On Seeing the Elgin Marbles

By John Keats 1795–1821 John Keats
My spirit is too weak—mortality
   Weighs heavily on me like unwilling sleep,
   And each imagined pinnacle and steep
Of godlike hardship tells me I must die
Like a sick eagle looking at the sky.
   Yet ’tis a gentle luxury to weep
   That I have not the cloudy winds to keep
Fresh for the opening of the morning’s eye.
Such dim-conceived glories of the brain
   Bring round the heart an undescribable feud;
So do these wonders a most dizzy pain,
   That mingles Grecian grandeur with the rude
Wasting of old time—with a billowy main—
   A sun—a shadow of a magnitude.


FOOTNOTES: Lord Eglin made an expedition to the Parthenon in Greece, returning with a significant number of marble statues and friezes, which he subsequently sold to the British Museum in 1816.

Source: The Longman Anthology of Poetry (Palgrave, 2006)

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Poet John Keats 1795–1821

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Subjects Architecture & Design, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Painting & Sculpture, Arts & Sciences

Poetic Terms Sonnet

 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, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Architecture & Design, History & Politics, Social Commentaries, Painting & Sculpture, Arts & Sciences

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Romantic

Poetic Terms Sonnet

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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