In youth I dreamed, as other youths have dreamt,
Of love, and thrummed an amateur guitar
To verses of my own,–a stout attempt
To hold communion with the Evening Star
I wrote a sonnet, rhymed it, made it scan.
Ah me! how trippingly those last lines ran.–
O Hesperus! O happy star! to bend
O’er Helen’s bosom in the tranced west,
To match the hours heave by upon her breast,
And at her parted lip for dreams attend–
If dawn defraud thee, how shall I be deemed,
Who house within that bosom, and am dreamed?
For weeks I thought these lines remarkable;
For weeks I put on airs and called myself
A bard: till on a day, as it befell,
I took a small green Moxon from the shelf
At random, opened at a casual place,
And found my young illusions face to face
With this:–‘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.‘
O gulf not to be crossed by taking thought!
O heights by toil not to be overcome!
Great Keats, unto your altar straight I brought
My speech, and from the shrine departed dumb.
–And yet sometimes I think you played it hard
Upon a rather hopeful minor bard.