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English Poetry II: From Collins to Fitzgerald.
The Harvard Classics. 1909–14.

John Keats

525. The Realm of Fancy

EVER let the Fancy roam!

Pleasure never is at home:

At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth,

Like to bubbles when rain pelteth,

Then let wingéd Fancy wander

Through the thought still spread beyond her:

Open wide the mind’s cage-door,

She’ll dart forth, and cloudward soar.

O sweet Fancy! let her loose;

Summer’s joys are spoilt by use,

And the enjoying of the Spring

Fades as does its blossoming:

Autumn’s red-lipp’d fruitage too,

Blushing through the mist and dew,

Cloys with tasting: What do then?

Sit thee by the ingle, when

The sear faggot blazes bright,

Spirit of a winter’s night;

When the soundless earth is muffled,

And the cakéd snow is shuffled

From the ploughboy’s heavy shoon;

When the Night doth meet the Noon

In a dark conspiracy

To banish Even from her sky.

—Sit thee there, and send abroad,

With a mind self-overaw’d

Fancy, high-commission’d:—send her!

She has vassals to attend her;

She will bring, in spite of frost,

Beauties that the earth hath lost;

She will bring thee, all together,

All delights of summer weather;

All the buds and bells of May

From dewy sward or thorny spray;

All the heapéd Autumn’s wealth,

With a still, mysterious stealth:

She will mix these pleasures up

Like three fit wines in a cup,

And thou shalt quaff it:—thou shalt hear

Distant harvest-carols clear;

Rustle of the reapéd corn;

Sweet birds antheming the morn:

And, in the same moment—hark!

’Tis the early April lark,

Or the rooks, with busy caw,

Foraging for sticks and straw.

Thou shalt, at one glance, behold

The daisy and the marigold;

White-plumed lilies, and the first

Hedge-grown primrose that hath burst;

Shaded hyacinth, alway

Sapphire queen of the mid-May;

And every leaf, and every flower

Pearléd with the self-same shower.

Thou shalt see the field-mouse peep

Meagre from its celléd sleep;

And the snake all winter-thin

Cast on sunny bank its skin;

Freckled nest-eggs thou shalt see

Hatching in the hawthorn-tree,

When the hen-bird’s wing doth rest

Quiet on her mossy nest;

Then the hurry and alarm

When the bee-hive casts its swarm;

Acorns ripe down-pattering,

While the autumn breezes sing

Oh, sweet Fancy! let her loose;

Everything is spoilt by use:

Where’s the cheek that doth not fade,

Too much gazed at? Where’s the maid

Whose lip mature is ever new?

Where’s the eye, however blue,

Doth not weary? Where’s the face

One would meet in every place?

At a touch sweet Pleasure melteth

Like to bubbles when rain pelteth.

Let then wingéd Fancy find

Thee a mistress to thy mind:

Dulcet-eyed as Ceres’ daughter,

Ere the God of Torment taught her

How to frown and how to chide;

With a waist and with a side

White as Hebe’s, when her zone

Slipt its golden clasp, and down

Fell her kirtle to her feet,

And Jove grew languid.—Break the mesh

Of the Fancy’s silken leash;

Quickly break her prison-string,

And such joys as these she’ll bring:

—Let the wingéd Fancy roam!

Pleasure never is at home.