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William Stanley Braithwaite, ed. The Book of Georgian Verse. 1909.

On Fame, II

John Keats (1795–1821)

‘You cannot eat your cake and have it too.’—Proverb

HOW fever’d is the man, who cannot look

Upon his mortal days with temperate blood,

Who vexes all the leaves of his life’s book,

And robs his fair name of its maidenhood;

It is as if the rose should pluck herself,

Or the ripe plum finger its misty bloom,

As if a Naiad, like a meddling elf,

Should darken her pure grot with muddy gloom:

But the rose leaves herself upon the briar,

For winds to kiss and grateful bees to feed,

And the ripe plum still wears its dim attire,

The undisturbèd lake has crystal space;

Why then should man, teasing the world for grace,

Spoil his salvation for a fierce miscreed?