Keats’ Birthday

Time sitting on the throne of Memory
Bade all her subject Days, the past had known
Arise and say what thing gave them renown
Unforgetable, ‘Rising from the sea,
I gave the Genoese his dream to be;’
‘I saw the Corsican’s Guards swept down;’
‘Colonies I made free from a tyrant’s crown;’—
So each Day told its immortality.

And with these blazing triumphs spoke one voice
Whose wistful speech no vaunting did employ:
‘I know not if ’twere by Fate’s chance or choice
I hold the lowly birth of an English boy;
I only know he made man’s heart rejoice
Because he played with Beauty for a toy!’

From Caroling Dusk (Harper & Brothers, 1927), edited by Countee Cullen. This poem is in the public domain.