This sonnet was written by John Keats in 1816 or 1817.
Laurel crowns were not an uncommon gift in Leigh Hunt's social circle at the time,
of which Keats was a part. The young lady has never been identified. This
is roughly the period when Keats was coming into his own as a poet, and this is
a fine example of his work of the period--graceful and elegant, if a little over-ripe
To Young Lady Who Sent Me a Laurel Crown
Fresh morning gusts have blown away all fear
From my glad bosom--now from gloominess
I mount for ever--not an atom less
Than the proud laurel shall content my bier.
No! by the eternal stars! or why sit here
In the sun's eye, and 'gainst my temples press
Apollo's very leaves--woven to bless
By thy white fingers, and thy spirit clear.
Lo! who dares say, "Do this"?--Who dares call down
My will from its own purpose? who say, "Stand,"
Or "Go"? This very moment I would frown
On abject Caesars--not the stoutest band
Of mailed heroes should tear off my crown:--
Yet would I kneel and kiss thy gentle hand!