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Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil, Page 5
by John Keats (February—April, 1818).

Yet in these Florentines as self-retired
    In hungry pride and gainful cowardice,
As two close Hebrews in that land inspired,
    Paled in and vineyarded from beggar-spies;
The hawks of ship-mast forests—the untired
    And pannier'd mules for ducats and old lies
Quick cat's-paws on the generous stray-away,—
Great wits in Spanish, Tuscan, and Malay.

How was it these same ledger-men could spy
    Fair Isabella in her downy nest?
How could they find out in Lorenzo's eye
    A straying from his toil? Hot Egypt's pest
Into their vision covetous and sly!
    How could these money-bags see east and west?—
Yet so they did—and every dealer fair
Must see behind, as doth the hunted hare.

O eloquent and famed Boccaccio!
    Of thee we now should ask forgiving boon;
And of thy spicy myrtles as they blow,
    And of thy roses amorous of the moon,
And of thy lilies, that do paler grow
    Now they can no more hear thy ghittern's tune,
For venturing syllables that ill beseem
The quiet glooms of such a piteous theme.

Grant thou a pardon here, and then the tale
    Shall move on soberly, as it is meet;
There is no other crime, no mad assail
    To make old prose in modern rhyme more sweet:
But it is done—succeed the verse or fail—
    To honour thee, and thy gone spirit greet;
To stead thee as a verse in English tongue,
An echo of thee in the north-wind sung.

PAGE 5 OF 16.

• • • • •Dearest Romantic, to read the sixth page of Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil,
kindly click on the link at the very bottom of this page.
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• • • •To read poems by Other Horrible Workers (poets
in today's day and age), kindly click HERE.
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AUTHOR: John Keats (February—April, 1818).
TITLE OF WEBPAGE: PoeticSpace:Keats:Poems:IsabellaOrThePotOfBasil:Page5
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