Making puns.

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

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Making puns.

Postby jfk » Wed Feb 09, 2005 5:25 pm


In his letters, Keats often spoke of "making puns". Does anyone know what he meant? I know what a pun is, but what is the point of "making more in a morning than in a whole month" (My recollection of a quote, so not direct)? I can see it exercises the brain, but could someone elaborate on the types of pun's he 'made'. Do we have any lists of them?
A beacon in the starry sky, this man so dazzling
did not fly from here in a chariot of gold,
but left our world on a melancholic wing
and fled the sorrow that makes men old.
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Postby Saturn » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:03 am

Interesting question :)

I wish we did have a list of Keats' puns, but unfortunately, like what he actually sounded like and how he moved etc. this has been lost to history as many of his best puns must have been spontaneous and gone in a moment, only heard by those in the room.

Punning itself was a kind of craze in Regency times, a frivolous past-time for the intellectually superior, indulged in by poets and peers alike.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Despondence » Thu Feb 10, 2005 12:54 pm

I'm sure many of his letters are full of them (I imagine, especially in his correspondence with Cowden Clarke, Reynolds and Hunt, and maybe also Haydon, Bailey and Woodhouse). I believe Motion commented upon some exuberant punning sprees at one point.

My problem is that I don't have a good enough grasp of the language of that time (I have barely a grasp of the language of our time!) to realize when he's punning! He's usually too clever by half for a dullwit like me to catch the finer articles of his writing when it turns to satire, or relies on obscure references now lost in the mists of time. I often had the feeling, when I read the Letters, that there was a lot more going on between the lines than what I was able to infer from the plain words..

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