October XXIX, 1795

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.