Hood's To Hope

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

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Hood's To Hope

Postby Despondence » Sat Jan 01, 2005 3:04 pm

Is Thomas Hood's "To Hope" an elegy to Keats? I haven't seen that discussion anywhere. I refer to he poem that begins:

Oh! take, young seraph, take thy harp,
And play to me so cheerily;
For grief is dark, and care is sharp,
And life wears on so wearily.

It seems plausible to me. Hood's poetical career seems to have started out in a rather delightful Keatsian style, with many Wordsworthian influences, which he later marred (to my mind) with too many trivial comical streaks.

Hood's To Hope is a beautiful ode on creativity in life and legacy in death. Perhaps it was a communication with someone recently passed away. It seems clear that it was someone of great importance to Hood. Although there are details of the poem that I don't know how to reconcile with the theory that it is written to Keats (who the heck is Celia? Cynthia?), the circumstances of it are suggestive.

It was published in the London Magazine in July 1821, mere months after Keats death. Hood had taken up a position as temporary editor of the London Magazine, its editor in chief John Scott having been killed in a duel, allegedly over a row where he was defending the reputation of Keats and Hunt! (Scott had been one of the few editors to support and defend Keats against the attacks from the Quarterly and Blackwood's.) To Hope was Hood's first published poem, and it is named the same as one of Keats very earliest poems.

Opinions, anyone?

Thomas Hood's "Written in Keats' Endymion"

Postby Saturn » Sun Jan 02, 2005 9:15 pm

I don't have a copy of the poem you mentioned, but in an anthology I have a touching poem by Hood called "Written in Keats' Endymion" - a fitting tribute by a felllow poet, perhaps undeservedly less well known than Shelley's "Adonais":

I saw pale Dian, sitting by the brink
Of silver falls, the overflow of fountains
From cloudy steeps; and I grew sad to think
Endymion's foot was silent on those mountains,
And he but a hushed name, that Silence keeps
In dear remembrance - lonely, and forlorn,
Singing it to herself until she weeps
Tears that perchance still glisten in the morn!
And as I mused, in dull imaginings,
There came a flash of garments, and I knew
The awful Muse by her harmonious wings
Charming the air to music as she flew.
Anon there rose an echo through the vale
Gave back Endymion in a dreamlike tale!

This was printed in the London Magazine in 1823 when Keats was still a pretty much unknown name in the literary world, despite the posthumus praise of his friends and fellow poets, so the phrase "hushed name" seems apporpriate to his still uncertain fame.

A fine poem by a "minor" poet which should be read more, so now hopefully by posting it here it will be!!!
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Postby Despondence » Thu Jan 13, 2005 12:40 pm

I found a scanned US edition of his "Poetical Works" online here: http://www.hti.umich.edu/cgi/t/text/tex ... 3.0001.001
Unfortunately it does not have the poem "To Hope" that I was referring to, but several other poems with tangible Keatsian influences, like "Lycus, the Centaur", "Ode to the Moon", and "Hero and Leander". I'll copy out "To Hope" when I am with my books again, I really like it. I guess one thing that speaks against my theory is that Hood dedicated several poems to his predecessors and contemporaries, like Charles Lamb ("Midsummer Fairies") and S.T. Coleridge ("Hero and Leander"), but not one to Keats that I am aware of.

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