John Keats made the acquaintance of Leigh Hunt in 1815, shortly
was released from prison, where he'd been serving a two year stretch
for libel. When Keats published his first book, in 1817, he dedicated
it to Hunt with this sonnet. That action, and indeed his
well-known friendship with Hunt, was to color his reputation in the
literary world for the remainder of his career. "Johnny Keats"
was dismissed as part of Hunt's circle of Cockney
tradesmen-turned-poets, who were unanimously condemned in the papers.
To Leigh Hunt, Esq.
Glory and loveliness have passed away;
For if we wander out in early morn,
No wreathed incense do we see upborne
Into the east, to meet the smiling day:
No crowd of nymphs soft voic'd and young, and gay,
In woven baskets bringing ears of corn,
Roses, and pinks, and violets, to adorn
The shrine of Flora in her early May.
But there are left delights as high as these,
And I shall ever bless my destiny,
That in a time, when under pleasant trees
Pan is no longer sought, I feel a free,
A leafy luxury, seeing I could please
With these poor offerings, a man like thee.