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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 sweot 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 sanswer 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 jeal. ousy 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 Aows 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 superAuous word; and the only speck of a fault in the whole poem arises from an excess of emotion.
THE EVE OF SAINT AGNES.
St. Agnes' Eve-Ah! bitter chill it was :
Seem'd taking flight for heaven without a death
His prayer he saith, this patient, holy man,
Rough ashes sat he, for his soul's reprieve;
Stared, where upon their heads the cornice rests,
At length burst in the argent revelry
On love, and wing'd St. Agnes' saintly care,
They told her how, upon St. Agnes' Eve,
Nor look behind or sideways, but require
But she saw not; her heart was otherwhere;
Save to St. Agnes and her lambs unshorn,
That he might gaze and worship all unseen,
He ventures in, let no buzz'd whisper tell;
To where he stood, hid from the torches' light,
Saying, “Mercy, Porphyro! hie thee from this place.
“Get hence! get hence! there's dwarfish Hildebrand,
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, archèd way,
Which none but secret sisterhood may see,
This very night: good angels her deceive!