Ode to Psyche

By John Keats 1795–1821 John Keats
O Goddess! hear these tuneless numbers, wrung
         By sweet enforcement and remembrance dear,
And pardon that thy secrets should be sung
         Even into thine own soft-conched ear:
Surely I dreamt to-day, or did I see
         The winged Psyche with awaken'd eyes?
I wander'd in a forest thoughtlessly,
         And, on the sudden, fainting with surprise,
Saw two fair creatures, couched side by side
         In deepest grass, beneath the whisp'ring roof
         Of leaves and trembled blossoms, where there ran
                A brooklet, scarce espied:

Mid hush'd, cool-rooted flowers, fragrant-eyed,
         Blue, silver-white, and budded Tyrian,
They lay calm-breathing, on the bedded grass;
         Their arms embraced, and their pinions too;
         Their lips touch'd not, but had not bade adieu,
As if disjoined by soft-handed slumber,
And ready still past kisses to outnumber
         At tender eye-dawn of aurorean love:
                The winged boy I knew;
But who wast thou, O happy, happy dove?
                His Psyche true!

O latest born and loveliest vision far
         Of all Olympus' faded hierarchy!
Fairer than Phoebe's sapphire-region'd star,
         Or Vesper, amorous glow-worm of the sky;
Fairer than these, though temple thou hast none,
                Nor altar heap'd with flowers;
Nor virgin-choir to make delicious moan
                Upon the midnight hours;
No voice, no lute, no pipe, no incense sweet
         From chain-swung censer teeming;
No shrine, no grove, no oracle, no heat
         Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

O brightest! though too late for antique vows,
         Too, too late for the fond believing lyre,
When holy were the haunted forest boughs,
         Holy the air, the water, and the fire;
Yet even in these days so far retir'd
         From happy pieties, thy lucent fans,
         Fluttering among the faint Olympians,
I see, and sing, by my own eyes inspir'd.
So let me be thy choir, and make a moan
                Upon the midnight hours;
Thy voice, thy lute, thy pipe, thy incense sweet
         From swinged censer teeming;
Thy shrine, thy grove, thy oracle, thy heat
         Of pale-mouth'd prophet dreaming.

Yes, I will be thy priest, and build a fane
         In some untrodden region of my mind,
Where branched thoughts, new grown with pleasant pain,
         Instead of pines shall murmur in the wind:
Far, far around shall those dark-cluster'd trees
         Fledge the wild-ridged mountains steep by steep;
And there by zephyrs, streams, and birds, and bees,
         The moss-lain Dryads shall be lull'd to sleep;
And in the midst of this wide quietness
A rosy sanctuary will I dress
   With the wreath'd trellis of a working brain,
         With buds, and bells, and stars without a name,
With all the gardener Fancy e'er could feign,
         Who breeding flowers, will never breed the same:
And there shall be for thee all soft delight
         That shadowy thought can win,
A bright torch, and a casement ope at night,
         To let the warm Love in!

 John  Keats

Biography

John Keats, who died at the age of twenty-five, had perhaps the most remarkable career of any English poet. He published only fifty-four poems, in three slim volumes and a few magazines. But at each point in his development he took on the challenges of a wide range of poetic forms from the sonnet, to the Spenserian romance, to the Miltonic epic, defining anew their possibilities with his own distinctive fusion of earnest energy, . . .

Continue reading this biography

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.