Wednesday, April 25, 2007

John Keats---Isabella; or The Pot Of Basil

I loved this poem by John Keats. I only read it fairly recently. I thought why not share it with you all.


John Keats---Isabella; or The Pot Of Basil

A Story from Boccaccio -

I. -

Fair Isabel, poor simple Isabel!

Lorenzo, a young palmer in Love's eye!

They could not in the self-same mansion dwell

Without some stir of heart, some malady;

They could not sit at meals but feel how well

It soothed each to be the other by;

They could not, sure, beneath the same roof sleep

But to each other dream, and nightly weep. -

II. -

With every morn their love grew tenderer,

With every eve deeper and tenderer still;

He might not in house, field, or garden stir,

But her full shape would all his seeing fill;

And his continual voice was pleasanter

To her, than noise of trees or hidden rill;

Her lute-string gave an echo of his name,

She spoilt her half-done broidery with the same. -

III. -

He knew whose gentle hand was at the latch

Before the door had given her to his eyes;

And from her chamber-window he would catch

Her beauty farther than the falcon spies;

And constant as her vespers would he watch,

Because her face was turn'd to the same skies;

And with sick longing all the night outwear,

To hear her morning-step upon the stair. -

IV. -

A whole long month of May in this sad plight

Made their cheeks paler by the break of June:

"To-morrow will I bow to my delight,

"To-morrow will I ask my lady's boon."-

"O may I never see another night,

"Lorenzo, if thy lips breathe not love's tune."-

So spake they to their pillows; but, alas,

Honeyless days and days did he let pass; -

V. -

Until sweet Isabella's untouch'd cheek

Fell sick within the rose's just domain,

Fell thin as a young mother's, who doth seek

By every lull to cool her infant's pain:

"How ill she is," said he, "I may not speak,

"And yet I will, and tell my love all plain:

"If looks speak love-laws, I will drink her tears,

"And at the least 'twill startle off her cares." -

VI. -

So said he one fair morning, and all day

His heart beat awfully against his side;

And to his heart he inwardly did pray

For power to speak; but still the ruddy tide

Stifled his voice, and puls'd resolve away-

Fever'd his high conceit of such a bride,

Yet brought him to the meekness of a child:

Alas! when passion is both meek and wild! -

VII. -

So once more he had wak'd and anguished

A dreary night of love and misery,

If Isabel's quick eye had not been wed

To every symbol on his forehead high;

She saw it waxing very pale and dead,

And straight all flush'd; so, lisped tenderly,

"Lorenzo!"- here she ceas'd her timid quest,

But in her tone and look he read the rest. -


"O Isabella, I can half perceive

"That I may speak my grief into thine ear;

"If thou didst ever anything believe,

"Believe how I love thee, believe how near

"My soul is to its doom: I would not grieve

"Thy hand by unwelcome pressing, would not fear

"Thine eyes by gazing; but I cannot live

"Another night, and not my passion shrive. -

IX. -

"Love! thou art leading me from wintry cold,

"Lady! thou leadest me to summer clime,

"And I must taste the blossoms that unfold

"In its ripe warmth this gracious morning time."

So said, his erewhile timid lips grew bold,

And poesied with hers in dewy rhyme:

Great bliss was with them, and great happiness

Grew, like a lusty flower in June's caress.