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of my friends who lik'd it; and some dozen whom I was unacquainted with, who did not.
“Now, when a dozen human beings are at words with another dozen, it becomes a matter of anxiety to side with one's friends-more especially when excited thereto by a great Love of Poetry. I fought under disadvantages. Before I began I had no inward feel of being able to finish; and as I proceeded my steps were all uncertain, So this Poem must rather be considered as an endeavour than a thing accomplished; a poor prologue to what, if I live, I humbly hope to do. In duty to the Public I should have kept it back for a year or two, knowing it to be so faulty; but I really cannot do so,-by repetition my favourite passages sound vapid in my ears, and I would rather redeem myself with a new Poem should this one be found of any interest...
I have to apologise to the lovers of simplicity for touching the spell of loneliness that hung about Endymion; if any of my lines plead for me with such people I shall be proud.
"It has been too much the fashion of late to consider men bigoted and addicted to every word that may chance to escape their lips; now I here declare that I have not any particular affection for any particular phrase, word, or letter in the whole affair. I have written to please myself, and in hopes to please others, and for a love of fame; if I neither please myself, nor others, nor get fame, of what consequence is Phraseology?
"I would fain escape the bickerings that all Works not exactly in chime bring upon their begetters but this is not fair to expect, there must be conversation of some sort and to object shows a man's consequence. In case of a London drizzle or a Scotch mist, the following quotation
from Marston may perhaps 'stead me as an umbrella for an hour or so: 'let it be the curtesy of my peruser rather to pity my self-hindering labours than to malice me.'
"One word more-for we cannot help seeing our own affairs in every point of view-should any one call my dedication to Chatterton affected I answer as followeth: Were I dead, sir, I should like a Book dedicated to me.'
"March 19th, 1818."
BY JOHN KEATS.
THE STRETCHED METRE OF AN ANTIQUE SONG.
WITH EVERY FEELING OF PRIDE AND REGRET,
AND WITH "A BOWED MIND,"
TO THE MEMORY OF
THE MOST ENGLISH OF POETS EXCEPT SHAKSPEARE,
This is the poet's answer to Mr. Reynolds objections:
"MY DEAR REYNOLDS,
66 April 9th, 1818.
'Since you all agree that the thing is
bad, it must be so-though I am not aware there
is anything like Hunt in it (and if there is, it is my natural way, and I have something in common with Hunt). Look it over again, and examine into the motives, the seeds, from which any one sentence sprung.
"I have not the slightest feel of humility to. wards the public, or to anything in existence but the Eternal Being, the Principle of Beauty, and the Memory of great Men. When I am writing
for myself, for the mere sake of the moment's enjoyment, perhaps nature has its course with me; but a Preface is written to the public-a thing I cannot help looking upon as an enemy, and which I cannot address without feelings of hostility. If I write a Preface in a supple or subdued style, it will not be in character with me as a public speaker.
"I would be subdued before my friends, and thank them for subduing me; but among multitudes of men I have no feel of stooping; I hate the idea of humility to them.
I never wrote one single line of poetry with the least shadow of public thought.
Forgive me for vexing you, and making a Trojan horse of such a trifle, both with respect to the matter in question, and myself; but it eases me to tell you: I could not live without the love of my friends: I would jump down Ætna for any great public good-but I hate a mawkish popularity. I cannot be subdued before them. My glory would be to daunt and dazzle the thousand jabberers about pictures and books. I see swarms of porcupines with their quills erect like limetwigs set to catch my winged book,' and I would fright them away with a torch.
You will say my
Preface is not much of a torch. been too insulting 'to begin from
It would have
could not-[set] a golden head upon a thing of clay. If there is any fault in the Preface it is not affectation, but an undersong of disrespect to the public. If I write another Preface it must be done without a thought of those people. I will think about it. If it should not reach you in four or five days, tell Taylor to publish it without a Preface, and let the Dedication simply standInscribed to the Memory of Thomas Chatterton.' 66 I am ever
"Your affectionate friend,
Within the next twenty-four hours he produced in its stead one of the most beautiful "Introductions" in the range of our literature I have
Keats's own copy of the Endymion is in the possession of Sir Charles Dilke, and I possess the copy given to Mr. Bailey. In neither of them are there any corrections or emendations, and the Poem did not reach a second edition in the author's life-time...
NOWING within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public.
What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished. The two first books, and indeed the two last, I feel sensible are not of such completion as to warrant their passing the press; nor should they if I thought a year's castigation would do them any good;-it will not: the foundations are too sandy. It is just that this youngster should die away: a sad thought for me, if I had not some hope that while it is dwindling I may be plotting, and fitting myself for verses fit to live.
This may be speaking too presumptuously, and may deserve a punishment: but no feeling man will be forward to inflict it: he will leave me alone, with the conviction that there is not a fiercer hell than the failure in a great object. This is not written with the least atom of purpose to forestall criticisms of course, but from the desire I have to conciliate men who are competent