This sonnet was written by John Keats in March 1817. It was Keats'
intention to write a series of sonnets or short poems on "Tassie gems," a popular
novelty item of the day, which were replications of antique cameos used on letter
On a Leander Which Miss Reynolds, My Kind Friend, Gave Me
Come hither all sweet maidens, soberly
Down-looking--aye, and with a chastened light
Hid in the fringes of your eyelids white--
And meekly let your fair hands joined be.
So gentle are ye that ye could not see,
Untouch'd, a victim of your beauty bright--
Sinking away to his young spirit's night,
Sinking bewilder'd mid the dreary sea:
'Tis young Leander toiling to his death.
Night swooning, he doth purse his weary lips
For Hero's cheek and smiles against her smile.
O horrid dream--see how his body dips
Dead heavy--arms and shoulders gleam awhile:
He's gone--up bubbles all his amorous breath.