Manuscript of John Keats's Hyperion


Hyperion is an epic poem by John Keats that tells the story of the fall of the Titan gods at the hands of the Olympians. The poem focuses on the story of Hyperion and his defeat by Apollo, the god of knowledge and poetry, exploring the idea of human suffering and the knowledge that can be gained by it. Keats picked up many of these themes again in his later work, The Fall of Hyperion.

The theme of suffering

Keats started writing Hyperion in the autumn of 1818 while nursing his beloved younger brother Tom, who was slowly and painfully dying of tuberculosis. Tom died at the end of November, aged just 19, and Keats was by his side to the last.

The poem suggests that suffering is indiscriminate, being endured not just by the wicked but by everyone. Apollo triumphs because of his understanding of human suffering. The power of truth, which can only be gained from a full understanding of the human experience, will win over the power of physical force. Apollo declares towards the end of the poem: '“Knowledge enormous makes a God of me”'.

The theme of progress

The idea of progress runs throughout the poem and has significant personal as well as philosophical resonance, as during this time Keats was very concerned with his own progress as a poet. In 1817 he had made the decision to give up his medical career to pursue his vocation as a poet. His first book of poems, though, published later that year, was slated by the critics. In Hyperion, the old gods with their old ideas are replaced by the new gods who possess superior modern knowledge. Eventually even the vanquished old gods come to accept this as right and just.

Reception of the poem

Keats abandoned the poem in September 1819, calling it too Miltonic, but later revised and published the fragment in Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems in 1820, despite being dissatisfied with it. The volume overall was received warmly by the critics and is now considered one of the most important works of poetry of the Romantic period.


Hyperion Book 1st

Deep in the shady sadnefs of a Vale,
Far sunken from the healthy breath of Morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and evening Eve's one star,
Sat grey haird Saturn quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair -
Forest on forest hung above his head
Like Clouds that whose bosoms thunderous bosoms
Like Cloud on Cloud. No stir of air was there;
+ Not so much life as what an eagles wing [a young vulture's (written above)]
[(Vertical on the right) + Not so much life as on a summer's day
Robs not at all the dandelions fleece:]
Would spread upon a field of green ear'd corn:
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
A stream went voicelefs by, still deadened more
By reason of his fallen divinity
[Shading? illegible]
Spreading a shade: the Naiad mid her reeds
Prefs'd her cold finger closer to her lips.

Along the margin sand large foot marks went
No further than to where his feet had stay'd,
there since upon the for the sodden ground
And slept without a motion: since that time.
[dead illegible]
His old right hand lay nervelefs on the ground listlefs, dead
Unscepter'd; and his [white browd?] realmlefs eyes were closd;
While his [bowed?] bow'd head seem'd listening to the Earth
[The?] His Ancient Mother for some comfort yet.

Thus the old Eagle drowsy with his grief great [illegible] grief
Sat moulting his weak Plumage never more
To be restored or soar against the Sun,
While his three Sons upon Olympus stood -

It seem'd no force could wake him from his place
But there came one, who, with a kindred hand
Touch'd his wide shoulders, after bending low
With reverence, though to one who knew it not.
She was a Goddefs of the infant world;
Placed by her side, the By her in stature the tallest Amazon
Had stood a little child : Pigmy's height she would have ta'en
Achilles by the hair and bent his neck,
Or with a finger [illegible] Ixion's toil
[illegible] Then as was wont his palace door[s] flew ope
[illegible] like doth a
As opes a Rose bud[s] to a farae's Lute 7
In smoothest silence, save what solemn tubes,
Blown by the serious Zephyrs, gave of sweet
And wandering sounds, slow-breathed melodies -
Yes, like a Rose in tint and in vermeil,
in vermeil tint and shape
In fragrance - soft and coolnefs to the eye
That [illegible] inlet to severe Magnificence
Stood full blown for the God to enter in -

He enter'd, but he enterd full of wrath;
His fiery ; flaming robes streamed out beyond his heels
And gave a roar as if of earthly fire
That scar'd away the meek ethereal hours
And made their dove - wing tremble - On he went flar'd

[From gorgeous vault to vault, from space to space
Untill he reached the great main Copula:
[And] there [he stood] standing fierce beneath, he stampt his foot

From stately nave to nave, from vault to vault,
Through bowers of weathed fragrant light fragrant and enwreathed light
And diamond paved lustrous long arcades,
Until he reach'd the great main Cupola;
There standing fierce beneath he stampt his foot,
The And from the basements deep foundations to to the high Towers
Jarr'd his own golden Region; and before
The quavering thunder thereupon had ceas'd
His voice lept out despite of godlike curb
To this result ' O dreams of day and night!
O monstrous forms! O effigies of pain!
O spectres busy in a cold cold gloom!
O lank-eard Phantoms of black-weeded pools!
Why do I know ye? Why have I seen ye? Why
Is my eternal efsence thus distrau't
To [illegible] see and to behold these horrors new?
Saturn is fallen, am I too to fall?
This soft clime

[I know elsewhere but?]
This calm luxuriance of blifsful light,
These crystalline Pavillions, and pure fanes
Of all my Lucent Empire?

