Poems to Keats

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

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Postby Malia » Thu Feb 14, 2008 4:22 am

I've certainly talked about this poem before, but I had a difficult time finding it for posting, so I don't know if I've ever posted it. If I have, it was some time ago--and don't you think it is due to be posted again? ;)
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Galway Kinnell's Oatmeal

Postby HCG » Mon Oct 05, 2009 5:47 pm

I'm new to this forum, and am mostly lurking. But can't resist sharing a favorite poem about John Keats, which hasn't been posted here yet. Not sure how to format it properly - each "verse" should start flush left and then the rest of the text should be set as a drop indent. But since I can't do that, I'm just putting spaces between the verses.

Note the remarkable description of the rhythm of "Ode to a Nightingale" - something only another (good) poet could accomplish.

And for those who don't know about Patrick Kavanagh, mentioned at the end, he was a 20th-century Irish poet.

Oatmeal
By Galway Kinnell

I eat oatmeal for breakfast.

I make it on the hot plate and put skimmed milk on it.

I eat it alone.

I am aware it is not good to eat oatmeal alone.

Its consistency is such that is better for your mental health if somebody eats it with you.

That is why I often think up an imaginary companion to have breakfast with.

Possibly it is even worse to eat oatmeal with an imaginary companion.

Nevertheless, yesterday morning, I ate my oatmeal porridge, as he called it with John Keats.

Keats said I was absolutely right to invite him: due to its glutinous texture, gluey lumpishness, hint of slime, and unusual willingness to disintegrate, oatmeal should not be eaten alone.

He said that in his opinion, however, it is perfectly OK to eat it with an imaginary companion, and that he himself had enjoyed memorable porridges with Edmund Spenser and John Milton.

Even if eating oatmeal with an imaginary companion is not as wholesome as Keats claims, still, you can learn something from it.

Yesterday morning, for instance, Keats told me about writing the "Ode to a Nightingale."

He had a heck of a time finishing it, those were his words: "Oi 'ad a 'eck of a toime," he said, more or less, speaking through his porridge.

He wrote it quickly, on scraps of paper, which he then stuck in his pocket, but when he got home he couldn't figure out the order of the stanzas, and he and a friend spread the papers on a table, and they made some sense of them, but he isn't sure to this day if they got it right.

An entire stanza may have slipped into the lining of his jacket through a hole in his pocket.

He still wonders about the occasional sense of drift between stanzas, and the way here and there a line will go into the configuration of a Moslem at prayer, then raise itself up and peer about, and then lay itself down slightly off the mark, causing the poem to move forward with a reckless, shining wobble.

He said someone told him that later in life Wordsworth heard about the scraps of paper on the table, and tried shuffling some stanzas of his own, but only made matters worse.

I would not have known any of this but for my reluctance to eat oatmeal alone.

When breakfast was over, John recited "To Autumn."

He recited it slowly, with much feeling, and he articulated the words lovingly, and his odd accent sounded sweet.

He didn't offer the story of writing "To Autumn," I doubt if there is much of one.

But he did say the sight of a just-harvested oat field got him started on it, and two of the lines, "For Summer has o'er-brimmed their clammy cells" and "Thou watchest the last oozings hours by hours," came to him while eating oatmeal alone.

I can see him drawing a spoon through the stuff, gazing into the glimmering furrows, muttering.

Maybe there is no sublime; only the shining of the amnion's tatters.

For supper tonight I am going to have a baked potato left over from lunch. I am aware that a leftover baked potato is damp, slippery, and simultaneously gummy and crumbly, and therefore I'm going to invite Patrick Kavanagh to join me.
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby Malia » Mon Oct 05, 2009 6:51 pm

I LOVE it! What a poem! And I'd never heard of it before. Brought a smile to my face on this Monday morning, I can tell you. Thank you so much for posting it HCG and I hope you feel free to post and join in our conversations often--great to see you on the boards :)
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby Saturn » Mon Oct 05, 2009 7:32 pm

Indeed, ditto to both those notions. Come forth from the shadows all lurkers!

Patrick Kavanagh was a very fine Irish poet, one of the best ['mongst an impressive brood] of the 20th century.

That poem is a gem, thanks for posting HCG :D
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby mevans » Sat Dec 26, 2009 2:41 pm

I came across this poem written by one of my favorite poets, Jane Kenyon.

At the Spanish Steps in Rome

Keats had come with his friend Severn
for the mild Roman winter. Afternoons
they walked to the Borghese Gardens
to see fine ladies, nannies with babies,
and handsome mounted officers,
whose horses moved sedately
along the broad and sandy paths.

But soon the illness kept him in.
Severn kept trying in that stoutly
cheerful English way: he rented a spinet,
hauled it three flights, turning it end
up on the , and played Haydn every day.

