Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, AN EXTEMPORE, by JOHN KEATS



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AN EXTEMPORE, by             Poet's Biography
First Line: When they were come into the faery's court
Last Line: Brown is gone to bed--and I am tired of rhyming...


(FROM A LETTER TO GEORGE KEATS AND HIS WIFE)

WHEN they were come into the Faery's Court
They rang--no one at home--all gone to sport
And dance and kiss and love as faeries do
For Fa[e]ries be as humans, lovers true--
Amid the woods they were, so lone and wild,
Where even the Robin feels himself exil'd
And where the very brooks as if afraid
Hurry along to some less magic shade.
"No one at home!" the fretful princess cried
"And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride,
And all for nothing my new diamond cross,
No one to see my Persian feathers toss,
No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool,
Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule.
Ape, Dwarf and Fool, why stand you gaping there?
Burst the door open, quick--or I declare
I'll switch you soundly and in pieces tear."
The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape
Star'd at the Fool, the Fool was all agape,
The Princess grasp'd her switch, but just in time
The dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme.
"O mighty Princess did you ne'er hear tell
What your poor servants know but too too well?
Know you the three great crimes in faery land?
The first, alas! poor Dwarf, I understand--
I made a whipstock of a faery's wand--
The next is snoring in their company--
The next, the last, the direst of the three
Is making free when they are not at home.
I was a Prince--a baby prince--my doom
You see, I made a whipstock of a wand--
My top has henceforth slept in faery land.
He was a Prince, the Fool, a grown up Prince,
But he has never been a King's son since
He fell a-snoring at a faery Ball--
Your poor Ape was a prince and he, poor thing,
Picklock'd a faery's boudour--now no king,
But ape--so pray your highness stay awhile;
'Tis sooth indeed, we know it to our sorrow--
Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow--
While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite
Peal'd [sic] the brown hazel twig to lilly white,
Clench'd her small teeth, and held her lips apart,
Try'd to look unconcern'd with beating heart.
They saw her highness had made up her mind
And quaver'd like the reeds before the wind,
And they had had it, but, O happy chance!
The Ape for very fear began to dance
And grin'd as all his ugliness did ache--
She staid her vixen fingers for his sake,
He was so very ugly: then she took
Her pocket glass mirror and began to look
First at herself and [then] at him and then
She smil'd at her own beauteous face again.
Yet for all this--for all her pretty face
She took it in her head to see the place.
Women gain little from experience
Either in Lovers, husbands or expense.
The more the beauty, the more fortune too,
Beauty before the wide world never knew.
So each fair reasons--tho' it oft miscarries.
She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries.
"My darling Ape I won't whip you today--
Give me the Picklock, sirrah, and go play."
They all three wept--but counsel was as vain
As crying cup biddy to drops of rain.
Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw
The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw.
The Princess took it and dismounting straight
Trip'd in blue silver'd slippers to the gate
And touch'd the wards, the Door full cou[r]teou[s]ly
Opened--she enter'd with her servants three.
Again it clos'd and there was nothing seen
But the Mule grazing on the herbage green.

End of Canto xii

Canto the xiii

The Mule no sooner saw himself alone
Than he prick'd up his Ears--and said "well done!
At least, unhappy Prince, I may be free--
No more a Princess shall side-saddle me.
O King of Othaiete--tho' a Mule
'Aye every inch a King'--tho' 'Fortune's fool'--
Well done--for by what Mr. Dwarfy said
I would not give a sixpence for her head."
Even as he spake he trotted in high glee
To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree
And rub['d] his sides against the mossed bark
Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark
Except his Bridle--how get rid of that,
Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait?
At last it struck him to pretend to sleep
And then the thievish Monkeys down would creep
And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away.
No sooner thought of than adown he lay,
Sham'd a good snore--the Monkey-men descended
And whom they thought to injure they befriended.
They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough
And of[f] he went, run, trot, or anyhow--
Brown is gone to bed--and I am tired of rhyming...





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