Ode on Indolence

Author: John Keats  | Date: 1819

ODE ON INDOLENCE

They toil not, neither do they spin.

I.

One morn before me were three figures seen,

With bowed necks, and joined hands, side-faced;

And one behind the other stepp’d serene,

In placid sandals, and in white robes graced;

They pass’d, like figures on a marble urn

When shifted round to see the other side;

They came again, as, when the urn once more

Is shifted round, the first seen shades return;

And they were strange to me, as may betide

With vases, to one deep in Phidian lore.

II.

How is it, Shadows! that I knew ye not?

How came ye muffled in so hush a masque?

Was it a silent deep-disguised plot

To steal away, and 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 sting, and pleasure’s wreath no flower:

O, why did ye not melt, and 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 flowers, and stirring shades, and baffled beams:

The morn was clouded, but 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 by, and, passing, turn’d

Each one the face a moment whiles to me;

Then faded, and to follow them I burn’d

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

The first was a fair Maid, and Love her name;

The second was Ambition, pale of cheek,

And ever watchful with fatigued eye;

The last, whom I love more, the more of blame

Is heap’d upon her, maiden most unmeek,-

I knew to be my demon Poesy.

V.

They faded, and, forsooth! 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;

O, for 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.

So, ye three Ghosts, adieu! 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 eyes, and 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;

Vanish, ye Phantoms! from my idle spright,

Into the clouds, and never more return!

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Chicago: John Keats, Ode on Indolence Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2022, http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TI5Q22H462HZPSH.

MLA: Keats, John. Ode on Indolence, Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2022. http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TI5Q22H462HZPSH.

Harvard: Keats, J, Ode on Indolence. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2022, from http://originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=TI5Q22H462HZPSH.