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John Keats
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Fragments from "The Castle Builder"
by John Keats (1818).

Castle Builder:
. . . . .
In short, convince you that however wise
You may have grown from Convent libraries,
I have, by many yards at least, been carding
A larger skein of wit in Convent Garden.


Bernadine:
A very Eden that same place must be!
Pray what demesne? Whose Lordship legacy?
What, have you convents in that Gothic Isle?
Pray pardon me, I cannot help but smile. . . .


Castle Builder:
Sir, Convent Garden is a monstrous beast.
From morning, four o'clock, to twelve at noon,
It swallows cabbages without a spoon.
And then, from twelve to two, this Eden made is
A promenade for cooks and ancient ladies;
And then for supper, 'stead of soup and poaches,
It swallows chairmen, damns, and Hackney coaches.
In short, sir, 'tis a very place for monks,
For it containeth twenty thousand punks,
Which any man may number for his sport,
By following fat elbows up a court.
. . . . .
In such like nonsense would I pass an hour
With random Friar, or Rake upon his tours,
Or one of few of that imperial host
Who came unmaimed from the Russian frost.
. . . . .
To-night I'll have my friar—let me think
About my room,—I'll have it in the pink;
It should be rich and sombre, and the moon,
Just in its mid-life in the midst of June,
Should look through four large windows, and display
Clear, but for gold-fish vases in the way,
Their glassy diamonding on Turkish floor;
The tapers keep aside, an hour and more,
To see what else the moon alone can show;
While the night-breeze doth softly let us know
My terrace is well-bower'd with oranges,
Upon the floor the dullest spirit sees
A guitar-ribbon and a lady's glove
Beside a crumple-leaved tale of love;
A tambour-frame, with Venus sleeping there
All finish'd but some ringlets of her hair;
A viol bow, strings torn, cross-wise upon
A glorious folio of Anacreon;
A skull upon a mat of roses lying,
Ink'd purple with a song concerning dying;
An hour-glass on the turn, amid the trails
Of passion-flower;—just in time there sails
A cloud across the moon,—the lights bring in!
And see what more my phantasy can win.
It is a gorgeous room, but somewhat sad;
The draperies are so as tho' they had
Been made for Cleopatra's winding-sheet:
And opposite the steadfast eye doth meet
A spacious looking-glass, upon whose face,
In letters raven-sombre, you may trace
Old "Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin."
Greek busts and statutary have ever been
Held, by the finest spirits, fitter far
Than vase grotesque and Siamesian jar;
Therefore 'tis sure a want of Attic taste
That I should rather love a Gothic waste
Of eyesight on cinque-coloured potter's clay,
Than on the marble fairness of old Greece.
My table-coverlets of Jason's fleece
And black Numidian sheep-wool should be wrought,
Gold, black, and heavy, from the Lama brought.
My ebon sofas should delicious be
With down from Leda's cygnet progeny.
My pictures all Salvator's, save a few
Of Titian's portraiture, and one, though new,
Of Haydon's in its fresh magnificence.
My wine—oh good! 'tis here at my desire,
And I must sit to supper with my friar. . . . . .


PAGE 1 OF 1.

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