Love letters lay unopened in a chest.
"To see her hand writing would break my heart."

The poet's anger rose as his health sank.
He began to refer to his "posthumous
existence." One day while Severn and the porter
watched he flung, dish by dish, his catered
meal into the street.

Now the room where Keats died is a museum,
closed for several hours midday with the rest
of Rome. Waiting on the Steps in the wan
October sun I see the curator's pale,
exceptionally round face looking down.
Everything that was not burned that day
in accordance with the law is there.

Jane Kenyon, taken from "The Collected Poems of Jane Kenyon" Graywolf Press, page 172
"And if thou wilt, remember,/And if thou wilt, forget." - Christina Rossetti
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Sun Dec 27, 2009 2:49 am

Wonderful. I get to copy and paste these poems an add them to my little collection. Thanks everybody. I may add my own someday.
"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: Poems to Keats

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:39 pm

Pause for thought- if Fanny Brawne was simply a little vacuous flirt why refuse to break an engagement with a dying man? Why give him gifts to take away with him to Rome ( that meant a lot to him personally)? Why dress as a widow for about seven years after his death?

I've read that Fanny Keats couldn't understand why Fanny Brawne eventually married but this took her a good few years to find someone else and we don't know if she loved Louis Lindon as much as she had John Keats either. People have to move on in order to continue living healthily, but she probably always loved him for the rest of her life.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re:

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:51 pm

Can I just say bards of passion that whatever you think or anyone else thinks the truth is we have no real idea if, had he lived, that Fanny and Keats relationship would not have lasted. It is pure supposition on your part that it would not have gone the distance. They may have had ten kids and have been married for fifty years , but because he died we have no way of knowing.You can't just make an assumption like that just because you think they weren't a perfect match for each other.There are many seemingly strange relationships in life which, from the outside, no-one would believe would work but they do.


Yes!
The poor things had enough of that in their lifetime- people saying that she wasn't good enough for him, that they weren't suited etc.He wouldn't have fell for her if she had no depth- we can see by his comments on ladies that he didn't like vacuous women's company. People cahnage and grow over the years- I feel certain they would have married if he hadn't got ill and passed away. Probably they would have had children- we know Fanny was fertile and there's no reason to suggest he wasn't either.I think Fanny would have given him the space to write and be alone when he needed to.Imagine if they had had children- there could have been more Keats poets! :D


He declared his love for Fanny not out of some abstract literary principle but because he LOVED her :roll:


Agreed- he knew how to love deeply.


Keats was a man, a real person, not solely some conduit for literary progress or poetic truth. His feelings were as real and genuine as any people today and to dismiss them as calf-love is an insult to him and to people like him who fall headlong over heels in love with supposedly the "wrong" person.



I so agree with these sentiments-I think he had the capacity to feel more deeply that most people - his feelings were valid and honest. Love back then in some ways was more deep true and honest- young men don't write letters like this today!
( one lucky girl might get a text "u r fit" ) He was loyal and not into casual affairs.
So what if he was insecure? It didn't make him a failure, and he would have grown out of that once he was secure in his own attractiveness to women and understood he was worthy of love ( and how! ).


How dare you say it was not real love - you have no way of knowing that at all, of knowing how they were with each other in private, what words were whispered and what tenderness exchanged.



Real love is about caring and being there when one is needed most and she was- she refused to break the engaement to him when she knew he would die.Vacuous flirts would have taken the chance to leave him and find some Dandy rich fiance.She knew that he was a precious soul and worth being loyal to.

They couldn't bear the thought of Keats not writing as much poetry, or his poetry suffering because he was distracted by his affair with Fanny.


That is exactly it- flaming jealousy! They knew he was a genuis and feared he would stop writing poems- no he wouldn't have- did marriage stop Lord Byron? Wordsworth? Shakeaspeare...??? :roll:
Last edited by Raphael on Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Galway Kinnell's Oatmeal

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 29, 2009 3:54 pm

I'm new to this forum, and am mostly lurking. But can't resist sharing a favorite poem about John Keats, which hasn't been posted here yet.


I'm glad you did!That was very funny and poignant- wish I liked oatmeal!
:lol:
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re:

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:29 pm

Thanks Malia for the poem.


I cannot hold my peace, John Keats;
There never was a spring like this;
It is an echo, that repeats
My last year's song and next year's bliss.
I know, in spite of all men say
Of Beauty, you have felt her most.


I’m very moved by this- the heartfelt sentiments hold true- he did feel it most…

And you and I, shall we lie still,
John Keats, while Beauty summons us?
Somehow I feel your sensitive will
Is pulsing up some tremulous
Sap road of a maple tree, whose leaves
Grow music as they grow, since your
Wild voice is in them, a harp that grieves
For life that opens death's dark door.
Though dust, your fingers still can push
The Vision Splended to a birth,
Though now they work as grass in the hush
Of the night on the broad sweet page of the earth.

"John Keats is dead," they say, but I
Who hear your full insistent cry
In bud and blossom, leaf and tree,
Know John Keats still writes poetry.
And while my head is earthward bowed
To read new life sprung from your shroud,
Folks seeing me must think it strange
That merely spring should so derange
My mind. They do not know that you,
John Keats, keep revel with me, too.


I’ve got The Lark Ascending on ear phones (you tube- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZKz6XJlI_jk - I feel the music encapsulates the English countryside and John Keats would have liked this music) and the above two verses with this make me feel a bit tearful… :( A soul such as his isn't truly gone forever...
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re:

Postby Raphael » Tue Dec 29, 2009 4:38 pm

I have to admit, I have felt like a voyeur (sp?) when reading some of Keats's most painful letters to Fanny Brawne. I can imagine how mortified he would be if he knew anyone was reading them let alone to discover they had been sold or auctioned off.


I know what you mean Malia- after all he wept for 3 HOURS when he found one of her letters to him opened by the servant.We know he was very private about his affair.


How would you feel if your love letters were considered a part of the cannon of English literature and were the subject of scholarly essays, disected and interpreted by scholars and lay people alike?


I wouldn't like it.


Of course, since Keats is *dead* and his writings--all of them--contribute to the full picture of him as man and artist, I think it is perfectly ethical for us to be able to read them and gain insight. But again, I do feel at times as if I'm intruding in his life.


I have a conflict with this within myself as I don't believe in death- only a physical end of the body ( my spiritual beliefs teach life after death, that death is simply a change from form to form)- so for me he is alive somewhere...
I mean how could such a soul as his be snuffed out?
I'd like to think he doesn't mind too much us reading his letters as long as we resepct him and his feelings he had then..time has gone on and he must be a very wise soul now and perhaps not so hurt that us people on Earth read his letters.. :D
I hope I'm not being gratuitous reading his letters- it is a great privilege to have a window into a mind and heart such as his. I feel wonder at reading his philosphies and his honesty is moving.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby Raphael » Wed Dec 30, 2009 4:10 pm

I know this is NOT written for Junkets- it's lyrics of a Bjork song- but my goodness... it could say what Fanny Brawne could have felt/wanted to say in the last few months..

Pagan Poetry

Pedalling through
The dark currents
I find
An accurate copy
A blueprint
Of the pleasure
In me

Swirling black lilies totally ripe
A secret code carved
Swirling black lilies totally ripe
A secret code carved

He offers
A handshake
Crooked
Five fingers
They form a pattern
Yet to be matched

On the surface simplicity
But the darkest pit in me
It's pagan poetry
Pagan poetry

Morsecoding signals (signals)
They pulsate (wake me up) and wake me up
(pulsate) from my hibernation

On the surface simplicity
Swirling black lilies totally ripe
But the darkest pit in me
It's pagan poetry
Swirling black lilies totally ripe
Pagan poetry

Swirling black lilies totally ripe
....

I love him, I love him
I love him, I love him
I love him, I love him
I love him, I love him
She loves him, she loves him

This time
She loves him, she loves him
I'm gonna keep it to myself
She loves him, she loves him
She loves him, she loves him
This time
I'm gonna keep me all to myself
She loves him, she loves him
But he makes me want to hand myself over
She loves him, she loves him
She loves him, she loves him
And he makes me want to hand myself over

(a link to the song on you tube for anyone who might be interested..it's passionate and powerful.... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kpSqaHEaH6w )
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby Raphael » Sat Jan 02, 2010 3:22 pm

Here is one written by Dante Gabriel Rossetti for John.


John Keats.

The weltering London ways where children weep
And girls whom none call maidens laugh,- strange road
Miring his outward steps, who inly trode
The bright Castalian brink and Latmos’ steep:-
Even such his life’s cross- paths: till deathly deep
He toiled through sands of Lethe; and long pain,
Weary with labour spurned and love found vain,
In dead Rome’s sheltering shadow wrapped his sleep.

O pang- dowered Poet whose reverberant lips
And heart- strung lyre awoke the Moon’s eclipse,-
Thou whom the daisies glory in growing o’er,-
Their fragrance clings around thy name, not writ
But rumoured in water while the fame of it
Along Time’s flood goes echoing evermore.

(1871-2)
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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Re: Poems to Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Sat Jan 02, 2010 7:55 pm

Thanks Raphael - another keeper for me to add to my growing list of poetic tributes!
"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: Poems to Keats

Postby Raphael » Mon Jan 04, 2010 2:28 pm

And of course Gabriel declared our dear poet to be the spiritual leader of the Pre Raphaelite brotherhood! :D
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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