Have there been any continuations of Keats' poems?

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Have there been any continuations of Keats' poems?

Postby Saturn » Sun May 30, 2004 10:18 pm

One interesting literary curiosity is the continuation of a dead writer's work by another artist, either a contemporary or later writer.

Most of us would agree that this a literary sacrilege akin to plagarism in the statute book of abominable crimes of the pen.

However this phenomenon (less prevalent today than hitherto) has produced some interesting results.

One of the most famous, and successful, is Keats' own beloved George Chapman's continuation of Christopher Marlowe's unfinished poem 'Hero and Leander'.

I wonder if anyone knows if there have been any significant attempts to continue the narrative of Hyerion, or King Stephen for instance?

The fact of Keats early death of course robbed the world, not only of a great person, but possibly greater works to come, as well of the completetion of that already started.

To us, posterity, we are left frustrated at what might have been, and are only consoled by the few fragments and our own poor imaginations to make up the loss.

I often think would he ever have been able to sustain the 'mythological machinery' of Hyerion to an epic twelve or even twenty-four cantos?

Could he ever have written a revolutionary new play which would have revived the staid British theatre scene?

The mind boggles with possibility.

Does anyone have any thoughts on an alternative future Keats might have had in another, less cruel universe?
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Another John Keats?

Postby MonroeDoctrine » Wed Jun 02, 2004 1:56 am

I am actually involved in trying to create a cultural renaissance in the United States of America. In order to have a future John Keats I would hypothesize that one will come into existence in about half a century if we do things correctly: www.WLYM.com
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Well done on your initiative.

Postby Saturn » Wed Jun 02, 2004 10:46 pm

I wish you well on your cultural renaissance project, and hope to see the tide of the 'dumb and dumber' culture slowly turning back.

I hope we see some results before fifty years time - it's too long to wait for a revolution.

However I am somewhat pessimistic about the future of literature, with the unstoppable rise of cellphone messaging and internet-speak taking over and corrupting the English language with a bizarre 'double-speak' unintelligible to anyone over the age of twenty.

What hope has poetry against the dominance of manufactured, soulless pop music with inane and simplistic lyrics?

I wish I could believe that poetry can rise from the present ignorance and neglect, but cannot see such all-encompassing talents as Shakespeare, Keats or Shelley ever appearing in future.

They lived in times now so unimaginable to us that it seems impossible that people once had such time to spend on reading, without all the many distractions and rivals for attention so prevalent of the modern world.

Here's a quote about how our attitudes have changed:

"In times of old, books were as religious oracles; as literature advanced, they next became venerable preceptors; they then descended to the rank of instructive friends; and as their numbers increased, they sunk still lower to that of entertaining companions..."
-Coleridge, Biographia Literaria.

How would we describe our view of books today?
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Matt » Fri Jun 04, 2004 4:20 pm

Hi Stephen. I have some points relating to your post.

I agree with you in your view that nowadays there seems to lack of interest in literature amongst the youth. In my 6th form, I am one of a small minority who takes an interest in the great works of the English language. And even in this small minority, somne only read the texts they are required to read as part of their English course. However, as you indirectly pointed out, nowadays there are so many distractions and alternatives to book reading as a means of not only entertainment but information too. We are after all discussing an 18th century poet on the internet!

But I have to strongly disagree with you when you say that an 'unstoppable rise of cellphone messaging and internet-speak (is) taking over and corrupting the English language with a bizarre 'double-speak' unintelligible to anyone over the age of twenty. ' Sure, this cellphone talk may be unintlelligble to anyone over the age of twenty but we have to remember that its a two pronged fork. For many people, Keats, Shakespeare, Chaucer, Wordsworth, even Dickens to some extent (!) is unintelligble to those UNDER twenty.

We could blame the education system for not putting enough emphasis on the 'classics' but they and we have to be aware that there are new 'classic's being written every day and that these must not be forgotten. The education system doesnt get it all wrong though. As part of my English Literature course this year i have studied two Shakespeare texts, Keats, Wycherley and also more modern day classics by authors such as Fitzgerald and Williams.

As for this new 'cellphone talk' as you call it. Do you not realise that however unintelligible this may seem to those over twenty, it is in fact another complex step forward in the English language. A mass of young people were faced with a new method of communication and they embraced it to the point where the English language was altered to benefit them for ever. I am sure though that this 'cellphone' language will have a negative effect on a section of todays youth in their writing but you need not worry that in the future we will be reading 'cellphone poetry' like:

"Bty is truf, truf bty, tht is all ye on erth no n all u nd 2 knw"

Whatever happens will happen but you musnt look upon change negatively. It is all down to the individual and keeping an open mind. I personally cannot see the world dominated by 'cellphone' language. I think that at the most it may become a popular method of communication and may extend itself beyond text messages and email to all manners of correspondence. I cannot see it dominating our novels, poetry and plays however.

