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Poems of John Keats: Calidore (Part 2)

Tuesday, April 30, 2013


Delicious sounds! those little bright-eyed things

That float about the air on azure wings,

Had been less heartfelt by him than the clang

Of clattering hoofs; into the court he sprang,

Just as two noble steeds, and palfreys twain,

Were slanting out their necks with loosened rein;

While from beneath the threat'ning portcullis

They brought their happy burthens. What a kiss,

What gentle squeeze he gave each lady's hand!

How tremblingly their delicate ancles spann'd!

Into how sweet a trance his soul was gone,

While whisperings of affection

Made him delay to let their tender feet

Come to the earth; with an incline so sweet

From their low palfreys o'er his neck they bent:

And whether there were tears of languishment,

Or that the evening dew had pearl'd their tresses,

He feels a moisture on his cheek, and blesses

With lips that tremble, and with glistening eye

All the soft luxury

That nestled in his arms. A dimpled hand,

Fair as some wonder out of fairy land,

Hung from his shoulder like the drooping flowers

Of whitest Cassia, fresh from summer showers:

And this he fondled with his happy cheek

As if for joy he would no further seek;

When the kind voice of good Sir Clerimond

Came to his ear, like something from beyond

His present being: so he gently drew

His warm arms, thrilling now with pulses new,

From their sweet thrall, and forward gently bending,

Thank'd heaven that his joy was never ending;

While 'gainst his forehead he devoutly press'd

A hand heaven made to succour the distress'd;

A hand that from the world's bleak promontory

Had lifted Calidore for deeds of glory.

Amid the pages, and the torches' glare,

There stood a knight, patting the flowing hair

Of his proud horse's mane: he was withal

A man of elegance, and stature tall:

So that the waving of his plumes would be

High as the berries of a wild ash tree,

Or as the winged cap of Mercury.

His armour was so dexterously wrought

In shape, that sure no living man had thought

It hard, and heavy steel: but that indeed

It was some glorious form, some splendid weed,

In which a spirit new come from the skies

Might live, and show itself to human eyes.

'Tis the far-fam'd, the brave Sir Gondibert,

Said the good man to Calidore alert;

While the young warrior with a step of grace

Came up,--a courtly smile upon his face,

And mailed hand held out, ready to greet

The large-eyed wonder, and ambitious heat

Of the aspiring boy; who as he led

Those smiling ladies, often turned his head

To admire the visor arched so gracefully

Over a knightly brow; while they went by

The lamps that from the high-roof'd hall were pendent,

And gave the steel a shining quite transcendent.

Soon in a pleasant chamber they are seated;

The sweet-lipp'd ladies have already greeted

All the green leaves that round the window clamber,

To show their purple stars, and bells of amber.

Sir Gondibert has doff'd his shining steel,

Gladdening in the free, and airy feel

Of a light mantle; and while Clerimond

Is looking round about him with a fond,

And placid eye, young Calidore is burning

To hear of knightly deeds, and gallant spurning

Of all unworthiness; and how the strong of arm

Kept off dismay, and terror, and alarm

From lovely woman: while brimful of this,

He gave each damsel's hand so warm a kiss,

And had such manly ardour in his eye,

That each at other look'd half staringly;

And then their features started into smiles

Sweet as blue heavens o'er enchanted isles.

Softly the breezes from the forest came,

Softly they blew aside the taper's flame;

Clear was the song from Philomel's far bower;

Grateful the incense from the lime-tree flower;

Mysterious, wild, the far heard trumpet's tone;

Lovely the moon in ether, all alone:

Sweet too the converse of these happy mortals,

As that of busy spirits when the portals

Are closing in the west; or that soft humming

We hear around when Hesperus is coming.

Sweet be their sleep. * * * * * * * * *

~John Keats


Calidore (Part 1)
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