O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell

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O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell
by John Keats

This sonnet was written either in October or November 1815, soon after Keats became a student at Guy’s Hospital, or in 1816. It was Keats's first published poem, appearing as "To Solitude" in Leigh Hunt's Examiner, a radical weekly newspaper, on 5 May 1816, signed 'J.K.'

O Solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
    Let it not be among the jumbled heap
    Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep, —
Nature’s observatory — whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
    May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
    ‘Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee, [1]
    Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
     Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
     Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.

  1. Another version of the line: Ah! fain would I frequent such scenes with thee;