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Imitation of Spenser

Felicia Appenteng [1]


In honor of John Keats’ [2] birthday, I thought that the readers might enjoy reading his very first poem, Imitation of Spenser, which was inspired by his introduction to "The Faerie Queene," [3] by Edmund Spenser [4]


Imitation of Spenser

John Keats 1814

Now Morning from her orient chamber came,
  And her first footsteps touched a verdant hill;
  Crowning its lawny crest with amber flame,
  Silv’ring the untainted gushes of its rill;
  Which, pure from mossy beds, did down distill,
  And after parting beds of simple flowers,
  By many streams a little lake did fill,
  Which round its marge reflected woven bowers,
And, in its middle space, a sky that never lowers.

  There the king-fisher saw his plumage bright
  Vying with fish of brilliant dye below;
  Whose silken fins, and golden scalès light
  Cast upward, through the waves, a ruby glow:
  There saw the swan his neck of archèd snow,
  And oared himself along with majesty;
  Sparkled his jetty eyes; his feet did show
  Beneath the waves like Afric’s ebony,
And on his back a fay reclined voluptuously.

Ah! could I tell the wonders of an isle
  That in that fairest lake had placèd been,
  I could e’en Dido of her grief beguile;
  Or rob from aged Lear his bitter teen:
  For sure so fair a place was never seen,
  Of all that ever charmed romantic eye:
  It seemed an emerald in the silver sheen
  Of the bright waters; or as when on high,
Through clouds of fleecy white, laughs the cerulean sky.

  And all around it dipped luxuriously
  Slopings of verdure through the glossy tide,
  Which, as it were in gentle amity,
  Rippled deighted up the flowery side;
  As if to glean the ruddy tears, it tried,
  Which fell profusely from the rose-tree stem!
  Haply it was the workings of its pride,
  In strife to throw upon the shore a gem
Outvying all the buds in Flora’s diadem.