To fight your view of modern day society full of 'soulless pop music with inane and simplistic lyrics' I will direct you to 'The Streets'. Before i do so i will say that yes pop musis is about whats popular. Therefore every song has some meaning for someone. WHether it be gangster rap, or novelty money cash-in's, there are a reason why these songs are in the pop charts: Its because they make people happy. Perhaps there is beauty to be found in the fact that no longer do people look for some profound reasoning to make them happy. Happiness perhaps comes at a much simpler price.

That is not to say that there aren't profound acts around nowadays: there are. Let me point you in the direction of 'The Streets'. 'The Streets' is a one man act who writes, produces and mixes his own music. He has no further education in English literature and i doubt even he professes to have read much pre 20th century literature and yet he is being described by the press (particularly the broadsheets) as the poet of today. I urge you to listen to if you can the songs ' Dry Your Eyes', 'Its to late' and conveniently enough 'Lets Push Things Forward'

Thank you for providing me some intellectual stimulation in this world full of naked ladies, computer games and beer.
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On text-messages, e-mail, pop music etc.

Postby Saturn » Fri Jun 04, 2004 8:41 pm

Thanks for a great,well wiritten reply Matt. (I loved the text-message version of 'Ode on a Grecian Urn')

Once again I've been playing a bit of the devil's advocate in order to provoke a response. I probably sounded like some old fart who looks down on all that is new and innovative.

On the contrary, I welcome new technology in all its many forms if it helps us to communicate much easier in case of emergencies etc.

Of course I understand that in sending a quick message to someone, you don't need to spell everything correctly, and use long scentences.

A similar message system has been around for thousands of years, from semaphore to morse code, to today's e-mail and text messages. People probably said 'Oh these telegrams will be the death of the language' one-hundred-and-fifty odd years ago when the telegraph system was invented.

Also, about popular music - I like all kinds of music from classical to metal and listen to each piece of music for different reasons at different times.
Pop music has always been light and fluffy, with most of it being good enjoyable sing-a-long stuff to hum, alongside the more weighty artists like Dylan and co.

Even opera music has some truly terrible librettos where the power of the music confounds the horror of the lyrics.

Popular music itself has evolved from popular ballads (thus intrisically linked to poesy), many of which are simplistic rhyming poems with little great depth - this is a no great demerit; it can be a good thing .
I'm positive there were songs or ballads that were popular in the past which, at the time, were seen as degenerate and stupid.

About The Streets, I have heard some of his stuff - it's alright.
I'm sure his words are a lot more thoughtful than much other artists, but, (call me old-fashioned) the rap delivery style just leaves me cold. I just hope that the future of poetry will not be delivered with beats behind it.

If I saw the lyrics written down, I'd proboably be better able to appreciate his undoubted talent., and I will watch his career with interest.

I'd like to add my own few favourite pop artists. I will probably be shot down in flames for saying this, but I think Dido writes really intelligently, and is a lot cleverer than she lets on.

Jewel (U.S. folk artist) also, to me, writes very passionately about the role of women in society, and politics, life, love, and beauty, with great passion and insight.

Someone I've got into recently also is Badly Drawn Boy - his soundtrack to 'About a boy' is not only great, soulful pop, but its lyrics are simplistic and heartful at the same time, with a real appreciation for beauty, and great empathy for humanity.

The great poets of today are all now no longer young, and (though I love Heaney, and the late Ted Hughes) they seem remote figures who delve in University lecturing and academic trifles. This just isn't dangerous or sexy.

When the great 'romantics' were writing poetry, it was as explosive, and exciting as rock-n-roll was to fifties youths.

I just want to see a new breed of young poets with fire in their bellies and the Muse in their hearts to respond to the great injustices still going on all around us. Would my own was good enough to do so!

Sorry about the length - I am always tempted to write a mini-dissertation on a given topic.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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"Dry your eyes" is great

Postby Saturn » Mon Aug 16, 2004 9:48 am

Hi there Matt,

I remember you recommending The Streets to me as an example of modern-day poetry and I have to say that despite my previous dismissal, I've really grown to love his single "Dry your eyes" - it's one of the few pop songs around today that has a real heart behind it and it does describe an experience which everyone, even I can relate to.
It may not be poetry as conventially described, but the sentiments behind the words use a theme familiar to poets throughout all time.

Can I in turn recommend Badly Drawn Boy as another real modern-day artist who deserves the attention of those with a poetic bent - he has real sympathy and humanity and writes great, mellow songs which are beautifully crafted and really witty at times. I would go so far as to say that he is the modern-day Lennon of the twenty-first century (there's a contentious claim - feel free to rip me to shreds for that!!!!!).
His latest single is not one of his best, but the video is amazing where he goes around basically healing the world by a simple hug - if only all things in life could be resolved so easily. That'll probably sound very Neil-from-The-Young Ones type hippy nonsense, but it really touches me that he seems to be a guy who doesn't live with the great cyinicsm and pessimism of most people today.


"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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