Hyperion: A Fragment

Author: John Keats  | Date: 1818


Just at the self-same beat of Time’s wide wings

Hyperion slid into the rustled air,

And Saturn gain’d with Thea that sad place

Where Cybele and the bruised Titans mourn’d.

It was a den where no insulting light

Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans

They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar

Of thunderous waterfalls and torrents hoarse,

Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.

Crag jutting forth to crag, and rocks that seem’d

Ever as if just rising from a sleep,

Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns;

And thus in thousand hugest phantasies

Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe.

Instead of thrones, hard flint they sat upon,

Couches of rugged stone, and slaty ridge

Stubborn’d with iron. All were not assembled:

Some chain’d in torture, and some wandering.

Coeus, and Gyges, and Briareus,

Typhon, and Dolor, and Porphyrion,

With many more, the brawniest in assault,

Were pent in regions of laborious breath;

Dungeon’d in opaque element, to keep

Their clenched teeth still clench’d, and all their limbs

Lock’d up like veins of metal, crampt and screw’d;

Without a motion, save of their big hearts

Heaving in pain, and horribly convuls’d

With sanguine feverous boiling gurge of pulse.

Mnemosyne was straying in the world;

Far from her moon had Phoebe wandered;

And many else were free to roam abroad,

But for the main, here found they covert drear.

Scarce images of life, one here, one there,

Lay vast and edgeways; like a dismal cirque

Of Druid stones, upon a forlorn moor,

When the chill rain begins at shut of eve,

In dull November, and their chancel vault,

The Heaven itself, is blinded throughout night.

Each one kept shroud, nor to his neighbour gave

Or word, or look, or action of despair.

Creus was one; his ponderous iron mace

Lay by him, and a shatter’d rib of rock

Told of his rage, ere he thus sank and pined.

Iapetus another; in his grasp,

A serpent’s plashy neck; its barbed tongue

Squeez’d from the gorge, and all its uncurl’d length

Dead; and because the creature could not spit

Its poison in the eyes of conquering Jove.

Next Cottus: prone he lay, chin uppermost,

As though in pain; for still upon the flint

He ground severe his skull, with open mouth

And eyes at horrid working. Nearest him

Asia, born of most enormous Caf,

Who cost her mother Tellus keener pangs,

Though feminine, than any of her sons:

More thought than woe was in her dusky face,

For she was prophesying of her glory;

And in her wide imagination stood

Palm-shaded temples, and high rival fanes,

By Oxus or in Ganges’ sacred isles.

Even as Hope upon her anchor leans,

So leant she, not so fair, upon a tusk

Shed from the broadest of her elephants.

Above her, on a crag’s uneasy shelve,

Upon his elbow rais’d, all prostrate else,

Shadow’d Enceladus; once tame and mild

As grazing ox unworried in the meads;

Now tiger-passion’d, lion-thoughted, wroth,

He meditated, plotted, and even now

Was hurling mountains in that second war,

Not long delay’d, that scar’d the younger Gods

To hide themselves in forms of beast and bird.

Not far hence Atlas; and beside him prone

Phorcus, the sire of Gorgons. Neighbour’d close

Oceanus, and Tethys, in whose lap

Sobb’d Clymene among her tangled hair.

In midst of all lay Themis, at the feet

Of Ops the queen all clouded round from sight;

No shape distinguishable, more than when

Thick night confounds the pine-tops with the clouds:

And many else whose names may not be told.

For when the Muse’s wings are air-ward spread,

Who shall delay her flight? And she must chaunt

Of Saturn, and his guide, who now had climb’d

With damp and slippery footing from a depth

More horrid still. Above a sombre cliff

Their heads appear’d, and up their stature grew

Till on the level height their steps found ease:

Then Thea spread abroad her trembling arms

Upon the precincts of this nest of pain,

And sidelong fix’d her eye on Saturn’s face:

There saw she direst strife; the supreme God

At war with all the frailty of grief,

Of rage, of fear, anxiety, revenge,

Remorse, spleen, hope, but most of all despair.

Against these plagues he strove in vain; for Fate

Had pour’d a mortal oil upon his head,

A disanointing poison: so that Thea,

Affrighted, kept her still, and let him pass

First onwards in, among the fallen tribe.

