other body.
    • A man's life of any worth is a continual allegory-and very few eyes can see the mystery of life-a life like the Scriptures, figurative...Lord Byron cuts a figure, but he is not figurative. Shakespeare led a life of allegory: his works are the comments on it.
    • Nothing ever becomes real till it is experienced-Even a proverb is no proverb to you till your Life has illustrated it.
    • I myself am pursuing the same instinctive course as the veriest human animal you can think of-I am, however young, writing at random-straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness-without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion. Yet may I not in this be free from sin?
    • Call the world if you please 'The vale of soul-making.'
    • I have two luxuries to brood over in my walks, your loveliness and the hour of my death. O that I could have possession of them both in the same minute.
    • 'If I should die,' said I to myself, 'I have left no immortal work behind me-nothing to make my friends proud of my memory-but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered.'
    • You are always new. The last of your kisses was ever the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest.
    • You might curb your magnanimity, and be more of an artist, and load every rift of your subject with ore.
    • I can scarcely bid you good-bye, even in a letter. I always made an awkward bow. God bless you!
    • I stood tip-toe upon a little hill, The air was cooling, and so very still, That the sweet buds which with a modest pride Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside, Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems, Had not yet lost those starry diadems Caught from the early sobbing of the morn.
    • And then there crept A little noiseless noise among the leaves, Born of the very sigh that silence heaves.
    • Open afresh your round of starry folds, Ye ardent marigolds!
    • Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach A natural sermon o'er their pebbly beds; Where swarms of minnows show their little heads, Staying their wavy bodies 'gainst the streams, To taste the luxury of sunny beams Temper'd with coolness.
    • Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop From low hung branches; little space they stop; But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek; Then off at once, as in a wanton freak: Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
    • Woman! when I behold thee flippant, vain, Inconstant, childish, proud, and full of fancies.
    • To one who has been long in city pent, 'Tis very sweet to look into the fair And open face of heaven.
    • E'en like the passage of an angel's tear That falls through the clear ether silently.
    • Much have I travell'd 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.
    • 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.
    • 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 in a distant mart? Listen awhile ye nations, and be dumb.
    • The poetry of earth is never dead.
    • Stop and consider! life is but a day; A fragile dew-drop on its perilous way From a tree's summit.
    • O for ten years, that I may overwhelm Myself in poesy; so I may do the deed That my own soul has to itself decreed.
    • A drainless shower Of light is poesy; 'tis the supreme of power; 'Tis might half slumb'ring on its own right arm.
    • But strength alone though of the Muses born Is like a fallen angel: trees uptorn, Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs, And thorns of life; forgetting the great end Of poesy, that it should be a friend To sooth the cares, and lift the thoughts of man.
    • There is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object.
    • The imagination of a boy is healthy, and the mature imagination of a man is healthy; but there is a space of life between, in which the soul is in a ferment, the character undecided, the way of life uncertain, the ambition thicksighted: thence proceeds mawkishness, and the thousand bitters which those men I speak of must necessarily taste in going over the following pages.
    • A thing of beauty is a joy forever: Its loveliness increases; it will never Pass into nothingness; but still will keep A bower quiet for us, and a sleep Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
    • In spite of all, Some shape of beauty moves away the pall From our dark spirits.
    • And such too is the grandeur of the dooms We have imagined for the mighty dead; All lovely tales that we have heard or read: An endless fountain of immortal drink, Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.
    • Nor do we merely feel these essences For one short hour; no, even as the trees That whisper round a temple become soon Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon, The passion poesy, glories infinite, Haunt us till they become a cheering light Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast, That, whether there be shine, or gloom o'ercast, They alway must be with us, or we die.
    • O magic sleep! O comfortable bird, That broodest o'er the troubled sea of the mind Till it is hush'd and smooth!
    • Time, that aged nurse, Rocked me to patience.
    • Wherein lies happiness? In that which becks Our ready minds to fellowship divine, A fellowship with essence; till we shine, Full alchemiz'd, and free of space. Behold The clear religion of heaven!
