O Solitude was John Keats' first published poem. It was written in
1815 or 1816, while he was training at Guy's Hospital in London, and was published
in May in the Examiner, one of London's leading liberal newspapers of the day,
which was edited by Leigh Hunt and his older brother John.
The "kindred spirit" of the last line is probably a reference to his friend and former
tutor Cowden Clarke. Keats developed a habit of skipping lectures to walk the
twelve or so miles to Edmonton, where he and Clarke would sit outside and talk,
or read together.
O solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,--
Nature's observatory--whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river's crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
'Mongst boughs pavillion'd, where the deer's swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I'll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin'd,
Is my soul's pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.