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addition to felicity of treatment, its subject is in every respect a happy one, and helps to "paint" this our bower of "poetry with delight." Melancholy, it is true, will "break in" when the reader thinks of the early death of such a writer; but it is one of the benevolent provisions of nature, that all good things tend to pleasure in the recollection; when the bitterness of their loss is past, their own sweetness embalms them.

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.

While writing this paragraph, a hand-organ out-of-doors has been playing one of the mournfullest and loveliest of the airs of Bellini-another genius who died young. The sound of music always gives a feeling either of triumph or tenderness to the state of mind in which it is heard: in this instance it seemed like one departed spirit come to bear testimony of another, and to say how true indeed may be the union of sorrowful and sweet recollections.

Keats knew the youthful faults of his poetry as well as any man, as the reader may see by the preface to Endymion, and its touching though manly acknowledgment of them to critical candor. I have this moment read it again, after a lapse of years, and have been astonished to think how anybody could answer such an appeal to the mercy of strength, with the cruelty of weakness. All the good for which Mr. Gifford pretended to be zealous, he might have effected with pain to no one, and glory to himself; and therefore all the evil he mixed with it was of his own making. But the secret at the bottom of such unprovoked censure is exasperated inferiority. Young poets, upon the whole, at least very young poets,-had better not publish at all. They are pretty sure to have faults; and jealousy and envy are sure to find them out, and wreak upon them their own disappointments. The critic is often an unsuccessful author, almost always an inferior one to a man of genius, and possesses his sensibility neither to beauty nor to pain. If he does, if by any chance he is a man of genius himself (and such things have been), sure and certain will be his regret, some day, for having given pains which he might have turned into

noble pleasures; and nothing will console him but that very charity towards himself, the grace of which can only be secured to us by our having denied it to no one.

Let the student of poetry observe, that in all the luxury of the Eve of Saint Agnes there is nothing of the conventional craft of artificial writers; no heaping up of words or similes for their own sakes or the rhyme's sake; no gaudy common-places; no borrowed airs of earnestness; no tricks of inversion; no substitution of reading or of ingenious thoughts for feeling or spontaneity; no irrelevancy or unfitness of any sort. All flows out of sincerity and passion. The writer is as much in love with the heroine as his hero is; his description of the painted window, however gorgeous, has not an untrue or superfluous word; and the only speck of a fault in the whole poem arises from an excess of emotion.



St. Agnes' Eve-Ah! bitter chill it was:
The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold;2
The hare limp'd trembling through the frozen grass,
And silent was the flock in woolly fold;

Numb were the beadsman's fingers while he told
His rosary, and while his frosted breath,

Like pious incense from a censer old,
Seem'd taking flight for heaven without a death
Past the sweet Virgin's picture, while his prayer he saith.3


His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man,

Then takes his lamp, and riseth from his knees,
And back returneth, meagre, barefoot, wan,
Along the chapel aisle by slow degrees :

The sculptur'd dead on each side seem'd to freeze,
Imprison'd in black, purgatorial rails :
Knights, ladies, praying in dumb orat❜ries,
He passeth by; and his weak spirit fails
To think how they may ache in icy hoods and mails


Northward he turneth through a little door,
And scarce three steps, ere music's golden tongue
Flatter'd to tears this aged man and poor :5
But no; already had his death-bell rung:
The joys of all his life were said and sung:
His was harsh penance on St. Agnes' Eve:
Another way he went, and soon among
Rough ashes sat he, for his soul's reprieve;
And all night kept awake, for sinners' sake to grieve.


That ancient beadsman heard the prelude soft;
And so it chanc'd (for many a door was wide,
From hurry to and fro) soon up aloft

The silver-snarling trumpets 'gan to chide;
The level chambers ready with their pride,
Were glowing to receive a thousand guests:
And carved angels, ever eager-eyed,

Stared, where upon their heads the cornice rests,

With hair blown back, and wings put cross-wise on their breasts.


