A Dream

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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A Dream

Postby glindhot » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:29 pm

"A Dream, After Reading Dante's Episode Of Paolo And Francesca"

As Hermes once took to his feathers light,
When lulled Argus, baffled, swooned and slept,
So on a Delphic reed, my idle spright
So played, so charmed, so conquered, so bereft
The dragon-world of all its hundred eyes;
And seeing it asleep, so fled away,
Not to pure Ida with its snow-cold skies,
Nor unto Tempe, where Jove grieved a day;
But to that second circle of sad Hell,
Where in the gust, the whirlwind, and the flaw
Of rain and hail-stones, lovers need not tell
Their sorrows. Pale were the sweet lips I saw,
Pale were the lips I kissed, and fair the form
I floated with, about that melancholy storm.

Some years ago, when I chose to commit this sonnet to memory, I initially made an error by saying "feathered flight" instead of "feathers light". After realising my slip, I had a bit of a think as to why Keats didn't choose "feathered flight", for it seemed a perfectly good, or even a better choice than "feathers light", and I couldn't believe that those words would not have crossed his mind.

To follow up on the point, I read the Hermes/Argus story in a tome of mythology. In that particular account it said that Argus actually removed most of Hermes's feathers, to preclude his escape. That seemed to be a fair-enough answer, even though Hermes "took to his feathers light" and was still able to make his escape. Rightly or wrongly, my admiration for Keats zoomed, thinking he had thoroughly researched the story to get it dead-right and so settle on "feathers light."

Sadly, I can't find that mythology book, and none of the rest say anything about Argus pinching Hermes's feathers! I guess I musta got it wrong, but it was kinda fun imagining Keats delving deep into high piled books.
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Re: A Dream

Postby Raphael » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:52 pm

Hello! I think John was describing the feathers themselves rather than the flight- I think it also keeps the rhythm better.Oh yes, he read a lot didn't he? He certainly loved his books. And he read by candlelight too.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: A Dream

Postby Malia » Thu Apr 15, 2010 5:44 pm

I see "feathers light" as also an example of Keats's keen interest in sensory detail--feeling the physical lightness of the feathers. He was quite a sensual poet, loading every rift of his poetry with sensory experience.
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Re: A Dream

Postby Raphael » Fri Apr 16, 2010 1:38 am

Malia wrote:I see "feathers light" as also an example of Keats's keen interest in sensory detail--feeling the physical lightness of the feathers. He was quite a sensual poet, loading every rift of his poetry with sensory experience.


I'd say he was very sensual! Reading his poems certainly gives one sensations. :D
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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