‘The dejected King of Day’ — Fragments from Hyperion: A Fragment (Keats)

Fragments from ‘Hyperion: A Fragment’ by John Keats


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Forest on forest hung above his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there
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But oh! how unlike marble was that face:
How beautiful, if sorrow had not made
Sorrow more beautiful than beauty’s self
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O aching time! O moments big as years!
All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth,
And press it so upon our weary griefs
That unbelief has not a space to breathe.
Saturn, sleep on: — O thoughtless, why did I
Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude?
Why should I ope thy melancholy eyes?
Saturn, sleep on! while at thy feet I weep.’
As when, upon a tranced summer-night,
Those green-rob’d senators of mighty woods,
Tall oaks, branch-charmed by the earnest stars,
Dream, and so dream all night without a stir,
Save from one gradual solitary gust
Which comes upon the silence, and dies off,
As if the ebbing air had but one wave;
So came these words and went; the while in tears
She touch’d her fair large forehead to the ground,
Just where her falling hair might be outspread
A soft and silken mat for Saturn’s feet.
One moon with alteration slow had shed
Her silver seasons four upon the night,
And still these two were postured motionless,
Like natural sculpture in cathedral cavern…
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Shook horrid with such aspen-malady:
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I am gone
Away from my own bosom: I have left
My strong identity, my real self,
Somewhere between the throne, and where I sit
Here on this spot of earth. Search, Thea, search!
Open thine eyes eterne, and sphere them round
Upon all space: space starr’d and lorn of light;
Space region’d with life-air; and barren void;
Spaces of fire, and all the yawn of hell. —
Search, Thea, search! and tell me, if thou seest
A certain shape or shadow, making way
With wings or chariot fierce to repossess
A heaven he lost erewhile: it must — it must
Be of ripe progress — Saturn must be King.
Yes, there must be a golden victory;
There must be Gods thrown down, and trumpets blown
Of triumph calm, and hymns of festival
Upon the gold clouds metropolitan,
Voices of soft proclaim, and silver stir
Of strings in hollow shells; and there shall be
Beautiful things made new, for the surprise
Of the sky-children; I will give command:
Thea! Thea! Thea! Where is Saturn?
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But cannot I create?
Cannot I form? Cannot I fashion forth
Another world, another universe,
To overbear and crumble this to naught?
Where is another Chaos? Where? — That word….
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His palace bright
Bastion’d with pyramids of glowing gold,
And touch’d with shade of bronzed obelisks,
Glar’d a blood-red through all its thousand courts,
Arches, and domes, and fiery galleries;
And all its curtains of Aurorian clouds
Flush’d angrily: while sometimes eagle’s wings,
Unseen before by Gods or wondering men,
Darken’d the place; and neighin steeds were heard,
Not heard before by Gods or wondering men.
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And slumber in the arms of melody
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His winged minions in close clusters stood;
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That inlet to sever magnificence
Stood full blown, for the God to enter in.
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He enter’d, but he enter’d full of wrath:
His flaming robes stream’d out beyond his heels,
And gave a roar as if of earthly fire,
That scar’d away the meek ethereal Hours
And made their dove-wings tremble. On he flared,
From stately nave to nave from vault to vault,
through bower of fragrant and enwreathed light,
And diamond-paved lustrous long arcades…
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O dreams of day and night!
O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain!
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Am I to leave this haven of my rest,
This cradle of my glory, this soft clime,
This calm luxuriance of blissful light,
These crystalline pavillions, and pure fanes,
Of all my lucent empire? It is left
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine.
The blaze, the splendor, and the symmetry,
I cannot see — but darkness, death and darkness.
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The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves
In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks
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Not world on world upon these shoulder piled,
Could agonize me more than baby-words
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In pale and silver silence they remain’d
Till suddenly a splendour, like the morn,
Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,
All the sad spaces of oblivion
And every gulf, and every chasm old,
And every height, and every sullen depth,
Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented screams:
And all the everlasting cataracts,
And all the headlong torrents far and near,
Mantled before in darkness and huge shade,
Now saw the light and made it terrible.
It was Hyperion: — a granite peak
His bright feet touch’d, and there he stay’d to view
The misery his brilliance had betray’d
To the most hateful seeing of itself.
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There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines
When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise
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…with fierce convulse
Die into life:
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Creations and destroyings, all at once
Pour into the wide hollows of my brain,
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-John Keats, from “Hyperion: A Fragment”