Poem – An Extempore – John Keats

When they were come into Faery’s Court 

They rang — no one at home — all gone to sport 

And dance and kiss and love as faerys do 

For Faries be as human lovers true — 

Amid the woods they were so lone and wild 

Where even the Robin feels himself exil’d 

And where the very books as if affraid 

Hurry along to some less magic shade. 

‘No one at home’! the fretful princess cry’d 

‘And all for nothing such a dre[a]ry ride 

And all for nothing my new diamond cross 

No one to see my persian feathers toss 

No one to see my Ape, my Dwarf, my Fool 

Or how I pace my Otaheitan mule. 

Ape, Dwarf and Fool why stand you gaping there 

Burst the door open, quick — or I declare 

I’ll switch you soundly and in pieces tear.’ 

The Dwarf began to tremble and the Ape 

Star’d at the Fool, the Fool was all agape 

The Princess grasp’d her switch but just in time 

The Dwarf with piteous face began to rhyme. 

‘O mighty Princess did you ne’er hear tell 

What your poor servants know but too too well 

Know you the three great crimes in faery land 

The first alas! poor Dwarf I understand 

I made a whipstock of a faery’s wand 

The next is snoring in their company 

The next the last the direst of the three 

Is making free when they are not at home. 

I was a Prince — a baby prince — my doom 

You see, I made a whipstock of a wand 

My top has henceforth slept in faery land. 

He was a Prince the Fool, a grown up Prince 

But he has never been a King’s son since 

He fell a snoring at a faery Ball 

Your poor Ape was a Prince and he poor thing 

But ape — so pray your highness stay awhile 

‘Tis sooth indeed we know it to our sorrow — 

Persist and you may be an ape tomorrow — 

While the Dwarf spake the Princess all for spite 

Peal’d the brown hazel twig to lilly white 

Clench’d her small teeth, and held her lips apart 

Try’d to look unconcerned with beating heart. 

They saw her highness had made up her mind 

And quaver’d like the reeds before the wind 

And they had had it, but O happy chance 

The Ape for very fear began to dance 

And grin’d as all his uglyness did ache– 

She staid her vixen fingers for his sake 

He was so very ugly: then she took 

Her pocket mirror and began to look 

First at herself and [then] at him and then 

She smil’d at her own beauteous face again. 

Yet for all this — for all her pretty face 

She took it in her head to see the place. 

Women gain little from experience 

Either in Lovers, husbands or expense. 

The more their beauty the more fortune too 

Beauty before the wide world never knew. 

So each fair reasons — tho’ it oft miscarries. 

She thought her pretty face would please the fa[e]ries. 

‘My darling Ape I wont whip you today 

Give me the Picklock sirrah and go play.’ 

They all three wept but counsel was as vain 

As crying cup biddy to drops of rain. 

Yet lingeringly did the sad Ape forth draw 

The Picklock from the Pocket in his Jaw. 

The Princess took it and dismounting straight 

Trip’d in blue silver’d slippers to the gate 

And touch’d the wards, the Door full courteously 

Opened — she enter’d with her servants three. 

Again it clos’d and there was nothing seen 

But the Mule grasing on the herbage green. 

End of Canto xii. 
Canto the xiii. 

The Mule no sooner saw himself alone 

Than he prick’d up his Ears — and said ‘well done! 

At least unhappy Prince I may be free — 

No more a Princess shall side saddle me 

O King of Othaiete — tho’ a Mule 

‘Aye every inch a King’ — tho’ ‘Fortune’s fool.’ 

Well done — for by what Mr. Dwarfy said 

I would not give a sixpence for her head.’ 

Even as he spake he trotted in high glee 

To the knotty side of an old Pollard tree 

And rub’d his sides against the mossed bark 

Till his Girths burst and left him naked stark 

Except his Bridle — how get rid of that 

Buckled and tied with many a twist and plait. 

At last it struck him to pretend to sleep 

And then the thievish Monkies down would creep 

And filch the unpleasant trammels quite away. 

No sooner thought of than adown he lay 

Sham’d a good snore — the Monkey-men descended 

And whom they thought to injure they befriended. 

They hung his Bridle on a topmost bough 

And off he went run, trot, or anyhow–

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.