Review of Keats's First Volume of Poems (1817), Page 7|
by Leigh Hunt (1817).
Mr. Keats takes an opportunity, though with very different feelings towards the school than he has exhibited towards the one above-mentioned, to object to the morbidity that taints the productions of the Lake Poets. They might answer perhaps, generally, that they chuse to grapple with what is unavoidable, rather than pretend to be blind to it; but the more smiling Muse may reply, that half of the evils alluded to are produced by brooding over them; and that it is much better to strike at as many causes of the rest as possible, than to pretend to be satisfied with them in the midst of the most evident dissatisfaction.
PAGE 7 OF 7.
Happy Poetry Preferred.
These things are doubtless: yet in truth we've had
Strange thunders from the potency of song;
Mingled indeed with what is sweet and strong,
From majesty: but in clear truth the themes
Are ugly cubs, the Poets Polyphemes
Disturbing the grand sea. A drainless shower
Of light is poesy; 'tis the supreme power;
'Tis might half slumb'ring on its own right arm.
The very archings of her eye-lids charm
A thousand willing agents to obey.
And still she governs with the mildest sway:
But strength alone though of the Muses born
Is like a fallen angel; trees uptorn,
Darkness, and worms, and shrouds, and sepulchres
Delight it; for it feeds upon the burrs
And thorns of life; forgetting the great end
Of poesy, that it should be a friend
To soothe the cares, and life the thoughts of man.
We conclude with the beginning of the paragraph which follows this passage, and which contains an idea of as lovely and powerful a nature in embodying an abstraction, as we ever remember to have seen put in words:—
Yet I rejoice: a myrtle fairer than
E'er grew in Paphos, from the bitter weeds
Lift's it's sweet head into the air, and feeds
A silent space with ever sprouting green.
Upon the whole, Mr. Keats's book cannot be better described than in a couplet written by Milton when he was too young, and in which he evidently alludes to himself. It is a little luxuriant heap of
Such sights as youthful poets dream
On summer eves by haunted stream.
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