1822 Reviewer of Keats....

The life of John Keats the man: his family, his friends, and his contemporaries.

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1822 Reviewer of Keats....

Postby BrokenLyre » Wed Sep 14, 2011 7:22 pm

Speaking of books, I recently bought "Keats' Reputation in America to 1848" by Hyder E. Rollins (1946). Got it on Ebay for about 4 dollars (that's like a quarter of a shilling.... ha ha ha). Anyway, I thought this would be a fun read as it details the various written remarks about Keats' life and poetry from 1821-1848 (when Milnes' important biography came out). I didn't realize there were so many comments about his life in that early period. Fascinating what people thought. May I give you a snippet? Here's something that touched me (and it was written when Keats was a virtual unknown):

From the Boston Atheneum on March 1, 1822 (which came from Time's Telescope magazine, January 1822 "Death of John Keats, the Poet"):

"Some in their age,
Ripe for the sickle; others, young like him,
And falling green beneath th'untimely stroke.

MR. KEATS died at Rome, Feb. 23, 1821, which he had gone for the benefit of his health. His complaint was a consumption, under which he had languished for some time; but his death was accelerated by a cold caught in his voyage to Italy.....Mr. Keats was, in the truest sense of the word, a Poet. There is but a small portion of the public acquainted with the writings of this young man; yet they were full of high imagination and delicate fancy, and his images were beautiful and more entirely his own, perhaps, than those of any living writer whatever. He had a fine ear, a tender heart, and at times great force and originality of expression; and nothwithstanding all this, he has been suffered to rise and pass away almost without a notice: the laurel has been awarded (for the present) to other brows; the bolder aspirants have been allowed to take their station on the slippery steps of the Temple of Fame, while he has been nearly hidden among the crowd during his life, and has at last died, solitary, and in sorrow, in a foreign land.

It is at all times difficult, if not impossible, to argue others into a love of poets and poetry: it is altogether a matter of feeling, and we must leave to time (while it hallows his memory) to do justice to the reputation of Keats...."

I wonder if this strikes you the way it did me. At a time when Keats had precious little support, here comes an article that is positive and sensitive to Keats. I was especially impressed by how prescient this writer was about the position of Keats. The parenthetical phrase "for the present" is just remarkable. In 1822, nobody seems to have thought too much about him except those few in his circle. A nice read. There are many other fascinating statements in this book but that will do for now. Hope you enjoyed hearing a past voice spoken less than 1 year from John's death.
Last edited by BrokenLyre on Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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Re: 1822 Reviewer of Keats....

Postby jesleeall » Sat Sep 24, 2011 12:48 am

Thank you. The piece was lovely.
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Re: 1822 Reviewer of Keats....

Postby Cybele » Fri Nov 11, 2011 8:13 pm

Wow, Broken Lyre, I hadn't noticed this back when you first posted it. (Real Life has interfered with my hanging out here at the Forum as much as I'd like to.)

About a thousand years ago, early in my Keats explorations, I read the Rollins book, but don't remember this wonderful excerpt. Like you, I'm pleasantly surprised to find some acknowledgement of our poet's genius on this side of the Atlantic so early. Obviously at least a few had heard of Keats in the 1820s. This bit of information challenges my opinion that some of my beloved New England Transcendentalists are the people most responsible for the spread of Mr. Keats's fame. 1822 is a decade before the first publication of any of Keats's poetry in the "Western Messenger."

BTW, I love two statements in your excerpt:

". . . the bolder aspirants have been allowed to take their station on the slippery steps of the Temple of Fame, while he has been nearly hidden among the crowd during his life. . .",

and:

"It is at all times difficult, if not impossible, to argue others into a love of poets and poetry: it is altogether a matter of feeling, and we must leave to time (while it hallows his memory) to do justice to the reputation of Keats...."
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
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Re: 1822 Reviewer of Keats....

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Nov 12, 2011 11:06 pm

Yes, I agree with your quotes Cybele...This piece was so touching and at such an early date.
I have to put other quotes from the book on this site - just too busy these days. Soon I hope.
"Come... dry your eyes, for you are life, rarer than a quark and unpredictable beyond the dreams of Heisenberg; the clay in which the forces that shape all things leave their fingerprints most clearly. Dry your eyes... and let's go home."
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