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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Fill For Me A Brimming Bowl - John Keats

Fill for me a brimming bowl
And in it let me drown my soul:
But put therein some drug, designed
To Banish Women from my mind:
For I want not the stream inspiring
That fills the mind with--fond desiring,
But I was as deep a draught
As e'er from Lethe's wave was quaff'd
From my despairing heart to charm
The Image of the fairest form
That e'er my reveling eyes beheld,
That e'er my wandering fancy spell'd.
In vain! away I cannot chace
The melting softness of that face
The beaminess of those bright eyes,
That breast--earth's only Paradise.
My sight will never more be blest;
For all I see has lost its zest:
Nor with delight can I explore
The Classic page, or Muse's lore.
Had she but known how beat my heart,
And with one smile reliev'd its smart
I should have felt a sweet relief,
I should felt "the joy of grief."
Yet as the Tuscan mid the snow
of Lapland dreams on sweet Arno,
Even for for ever shall she be
The Halo of my Memory.


Keats, like all young men at some point in their lives, wants to get really drunk and drugged and generally messed up so badly that he will forget the love of Women with a capital W.  The poem itself is fairly simple; after expressing his desire to get blackout drunk, Keats begins describing the near Holy object of his affection and his affliction.  Soft face, beamy eyes, Paradisal features, this woman for whom Keats' affections go unrequited ("had she but known how beat my heart, and with one smile reliev'd its smart) sounds like a real knockout.

Jokes aside, the poem is something direct and something with which men and women alike have struggled for pretty much all time.  Unrequited love, the mental epitomizing of a Love object, the association of beauty with the Divine, the relentless ache of the heart, these are things common to poets and lovers worldwide.  The real delight of the poem s in its directness and lovely rhymes.  The modern age with its sarcasm and skepticism makes direct expression difficult and uncomfortable for us, but if we can get over ourselves for once, we will find a lot to enjoy here.

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