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Affray his ears, though but in dying tone :-
1 And o'er the silent carpet hushing stept, before the reading of the text was given. In line 9 the manuscript reads and for where. (xxix) In the manuscript, the first three lines read thus :
Then by the bed side where the fading Moon
Made an illumed twilight soft he set
A Table, and with anguish spread thereon... and there is a cancelled reading of line 3
| A Table light, and stilly threw thereon... In line 6 there are cancelled readings, Clarions of the feast and Clarions of the Ball for festive clarion; and line 7 originally began with
Sounded though faint and far away, altered to Sound in his ears, before the reading of the text was inserted, in which, by the bye, we read clarinet not clarionet. For line 8 the manuscript reads
Affray his ears though but in faintest tone; and there are cancelled readings, Affrayd, and with for in, and Reach'd his scar'd ears. In line 9 there are rejected readings shut and was for shuts and is.
(xxx) Line 4 originally began with Of candied sweets, altered to Of candied fruits before the reading of the text was supplied. In
While he from forth the closet brought a heap
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
line 5 the manuscript reads creamed curd, which has been substituted for daisy curd. Line 6 originally read syrups smooth with cinnamon ; but smooth is cancelled in favour of tinct ; and of the next passage there are the following rejected readings--
And sugar'd dates from...
Manna and dates in Brigantine transferred... The word argosy to complete the reading of the text is supplied in the margin. In line 9 two adjectives are cancelled before the happy epithet silken is arrived at-wealthy and another word of which 11 cannot make anything but quilted unless indeed it be guilded for
1 gilded. For the purpose of implying richness, quilted is not an inconceivable expression ; for if silk be rich quilted silk is richer ; and Keats was as capable of writing a far-fetched word as he was of striking it out on revision. Porphyro's banquet is a little suggestive of the second course” in the meal prepared for Jupiter and Mercury by Baucis and Philemon (Ovid's Metamorphoses, Book VIII, verses 677-80, Sandys's Translation):
Philberts, dry figs, with rugged dates, ripe plummes,
l'th' midst, a hony combe. But Keats's stanza is still more suggestive of the vegetarian banquet prepared by Eve for the Archangel Raphael (Paradise Lost, Book V, lines 337-48):
Whatever Earth, all-bearing mother yields,
"Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes' sake, “Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache."
Alcinöus reigned, fruit of all kinds, in coat
With rose and odours from the shrub unfumed. It is further worth while to note the resemblance of the highly elaborate syrup line to a passage in Milton's Comus, lines 672-4 :
And first behold this cordial julep here,
With spirits of balm, and fragrant syrups mix'd. We have here even the same prevalent assonance on the vowel sound i. Leigh Hunt says in his dainty way, “Here is delicate modulation, and super-refined epicurean nicety!
Lucent syrups, tinct with cinnamon, make us read the line delicately, and at the tip-end, as it were, of one's tongue.”
(XXXI) The manuscript reads golden salvers in line 2 ; but I presume dishes was inserted in the proof to avoid using salvers twice, and he would scarcely disturb the lustrous salvers of the next stanza. Lines 4 &c. in the manuscript were originally written
Amid the quiet of St. Agnes' night
From such a stedfast spell his lady's eyes;
Her blue affrayed eyes wide open shone :
place to the reading of the text. There is a rejected reading of line 6
And now saith he my Seraph may awake. (XXXII) There is a cancelled opening in the manuscript giving sleep for dream at the end of line 2, and dreamless of alarm as the end of line 3; and another gives shaded were her dreams in line 2, in which the manuscript reads sunk for sank. Of line 6 there is a rejected version, unfinished,
Broad golden fringe lies wealthy on the f... (probably floor was the unfinished word); and in line 9 stood stands cancelled in favour of mus'd.
(xxx11) In line 5 he held and he touched stand cancelled in the manuscript in favour of touching; and in line 7 there is a rejected reading, her breathing ceased for she panted quick. The manuscript
Who knelt, with joined hands and piteous eye,
reads half-frayed for affrayed in line 8, and sunk for sank in line 9. Hunt tells us in The Indicator for the 10th of May 1820 that Keats's wonderful poem La Belle Dame sans Mercy, was suggested by seeing that title at the head of a translation from Alain Chartier, at the end of Chaucer's works. The conceit of connecting the title here with a lost Provençal air is at the same time greatly imaginative and only a little less playful than Hunt's wish that Alain might have seen Keats's verses, because “He would have found a Troubadour air for them, and sung them to La Belle Dame Agnes Sorel, who was however not Sans Mercy.”
(xxxiv) Line 2 was originally written1 The vision of her sleep, now wide awake : the transposition is marked in the manuscript, where, in line 3, some painful change stands altered to a painful change. Line 5 origi
nally began with At which she, and in line 6 the manuscript reads | little words, though witless is written by way of memorandum in the margin. Lines 8 and 9 read
1 Who with an aching brow and piteous eye
Feared to move or speak she look'd so dreamingly. (XXXV) There are two half cancelled openings,
At length she speaks, 'Ah Porphyro here and
Ah Porphyro, saith she but even now... and no complete line is supplied in the manuscript. In line 2 by is