“In drear-nighted December” by John Keats
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy tree,
Thy branches ne’er remember
Their green felicity:
The north cannot undo them
With a sleety whistle through them;
Nor frozen thawings glue them
From budding at the prime.
In drear-nighted December,
Too happy, happy brook,
Thy bubblings ne’er remember
Apollo’s summer look;
But with a sweet forgetting,
They stay their crystal fretting,
Never, never petting
About the frozen time.
Ah! would ’twere so with many
A gentle girl and boy!
But were there ever any
Writhed not at 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.
Last week I picked up more Tom Clark books. Devouring these things. I lied to myself that I was buying Paradise Revisited for a friend (I didn’t give it to him; I did give him a copy of Blood Meridian though). Junkets on a Sad Planet is a Very Strange Book.
A poem from Paradise:
—The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitrary interposition of God and taken to Heaven–What a little circumscribed straightened notion! call the world if you Please ‘The vale of Soul-making’ Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted for the purpose of showing a thought which has struck me concerning it) I say “Soul making” Soul as distinguished from an Intelligence– There may be intelligences or sparks of the divinity in millions–but they are not Souls till they acquire identities, till each one is personally itself. Intelligences are atoms of perception–they know and they see and they are pure, in short they are God–how then are Souls to be made? How then are these sparks which are God to have identity given them–so as ever to possess a bliss peculiar to each ones individual existence? How, but by the medium of a world like this? This point I sincerely wish to consider because I think it a grander system of salvation than the chrystain religion–or rather it is a system of Spirit-creation–This is effected by three grand materials acting the one upon the other for a series of years–These Materials are the Intelligence–the human heart (as distinguished from intelligence or Mind) and the World or Elemental space suited for the proper action of Mind and Heart on each other for the purpose of forming the Soul or Intelligence destined to possess the sense of Identity. I can scarcely express what I but dimly perceive–and yet I think I perceive it–that you may judge the more clearly I will put it in the most homely form possible–I will call the world a School instituted for the purpose of teaching little children to read–I will call the Child able to read, the Soul made from that school and its hornbook. Do you not see how necessary a World of Pains and troubles is to school an Intelligence and make it a soul? A Place where the heart must feel and suffer in a thousand diverse ways! Not merely is the Heart a Hornbook, it is the Minds Bible, it is the Minds experience, it is the teat from which the Mind or intelligence sucks its identity–As various as the Lives of Men are–so various become their Souls, and thus does God make individual beings, Souls, Identical Souls of the sparks of his own essence–“
—From a letter John Keats wrote to his brother George, dated April 21, 1810. (More excerpts from Keats’s letters with commentary).
“On Leaving Some Friends At An Early Hour” by John Keats—-
Give me a golden pen, and let me lean
On heaped-up flowers, in regions clear, and far;
Bring me a tablet whiter than a star,
Or hand of hymning angel, when ’tis seen
The silver strings of heavenly harp atween:
And let there glide by many a pearly car
Pink robes, and wavy hair, and diamond jar,
And half-discovered wings, and glances keen.
The while let music wander round my ears,
And as it reaches each delicious ending,
Let me write down a line of glorious tone,
And full of many wonders of the spheres:
For what a height my spirit is contending!
‘Tis not content so soon to be alone.