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by John Keats


They toil notneither do they spin. -

I. -

One morn before me were three figures seen

With bowed necksand joined handsside-faced;

And one behind the other stepp'd serene

In placid sandalsand in white robes graced;

They pass'dlike figures on a marble urn

When shifted round to see the other side;

They came againaswhen the urn once more

Is shifted roundthe first seen shades return;

And they were strange to meas may betide

With vasesto one deep in Phidian lore. -

II. -

How is itShadows! that I knew ye not?

How came ye muffled in so hush a masque?

Was it a silent deep-disguised plot

To steal awayand leave without a task

My idle days? Ripe was the drowsy hour;

The blissful cloud of summer-indolence

Benumb'd my eyes; my pulse grew less and less;

Pain had no stingand pleasure's wreath no flower:

Owhy did ye not meltand leave my sense

Unhaunted quite of all but-nothingness? -

III. -

A third time came they by;- alas! wherefore?

My sleep had been embroider'd with dim dreams;

My soul had been a lawn besprinkled o'er

With flowersand stirring shadesand baffled beams:

The morn was cloudedbut no shower fell

Though in her lids hung the sweet tears of May;

The open casement press'd a new-leav'd vine

Let in the budding warmth and throstle's lay;

O Shadows! 'twas a time to bid farewell!

Upon your skirts had fallen no tears of mine. -

IV. -

A third time pass'd they byandpassingturn'd

Each one the face a moment whiles to me;

Then fadedand to follow them I burn'd

And ach'd for wings because I knew the three;

The first was a fair Maidand Love her name;

The second was Ambitionpale of cheek

And ever watchful with fatigued eye;

The lastwhom I love morethe more of blame

Is heap'd upon hermaiden most unmeek-

I knew to be my demon Poesy. -

V. -

They fadedandforsooth! I wanted wings:

O folly! What is love! and where is it?

And for that poor Ambition! it springs

From a man's little heart's short fever-fit;

For Poesy!- no- she has not a joy-

At least for me- so sweet as drowsy noons

And evenings steep'd in honied indolence;

Ofor an age so shelter'd from annoy

That I may never know how change the moons

Or hear the voice of busy common-sense! -

VI. -

Soye three Ghostsadieu! Ye cannot raise

My head cool-bedded in the flowery grass;

For I would not be dieted with praise

A pet-lamb in a sentimental farce!

Fade softly from my eyesand be once more

In masque-like figures on the dreamy urn;

Farewell! I yet have visions for the night

And for the day faint visions there is store;

Vanishye Phantoms! from my idle spright

Into the cloudsand never more return! - -