« PreviousContinue »
'Tis young Leander toiling to his death;
For Hero's cheek, and smiles against her smile.
Dead-heavy; arms and shoulders gleam awhile: He's gone; up bubbles all his amorous breath!
attendant on the stone staircase leading up to the Sestian Temple. The editor cannot sacrifice one of his principal gems by casting out the sonnet : the publishers cannot sacrifice their costly steel plate; but fortunately the editor can write to any text or any plate ; and the result is “Why, Lover, why,” facing “Hero and Leander" painted by H. Howard, R.A., and engraved by F. Engleheart,verses and print corresponding in every detail, -except of course that the print is meant for serious and the verses are not. Save for some such explanation, we could hardly acquit Hood of the imputation of making fun of Keats's sonnet.
THINK not of it, sweet one, so ;
Give it not a tear ;
Any, any where.
Do not look so sad, sweet one,
Sad and fadingly;
O 'twas born to die.
Given by Lord Houghton among the Literary Remains in Volume II of the Life, Letters &c. (1848), with the date 1817. Hitherto this poem has been headed “ On .."; but it is so distinctly an address that To seems to be the right preposition. It is not stated to whom the verses are addressed. In Woodhouse's interleaved copy of Endymion is a transcript evidently made from a working draft. Woodhouse has copied in his careful and minute way the whole manuscript with its erasures, the first of which is a cancelled opening quatrain :
Think not of it gentle sweet
It is not worth a tear
Thy voice less clear? Stanza 2 appears to have been originally written with the two final lines,
3. Still so pale ? then dearest weep;
Weep, I'll count the tears, And each one shall be a bliss
For thee in after years.
Brighter has it left thine eyes
Than a sunny rill;
Are tenderer still.
Shed one drop then only one
Sweetly did it die, which are cancelled in favour of those of the text. Lord Houghton's reading of 1848,
Shed one drop (and only one), may perhaps be deduced from the presence of a cancelled an[d] beneath then. For stanza 3 there are the three rejected lines,
Wilt thou mourn, and wilt thou sob
Art indeed so and wan...
and finally the stanza is left as given in the text and in the Aldine edition, Lord Houghton's earlier reading of line 3,
For each will I invent a bliss,
being struck out ; while the 1848 reading more tender for tenderer in stanza 4 does not appear at all. The version of the text, which is also that of the Aldine edition, seems to me the better: it leaves the metre of stanza 4 in conformity rather with that of stanza 5 than with that of the first three. In stanza 5 there is a cancelled reading, dying for fleeting in the second line. Lord Houghton omits the E'en at the beginning of the third line from both his editions ; and I think this must be one of the many cases in which there were two manuscripts.
UNFELT, unheard, unseen,
I've left my little queen,
Ah! through their nestling touch,
Who-who could tell how much
Those faery lids how sleek!
Those lips how moist !—they speak, In ripest quiet, shadows of sweet sounds :
Into my fancy's ear
Melting a burden dear, How “Love doth know no fullness, and no bounds."
These lines stand next to the preceding in the Literary Remains, and are also assigned to the year 1817. In the Aldine edition the quotation in the second stanza reads
Love doth know no fullness, nor no bounds. I leave the original version as being probably what Keats wrote, and proper to his text-just as Shelley's “dales of Hell” are more proper to Julian and Maddalo (line 41) than Milton's own “vales of Hell” would be in a text of that poem.