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An introduction to the life of john keats

See Article History John Keats, born October 31, 1795, LondonEngland—died February 23, 1821, RomePapal States [Italy]English Romantic lyric poet who devoted his short life to the perfection of a poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal, and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. Youth The son of a livery-stable manager, John Keats received relatively little formal education.

His father died in 1804, and his mother remarried almost immediately. Throughout his life Keats had close emotional ties to his sister, Fanny, and his two brothers, George and Tom. His literary interests had crystallized by this time, and after 1817 he devoted himself entirely to poetry. From then until his early death, the story of his life is largely the story of the poetry he wrote. Early works Charles Cowden Clarke had introduced the young Keats to the poetry of Edmund Spenser and the Elizabethansand these were his earliest models.

In 1817 Keats left London briefly for a trip to the Isle of Wight and Canterbury and began work on Endymionhis first long poem.

  1. She shared her first name with both Keats' sister and mother, and had a talent for dress-making and languages as well as a natural theatrical bent.
  2. As a result Keats went through dreadful agonies with nothing to ease the pain at all. Aware that he was dying, he wrote to Fanny Brawne in February 1820, "I have left no immortal work behind me — nothing to make my friends proud of my memory — but I have lov'd the principle of beauty in all things, and if I had had time I would have made myself remember'd.
  3. Keats believed that he was born at the inn, a birthplace of humble origins, but there is no evidence to support his belief. Marked as the standard-bearer of sensory writing, his reputation grew steadily and remarkably.
  4. Old as it is, it may turn out very helpful.
  5. He realized that it was his death warrant, and from that time sustained work became impossible. On 13 September, they left for Gravesend and four days later boarded the sailing brig Maria Crowther, where he made the final revisions of "Bright Star".

On his return to London he moved into lodgings in Hampstead with his brothers. Endymion appeared in 1818. This work is divided into four 1,000-line sections, and its verse is composed in loose rhymed couplets. Keats transformed the tale to express the widespread Romantic theme of the attempt to find in actuality an ideal love that has been glimpsed heretofore only in imaginative longings.

This theme is realized through fantastic and discursive adventures and through sensuous and luxuriant description. In his wanderings, Endymion is guilty of an apparent infidelity to his visionary moon goddess and falls in love with an earthly maiden to whom he is attracted by human sympathy.

But in the end the goddess and the earthly maiden turn out to be one and the same.

Keats, however, was dissatisfied with the poem as soon as it was finished. Personal crisis In the summer of 1818 Keats went on a walking tour in the Lake District of northern England and Scotland with his friend Charles Brown, and his exposure and overexertions on that trip brought on the first symptoms of the tuberculosis of which he was to die.

Contrary to later assertions, Keats met these reviews with a calm assertion of his own talents, and he went on steadily writing poetry. But there were family troubles. About the same time, he met Fanny Brawne, a near neighbour in Hampstead, with whom he soon fell hopelessly and tragically in love.

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She seems to have been an unexceptional young woman, of firm and generous character, and kindly disposed toward Keats. But he expected more, perhaps more than anyone could give, as is evident from his overwrought letters. Both his uncertain material situation and his failing health in any case made it impossible for their relationship to run a normal course. About October 1819 Keats became engaged to Fanny.

  • She shared her first name with both Keats' sister and mother, and had a talent for dress-making and languages as well as a natural theatrical bent;
  • Ay, where are they?

This poetry was composed under the strain of illness and his growing love for Brawne, and it is an astonishing body of work, marked by careful and considered development, technical, emotional, and intellectual. Written in the first flush of his meeting with Brawne, it conveys an atmosphere of passion and excitement in its description of the elopement of a pair of youthful lovers.

Keats makes use in this poem of a far tighter and more disciplined couplet, a firmer tone, and more controlled description. They are essentially lyrical meditations on some object or quality that prompts the poet to confront the conflicting impulses of his inner being and to reflect upon his own longings and their relations to the wider world around him.

The internal debates in the odes centre on the dichotomy of eternal, transcendent ideals and the transience and change of the physical world. This subject was forced upon Keats by the painful death of his brother and his own failing health, and the odes highlight his struggle for self-awareness and certainty through the liberating powers of his imagination. But the rich, slow movement of this and the other odes suggests an enjoyment of such intensity and depth that it makes the moment eternal.

Autumn is seen not as a time of decay but as a season of complete ripeness and fulfillment, a pause in time when everything has reached fruition, and the question of transience is hardly raised. These poems, with their rich and exquisitely sensuous detail and their meditative depth, are among the greatest achievements of Romantic poetry.

John Keats

Hyperion was begun in the autumn of 1818, and all that there is of the first version was finished by April 1819. In September Keats wrote to Reynolds that he had given up Hyperion, but he appears to have continued working on the revised edition, The Fall of Hyperion, during the autumn of 1819.

The poem is his last attempt, in the face of increasing illness and frustrated love, to come to terms with the conflict between absolute value and mortal decay that appears in other forms in his earlier poetry. So, as Endymion was an allegory of the fate of the lover of beauty in the world, Hyperion was perhaps to be an allegory of the poet as creator.

Certainly this theme is taken up explicitly in the new prologue to the second version.

  • Think not of them, thou hast thy music too,- While barred clouds bloom the soft-dying day, And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue; [81] Later, To Autumn became one of the most highly regarded poems in the English language;
  • In his lifetime, sales of Keats' three volumes of poetry probably amounted to only 200 copies;
  • A Poet is the most unpoetical of any thing in existence; because he has no Identity — he is continually in for — and filling some other Body — The Sun, the Moon, the Sea and Men and Women who are creatures of impulse are poetical and have about them an unchangeable attribute — the poet has none; no identity — he is certainly the most unpoetical of all God's Creatures;
  • In September, very short of money and in despair considering taking up journalism or a post as a ship's surgeon, he approached his publishers with a new book of poems.

It is his duty to separate himself from the mere dreamer and to share in the sufferings of humankind. The theme is not new to Keats—it appears in his earliest poetry—but it is here realized far more intensely.

Yet with the threat of approaching death upon him, Keats could not advance any further in the direction that he foresaw as the right one, and the poem remains a fragment.

It appeared in July, by which time Keats was evidently doomed. He had been increasingly ill throughout 1819, and by the beginning of 1820 the evidence of tuberculosis was clear. He realized that it was his death warrant, and from that time sustained work became impossible. His friends Brown, the Hunts, and Brawne and her mother nursed him assiduously through the year. Percy Bysshe Shelleyhearing of his condition, wrote offering him hospitality in Pisa, but Keats did not accept.

When Keats was ordered south for the winter, Joseph Severn undertook to accompany him to Rome. They sailed in September 1820, and from Naples they went to Rome, where in early December Keats had a relapse. Faithfully tended by Severn to the last, he died in Rome. His letters evince a profound thoughtfulness combined with a quick, sensitive, undidactic critical response.

Spontaneous, informal, deeply thought, and deeply felt, these are among the best letters written by any English poet. Apart from their interest as a commentary an introduction to the life of john keats his work, they have the right to independent literary status. His general emotional temper and the minute delicacy of his natural observation were greatly admired by the Pre-Raphaeliteswho both echoed his poetry in their own and illustrated it in their paintings.