When I have fears that I may cease to be Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain, Before high piled books, in charact’ry, Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain; When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face, Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance, And think that I may never live to trace Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance; And when I feel, fair creature of an hour! That I shall never look upon thee more, Never have relish in the faery power Of unreflecting love! — then on the shore Of the wide world I stand alone, and think Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink. .
This living hand, now warm and capable Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold And in the icy silence of the tomb, So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood So in my veins red life might stream again, And thou be conscience-calm'd — see here it is — I hold it towards you. .
Bright star! would I were stedfast as thou art- Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night And watching with eternal lids apart, Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite, The moving waters at their priestlike task Of pure ablution round earth's human shores. .
I scarcely remember counting upon happiness — I look not for it if it be not in the present hour — nothing startles me beyond the moment. The setting sun will always set me to rights, or if a sparrow come before my Window I take part in its existence and pick about the gravel. .
At once it struck me what quality went to form a man of achievement, especially in literature, and which Shakespeare possessed so enormously — I mean negative capability, that is, when a man is capable of being in uncertainties, mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason. .
We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us — and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle or amaze with itself, but with its subject. .
In Poetry I have a few axioms, and you will see how far I am from their centre. I think Poetry should surprise by a fine excess and not by singularity — it should strike the reader as a wording of his own highest thoughts, and appear almost a remembrance — Its touches of Beauty should never be halfway thereby making the reader breathless instead of content: the rise, the progress, the setting of imagery should like the Sun come natural to him — shine over him and set soberly although in magnificence leaving him in the luxury of twilight — but it is easier to think what Poetry should be than to write it — and this leads me on to another axiom. That if Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all. .
I am certain I have not a right feeling towards women - at this moment I am striving to be just to them, but I cannot. Is it because they fall so far beneath my boyish imagination? When I was a schoolboy I thought a fair woman a pure Godess; my mind was a soft nest in which some one of them slept, though she knew it not. .
I have written independently without Judgment. I may write independently, and with Judgment, hereafter. The Genius of Poetry must work out its own salvation in a man: It cannot be matured by law and precept, but by sensation and watchfulness in itself — That which is creative must create itself — In Endymion, I leaped headlong into the sea, and thereby have become better acquainted with the Soundings, the quicksands, and the rocks, than if I had stayed upon the green shore, and piped a, silly pipe, and took tea and comfortable advice. I was never afraid of failure; for I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest. .
The poetical character... is not itself — it has no self — it is every thing and nothing — It has no character — it enjoys light and shade; it lives in gusto, be it fair or foul, high or low, rich or poor, mean or elevated. — It has as much delight in conceiving an Iago as an Imogen. What shocks the virtuous philospher, delights the camelion poet. .
I myself am pursuing the same instinctive course as the veriest human animal you can think of — I am, however young, writing at random — straining at particles of light in the midst of a great darkness — without knowing the bearing of any one assertion, of any one opinion. Yet may I not in this be free from sin? .
I stood tip-toe upon a little hill, The air was cooling, and so very still, That the sweet buds which with a modest pride Pull droopingly, in slanting curve aside, Their scantly leaved, and finely tapering stems, Had not yet lost those starry diadems Caught from the early sobbing of the morn. .
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