Sonnet – A Dream by John Keats

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Francesca da Rimini (1837), by William Dyce.

From The London Magazine April 1821

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
    When lulled Argus, baffled, swoon’d and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
    So play’d, so charm’d, so conquer’d, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
    And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
    Nor unto Tempe where Jove griev’d that day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
    Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
    Their sorrows—pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kiss’d, and fair the form

I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

By John Keats


This sonnet was written in February 1819. Keats copied it into a letter sent to his brother a sister-in -law, George and Georgiana Keats. Composed just days before ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, one of his most famous works, this sonnet shows clear similarities in theme and content. Published in The London Magazine only a couple of months after Keats’ death, it’s inclusion is a testament to the ongoing dedication to the work of the younger Romantics demonstrated by the magazine under the editorship of John Scott. To celebrate this rich period of our history, we have produced limited edition TLM tote bags based on this sonnet. Get yours here or as a free gift with 12 month subscription to The London Magazine.