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and an intensity of pain, proportioned to the causes that are changing him; Mnemosyne upholds her arms, as one who prophesied; and
Celestial Here the poem ceases, to the great impatience of the poetical reader.
If any living poet could finish this fragment, we believe it is the author himself. But perhaps he feels that he ought not. A story which involves passion, almost of necessity involves speech; and though we may well enough describe beings greater than ourselves by comparison, unfortunately we cannot make them speak by comparison. Mr. Keats, when he first introduces Thea consoling Saturn, says that she spoke
Some mourning words, which in our feeble tongue
To that large utterance of the early Gods ! This grand confession of want of grandeur is all that he could do for them. Milton could do no more. Nay, he did less, when according to Pope he made
God the father turn a school divine.
The moment the Gods speak, we forget that they did not speak like ourselves. The fact is, they feel like ourselves; and the poet would have to make them feel otherwise, even if he could make them speak otherwise, which he cannot, unless he venture upon an obscurity which would destroy our sympathy : and what is sympathy with a God, but turning him into a man? We allow, that superiority and inferiority are, after all, human terms, and imply something not so truly fine and noble as the levelling of a great sympathy and love; but poems of the present nature, like Paradise Lost, assume a different principle; and fortunately perhaps, it is one which it is impossible to reconcile with the other.
We have now to conclude the surprise of the reader, who has seen what solid stuff these poems are made of, with informing him of what the book has not mentioned,—that they were almost all written four years ago, when the author was but twenty. Ay, indeed ! cries a critic, rubbing his hands delighted (if indeed even criticism can do so, any longer); "then that accounts for the lines you speak of, written in the taste of Marino.”— It does so; but, sage Sir, after settling the merits of those one or two lines you speak of, what accounts, pray, for a small matter which you leave unnoticed, namely, all the rest ?—The truth is, we rather mention this circumstance as a matter of ordinary curiosity, than any thing else; for great faculties have great privileges, and leap over time as well as other obstacles. Time itself, and its continents, are things yet to be discovered. There is no knowing even how much duration one man may crowd into a few years, while others drag out their slender lines. There are circular roads full of hurry and scenery, and straight roads full of listlessness and barrenness; and travellers may arrive by both, at the same hour. The Miltons, who begin intellectually old, and still intellectual, end physically old, are indeed Methusalems; and may such be our author, their son.
Mr. Keats's versification sometimes reminds us of Milton in his blank verse, and sometimes of Chapman both in his blank verse and rhyme; but his faculties, cssentially speaking, though partaking of the unearthly
* This is a mistake, as will be seen by all who have followed the notes to the various poems.
aspirations and abstract yearnings of both these poets, are altogether his own. They are ambitious, but less directly so. They are more social, and in the finer sense of the word, sensual, than either. They are more coloured by the modern philosophy of sympathy and natural justice. Endymion, with all its extraordinary powers, partook of the faults of youth, though the best ones; but the reader of Hyperion and these other stories would never guess that they were written at twenty. The author's versification is now perfected, the exuberances of his imagination restrained, and a calm power, the surest and loftiest of all power, takes place of the impatient workings of the younger god within him. The character of his genius is that of energy and voluptuousness, each able at will to take leave of the other, and possessing, in their union, a high feeling of humanity not common to the best authors who can less combine them. Mr. Keats undoubtedly takes his seat with the oldest and best of our living poets.
We have carried our criticism to much greater length than we intended; but in truth, whatever the critics might think, it is a refreshment to us to get upon other people's thoughts, even though the rogues be our contemporaries. Oh! how little do those minds get out of themselves, and what fertile and heaven-breathing prospects do they lose, who think that a man must be confined to the mill-path of his own homestead, merely that he may avoid seeing the abundance of his neighbours ! Above all, how little do they know of us eternal, weekly, and semi-weekly writers! We do not mean to say that it is not very pleasant to run upon a smooth road, seeing what we like, and talking what we like; but we do say, that it is pleasanter than all, when we are tired, to hear what we like, and to be lulled with congenial
thoughts and higher music, till we are fresh to start again upon our journey. What we would not give to have a better Examiner and a better Indicator than our own twice every week, uttering our own thoughts in a finer manner, and altering the world faster and better than we can alter it! How we should like to read our present number, five times bettered ; and to have nothing to do, for years and years, but to pace the green lanes, forget the tax-gatherer, and vent ourselves now and then in a verse.
LATER REMARKS ON KEATS BY
KEATS was born a poet of the most poetical kind. All his feelings came to him through a poetical medium, or were speedily coloured by it. He enjoyed a jest as heartily as any one, and sympathized with the lowliest commonplace; but the next minute his thoughts were in a garden of enchantment with nymphs, and fauns, and shapes of exalted humanity;
Elysian beauty, melancholy grace. It might be said of him, that he never beheld an oaktree without seeing the Dryad. His fame may now forgive the critics who disliked his politics, and did not understand his poetry. Repeated editions of him in England, France, and America attest its triumphant survival of all obloquy; and there can be no doubt that he has taken a permanent station among the British Poets, of a very high, if not thoroughly mature, description.
Keats's early poetry, indeed, partook plentifully of the exuberance of youth; and even in most of his later, his
In Imagination and Fancy (1844) Hunt gave as a selection from Keats's poetry The Eve of St. Agnes, some three pages of extracts from Endymion and Hyperion, the Ode to a Nightingale, and the Sonnet on Chapman's Homer; and these remarks form the proem to the selection.