Tuesday, March 23, 2010

John Keats - Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil

Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil
(completed in 1818)

A Story from Boccaccio

And she forgot the stars, the moon, and sun,
And she forgot the blue above the trees,
And she forgot the dells where waters run,
And she forgot the chilly autumn breeze;
She had no knowledge when the day was done,
And the new morn she saw not: but in peace
Hung over her sweet Basil evermore,
And moisten'd it with tears unto the core.

And so she ever fed it with thin tears,
Whence thick, and green, and beautiful it grew,
So that it smelt more balmy than its peers
Of Basil-tufts in Florence; for it drew
Nurture besides, and life, from human fears,
From the fast mouldering head there shut from view:
So that the jewel, safely casketed,
Came forth, and in perfumed leafits spread.

O Melancholy, linger here awhile!
O Music, Music, breathe despondingly!
O Echo, Echo, from some sombre isle,
Unknown, Lethean, sigh to us—O sigh!
Spirits in grief, lift up your heads, and smile;
Lift up your heads, sweet Spirits, heavily,
And make a pale light in your cypress glooms,
Tinting with silver wan your marble tombs.

1. William Holman Hunt
Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1867
Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

An interesting posting -

2. John William Waterhouse
Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1907
Private collection

3. Henrietta Rae
"Reproduced in colour in 'Henrietta Rae (Mrs. Ernest Normand)' by Arthur Fish, Cassell and Company, 1905." - Courtesy

4. Arthur Trevethin Nowell
Isabella and the Pot of Basil, 1904
Museo de Arte de Ponce
The Luis A. Ferré Foundation, Inc.
Ponce, Puerto Rico
(Thank you to ArtMagick for sharing information about this work.)


Keats-Shelley House, Rome - Link

Four Keats Poems and the Pre-Raphaelite Vision of the Middle Ages

Introduction to Keats

The complete poem - Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil

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