When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean'd my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, of charact'ry
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen'd grain;
When I behold, upon the night's starr'd face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love! - Then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.
Keats died aged 26 from TB, which he contracted when he nursed his younger brother Tom who died aged 19 in 1818. Keats only started writing poetry when he himself was 19, and was prolific in those 7 years till his death - both his letters and his poems show how brightly he burned...
These are the opening lines of a V-E-R-Y long poem, 'Hyperion', which tells the tale of the Battle of the Titans, when the young gods, led by Apollo, defeated the old guard. I truly have never read lines that more perfectly set a scene - they still send shivers down my spine when I read them...
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve's one star,
Sat grey-hair'd Saturn, quiet as stone,
Still as the silence round his lair;
Forest upon forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not one light seed from the feather'd grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voiceless by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
Spreading a shade; the Naiad 'mid her reeds
Press'd her cold finger closer to her lips.
Along the margin-sand large foot-marks went,
No further than to where his feet had stray'd,
And slept there since. Upon the sodden ground
His old right hand lay nerveless, listless, dead,
Unsceptred; and his realmless eyes were closed;
While his bow'd head seem'd list'ning to the Earth,
His ancient mother, for some comfort yet...