    • The crown of these Is made of love and friendship, and sits high Upon the forehead of humanity.
    • My restless spirit never could endure To brood so long upon one luxury, Unless it did, though fearfully, espy A hope beyond the shadow of a dream.
    • Pleasure is oft a visitant; but pain Clings cruelly to us.
    • He ne'er is crown'd With immortality, who fears to follow Where airy voices lead.
    • 'Tis the pest Of love, that fairest joys give most unrest.
    • To Sorrow I bade good-morrow, And thought to leave her far away behind; But cheerly, cheerly, She loves me dearly; She is so constant to me, and so kind: I would deceive her And so leave her, But ah! she is so constant and so kind.
    • O, what can ail thee, knight-at-arms, Alone and palely loitering? The sedge has wither'd from the lake, And no birds sing.
    • 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 made a garland for her head, And bracelets too, and fragrant zone; She look'd at me as she did love, And made sweet moan.
    • I saw pale kings and princes too, Pale warriors, death-pale were they all; They cried- 'La Belle Dame sans Merci Hath thee in thrall!'
    • And for her eyes: what could such eyes do there But weep, and weep, that they were born so fair?
    • Love in a hut, with water and a crust, Is-Love, forgive us!-cinders, ashes, dust.
    • Philosophy will clip an Angel's wings, Conquer all mysteries by rule and line, Empty the haunted air, and gnomed mine- Unweave a rainbow, as it erewhile made The tender-person'd Lamia melt into a shade.
    • 'For cruel 'tis,' said she, 'To steal my Basil-pot away from me.'
    • St. Agnes' Eve-Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold; The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass, And silent was the flock in woolly fold.
    • The music, yearning like a God in pain.
    • Sudden a thought came like a full-blown rose, Flushing his brow, and in his pained heart Made purple riot.
    • As though a tongueless nightingale should swell Her throat in vain, and die, heart-stifled, in her dell.
    • Full on this casement shone the wintry moon, And threw warm gules on Madeline's fair breast, As down she knelt for heaven's grace and boon; Rose-bloom fell on her hands, together prest.
    • Unclasps her warmed jewels one by one; Loosens her fragrant bodice; by degrees Her rich attire creeps rustling to her knees.
    • And still she slept an azure-lidded sleep, In blanched linen, smooth, and lavender'd.
    • She hurried at his words, beset with fears, For there were sleeping dragons all around, At glaring watch, perhaps, with ready spears- Down the wide stairs a darkling way they found.- In all the house was heard no human sound. A chain-droop'd lamp was flickering by each door; The arras, rich with horseman, hawk, and hound, Flutter'd in the besieging wind's uproar; And the long carpets rose along the gusty floor.
    • And they are gone: ay, ages long ago These lovers fled away into the storm.
    • So let me be thy choir, and make a moan Upon the midnight hours
    • And there shall be for thee all soft delight That shadowy thought can win, A bright torch, and a casement ope at night, To let the warm Love in!
    • Ever let the Fancy roam, Pleasure never is at home.
    • Bards of Passion and of Mirth, Ye have left your souls on earth! Have ye souls in heaven too, Double-lived in regions new?
    • Souls of Poets dead and gone, What Elysium have ye known, Happy field or mossy cavern, Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern? Have ye tippled drink more fine Than mine host's Canary wine?
    • Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun
    • 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 sound asleep, Drows'd with the fume of poppies, while thy hook Spares the next swath and all its twined flowers.
    • Then in a wailful choir the small gnats mourn Among the river sallows, borne aloft Or sinking as the light wind lives or dies.
    • No, no, go not to Lethe, neither twist Wolfs-bane, tight-rooted, for its poisonous wine; Nor suffer thy pale forehead to be kiss'd By nightshade.
    • But when the melancholy fit shall fall Sudden from heaven like a weeping cloud, That fosters the droop-headed flowers all, And hides the green hill in an April shroud; Then glut thy sorrow on a morning rose.
