The Letters of John Keats

By John Keats; Maurice Buxton Forman | Go to book overview

58. To JOHN HAMILTON REYNOLDS. Wednesday 25 March 1818.

Address: Mr J. H. Reynolds ∣ Little Britain ∣ Christ's Hospital ∣ London.

Postmark: not recorded. Teignmouth, 25 March 1818.

Dear Reynolds, as last night I lay in bed,
There came before my eyes that wonted thread
Of Shapes, and Shadows and Remembrances,
That every other minute vex and please:
Things all disjointed come from North and south,
Two witch's eyes above a Cherub's mouth,
Voltaire with casque and shield and Habergeon,1
And Alexander with his night-cap on--
Old Socrates a tying his cravat;
And Hazlitt playing with Miss Edgeworth's cat;
And Junius Brutus pretty well so, so,2
Making the best of's way towards Soho.

Few are there who escape these visitings-- P'erhaps one or two, whose lives have patent wings; And through whose curtains peeps no hellish nose, No wild boar tushes,3 and no Mermaid's toes: But flowers bursting out with lusty pride; And young Æolian harps personified, Some, Titian colours touch'd into real life.-- The sacrifice goes on; the pontif knife Gleams in the sun, the milk-white heifer lows, The pipes go shrilly, the libation flows: A white sail shews above the green-head cliff Moves round the point, and throws her anchor stiff. The Mariners join hymn with those on land.--

You know the Enchanted Castle it doth stand Upon a Rock on the Border of a Lake Nested in Trees, which all do seem to shake From some old Magic like Urganda's4 sword. O Phœbus that I had thy sacred word To shew this Castle in fair dreaming wise

____________________
1
In Letter 16, p. 33, Keats spells this word 'Herbadgeon'.
2
Junius Brutus Booth ( 1796- 1852), actor. The slang term pretty well so-so was used by Keats's set to signify pretty well tipsy.
3
Cf. 'Venus and Adonis', ll. 614, 617.
4
Woodhouse (and query Keats) had two words obliterated here (qy. 'the witche's) with ' Urganda's' added above the line.

-125-

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