Page:Blackwood's Magazine volume 003.djvu/534
appropriated the character, if not the name. His Endymion is not a Greek shepherd, loved by a Grecian goddess ; he is merely a young Cockney rhyme- ster, dreaming a phantastic dream at the full of the moon. Costume, were it worth while to notice such a trifle, is violated in every page of this goodly octavo. From his prototype Hunt, John Keats has acquired a sort of vague idea, that the Greeks were a most tasteful people, and that no my- thology can be so finely adapted for the purposes of poetry as theirs. It is amusing to see what a hand the two Cockneys make of this mythology ; the one confesses that he never read the Greek Tragedians, and the other knows Homer only from Chapman; and both of them write about Apollo, Pan, Nymphs, Muses, and Mysteries, as might be expected from persons of their education. We shall not, how- ever, enlarge at present upon this sub- ject, as we mean to dedicate an entire paper to the classical attainments and attempts of the Cockney poets. As for Mr Keats' " Endymion," it has just as much to do with Greece as it has with ' ' old Tartary the fierce ;" no man, whose mind has ever been imbued with the smallest knowledge or feeling of classical poetry or classical history, could have stooped to profane and vul- garise every association in the man- ner which has been adopted by this " son of promise." Before giving any extracts, we must inform our readers, that this romance is meant to be writ- ten in English heroic rhyme. To those who have read any of Hunt's poems, this hint might indeed be need- less. Mr Keats has adopted the loose, nerveless versification, and Cockney rhymes of the poet of Rimini ; but in fairness to that gentleman, we must add, that the defects of the system are tenfold mere conspicuous in his dis- ciple's work than in his own. Mr Hunt is a small poet, but he is a clever man. Mr Keats is a still smaller poet, and he is only a boy of pretty abili- ties, which he has done every thing in his power to spoil.
The poem sets out with the follow- ing exposition of the reasons which induced Mr Keats to compose it.
" A thing of beauty is a joy for ever :
Its loveliness increases ; it will never
Pass into nothingness ; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreath-
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways
Made for our searching : yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep ; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in ; and clear
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season ; the mid forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead ;
All lovely tales that we have heard or read;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.
" Nor do we merely feel these essences
For one short hour ; no, even as the trees
That whisper round a temple become soon
Dear as the temple's self, so does the moon,
The passion poesy, glories infinite,
Haunt us till they become a cheering light
Unto our souls, and bound to us so fast,
That, whether there be shine, or gloom
They alway must be with us, or we die.
" Therefore 'tis with full happiness that I
Will trace the story of Endymion ! ! !"
After introducing his hero to us in a procession, and preparing us, by a few mystical Lines, for believing that his destiny has in it some strange pecu- liarity, Mr Keats represents the be- loved of the Moon as being cenveyed by his sister Peona into an island in a river. This young lady has been a- larmed by the appearance of the bro- ther, and questioned him thus :
" Brother, 'tis vain to hide
That thou dost know of things mysterious,
Immortal, starry ; such alone could thus
Weigh down thy nature. Hast thou sinn'd
Offensive to the heavenly powers ? Caught
A Paphian dove upon a message sent ?
Thy deathful bow against some deer-herd
Sacred to Dian ? Haply, thou hast seen
Her naked limbs among the alders green ;
And that, alas ! is death. No, I can trace
Something more high perplexing in thy
face !" '
Endymion replies in a long speech, wherein he describes his first meeting with the Moon. We cannot make