As with us mortal men, the laden heart

Is persecuted more, and fever’d more,

When it is nighing to the mournful house

Where other hearts are sick of the same bruise;

So Saturn, as he walk’d into the midst,

Felt faint, and would have sunk among the rest,

But that he met Enceladus’s eye,

Whose mightiness, and awe of him, at once

Came like an inspiration; and he shouted,

"Titans, behold your God!" at which some groan’d;

Some started on their feet; some also shouted;

Some wept, some wail’d, all bow’d with reverence;

And Ops, uplifting her black folded veil,

Show’d her pale cheeks, and all her forehead wan,

Her eye-brows thin and jet, and hollow eyes.

There is a roaring in the bleak-grown pines

When Winter lifts his voice; there is a noise

Among immortals when a God gives sign,

With hushing finger, how he means to load

His tongue with the full weight of utterless thought,

With thunder, and with music, and with pomp:

Such noise is like the roar of bleak-grown pines:

Which, when it ceases in this mountain’d world,

No other sound succeeds; but ceasing here,

Among these fallen, Saturn’s voice therefrom

Grew up like organ, that begins anew

Its strain, when other harmonies, stopt short,

Leave the dinn’d air vibrating silverly.

Thus grew it up- "Not in my own sad breast,

"Which is its own great judge and searcher out,

"Can I find reason why ye should be thus:

"Not in the legends of the first of days,

"Studied from that old spirit-leaved book

"Which starry Uranus with finger bright

"Sav’d from the shores of darkness, when the waves

"Low-ebb’d still hid it up in shallow gloom;-

"And the which book ye know I ever kept

"For my firm-based footstool:- Ah, infirm!

"Not there, nor in sign, symbol, or portent

"Of element, earth, water, air, and fire,-

"At war, at peace, or inter-quarreling

"One against one, or two, or three, or all

"Each several one against the other three,

"As fire with air loud warring when rain-floods

"Drown both, and press them both against earth’s face,

"Where, finding sulphur, a quadruple wrath

"Unhinges the poor world;- not in that strife,

"Wherefrom I take strange lore, and read it deep,

"Can I find reason why ye should be thus:

"No, no- where can unriddle, though I search,

"And pore on Nature’s universal scroll

"Even to swooning, why ye, Divinities,

"The first-born of all shap’d and palpable Gods,

"Should cower beneath what, in comparison,

"Is untremendous might. Yet ye are here,

"O’erwhelm’d, and spurn’d, and batter’d, ye are here!

"O Titans, shall I say, ’Arise!’- Ye groan:

"Shall I say ’Crouch!’- Ye groan. What can I then?

"O Heaven wide! O unseen parent dear!

"What can I? Tell me, all ye brethren Gods,

"How we can war, how engine our great wrath!

"O speak your counsel now, for Saturn’s ear

"Is all a-hunger’d. Thou, Oceanus,

"Ponderest high and deep; and in thy face

"I see, astonied, that severe content

"Which comes of thought and musing: give us help!"

So ended Saturn; and the God of the Sea,

Sophist and sage, from no Athenian grove,

But cogitation in his watery shades,

Arose, with locks not oozy, and began,

In murmurs, which his first-endeavouring tongue

Caught infant-like from the far-foamed sands.

"O ye, whom wrath consumes! who, passion-stung,

"Writhe at defeat, and nurse your agonies!

"Shut up your senses, stifle up your ears,

"My voice is not a bellows unto ire.

"Yet listen, ye who will, whilst I bring proof

"How ye, perforce, must be content to stoop:

"And in the proof much comfort will I give,

"If ye will take that comfort in its truth.

"We fall by course of Nature’s law, not force

"Of thunder, or of Jove. Great Saturn, thou

"Hast sifted well the atom-universe;

"But for this reason, that thou art the King,

"And only blind from sheer supremacy,

"One avenue was shaded from thine eyes,

"Through which I wandered to eternal truth.

"And first, as thou wast not the first of powers,

"So art thou not the last; it cannot be:

"Thou art not the beginning nor the end.

"From chaos and parental darkness came

"Light, the first fruits of that intestine broil,

"That sullen ferment, which for wondrous ends

"Was ripening in itself. The ripe hour came,

"And with it light, and light, engendering

"Upon its own producer, forthwith touch’d

"The whole enormous matter into life.

"Upon that very hour, our parentage,

"The Heavens, and the Earth, were manifest:

"Then thou first born, and we the giant race,

"Found ourselves ruling new and beauteous realms.

