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theus Unbound, called by the author "a lyrical drama." In a long preface he says the drama is an expression of his passion for reforming the world." Mrs. Shelley explains in a note that Prometheus typifies humanity, and that Hercules, who "liberates him from the tortures generated by evil done or suffered," typifies strength. Shelley's theory of the destiny of the human species was," she says, "that evil is not inherent in the system of the creation, but an accident that might be expelled."

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When friendly commentators, however, have done their best, Prometheus Unbound remains still something of a puzzle. Yet there is much in it to attract any lover of poetry, even though he is not a partisan of Shelley. One of the most charming of the lyrical passages is assigned to a Spirit in act I:

"On a poet's lips I slept

Dreaming like a love-adept

In the sound his breathing kept;

Nor seeks nor finds he mortal blisses,

But feeds on the aërial kisses

Of shapes that haunt thought's wildernesses.
He will watch from dawn to gloom

The lake-reflected sun illume

The yellow bees in the ivy-bloom,

Nor heed nor see, what things they be;

But from these create he can

Forms more real than living man,

Nurslings of immortality!"

It has been observed that these lines are " vividly suggestive of Shelley's own poetic temper."

Greatest Lyrics.

Three of his most generally admired lyrics are among those also ranked highest by critical opinion -To a Sky-Lark, Ode to the West Wind, and The Cloud. It is idle to say much of such poems: the thoughtful reader will

To the Sky. Lark

hail to the Wetter fomit!
Boid them new wet,
That from the cain, or merit,
Pourest thy full heart

In propose Thamns of un premeditated and

In the golden lightning

"the ranken Ther.

Ver which cloth an
Hey float & man;

Insert

Loder an unbodied joy olen sace is

phy where sace is just began

The pale pimple com

Hett around thy flight,
the a star of Heaven
In the broad daylight,

shrill

I for aut emsan, but yet I hear they habe

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FACSIMILE OF SHELLEY'S SKY-LARK.

In his own handwriting.

(Widener Memorial Library, Harvard University.)

find more in them than any helper can find for him. It may be not amiss to advise one approaching them for the first time that they are noted for fitness of metrical form to sense as well as for most felicitous language and imagery.

The circle of Shelley enthusiasts is small, the main objection of others being the many things he fails to do. For such we may quote from a famous apostrophe to Shelley:

"Each poet gives what he has, and what he can offer; you spread before us fairy bread, and enchanted wine, and shall we turn away with a sneer, because, out of all the multitudes of singers, one is spiritual and strange? Let Shelley sing of what he saw, what none saw but Shelley!"1

JOHN KEATS, 1795-1821

66

Beauty is truth, truth beauty

that is all

Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know."

These lines from Keats's Ode on a Grecian Urn give the whole of his poetic creed, and the clew to his place in English poetry. The high priest of beauty, he took a firm stand against didactic poetry, contending that if a poem gives pleasure by appeal to one's love of beauty, one need not look for a meaning, a lesson, to explain the appeal. The love of beauty was with him a passion; and it fixes his place as a Romanticist. This quality had been lost during the eighteenth century, and Keats restored it to English poetry.

He was

Humble Birth, and Limited Opportunities. born in London, the son of a livery-stable employé and of the proprietor's daughter. Nothing further is known of his antecedents; but as Lowell remarks, "It is enough that his poetical pedigree is of the best, tracing through Spenser to Chaucer." He had a grammar-school education, of which

1 Andrew Lang, Letters to Dead Authors.

the most important gain was the friendship of the schoolmaster's son, Charles Cowden Clarke.

Selection of Poetry for Life-work. At the age of fifteen he was apprenticed to a surgeon; but though he studied

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From a sketch by his friend Haydon.

surgery four years and took a hospital course, he

never practised. About the time that he decided to give up sur

gery and devote himself wholly to poetry, he met Leigh Hunt, then a conspicucus figure in London literary circles. Within a short time he made the acquaintance also of Wordsworth, Coleridge, Shelley, William Hazlitt, and the artists B. R. Haydon and Joseph Severn.

First Publications. -At the suggestion of friends Keats in 1817 It contained little meriting

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published a volume of poems. serious attention except two sonnets, On First Looking into Chapman's Homer, and On the Grasshopper and the Cricket. These should have attracted attention from the magazines; but they seem to have been noticed only by Hunt's paper and a few others which Hunt influenced to review the volume.

"Endymion." The following year he published Endymion: A Poetic Romance, in four books; and from that time he never lacked attention from critics. The Quarterly Review and Blackwood's Magazine attacked it viciously, the former boldly proclaiming that the reviewer had read only the first book of the poem. Despite any faults the poem may possess, it would still be memorable for its opening lines:

"A thing of beauty is a joy forever:

Its loveliness 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." Though it had been twenty years since Lyrical Ballads appeared, and six since the first two cantos of Childe Harold, the older magazines were still hostile to innovations in literature. The Quarterly's complaint: "There is hardly a complete couplet enclosing a complete idea in the whole book," indicates how tenacious was the hold of eighteenthcentury standards.

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Attitude toward Criticism. So harsh was this attack that for many years it was popularly supposed to have caused Keats's death. Shelley helped to perpetuate this idea in his poem in memory of Keats, Adonais; and Byron added the weight of an epigram:

"Who killed John Keats?'

'I,' says the Quarterly,
So savage and Tartarly;
''Twas one of my feats.""

That the hostile articles not only did not kill him, but did not even seriously disturb him, is now perfectly well known. It should have been known to any reader of the poet's preface. He states his consciousness that the poem shows

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