    • She dwells with Beauty-Beauty that must die; And Joy, whose hand is ever at his lips Bidding adieu; and aching Pleasure nigh, Turning to poison while the bee-mouth sips. Ay, in the very temple of Delight Veil'd Melancholy has her sovran shrine, Though seen of none save him whose strenuous tongue Can burst Joy's grape against his palate fine; His soul shall taste the sadness of her might, And be among her cloudy trophies hung.
    • 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.
    • 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 Provencal 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.
    • Fade far away, dissolve, and quite forget What thou among the leaves hast never known, The weariness, the fever, and the fret Here, where men sit and hear each other groan; Where palsy shakes a few, sad, last gray hairs, Where youth grows pale, and spectre-thin, and dies; Where but to think is to be full of sorrow And leaden-eyed despairs.
    • Already with thee! tender is the night.
    • I cannot see what flowers are at my feet, Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs, But, in embalmed darkness, guess each sweet.
    • And mid-May's eldest child, The coming musk-rose, full of dewy wine, The murmurous haunt of flies on summer eves.
    • 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; Now more than ever seems it rich to die, To cease upon the midnight with no pain, While thou art pouring forth thy soul abroad In such an ecstasy! Still wouldst thou sing, and I have ears in vain- To thy high requiem become a sod.
    • Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird! No hungry generations tread thee down; The voice I hear this passing night was heard In ancient days by emperor and clown: Perhaps the self-same song that found a path Through the sad heart of Ruth, when, sick for home, She stood in tears amid the alien corn; The same that oft-times hath Charm'd magic casements, opening on the foam Of perilous seas, in faery lands forlorn.
    • Forlorn! the very word is like a bell To toil me back from thee to my sole self!
    • Was it a vision, or a waking dream? Fled is that music:-Do I wake or sleep?
    • Thou still unravish'd bride of quietness, Thou foster-child of silence and slow time, Sylvan historian, who canst thus express A flowery tale more sweetly than our rhyme: What leaf-fringed legend haunts about thy shape? Of deities or mortals, or of both, In Tempe or the dales of Arcady? What men or gods are these? What maidens loth? What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape? What pipes and timbrels? What wild ecstasy?
    • Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard Are sweeter: therefore, ye soft pipes, play on; Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear'd, Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone. Fair youth, beneath the trees, thou canst not leave Thy song, nor ever can those trees be bare; Bold Lover, never, never canst thou kiss, Though winning near the goal-yet, do not grieve; She cannot fade, though thou hast not thy bliss, For ever wilt thou love, and she be fair!
    • Who are these coming to the sacrifice? To what green altar, O mysterious priest, Lead'st thou that heifer lowing at the skies, And all her silken flanks with garlands drest?
    • Thou, silent form, dost tease us out of thought As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral! 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.
    • Deep in the shady sadness of a vale Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn, Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star, Sat gray-hair'd Saturn, quiet as a stone, Still as the silence round about his lair; Forest on forest hung about his head Like cloud on cloud.
    • As when, upon a tranced summer-night, Those green-rob'd senators of mighty woods, Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars, Dream, and so dream all night without a stir, Save from one gradual solitary gust Which comes upon the silence, and dies off, As if the ebbing air had but one wave.
    • For to bear all naked truths, And to envisage circumstance, all calm, That is the top of sovereignty.
    • Knowledge enormous makes a God of me.
    • What men or gods are these?... What mad pursuit? What struggle to escape?... What wild ecstasy?
    • A very odd young man, but good-tempered, and good-hearted, and very clever indeed.
    • In the latter part of that year's summer [1817] I first saw him. It was on the Hampstead road that we were introduced to each other:. :in that interview of a minute I inwardly desired his acquaintanceship, if not his friendship: He was small in stature, well proportioned, compact in form, and, though thin, rather muscular; - one of the many who prove that manliness is distinct from height and bulk. There is no magic equal to that of an ingenuous countenance, and I never beheld any human being's so ingenuous as his. His full fine eyes were lustrously intellectual, and beaming (at that time!) with hope and joy. It has been remarked that the most faulty feature was his mouth; and, at intervals, it was so. But, whenever he spoke, or was, in any way, excited, the expression of the lips was so varied and delicate, that they might be called handsome.