"Now comes the pain of truth, to whom ’tis pain;

"O folly! for to bear all naked truths,

"And to envisage circumstance, all calm,

"That is the top of sovereignty. Mark well!

"As Heaven and Earth are fairer, fairer far

"Than Chaos and blank Darkness, though once chiefs;

"And as we show beyond that Heaven and Earth

"In form and shape compact and beautiful,

"In will, in action free, companionship,

"And thousand other signs of purer life;

"So on our heels a fresh perfection treads,

"A power more strong in beauty, born of us

"And fated to excel us, as we pass

"In glory that old Darkness: nor are we

"Thereby more conquer’d, than by us the rule

"Of shapeless Chaos. Say, doth the dull soil

"Quarrel with the proud forests it hath fed,

"And feedeth still, more comely than itself?

"Can it deny the chiefdom of green groves?

"Or shall the tree be envious of the dove

"Because it cooeth, and hath snowy wings

"To wander wherewithal and find its joys?

"We are such forest-trees, and our fair boughs

"Have bred forth, not pale solitary doves,

"But eagles golden-feather’d, who do tower

"Above us in their beauty, and must reign

"In right thereof; for ’tis the eternal law

"That first in beauty should be first in might:

"Yea, by that law, another race may drive

"Our conquerors to mourn as we do now.

"Have ye beheld the young God of the Seas,

"My dispossessor? Have ye seen his face?

"Have ye beheld his chariot, foam’d along

"By noble winged creatures he hath made?

"I saw him on the calmed waters scud,

"With such a glow of beauty in his eyes,

"That it enforc’d me to bid sad farewell

"To all my empire: farewell sad I took,

"And hither came, to see how dolorous fate

"Had wrought upon ye; and how I might best

"Give consolation in this woe extreme.

"Receive the truth, and let it be your balm."

Whether through poz’d conviction, or disdain,

They guarded silence, when Oceanus

Left murmuring, what deepest thought can tell?

But so it was, none answer’d for a space,

Save one whom none regarded, Clymene;

And yet she answer’d not, only complain’d,

With hectic lips, and eyes up-looking mild,

Thus wording timidly among the fierce:

"O Father, I am here the simplest voice,

"And all my knowledge is that joy is gone,

"And this thing woe crept in among our hearts,

"There to remain for ever, as I fear:

"I would not bode of evil, if I thought

"So weak a creature could turn off the help

"Which by just right should come of mighty Gods;

"Yet let me tell my sorrow, let me tell

"Of what I heard, and how it made me weep,

"And know that we had parted from all hope.

"I stood upon a shore, a pleasant shore,

"Where a sweet clime was breathed from a land

"Of fragrance, quietness, and trees, and flowers.

"Full of calm joy it was, as I of grief;

"Too full of joy and soft delicious warmth;

"So that I felt a movement in my heart

"To chide, and to reproach that solitude

"With songs of misery, music of our woes;

"And sat me down, and took a mouthed shell

"And murmur’d into it, and made melody-

"O melody no more! for while I sang,

"And with poor skill let pass into the breeze

"The dull shell’s echo, from a bowery strand

"Just opposite, an island of the sea,

"There came enchantment with the shifting wind,

"That did both drown and keep alive my ears.

"I threw my shell away upon the sand,

"And a wave fill’d it, as my sense was fill’d

"With that new blissful golden melody.

"A living death was in each gush of sounds,

"Each family of rapturous hurried notes,

"That fell, one after one, yet all at once,

"Like pearl beads dropping sudden from their string:

"And then another, then another strain,

"Each like a dove leaving its olive perch,

"With music wing’d instead of silent plumes,

"To hover round my head, and make me sick

"Of joy and grief at once. Grief overcame,

"And I was stopping up my frantic ears,

"When, past all hindrance of my trembling hands,

"A voice came sweeter, sweeter than all tune,

"And still it cried, ’Apollo! young Apollo!’

"’The morning-bright Apollo! young Apollo!’

"I fled, it follow’d me, and cried ’Apollo!’

"O Father, and O Brethren, had ye felt

"Those pains of mine; O Saturn, hadst thou felt,

"Ye would not call this too indulged tongue

"Presumptuous, in thus venturing to be heard."

