Tuesday, October 24, 2006

On Fame

Tidying my book shelves in advance of an influx of my own slim volume, in largish numbers for selling, I found a beautiful little green-backed 1897 edition of ‘The Lyrical Poems of John Keats’, heavily ornate, decorated with gilt flowers and leaves both on the spine and front cover.

Though I have several other editions of his works - letters as well as poems - I had forgotten that I owned this particular nineteenth century edition. Very much a pocket Keats, and unashamedly lovely.

Picking it up, the book fell open at the following poem; wonderfully serendipitous, given that I have just published a new collection of poetry myself and am wondering how well - or poorly - it will be received.


Fame, like a wayward girl, will still be coy
To those who woo her with too slavish knees,
But makes surrender to some thoughtless boy,
And dotes the more upon a heart at ease;
She is a Gipsy - will not speak to those
Who have not learnt to be content without her;
A Jilt, whose ear was never whisper’d close,
Who thinks they scandal her who talk about her;
A very Gypsy is she, Nilus-born,
Sister-in-law to jealous Potiphar;
Ye love-sick Bards! repay her scorn for scorn
Ye Artists lovelorn! madmen that ye are!
Make your best bow to her and bid adieu,
Then, if she likes it, she will follow you.

John Keats, 1818


Dick Jones said...

A salutary comment on our celeb-obsessed times. And a beautiful bit of bookbinding too.

Ms Baroque said...

As always, feel much better after reading Keats. He was very clear-seeing for one so young.

BTW, when you say "pocket Keats", it makes me think of "a Keats in the pocket" which in turn makes me think of Shelley... you're better off just thinking about fame! (Better yet, just clear those shelves and forget about it, as Johnny says.)

Luke said...

it was written in 1819

Jane Holland: Editor said...

Spot the deliberate mistake!! Thanks for that, Luke. I have a sort of number dyslexia ...