    • Keats was in childhood not attached to books. His penchant was for fighting. He would fight any one - morning, noon, and night, his brother among the rest. It was meat and drink to him. Jennings their sailor relation was always in the thoughts of the brothers, and they determined to keep up the family reputation for courage; George in a passive manner; John and Tom more fiercely. The favourites of John were few; after they were known to fight readily he seemed to prefer them for a sort of grotesque and buffoon humour. I recollect at this moment his delight at the extraordinary gesticulations and pranks of a boy named Wade who was celebrated for this.... He was a boy whom any one from his extraordinary vivacity and personal beauty might easily fancy would become great - but rather in some military capacity than in literature.
    • He was called by his fellow students 'little Keats,' being at his full growth no more than five feet high.... In a room, he was always at the window, peering into space, so that the windowseat was spoken of by his comrades as Keats's place.... In the lecture room he seemed to sit apart and to be absorbed in something else, as if the subject suggested thoughts to him which were not practically connected with it. He was often in the subject and out of it, in a dreamy way. He never attached much consequence to his own studies in medicine, and indeed looked upon the medical career as the career by which to live in a workaday world, without being certain that he could keep up the strain of it. He nevertheless had a consciousness of his own powers, and even of his own greatness, though it might never be recognised.... Poetry was to his mind the zenith of all his aspirations: the only thing worthy the attention of superior minds: so he thought: all other pursuits were mean and tame. He had no idea of fame or greatness but as it was connected with the pursuits of poetry, or the attainment of poetical excellence:. He was gentlemanly in his manners and when he condescended to talk upon other subjects he was agreeable and intelligent. He was quick and apt at learning, when he chose to give his attention to any subject. He was a steady quiet and well behaved person, never inclined to pursuits of a low or vicious character.
    • He was under the middle height; and his lower limbs were small in comparison with the upper, but neat and well-turned. His shoulders were very broad for his size; he had a face, in which energy and sensibility were remarkably mixed-up, an eager power checked and made patient by ill-health. Every feature was at once strongly cut, and delicately alive. If there was any faulty expression, it was in the mouth, which was not without something of a character of pugnacity... The head was a particular puzzle for the phrenologist, being remarkably small in the skull; a singularity he has in common with Lord Byron and Mr Shelley, none of whose hats I could get on.
    • And don't you remember Keats proposing 'Confusion to the memory of Newton' and upon your insisting on an explanation before you drank it, his saying, 'Because he destroyed the poetry of the rainbow by reducing it to a prism ? Ah, my dear old friend, you and I shall never see such days again!
    • I remember: his first introduction to Mr. Haydon; and when in the course of conversation that great artist asked him, 'if he did not love his country,' how the blood rushed to his cheeks and the tears to his eyes, at his energetic reply. His love of freedom was ardent and grand.
    • He is studying closely, recovering his Latin, going to learn Greek, and seems altogether more rational than usual - but he is such a man of fits and starts he is not much to be depended on. Still he thinks of nothing but poetry as his being's end and aim, and sometime or other he will, I doubt not, do something valuable.
    • He, who is gone, was one of the very kindest friends I possessed, and yet he was not kinder perhaps to me, than to others. His intense mind and powerful feelings would, I truly believe, have done the world some service, had his life been spared - but he was of too sensitive a nature - and thus he was destroyed!
    • [Keats] was the very soul of courage and manliness, and as much like the holy Ghost as Johnny Keats.
    • When somebody expressed his surprise to Shelley, that Keats, who was not very conversant with the Greek language, could write so finely and classically of their gods and goddesses, Shelley replied 'He was a Greek.'
    • john keats

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