So far her voice flow’d on, like timorous brook

That, lingering along a pebbled coast,

Doth fear to meet the sea: but sea it met,

And shudder’d; for the overwhelming voice

Of huge Enceladus swallow’d it in wrath:

The ponderous syllables, like sullen waves

In the half-glutted hollows of reef-rocks,

Came booming thus, while still upon his arm

He lean’d; not rising, from supreme contempt.

"Or shall we listen to the over-wise,

"Or to the over-foolish, Giant-Gods?

"Not thunderbolt on thunderbolt, till all

"That rebel Jove’s whole armoury were spent,

"Not world on world upon these shoulders piled,

"Could agonize me more than baby-words

"In midst of this dethronement horrible.

"Speak! roar! shout! yell! ye sleepy Titans all.

"Do ye forget the blows, the buffets vile?

"Are ye not smitten by a youngling arm?

"Dost thou forget, sham Monarch of the Waves,

"Thy scalding in the seas? What, have I rous’d

"Your spleens with so few simple words as these?

"O joy! for now I see ye are not lost:

"O joy! for now I see a thousand eyes

"Wide-glaring for revenge!"- As this he said,

He lifted up his stature vast, and stood,

Still without intermission speaking thus:

"Now ye are flames, I’ll tell you how to burn,

"And purge the ether of our enemies;

"How to feed fierce the crooked stings of fire,

"And singe away the swollen clouds of Jove,

"Stifling that puny essence in its tent.

"O let him feel the evil he hath done;

"For though I scorn Oceanus’s lore,

"Much pain have I for more than loss of realms:

"The days of peace and slumberous calm are fled;

"Those days, all innocent of scathing war,

"When all the fair Existences of heaven

"Came open-eyed to guess what we would speak:-

"That was before our brows were taught to frown,

"Before our lips knew else but solemn sounds;

"That was before we knew the winged thing,

"Victory, might be lost, or might be won.

"And be ye mindful that Hyperion,

"Our brightest brother, still is undisgraced-

"Hyperion, lo! his radiance is here!"

All eyes were on Enceladus’s face,

And they beheld, while still Hyperion’s name

Flew from his lips up to the vaulted rocks,

A pallid gleam across his features stern:

Not savage, for he saw full many a God

Wroth as himself. He look’d upon them all,

And in each face he saw a gleam of light,

But splendider in Saturn’s, whose hoar locks

Shone like the bubbling foam about a keel

When the prow sweeps into a midnight cove.

In pale and silver silence they remain’d,

Till suddenly a splendour, like the morn,

Pervaded all the beetling gloomy steeps,

All the sad spaces of oblivion,

And every gulf, and every chasm old,

And every height, and every sullen depth,

Voiceless, or hoarse with loud tormented streams:

And all the everlasting cataracts,

And all the headlong torrents far and near,

Mantled before in darkness and huge shade,

Now saw the light and made it terrible.

It was Hyperion:- a granite peak

His bright feet touch’d, and there he stay’d to view

The misery his brilliance had betray’d

To the most hateful seeing of itself.

Golden his hair of short Numidian curl,

Regal his shape majestic, a vast shade

In midst of his own brightness, like the bulk

Of Memnon’s image at the set of sun

To one who travels from the dusking East:

Sighs, too, as mournful as that Memnon’s harp

He utter’d, while his hands contemplative

He press’d together, and in silence stood.

Despondence seiz’d again the fallen Gods

At sight of the dejected King of Day,

And many hid their faces from the light:

But fierce Enceladus sent forth his eyes

Among the brotherhood; and, at their glare,

Uprose Iapetus, and Creus too,

And Phorcus, sea-born, and together strode

To where he towered on his eminence.

There those four shouted forth old Saturn’s name;

Hyperion from the peak loud answered, "Saturn!"

Saturn sat near the Mother of the Gods,

In whose face was no joy, though all the Gods

Gave from their hollow throats the name of "Saturn!"


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Chicago: John Keats, "Book II.," Hyperion: A Fragment Original Sources, accessed February 25, 2024, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IYXSC2BCTFNSPRI.

MLA: Keats, John. "Book II." Hyperion: A Fragment, Original Sources. 25 Feb. 2024. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IYXSC2BCTFNSPRI.

Harvard: Keats, J, 'Book II.' in Hyperion: A Fragment. Original Sources, retrieved 25 February 2024, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=IYXSC2BCTFNSPRI.