Am I to leave this haven of my rest, ?
This cradle of my Glory ? + It is left 8
Deserted, void, nor any haunt of mine:-
The blaze, the splendor and the sym[m]etry;
I cannot see, - but darknefs, death and darknefs -
Even here, into to my to [illegible] centre of repose
The shady visions come to domineer,
Insult and blind and stifle up my Pomp .
Fall! - no, by Tellus and her briny robes!
Before Over the fiery frontier of my Realms
I'll will advance and say ask a terrible right arm
Shall scare that infant thunderer, rebel Jove
And bid old Saturn seize take his throne again -
He spake and ceas'd the while a [illegible] heavier threat
Held struggle with his throat, but came not forth
For as in Theatres of crowded men
Hubbub increases more they call out hush!
So as wind So at Hyperion's words the Phantom's pale
Bestir'd themselves thrice horible and cold;
And from the glofsy mirror'd level of where he stood
A mist arose as from a stagnant scummy marsh -'
At this, through all his bulk an agony,
From the Crept along gradual, from the the feet unto the crown
Like a [illegible] lithe serpent. vast and muscular
Making slow way, with head and neck convuls'd
With spite From over strained [illegible] might: releas'd, he fled,
To the eastern gates and full three six dewy hours
Before the Dawn in season due should blush
He breath'd fierce breath against the sleepy Portals,
Cleard them of heavy clouds, vapours, and burst them wide
And sudden on the ocean's chilly streams.
The planet orb of fire whereon he rode
Each day from east to west the heavens through
Spun at his round in bleakest darkest curtaining of clouds

Spun round in sable curtaining of clouds
Nor therefore veiled quite, blindfold and [illegible] hid
But ever and anon the glancing spheres,
Circles and arcs and [illegible] broad belting colure,
Glow'd through and what struck throughout wrought upon the muffling [illegible] dark
Sweet shaped lightning, from the nadir deep
Up to the Zenith; hieroglyphics old
Which sages and keen-eyed Astrologers
Then living on the Earth, with labouring thought,
Won from the gaze of many Centuries -
Now lost with all
Now lost, with all their Wisdom and import
save what we find on remnants huge
Of stone or marble swart, their import gone
And all their Their wisdom long since fled. - [2 (in pencil)] wings [illegible]

[Not therefore hidden up and muffled quite
For But ever and anon the glancing spheres
written about the
Shon? through Glow'd through and still upon the sable should
Made sweet - shap'd lighting : wings this splendent orb]

[The above is crossed out]

Pofsefs'd for glory, two fair argent wings
Always Ever exalted at the Gods approach: [illegible]
And now from forth the gloom their plumes immense
Came Rose one by one till all outspredded were
While still the dazzling globe kept maintain'd eclipse
Awaiting for Hyperion's command -
Fain would he have commanded, fain took throne
And bid the day begin if but for change -
He might not: no, not ever though a primeval God
Disturb Break through The sacred seasons could might not be disturb'd -
Therefore the operations of the Dawn
Stayed in their birth even as it is writ here 'tis told:
Those silver wings of the Sun were full outspread wings expanded sisterly
Ready Eager to sail their orb; the Porches wide
Were opened upon the dusk demesnes [illegible] of night;
And the amazed bright Titan phrensied with new woes,
Unused to bend, by stern hard compulsion bent
His spirit to the sorrow of the time,
And all along a dismal rack of clouds
Upon the boundaries of day and night
He laid stretched himself [illegible,] and [illegible] in grief and radiance faint -
There as he lay, the heaven with its stars
Look down on him with pity, and the voice
Of Coelus, low of from the universal space.
Thus whisperd low and solemn in his Ear.
O brightest of my Children dear, earthborn
And sky - engendered, Son of Mysteries
All unrevealed even to the Powers.
Which met at thy creating : at whose joys at whose joys
> Meantime I will keep watch on thy bright sun
And of thy seasons be a careful nurse. ' -

