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how the unpopularity of his poems may be in part due to the offence which the ladies,' not unnaturally, 'take at him' from this cause. Even to Fanny Brawne he can write a flint-worded letter,' when his mind is heaped to the full' with poetry :
I know the generality of women would hate me for this; that I should have so unsoftened, so hard a mind as to forget them; forget the brightest realities for the dull imaginations of my own brain. . . . My heart seems now made of iron-I could not write a proper answer to an invitation to Idalia.
The truth is that the yearning passion for the Beautiful,' which was with Keats, as he himself truly says, the master-passion, is not a passion of the sensuous or sentimental man, is not a passion of the sensuous or sentimental poet. It is an intellectual and spiritual passion. passion. It is 'connected and made one,' as Keats declares that in his case it was, with the ambition of the intellect.' It is, as he again says, 'the mighty abstract idea of Beauty in all things.' And in his last days Keats wrote: If I should die, I have left no immortal work behind me-nothing to make my friends proud of my memory; but I have loved the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remembered.' He has made himself remembered, and remembered as no merely sensuous poet could be; and he has done it by having 'loved the principle of beauty in all things.'
For to see things in their beauty is to see
things in their truth, and Keats knew it. 'What the Imagination seizes as Beauty must be Truth,' he says in prose; and in immortal verse he has said the same thing
Beauty is truth, truth beauty,—that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.
No, it is not all; but it is true, deeply true, and we have deep need to know it. And with beauty goes not only truth, joy goes with her also; and this too Keats saw and said, as in the famous first line of his Endymion it stands written—
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.
It is no small thing to have so loved the principle of beauty as to perceive the necessary relation of beauty with truth, and of both with joy. Keats was a great spirit, and counts for far more than many even of his admirers suppose, because this just and high perception made itself clear to him. Therefore a dignity and a glory shed gleams over his life, and happiness, too, was not a stranger to it. Nothing startles me beyond the moment,' he says; the setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel.' But he had terrible bafflers,-consuming disease and early death. 'I think,' he writes to Reynolds, if I had a free and healthy and lasting organisation of heart, and lungs as strong as an ox's, so as to be able to bear
unhurt the shock of extreme thought and sensation without weariness, I could pass my life very nearly alone, though it should last eighty years. But I feel my body too weak to support me to the height; I am obliged continually to check myself, and be nothing.' He had against him even more than this; he had against him the blind power which we call Fortune. "O that something fortunate,' he cries in the closing months of his life, had ever happened to me or my brothers!-then I might hope,-but despair is forced upon me as a habit.' So baffled and so sorely tried,-while laden, at the same time, with a mighty formative thought requiring health, and many days, and favouring circumstances, for its adequate manifestation,—what wonder if the achievement of Keats be partial and incomplete?
Nevertheless, let and hindered as he was, and with a short term and imperfect experience,'young,' as he says of himself, and writing at random, straining after particles of light in the midst of a great darkness, without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion,' -notwithstanding all this, by virtue of his feeling for beauty and of his perception of the vital connection of beauty with truth, Keats accomplished so much in poetry, that in one of the two great modes by which poetry interprets, in the faculty of naturalistic interpretation, in what we call natural magic, he ranks with Shakspeare. The tongue of Kean,' he says in an admirable criticism
of that great actor and of his enchanting elocution, the tongue of Kean must seem to have robbed the Hybla bees and left them honeyless. There is an indescribable gusto in his voice ;-in Richard, "Be stirring with the lark to-morrow, gentle Norfolk!" comes from him as through the morning atmosphere towards which he yearns.' This magic, this indescribable gusto in the voice,' Keats himself, too, exhibits in his poetic expression. No one else in English poetry, save Shakspeare, has in expression quite the fascinating felicity of Keats, his perfection of loveliness. I think,' he said humbly, ‘I shall be among the English poets after my death.' He is; he is with Shakspeare.
For the second great half of poetic interpretation, for that faculty of moral interpretation which is in Shakspeare, and is informed by him with the same power of beauty as his naturalistic interpretation, Keats was not ripe. For the architectonics of poetry, the faculty which presides at the evolution of works like the Agamemnon or Lear, he was not ripe. His Endymion, as he himself well saw, is a failure, and his Hyperion, fine things as it contains, is not a success. in shorter things, where the matured power of moral interpretation, and the high architectonics which go with complete poetic development, are not required, he is perfect. The poems which follow prove it, prove it far better by themselves than anything which can be said about them
will prove it. Therefore I have chiefly spoken here of the man, and of the elements in him which explain the production of such work. Shakspearian work it is; not imitative, indeed, of Shakspeare, but Shakspearian, because its expression has that rounded perfection and felicity of loveliness of which Shakspeare is the great master. To show such work is to praise it. Let us now end by delighting ourselves with a fragment of it, too broken to find a place among the pieces which follow, but far too beautiful to be lost. It is a fragment of an ode for May-day. O might I, he cries to May, O might I
O, give me their old vigour, and unheard
Rounded by thee, my song should die away,
Rich in the simple worship of a day!