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Poems
A Thing Of Beauty (Endymion)
(1895 - 1985 / London / England)

A Thing Of Beauty (Endymion)

A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness 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.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkn'd ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
'Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.

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Comments (3)

Love without hope, as when the young bird-catcher Swept off his tall hat to the Squire's own daughter, So let the imprisoned larks escape and fly Singing about her head, as she rode by.
I saw this poem 35 years ago, written up on the chalkboard of a school in which I was teaching English lit. It has haunted my imagination ever since despite not knowing its authorship until today. With great economy, it establishes a vivid roadside scene which one can dress in the imagination with all the detail, and even character positioning, of an incident in a colour film screenplay. That it can also evoke all the injustice of social-class and manmade barriers to fulfillment as well as the hopelessness of unattainable, unrequited love, is truly remarkable.
Oh my! What an image!