Why Keats?

July 19th, 2012

Ah, the vagaries of Google. For some reason, despite all the ink I give on this blog to fashion history, costuming, music, and random 19th-century literature, the bulk of the people who visit my site are looking for John Keats. I swear he isn’t here.

I wonder what I’d do with him if he were? Probably a quarantine…

Me & Keats

Speaking of romantic poets who died in unfortunate circumstances, I recently learned that John Clare spent his final years in an insane asylum, where his most famous poem was written.

Rural Musing

April 29th, 2011

Suddenly, everywhere I look, the world is ripe and heavy with full-blown spring. I begin to hear the siren song of rocks and fields and streams and woods. Yet here I stay, trapped in an asphalt jungle. Someday soon, I shall break out of my prison and run wildly to bury my face in the verdure of a handy meadow.


“Smile on my verse, and look the world to love.”
Muse of the Fields! oft have I said farewell
To thee, my boon companion, loved so long,
And hung thy sweet harp in the bushy dell,
For abler hands to wake an abler song.
Much did I fear my homage did thee wrong:

Yet, loth to leave, as oft I turned again;
And to its wires mine idle hands would cling,
Torturing it into song. It may be vain;
Yet still I try, ere Fancy droops her wing,
And hopeless Silence comes to numb its ev’ry string.

Muse of the Pasture Brooks! on thy calm sea
Of poesy I’ve sailed; and though the will
To speed were greater than my prowess be,
I’ve ventur’d with much fear of usage ill,
Yet more of joy. Though timid be my skill,

As not to dare the depths of mightier streams;
Yet rocks abide in shallow ways, and I
Have much of fear to mingle with my dreams.
Yet, lovely Muse, I still believe thee by,
And think I see thee smile, and so forget I sigh.

Muse of the Cottage Hearth ! oft did I tell
My hopes to thee, nor feared to plead in vain;
But felt around my heart thy witching spell,
That bade me as thy worshipper remain:
I did so, and still worship. Oh! again.

Smile on my offerings, and so keep them green;
Bedeck my fancies like the clouds of even,
Mingling all hues which thou from heaven dost glean!
To me a portion of thy power be given,
If theme so mean as mine may merit aught of heaven.

For thee in youth I culled the simple flower,
That on thy bosom gained a sweeter hue,
And took thy hand along life’s sunny hour,
Meeting the sweetest joys that ever grew;
More friends were needless, and my foes were few.

Though freedom then be deemed as rudeness now,
And what once won thy praise now meet disdain,
Yet the last wreath I braided for thy brow,
Thy smiles did so commend, it made me vain
To weave another one, and hope for praise again.

With thee the spirit of departed years
Wakes that sweet voice which time hath rendered dumb;
And freshens, like to spring, loves, hopes, and fears,
That in my bosom found an early home,
Wooing the heart to ecstasy.

I come to thee, when sick of care, of joy bereft,
Seeking the pleasures that are found in bloom.
O happy hopes, that Time hath only left
Around the haunts where thou didst erst sojourn!
Then smile, sweet Muse, again, and welcome my return.

— John Clare, 1835