It is hard to stay unmoved by the beautiful words of John Keats (1795 – 1821). A thing of beauty is the opening line of the book Endymion, a book published in 1818. This masterpiece of poetry was based on the Greek mythology.
There once was a beautiful young man, Endymion, that was the subject of the love of the Moon goddess Selene. He lived on Mount Latmus and here he was visited during the night by the goddess. While he was sleeping, she made love to him. In order not to disturb him, she would not kiss him, except for the moment she had to leave.
Endymion begged his father, Zeus, to forever stay asleep. He also asked his father to grand him the gift to stay young forever. His father made this possible. Therefore, Endymion is the personification of sleep.
Keats and Endymion
The book is worth to read. It tells a story written as a poem. The first stanza is the most known part of this book. This book is free to download via Project Gutenberg. It is divided into four different books actually and it tells us how Keats thought about this story of Greek mythology.
When Keats released his book, it wasn’t well received. Even Keats was somewhat negative about this release, calling it diffuse and unappealing. However, he was convinced that writing this book, was a good thing he had done.
From Endymion – A thing of beauty is a joy for ever
A thing of beauty is a joy for ever:
Its lovliness increases; it will never
Pass into nothingness; but still will keep
A bower quiet for us, and a sleep
Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.
Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing
A flowery band to bind us to the earth,
Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth
Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,
Of all the unhealthy and o’er-darkn’d ways
Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,
Some shape of beauty moves away the pall
From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,
Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon
For simple sheep; and such are daffodils
With the green world they live in; and clear rills
That for themselves a cooling covert make
‘Gainst the hot season; the mid-forest brake,
Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:
And such too is the grandeur of the dooms
We have imagined for the mighty dead;
An endless fountain of immortal drink,
Pouring unto us from the heaven’s brink.