At length burst in the argent revelry
With plume, tiara, and all rich array,
Numerous as shadows haunting fairily

The brain, new stuff'd, in youth, with triumphs gay
Of old romance. These let us wish away,

And turn, sole-thoughted, to one lady there,
Whose heart had brooded all that wintry day
On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care,
As she had heard old dames full many times declare


They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
Young virgins might have visions of delight;
And soft adorings from their loves receive
Upon the honey'd middle of the night
If ceremonies due they did aright;

As, supperless to bed they must retire,
And couch supine their beauties, lily white:
Nor look behind or sideways, but require

Of Heaven with upward eyes for all that they desire.


Full of this whim was youthful Madeline;
The music, yearning, like a god in pain,
She scarcely heard; her maiden eyes divine,
Fix'd on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
Pass by, she heeded not at all; in vain
Came many a tip-toe amorous cavalier,

And back retired, not cool'd by high disdain,
But she saw not; her heart was otherwhere;
She sigh'd for Agnes' dreams, the sweetest of the year.

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She danc'd along with vague, regardless eyes,

Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short;
The hallow'd hour was near at hand: she sighs
Amid the timbrels and the throng'd resort
Of whisperers in anger or in sport;

'Mid looks of love, defiance, hate, and scorn;
Hoodwink'd with faery fancy; all amort,

Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn, And all the bliss to be before to-morrow morn.


So, purposing each moment to retire,

She linger'd still. Meantime across the moors,
Had come young Porphyro, with heart on fire
For Madeline. Beside the portal doors

Buttress'd from moonlight, stands he, and implores
All saints to give him sight of Madeline,
But for one moment in the tedious hours,

That he might gaze and worship all unseen,

Perchance speak, kneel, touch, kiss ;-in sooth such things have been.


He ventures in, let no buzz'd whisper tell;
All eyes be muffled, or a hundred swords
Will storm his heart, Love's feverous citadel.
For him those chambers had barbarian hordes,
Hyæna foemen, and hot-blooded lords,
Whose very dogs would execrations howl
Against his lineage. Not one breast affords
Him any mercy, in that mansion foul,
Save one old beldame, weak in body and in soul.


Ah! happy chance! the aged creature came
Shuffling along with ivory-headed wand,

To where he stood, hid from the torches' light,
Behind a broad hall pillar, far beyond
The sound of merriment and chorus bland.
He startled her; but soon she knew his face,

And grasp'd his fingers in her palsied hand :

Saying, "Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place. They are all here to-night, the whole blood-thirsty race.


"Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand, He had a fever late, and in the fit

He cursed thee and thine, both house and land:
Then there's that old Lord Maurice, not a whit
More tame for his grey hairs-Alas, me! flit;
Flit like a ghost away."-" Ah, gossip dear,
We're safe enough; here in this arm-chair sit,

And tell me how-"-" Good Saints! not here! not here! Follow me, child, or else these stones will be thy bier!"


He follow'd through a lowly, arched way,
Brushing the cobwebs with his lofty plume;
And as she mutter'd, "Well-a-well-a-day!"
He found him in a little moonlight room,
Pale, latticed, chill, and silent as a tomb
"Now tell me where is Madeline," said he;
Oh, tell me, Angela, by the holy loom
Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
When they St. Agnes' wool are weaving piously."



"St. Agnes! Ah! it is St. Agnes' Eve-
Yet men will murder upon holidays;
Thou must hold water in a witch's sieve,
And be the liege lord of all elves and fays,
To venture so: it fills me with amaze
To see thee, Porphyro !-St. Agnes' Eve!
God's help! my lady fair the conjuror plays
This very night: good angels her deceive!
But let me laugh awhile; I've mickle time to grieve."


Feebly she laugheth in the languid moon,
While Porphyro upon her face doth look,
Like puzzled urchin on an aged crone,

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