John Keats (1795-1821) begins this early sonnet, written when he was just 19 years old, by talking, almost paradoxically, of dwelling with solitude. Keats says that if he must be alone, he would rather be on his own in pleasant surroundings rather than in a city populated by ‘murky buildings’. Spoken like a true Romantic!
O solitude! if I must with thee dwell,
Let it not be among the jumbled heap
Of murky buildings; climb with me the steep,—
Nature’s observatory—whence the dell,
Its flowery slopes, its river’s crystal swell,
May seem a span; let me thy vigils keep
’Mongst boughs pavillion’d, where the deer’s swift leap
Startles the wild bee from the fox-glove bell.
But though I’ll gladly trace these scenes with thee,
Yet the sweet converse of an innocent mind,
Whose words are images of thoughts refin’d,
Is my soul’s pleasure; and it sure must be
Almost the highest bliss of human-kind,
When to thy haunts two kindred spirits flee.
If you enjoyed reading ‘To Solitude’, we can also recommend these classic poems by John Keats.
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