Home  »  The Oxford Book of English Verse  »  631. Fancy

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

John Keats. 1795–1821

631. Fancy

EVER let the Fancy roam, 
Pleasure never is at home: 
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth, 
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth; 
Then let wingèd Fancy wander         5
Through the thought still spread beyond her: 
Open wide the mind’s cage-door, 
She’ll dart forth, and cloudward soar. 
O sweet Fancy! let her loose; 
Summer’s joys are spoilt by use,  10
And the enjoying of the Spring 
Fades as does its blossoming; 
Autumn’s red-lipp’d fruitage too, 
Blushing through the mist and dew, 
Cloys with tasting: What do then?  15
Sit thee by the ingle, when 
The sear faggot blazes bright, 
Spirit of a winter’s night; 
When the soundless earth is muffled, 
And the cakèd snow is shuffled  20
From the ploughboy’s heavy shoon; 
When the Night doth meet the Noon 
In a dark conspiracy 
To banish Even from her sky. 
Sit thee there, and send abroad,  25
With a mind self-overawed, 
Fancy, high-commission’d:—send her! 
She has vassals to attend her: 
She will bring, in spite of frost, 
Beauties that the earth hath lost;  30
She will bring thee, all together, 
All delights of summer weather; 
All the buds and bells of May, 
From dewy sward or thorny spray; 
All the heapèd Autumn’s wealth,  35
With a still, mysterious stealth: 
She will mix these pleasures up 
Like three fit wines in a cup, 
And thou shalt quaff it:—thou shalt hear 
Distant harvest-carols clear;  40
Rustle of the reapèd corn; 
Sweet birds antheming the morn: 
And, in the same moment—hark! 
‘Tis the early April lark, 
Or the rooks, with busy caw,  45
Foraging for sticks and straw. 
Thou shalt, at one glance, behold 
The daisy and the marigold; 
White-plumed lilies, and the first 
Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;  50
Shaded hyacinth, alway 
Sapphire queen of the mid-May; 
And every leaf, and every flower 
Pearlèd with the self-same shower. 
Thou shalt see the fieldmouse peep  55
Meagre from its cellèd sleep; 
And the snake all winter-thin 
Cast on sunny bank its skin; 
Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see 
Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,  60
When the hen-bird’s wing doth rest 
Quiet on her mossy nest; 
Then the hurry and alarm 
When the beehive casts its swarm; 
Acorns ripe down-pattering  65
While the autumn breezes sing. 
  O sweet Fancy! let her loose; 
Every thing is spoilt by use: 
Where ‘s the cheek that doth not fade, 
Too much gazed at? Where ‘s the maid  70
Whose lip mature is ever new? 
Where ‘s the eye, however blue, 
Doth not weary? Where ‘s the face 
One would meet in every place? 
Where ‘s the voice, however soft,  75
One would hear so very oft? 
At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth 
Like to bubbles when rain pelteth. 
Let, then, wingèd Fancy find 
Thee a mistress to thy mind:  80
Dulcet-eyed as Ceres’ daughter, 
Ere the God of Torment taught her 
How to frown and how to chide; 
With a waist and with a side 
White as Hebe’s, when her zone  85
Slipt its golden clasp, and down 
Fell her kirtle to her feet, 
While she held the goblet sweet, 
And Jove grew languid.—Break the mesh 
Of the Fancy’s silken leash;  90
Quickly break her prison-string, 
And such joys as these she’ll bring.— 
Let the wingèd Fancy roam, 
Pleasure never is at home.