Keats, John

Nymans Garden-Ode to a Grecian Urn. A daffodil...
Nymans Garden-Ode to a Grecian Urn. A daffodil crowded English garden, by Francois Thomas via Wikipedia

John Keats (1795-1821) was a London-born English poet who, after being introduced to Romantic poets by Leigh Hunt, gave up a medical career to devote himself to verse.

Hunt published Keat’s first sonnets in the Examiner in 1816. Keat’s early work was regarded, even by himself in due time, as somewhat “mawkish and slipshod.” But his La Belle Dame Sans Merci and various Odes, such as Ode to a Grecian Urn, successfully adapt the Shakespearean and Petrarchian form of the sonnet.

To Autumn is often regarded as a masterpiece of English lyric poetry. For mythographers, Keats’ interest lies in his extensive reworking of classical Greek themes: Hyperion, Apollo, Ode to Psyche and the youthful Endymion, in which he pursues the ideal of pure beauty.

Refusing an invitation to spend the winter of 1820 in Italy with the Shelleys, he nonetheless borrowed enough funds to travel to Italy with a young painter in the following September. Shortly after, he died of tuberculosis in February at Rome.

Keats’ Letters were published in 1848 and 1878.

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