Lines on the Mermaid Tavern

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Lines on the Mermaid Tavern  (1818) 
by John Keats

Written at the beginning of February 1818. First published in 1820. For a sourced version, see Lines on the Mermaid Tavern, M Robinson, ed., Keats; poems published in 1820, Oxford, 1909.

Souls of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?
Have ye tippled drink more fine
Than mine host's Canary wine?
Or are the fruits of Paradise
Sweeter than those dainty pies
Of venison? O generous food!
Drest as though bold Robin Hood
Would, with his maid Marian,
Sup and bowse from horn and can.

I have heard that on a day
Mine host's sign-board flew away,
Nobody knew whither, till
An astrologer's old quill
To a sheepskin gave the story,
Said he saw you in your glory,
Underneath a new old sign
Sipping beverage divine,
And pledging with contented smack
The Mermaid in the Zodiac.

Souls of Poets dead and gone,
What Elysium have ye known,
Happy field or mossy cavern,
Choicer than the Mermaid Tavern?


alternative manuscripts (Woodhouse and Dilke) give last verse as:
Souls of Poets dead and gone
Are the winds a sweeter home,
Richer is uncellar'd cavern
Than the Merry Mermaid Tavern?