And palpitations sweet and pleasures soft
I Coelus wonder : how they could came and whence; 10
And at the fruits thereof, what shapes they be;
Distinct [illegible form;?] and visible: symbols divine;
Manifestations of that life and Beauty beauteous life
Diffused unseen through out eternal space -
Of these new - formd at thou O brightest child,
Of these thy brethren and the Goddefses!
There is sad feud among ye, and rebellion
Of son against his sire - I saw him fall,
I saw my first born tumled tumbled from his throne!
To me his arms were spread, to me his Voice
Found way from forth the thunders round his head!
Pale wox I and in vapours hid my face -
Art thou too near such doom? Vague fear there is: -
For I have seen my Sons most unlike gods.
Divine ye were created and divine
In sad demeanour, solemn, undisturb'd,
[illegible] Unruffled like high Gods ye liv'd and rul'd:
[illegible] Now I behold in you fear hope and wrath;
Actions of Rage and Pafsion; even as
[In widest speculation?] [I do? illegible]
I see [refer?] them on the mortal world beneath
I see men who die. This is the Grief O Son!
Sad sign of Ruin, sudden dismay and fall!
Yet do thou strive; as thou [illegible] art capable;
As thou canst move about, an evident God
And cans't oppose to each malignant hour
Ethereal Presence - I am but a Voice.
My life is but the life of Winds and tides
No more than Winds and tides can I avial -
Yet But thou canst; be thou therefore in the van
Of Circumstance, yea seaze the Arrow's barb
Before the tense string murmur -To the Earth!
For there thou wilt find Saturn and his woes.

[Tense (in pencil) on left, in front of 'Before']
- breath;
2 Dungeon’d in opaque element that kept to keep
Their clenched teeth still clench[e]'d, [also?] and all their Limbs
Lock’d up like veins of veins of Metal, screws, with crampt and sc[r]ew’d
Without a motion save of their big hearts
Labouring Heaving in pain, and horribly convusl’d
With sanguine feverous whelming boiling gurge of pulse.

All were not afsembled

Typhon and Dolor and Porphyrion
1 With many more the [illegible] brawniest of afsault

> and many else were free to roam abroad :_

Ere half this region whisper had [journ by?] come down
Hyperion arose and on the stars 11
Opened Lifted his curved Lids, and kept them wide
Until it ceas'd; and still he kept them wide .
And still they [he saw] all were the [they were the] same [bright] patient stars .
Then, with a slow incline of his broad breast,
Like to a Diver in the pearly seas,
Forward he stoop'd into over the airy shore
And plunged all noiselefs into the deep night.

Canto 2nd

You th[e]at very [period?] of winged time
That saw thy [illegible]
Hyperion slid

Just at the selfsame beat more of times wide wings
Hyperion slid into the rustled air,
And Saturn gain’d with Thea that sad place
Where Cybele and the bruised Children Titans mourn’d -
It was a place [Den] where no insulting light
Could glimmer on their tears; where their own groans
They felt, but heard not, for the solid roar
Of thundrous Waterfalls pouring and torrents hoarse,
Pouring a constant bulk, uncertain where.
Crag jutting forth to Crag and Rocks that seem’d
Ever as if just rising from a sleep,
Forehead to forehead held their monstrous horns,
And thus in thousand hugest phantasies
Made a fit roofing to this nest of woe
Instead of Thrones, hard flint they sat upon,
Rough stones Couches of rugged stone and edge of [slanting?] [ridge] slaty [illegible]
[illegible (in pencil)] [all] were not [slate?]
Stubborn’d with iron . All were not [illegible] hidden [there?]
Some chained in torture and some wandering
Coeus and Gyges and Briareus
Were pent in regions of laborious breath
Mnemosyne was straying in the world,
> [illegible] Far from her Moon had Phoebe wandered,
Full title:
September 1817 - April 1818
Manuscript / Draft
John Keats
Usage terms

Public Domain in most countries other than the UK.

Held by
British Library
Add MS 37000

Full catalogue details

Related articles

The Romantics and Classical Greece

Article by:
Stephen Hebron

The Romantic period was one of growing interest in ancient Greece. Stephen Hebron explores how this shaped the subject matter and forms of the era’s poets.

John Keats and ‘negative capability’

Article by:
Stephen Hebron

Stephen Hebron explores Keats’s understanding of negative capability, a concept which prizes intuition and uncertainty above reason and knowledge.

John Keats, poet-physician

Article by:
Sharon Ruston
Romanticism, Technology and science

Keats trained as an apothecary and a surgeon before deciding to dedicate himself to poetry. Professor Sharon Ruston considers how his medical background influenced his writing.

Related collection items

Related people

Related works

'To Autumn'

Created by: John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821) composed his sensuous ode ‘To Autumn’ in September 1819. He was inspired by his ...


Created by: John Keats

Both Hyperion and the revised version The Fall of Hyperion are unfinished allegorical poems. The drafts were written ...

Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems

Created by: John Keats

This volume by John Keats (1795-1821) was published in July 1820. It included: the three narrative poems listed in ...

'Ode to a Nightingale'

Created by: John Keats

John Keats (1795-1821) composed this poem one morning in early May 1819, when he was still mourning the death of his ...