Dead Poets Society: John Keats

On Death

Can death be sleep, when life is but a
dream,
And scenes of bliss pass as a phantom by?
The transient pleasures as a vision seem,
And yet we think the greatest pain’s to
die.

How strange it is that man on earth should
roam,
And lead a life of woe, but not forsake
His rugged path; nor dare he view alone
His future doom, which is but to awake.

Fragment

Welcome joy, and welcome sorrow,
Lethe’s weed and Hermes’ feather;
Come to-day, and come tomorrow,
I do love you both together!
I love to mark sad faces in fair weather;
And hear a merry laugh amid the thunder;
Fair and foul I love together.
Meadows sweet where flames are under,
And a giggle at a wonder;
Visage sage at pantomime;
Funeral, and a steeple-chime;
Infant playing with a skull;
Morning fair, and shipwreck’d hull;
Nightshade with the woodbine kissing;
Serpents in red roses hissing;
Cleopatra regal-dress’d
With the aspic at her breast;
Dancing music, music sad,
Both together, sane and mad;
Muses bright, and muses pale;
Sombre Saturn, Momus hale; –
Laugh and sigh, and laugh again;
Oh, the sweetness of the pain!
Muses bright and muses pale,
Bare your faces of the veil;
Let me see; and let me write
Of the day, and of the night –
Both together: – let me slake
All my thirst for sweet heart-ache!
Let my bower be of yew,
Interwreath’d with myrtles new;
Pines and lime-trees full in bloom,
And my couch a low grass-tomb.

The Last Sonnet (Bright Star)

Bright star, would I were steadfast as
thou art!
Not in lone splendor 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
Or gazing on the new soft fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the
moors:
No – yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening
breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.

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Dead Poets Society: John Keats

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