Poetry | A Dream by John Keats

Francesca da Rimini (1837), by William Dyce.

This sonnet was written in February 1819. Keats copies it into a letter sent to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Composed just days before ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’, this sonnet shows clear similarities in theme and content. Published in The London Magazine two months after Keats’ death, its 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.

John Keats

A Dream

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.

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