Song of the Indian Maid, from 'Endymion'

John Keats 1795 (Moorgate) – 1821 (Rome)

O SORROW!
  Why dost borrow
  The natural hue of health, from vermeil lips?--
  To give maiden blushes
  To the white rose bushes?
  Or is it thy dewy hand the daisy tips?

  O Sorrow!
  Why dost borrow
  The lustrous passion from a falcon-eye?--
  To give the glow-worm light?
  Or, on a moonless night,
  To tinge, on siren shores, the salt sea-spry?

  O Sorrow!
  Why dost borrow
  The mellow ditties from a mourning tongue?--
  To give at evening pale
  Unto the nightingale,
  That thou mayst listen the cold dews among?

  O Sorrow!
  Why dost borrow
  Heart's lightness from the merriment of May?--
  A lover would not tread
  A cowslip on the head,
  Though he should dance from eve till peep of day--
  Nor any drooping flower
  Held sacred for thy bower,
  Wherever he may sport himself and play.

  To Sorrow
  I bade good morrow,
  And thought to leave her far away behind;
  But cheerly, cheerly,
  She loves me dearly;
  She is so constant to me, and so kind:
  I would deceive her
  And so leave her,
  But ah! she is so constant and so kind.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: in the whole world wide
There was no one to ask me why I wept,--
  And so I kept
Brimming the water-lily cups with tears
  Cold as my fears.

Beneath my palm-trees, by the river side,
I sat a-weeping: what enamour'd bride,
Cheated by shadowy wooer from the clouds,
  But hides and shrouds
Beneath dark palm-trees by a river side?

And as I sat, over the light blue hills
There came a noise of revellers: the rills
Into the wide stream came of purple hue--
  'Twas Bacchus and his crew!
The earnest trumpet spake, and silver thrills
From kissing cymbals made a merry din--
  'Twas Bacchus and his kin!
Like to a moving vintage down they came,
Crown'd with green leaves, and faces all on flame;
All madly dancing through the pleasant valley,
  To scare thee, Melancholy!
O then, O then, thou wast a simple name!
And I forgot thee, as the berried holly
By shepherds is forgotten, when in June
Tall chestnuts keep away the sun and moon:--
  I rush'd into the folly!

Within his car, aloft, young Bacchus stood,
Trifling his ivy-dart, in dancing mood,
  With sidelong laughing;
And little rills of crimson wine imbrued
His plump white arms and shoulders, enough white
  For Venus' pearly bite;
And near him rode Silenus on his ass,
Pelted with flowers as he on did pass
  Tipsily quaffing.

'Whence came ye, merry Damsels! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your bowers desolate,
  Your lutes, and gentler fate?'--
'We follow Bacchus! Bacchus on the wing,
  A-conquering!
Bacchus, young Bacchus! good or ill betide,
We dance before him thorough kingdoms wide:--
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
  To our wild minstrelsy!'

'Whence came ye, jolly Satyrs! whence came ye,
So many, and so many, and such glee?
Why have ye left your forest haunts, why left
  Your nuts in oak-tree cleft?'--
'For wine, for wine we left our kernel tree;
For wine we left our heath, and yellow brooms,
  And cold mushrooms;
For wine we follow Bacchus through the earth;
Great god of breathless cups and chirping mirth!
Come hither, lady fair, and joined be
  To our mad minstrelsy!'

Over wide streams and mountains great we went,
And, save when Bacchus kept his ivy tent,
Onward the tiger and the leopard pants,
  With Asian elephants:
Onward these myriads--with song and dance,
With zebras striped, and sleek Arabians' prance,
Web-footed alligators, crocodiles,
Bearing upon their
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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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John Keats

John Keats was an English Romantic poet. more…

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