This must be one of Keats’ most famous poems, and I am guessing pretty much everyone is familiar with the opening line, even if they are not sure where it comes from. But Endymion? That reference is maybe a bit less familiar these days, and even in Keats’ own time I wonder how many readers got it. So the homework assignment for readers of this blog today is to find out who or what was Endymion. Enjoy.
A Thing Of Beauty (Endymion)
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.
This truly a glass half-full, count your blessings, uplifting, optimists kind of poem. Keats acknowledges the despondence, gloomy days, unhealthy ways and dark spirits but knows that we can and should look on the beauties of the world, nature in all its glory and take joy and inspiration from just opening our eyes and seeing the wonders of the world. Let us all, every day wake up and wreath our flower band of optimism to bind us to the earth.
The Poetry Dude