poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

occasions

About this Poem 

“What the Thrush Said” was originally written in a letter to John Hamilton Reynolds in 1818 and, at the time, was untitled. The poem was published in The Complete Poetical Works and Letters of John Keats (Houghton, Mifflin and Company, 1899).

What the Thrush Said

O Thou whose face hath felt the Winter’s wind,
Whose eye has seen the snow-clouds hung in mist,
And the black elm tops ’mong the freezing stars,
To thee the spring will be a harvest-time.
O thou, whose only book has been the light
Of supreme darkness which thou feddest on
Night after night when Phœbus was away,
To thee the Spring shall be a triple morn.
O fret not after knowledge—I have none,
And yet my song comes native with the warmth.
O fret not after knowledge—I have none,
And yet the Evening listens. He who saddens
At the thought of idleness cannot be idle,
And he’s awake who thinks himself asleep.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

John Keats

John Keats

Born in 1795, John Keats was an English Romantic poet and author of three poems considered to be among the finest in the English language.

by this poet

poem
    Out went the taper as she hurried in; 
    Its little smoke, in pallid moonshine, died: 
    She closed the door, she panted, all akin 
    To spirits of the air, and visions wide: 
    No utter'd syllable, or, woe betide! 
    But to her heart, her heart was voluble, 
    Paining with eloquence her balmy
poem

This living hand, now warm and capable
Of earnest grasping, would, if it were cold
And in the icy silence of the tomb,
So haunt thy days and chill thy dreaming nights
That thou wouldst wish thine own heart dry of blood
So in my veins red life might stream again,
And thou be conscience-

poem
     Left to herself, the serpent now began  
To change; her elfin blood in madness ran,  
Her mouth foam'd, and the grass, therewith besprent,  
Wither'd at dew so sweet and virulent;  
Her eyes in torture fix'd, and anguish drear,
Hot, glaz'd, and wide, with lid-lashes all sear,  
Flash'd phosphor and sharp