I stood tip-toe upon a little hill
Linger awhile upon some bending planks
That lean against a streamlet's rushy banks
And watch intently Nature's gentle doings:
They will be found softer than ring-dove's cooings.
How silent comes the water round that bend;
Not the minutest whisper does it send
To the o'er hanging sallows: blades of grass
Slowly across the chequer'd shadows pass.
Why, you might read two sonnets, ere they reach
To where the hurrying freshnesses aye preach 10
A natural sermon o'er their pebbly beds;
Where swarms of minnows show their little heads,
Staying their wavy bodies 'gainst the streams,
To taste the luxury of sunny beams
Tempere'd with coolness. How they ever wrestle
With their own sweet delight, and ever nestle
Their silver bellies on the pebbly sand.
If you but scantily hold out the hand,
That very instant not one will remain;
But turn your eye, and they are there again. 20
The ripples seem right glad to reach those cresses,
And cool themselves among the em'rald tresses;
The while they cool themselves, they freshness give,
And moisture, that the bowery green may live:
So keeping up an interchange of favours,
Like good men in the truth of their behaviours.
Sometimes goldfinches one by one will drop
From low hung branches: little space they stop;
But sip, and twitter, and their feathers sleek;
Then off at once, as in a wanton freak: 30
Or perhaps, to show their black, and golden wings,
Pausing upon their yellow flutterings.
This poem, which Keats left untitled in his Poems (1817), contains the story of Endymion, and for some time Keats spoke of it by that name.
It was begun in the summer of 1816 on Hampstead Heath, but this passage is a reminiscence of a brook in the fields between Edmonton and Enfield.
When a surgeon's apprentice at the former place, Keats used to pass this way to visit Charles Cowden Clarke at his old school, and he alludes to the same scene in his verse-epistle To Charles Cowden Clarke. This type of scenery is the background to many of Keat's poems.