Written by John Keats in the summer of 1815, the "ladies" are Caroline and Ann
Mathew, the cousins of his friend George Mathew, who were
on holiday in Hastings.
This is fairly typical of his poetry of the time. Lushly sentimental, the words
break out of and spill over whatever structure he tries to impose on them.
To Some Ladies
What though while the wonders of nature exloring,
I cannot your light, mazy footsteps attend;
Nor listen to accents that, almost adoring,
Bless Cynthia's face, the enthusiast's friend:
Yet over the step, whence the mountain stream rushes,
With you, kindest friends, in idea I muse;
Mark the clear tumbling crystal, its passionate gushes,
Its spray that the wild flower kindly bedews.
Why linger you so, the wild labyrinth strolling?
Why breathless, unable your bliss to declare?
Ah! you list to the nightingale's tender condoling,
Responsive to sylphs, in the moon beamy air.
'Tis morn, and the flowers with dew are yet drooping,
I see you are treading the verge of the sea:
And now! ah, I see it--you just now are stooping
To pick up the keep-sake intended for me.
If a cherub, on pinions of silver descending,
Had brought me a gem from the fret-work of heaven;
And, smiles with his star-cheering voice sweetly blending,
The blessings of Tighe had melodiously given;
It had not created a warmer emotion
Than the present, fair nymphs, I was blest with from you,
Than the shell, from the bright golden sands of the ocean
Which the emerald waves at your feet gladly threw.
For, indeed, 'tis a sweet and peculiar pleasure,
(And blissful is he who such happiness finds,)
To possess but a span of the hour of leisure,
In elegant, pure, and aerial minds.