Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

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

Moderators: Saturn, Malia

Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

Postby Malia » Mon Feb 23, 2009 3:53 pm

Today is the anniversary of our dear poet's death--February 23rd. Shall we raise a glass of claret in his honor? What is your favorite Keats poem? What is a memorable moment from his life that you'd like to commemorate here?

One of my favorite lines of poetry comes from my favorite Keats poem--Ode to Autumn: "And touch the stubble-plains with rosy hue". This simple line captures the opposites Keats held in complete balance in this perfect poem--the image of dead and prickly stubble plains balanced with a color that indicates life and vitality and even a sense of smoothness as a flower's petal, the "rosy hue".

I have too many moments to list regarding Keats's life, but I do appreciate the fact that he always strived to know himself better. He dug deep into his painful past and probed his own heart, which aided his poetry. He definitely had "issues" (especially with women) but he at least recognized that his feelings were twisted and tried to amend them. That kind of action takes a courageous spirit.

I raise my glass of claret to you, John Keats!
Stay Awake!
--Anthony deMello
User avatar
Malia
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 1606
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:55 am
Location: Washington State, USA

Re: Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

Postby BrokenLyre » Mon Feb 23, 2009 5:56 pm

I too celebrate this day with you - and raise my claret jug. There are too many Keats lines for me to mention. But today I can't help but be reminded of his statement about life's circumstances in a letter he wrote:

"Circumstances are like clouds, continually gathering and bursting. While we are laughing, the seed of some trouble is put into the wide arable land of events. While we are laughing it sprouts, it grows and suddenly bears a poison fruit we must pluck."

You mentioned Keats's 'courageous spirit' Malia. I see it here too in this letter...in facing the harsher realities of life squarely with conscientious responsibility (taking care of his mother and Tom during their illnesses). I appreciate such courage and yet always feel a sense of sadness as he plucked the poison fruit of TB on this very day in 1821. So to Keats I raise my claret jug!
"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."
BrokenLyre
Endymion
 
Posts: 592
Joined: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:24 am
Location: New York State

Re: Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

Postby dks » Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:07 pm

...I, too, will raise my glass--no claret in the house, but a bit of Pomegranate wine will do...I wore my customary black all day today...my students thought me funereal...

...To Keats--and to the day a good bit of poetry truly died... :!:
"I am certain of nothing but the holiness of the heart's affections and the Truth of Imagination."
User avatar
dks
Dante
 
Posts: 1469
Joined: Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:14 am
Location: Texas

Re: Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Feb 24, 2009 6:41 pm

Oh my good gracious I am the worst Keats lover in the history of the universe. . . I FORGOT YESTERDAY!

Oddly enough, however, I was reading The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch last night, which I'm sure many of you have heard of. It's by a college professor with only months to live, leaving behind life lessons for his family from the perspective of someone staring death in the face. While Keats' experience was obviously much different, much more melancholy, it still certainly does make you think. Is it a blessing to have a "timeline" for death, as Pausch asserts? Is it a blessing to have the chance to sort one's affairs, to say all you feel you can say to whom you need to say it, to leave behind a legacy? Or is it a curse, as Keats' tragic story illustrates? Is the pain of knowing what you are leaving behind, the pain of feeling what you will never become, too great to bear?
"Holy Kleenex, Batman! It was right under our nose and we blew it!"
User avatar
Credo Buffa
Lamia
 
Posts: 935
Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2005 1:42 am
Location: Minnesota

Re: Not Writ In Water but Seared in the Phoenix's Flames

Postby Malia » Tue Feb 24, 2009 8:17 pm

Is it a blessing to have the chance to sort one's affairs, to say all you feel you can say to whom you need to say it, to leave behind a legacy? Or is it a curse, as Keats' tragic story illustrates? Is the pain of knowing what you are leaving behind, the pain of feeling what you will never become, too great to bear?

I think it all depends on the person and their illness. I think a lot of Keats's anguish (both mental and physical) might have been assuaged by good end-of-life care, such as hospice provides. I mean, painkillers were denied him during the last days of his illness in Rome. Measured doses of laudanum for pain, distributed by his doctor, would not have contributed to possible suicide (if that is what they were concerned about when they first took his laudanum away). And consistently decent food and nixing the blood-letting would have helped him throughout his illness.

Perhaps also if Keats had had someone to talk to--if grief counseling were a part of his culture--that, too, might have helped him overcome some of his pain. A basic understanding of the workings of TB (and what actually causes it--a microbe, NOT a broken heart or unrequited sexual pleasure) might have helped his mental anguish some, as well.

Certainly in his situation, Keats's end was shockingly tragic--I'd say even torture. Randy Pausch may have had a different end due in part to advances in medical knowledge, hospice, counseling etc. Things that Keats would have had no access to.

Whether or not it is better to know in advance you are dying is really up to the individual and the backdrop of his or her own experience with life, I think.
Stay Awake!
--Anthony deMello
User avatar
Malia
Forum Administrator
 
Posts: 1606
Joined: Mon Nov 29, 2004 12:55 am
Location: Washington State, USA


Return to Life and Letters

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest