How did you first meet John Keats?

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

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Postby Junkets » Wed Nov 17, 2004 5:17 pm

Of the poets I have bought on a whim one that sticks in my mind was John Wilmot, Earl of Rochester. He's erm...interesting, outrageous and hilarious. I like his writings, but goddamn for his time (mid to late sixteen hundreds) he was a frisky fellow. I offer an example here, which is not really the best example of his work but an accurate example. But please be warned that those of a sensitive (more accurately prudish) nature should turn away from your screens.....now (or just skip this posting).

Regime de Vivre


I rise at eleven, I dine about two,
I get drunk before seven, and the next thing I do,
I send for my whore, when for fear of a clap,
I spend in her hand, and I spew in her lap;
Then we quarrel and scold, till I fall fast asleep,
When the bitch growing bold, to my pocket does creep.

Then slyly she leaves me, and to revenge the affront,
At once she bereaves me of money and cunt.
If by chance then I wake, hot-headed and drunk,
What a coil do I make for the loss of my punk!
I storm and I roar, and I fall in a rage.
And missing my whore, I bugger my page.
Then crop-sick all morning I rail at my men,
And in bed I lie yawning till eleven again.


...On a more serious note I bought some poetry Federico Garcia Lorca recently, having only read a couple of his plays, and I was not disappointed, its really beautiful.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:17 am

I read Rochester this week.

I thought Byron was the most risque poet before modern times, but I was wrong - it's incredible how dirty some of his poems are, but some of them are hilarious also.

'Signior Dildo' is a work of comic genius.

I'd never read the C word used so often before, certainly not in poetry anyway.

Definitely not for the faint-hearted or the politically correct, women, in fact anybody who is squemish or prudish would have a heart attack if they read Rochester.

There's a film coming out next year with Johnny Depp playing him - should be interesting, and no doubt filthy as well!!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Thu Dec 02, 2004 4:48 pm

Oh, I didn't know that, it should be interesting. Have you seen Quills? It's a biopic of the Marquis du Sade, it's interesting, but not the best film I've seen. I was quite impressed to hear Nick Cave reference John Wilmot on his latest album. Did you read a play that he wrote called, I think, Sodom? Hilarious and rude as you would expect, and it also contains details of one of the characters getting 'jiggy' with a horse. Not something one expects of the drama of the age really.
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Postby Saturn » Fri Dec 03, 2004 10:50 am

I love Quills - a much overlooked film.

Geoffery Rush is fantastically, mischeviously lecherous and Kate Winslet is just incredibly sexy in that film.

Very funny and disturbing. The scene where the inmates put on a play by the Marquis for the 'good' doctor and his teenage bride is hilarious stuff.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Rochester's Poems

Postby BrightStar » Wed Dec 08, 2004 7:17 am

It's funny, I actually just became "aquainted" with Rochester this year ... the publication history behind his poems is really fascinating. They were passed around from person to person, in court circles at first, where they'd be transcribed and then passed on to someone else, and would eventually find they're way into larger and larger circles. A lot of poems that aren't necessarily Rochester's ended up attributed to Rochester as someone might receive an anonymous poem and just stick Rochester's name on it because of the notoriety attached. Anyway ... as a female I suppose his poems should offend me, but as a student of literature and book history I think they're a fascinating case. I have a copy of the introduction to the 1999 Oxford Edition edited by Harold Love ... the cost of the actual volume is a bit prohibitive ... but the intro is where I learned a lot of this information, and I'd be happy to email a copy to anyone who wants one. I wonder what Keats would have thought of Rochester

Saw Quills a few years back when it was first released ... I remember being a bit disturbed but would probably have to see it again to actually form an opinion.

