John Keats born 31st October 1795, (220 years ago today).
‘Much have I travelled in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen…’
From, ‘On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer’ (sonnet) composed by Keats in October 1816 after a night spent reading aloud translations from Homer. These translations were completed by George Chapman in 1616, precisely 200 years prior to Keats, then add another 220 years and you reach our 21st century.
That evening Keats parted from his school friend, Cowden-Clarke, walked over London Bridge back to Dean Street (present day fashionable Soho) and at once wrote this sonnet.
Keats died of tuberculosis aged only 25 years in Rome, 23rd February 1821.
‘When I have fears that I may cease to be,
Before my pen has gleaned my teeming brain…’
He never got his girl (Fanny Brawne) and, in true romantic fashion, he strove to write and achieve the very best poetry; believing he had failed in his lifetime as a poet.
‘ – then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.’
Keats wrote some of the most beautiful lines in the English language.
Today he is considered ‘a bright star.’
Stars, whose fires corresponded with his own ardour (Latin ardere = to burn), were an endless preoccupation for Keats; he had a kinship with the transcendent world – a place where he might continuously exist outside the created world; free from life’s limitations and restrictions and ultimately death… ‘A Bright Star.’
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London’s Autumnal Reflections: ‘a thing of beauty is a joy forever…’