19 July 2006 | Vol. 6, No. 2

Ode to Pysche

O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung

  By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,

And pardon that thy secrets should be sung

  Even into thine own soft-conched ear:

Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see

  The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?

I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,

  And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,

Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side

  In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof

  Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran

        A brooklet, scarce espied:

'Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,

  Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,

They lay calm-breathing on the bedded grass;

  Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;

  Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,

As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,

And ready still past kisses to outnumber

  At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:

        The winged boy I knew;

  But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?

        His Psyche true!

O latest born and loveliest vision far

  Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!

Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-region'd star,

  Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;

Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,

        Nor altar heap'd with flowers;

Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan   

        Upon the midnight hours;

No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet

  From chain-swung censer teeming;

No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat

  Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

O brightest! though too late for antique vows,

  Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,

When holy were the haunted forest boughs,

  Holy the air, the water, and the fire;

Yet even in these days so far retir'd

  From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,

  Fluttering among the faint Olympians,

I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspired.

So let me be thy choir, and make a moan

        Upon the midnight hours;

Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet

  From swinged censer teeming;

Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat

  Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane

  In some untrodden region of my mind,

Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,

  Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:

Far, far around shall those dark-cluster'd trees

  Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;

And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,

  The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull'd to sleep;

And in the midst of this wide quietness

A rosy sanctuary will I dress

With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain,

  With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,

With all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign,

  Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:

And there shall be for thee all soft delight

  That shadowy thought can win,

A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,

  To let the warm Love in!

About the author:

1795-1821. John Keats, orphaned at 14, was an apprentice and subsequently licensed apothecary, but he pursued his passion for poetry. "To Solitude" was his first published poem, appearing in The Examiner on May 5, 1816. His third book, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, includes his Miltonic blank-verse epic, "Hyperion," as well as his deservedly famous odes, "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode to Melancholy," and "Ode to a Nightingale." This third book received great praise and includes poetry considered among the finest in the English language. Keats was only twenty-four years old.

Learn more about John Keats at Wikipedia.

For further reading:

See the complete list of work by John Keats at 42opus. Browse the contents of 42opus Vol. 6, No. 2, where "Ode to Pysche" ran on July 19, 2006. List other work with these same labels: poetry, classic.

42opus is an online magazine of the literary arts.

copyright © 2001-2011
XHTML // CSS // 508