Anyway ... if you like Rochester, read "Fanny Hill" by John Cleland. I just had to read it for my 18th century class; it is pretty much soft porn, but an interesting case study as well.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:32 am

I just read Rochester out of curiosity really - it's a bit too crude for my tastes really, so I'll stick to more palatable poetry - I'm a romantic, not a porn fan in the slightest - it's degrading and disturbingly depressing.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby BrightStar » Wed Dec 08, 2004 11:33 pm

Sorry ... I wasn't actually implying that you personally were a porn fan ... I was more or less speaking about genre. I should have been more explicit (it was 1 AM and I was procrastinating; I wasn't thinking terribly clearly). The Cleland novel I mentioned is often compared to de Sades work (which I've never read, but Quills had been discussed). The book actually was, in a manner of speaking, tried here by the US Supreme court and was deemed to have "social value" in 1959, whatever that means. I agree with you ... pornography in and of itself is degrading and depressing, though I think in terms print history and publication history and publication history it's really interesting, because methods of transmission, what could be printed, what couldn't, etc, says a lot about the work's contemporary society and our literary tradition. Similarly, I think reading about the reception history of Keats' work, and also the
venues in which it was first printed, gives the work new dimension, which of course you're free to agree or disagree with. :) Melissa

"Books do not merely recount history; they make it." -Robert Darnton
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Postby Steen » Sat Mar 19, 2005 1:09 am

I probley would not have known about him if it wasn't tuaght to me. I know a lot of people don't like being taught poetry but our teacher is bloody amazing when it comes to Keats as he knows what he is talking about and like to teach keats...
But I kinda got hooked on him as I have very simller views to Keats, so much so that one of my friends belives I am Keats rencarnated (minus the talent!)
I am not Keats rencarnated......he could write!
You don't love a women because she is beatiful, she is beatiful because you love her.
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Postby Millamant » Tue Apr 05, 2005 10:00 pm

So happy to have found this forum! I first discovered John Keats after having fallen in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald during high school many years ago and learning that Keats was his favorite poet. From there I devoured everything I could find by or about Keats, and read his Letters many times over. In fact, if I had to choose between them and his poetry, I think I would prefer the former; Keats is simply so entertaining, curious, restless, humane, passionate and understanding in them.

I remember taking the subway out to Hampstead to see his house when I visited England in 2000, and how disappointed I was that it was closed for renovation. It was a drizzly, gray day, but there was a warm and cozily-lit public library directly adjacent to the house with children and their parents browsing through books, and I felt that it was somehow very appropriate that a library of all things should be right next door.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:02 am

Welcome to the world of Keats on the net!! :D
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Millamant » Wed Apr 06, 2005 4:15 pm

Thanks for the welcome. I forgot to mention in my previous post my close encounter with Keats back in college. I was working at the time as a page in the manuscript library of the Harry Ransom Center in Austin, one of the largest collections of 19th- and 20th-century British and American authors in the world. Anyway, they have quite a number of curiosities tucked away in the stacks, including a morocco-bound briefcase that contained locks of hair of the various Romantic poets--Wordsworth, Byron, Shelley and of course Keats. I believe an eccentric collector had somehow acquired them and left them to the HRC along with other books and manuscripts he had amassed over the years.

One day the BBC came to film the briefcase and its contents, and I got to look at them up close. Of course it was rather anti-climactic, the various cuttings of hair were all faded and sealed up in tiny plastic bags. (Keats's was a light chestnut brown, btw.) But it was strangely compelling to look at something so tangible from a historical figure whom I adore. It made the early 19th century seem as if it were just down the street and around the corner, not remote at all in fact.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Apr 06, 2005 9:31 pm

Whoah 8) that's incredible to be in the presence of a lock of Keats hair -you must write a sonnet on the occasion as Keats did when Hunt showed him a lock of Milton's hair :wink: :wink:
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Steen » Thu Apr 07, 2005 11:42 pm

I always get a little worried when people keep bits of thier heros....I mean...it's a lump of hair! It just seems a little bit too odd!
You don't love a women because she is beatiful, she is beatiful because you love her.
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Postby Millamant » Fri Apr 08, 2005 10:34 pm

I wish I remembered the story of why this particular collector spent time acquiring pieces of Byron's, Keats's and Coleridge's hair. On the one hand, I suppose it seems vaguely creepy to do so, but there are people out there who collect absolutely everything, so maybe rather than being stalker-ish, the guy just had a collecting mania. Plus, it gives you the illusion that you can literally touch a particular era of the past, and enter into it through the power of a talisman (emphasis on illusion).
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