Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  626. Ode to Psyche

Arthur Quiller-Couch, ed. 1919. The Oxford Book of English Verse: 1250–1900.

John Keats. 1795–1821

626. Ode to Psyche

O GODDESS! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung 
  By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear, 
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung 
  Even into thine own soft-conchèd ear: 
Surely I dream’d to-day, or did I see         5
  The wingèd Psyche with awaken’d eyes? 
I wander’d in a forest thoughtlessly, 
  And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise, 
Saw two fair creatures, couchèd side by side 
  In deepest grass, beneath the whisp’ring roof  10
  Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran 
        A brooklet, scarce espied: 
‘Mid hush’d, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed, 
  Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian 
They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;  15
  Their arms embracèd, and their pinions too; 
  Their lips touch’d not, but had not bade adieu, 
As if disjoinèd by soft-handed slumber, 
And ready still past kisses to outnumber 
  At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:  20
        The wingèd boy I knew; 
  But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove? 
        His Psyche true! 
O latest-born and loveliest vision far 
  Of all Olympus’ faded hierarchy!  25
Fairer than Phoebe’s sapphire-region’d star, 
  Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky; 
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none, 
        Nor altar heap’d with flowers; 
Nor Virgin-choir to make delicious moan  30
        Upon the midnight hours; 
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet 
  From chain-swung censer teeming; 
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat 
  Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming.  35
O brightest! though too late for antique vows, 
  Too, too late for the fond believing lyre, 
When holy were the haunted forest boughs, 
  Holy the air, the water, and the fire; 
Yet even in these days so far retired  40
  From happy pieties, thy lucent fans, 
  Fluttering among the faint Olympians, 
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired. 
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan 
          Upon the midnight hours;  45
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet 
  From swingèd censer teeming: 
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat 
  Of pale-mouth’d prophet dreaming. 
Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane  50
  In some untrodden region of my mind, 
Where branchèd thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain, 
  Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind: 
Far, far around shall those dark-cluster’d trees 
  Fledge the wild-ridgèd mountains steep by steep;  55
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees, 
  The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull’d to sleep; 
And in the midst of this wide quietness 
A rosy sanctuary will I dress 
With the wreath’d trellis of a working brain,  60
  With buds, and bells, and stars without a name, 
With all the gardener Fancy e’er could feign, 
  Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same; 
And there shall be for thee all soft delight 
        That shadowy thought can win,  65
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night, 
        To let the warm Love in!