Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton’s Hair

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Lines on Seeing a Lock of Milton’s Hair  (1818) 
by John Keats
Written on 21 January 1818. First published 15 November 1838.

    Chief of organic numbers!
       Old scholar of the spheres!
    Thy spirit never slumbers,
       But rolls about our ears
    For ever, and for ever:
    O, what a mad endeavour
          Worketh he,
Who, to thy sacred and ennobled hearse,
Would offer a burnt sacrifice of verse
          And melody.

    How heavenward thou soundedst,
       Live temple of sweet noise;
    And discord unconfoundedst, –
       Giving delight new joys,
    And pleasure nobler pinions –
    O, where are thy dominions?
          Lend thine ear,
To a young Delian oath – aye, by thy soul,
By all that from thy mortal lips did roll;
And by the kernel of thine earthly love,
Beauty, in things on earth and things above;
    When every childish fashion
       Has vanish’d from my rhyme,
    Will I, grey-gone in passion,
       Leave to an after time
          Hymning and harmony
Of thee, and of thy works, and of thy life;
But vain is now the burning, and the strife,
Pangs are in vain – until I grow high-rife
        With old philosophy;
And mad with glimpses at futurity!

For many years my offerings must be hush’d.
   When I do speak, I’ll think upon this hour,
Because I feel my forehead hot and flush’d –
   Even at the simplest vassal of thy power;
          A lock of thy bright hair –
          Sudden it came,
And I was startled, when I caught thy name
          Coupled so unaware;
Yet at the moment, temperate was my blood –
Methought I had beheld it from the Flood.