The Keats "fan-base"

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

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The Keats "fan-base"

Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:26 am

Hallo, forum!

I'm new. I've known for quite a while that this forum was here, but never really started poking around until just recently, and I've finally decided to join in the discussion! Hopefully you'll see me around here quite a lot :D

The question I have for you all is this: I've read the opinion in several different reviews (whether of poetry collections or biographies) that few poets inspire such a devoted following as Keats. I personally have to agree; I've been in "Keats fandom" for about seven years now, and it seems like there are two kinds of people: those who merely appreciate Keats, and those who really, really love Keats.

Why do you think this is? What is it about Keats--say, in contrast with other Romantic poets--that gives him that distinction? I look forward to reading your thoughts!
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the letters

Postby Despondence » Fri Sep 09, 2005 10:49 pm

For me, it was probably the Letters that did it. Much as I love the poems, with their tender quality so particular to Keats, getting to know Keats through the letters was an incredible experience. I know it's a cliche, but by the Gods, his was really a beautiful mind.

And welcome to the board, btw!
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Postby Saturn » Sat Sep 10, 2005 12:44 am

Yes Welcome from me too. :D

More new blood at last :shock:

Well for me, it was the fact that Keats, unlike say Shelley or Byron was from a pretty ordinary middle-class background like myself with no particular advantages but an inquiring mind and a love of all things beautiful.

It was the poems that got me hooked, but as Despondence there says the letters are in a whole different category - they are works of art in themselves, related to, yet separate from the poems in a way unlike ANY other poets work.

No other poet can you get almost completely into the mind of as you can with Keats by reading the letters - it is almost a possession, an intellectual satellite link-up to the thoughts and perceptions of a VERY great man.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Credo Buffa » Sat Sep 10, 2005 2:48 am

Thank you both for the welcome :D

You both state very well my own feelings on the subject. When I was first introduced to Keats, I was just a few months shy of 16. I'd always been into literature and writing, but for some reason, poetry had always eluded me. I'd always had this idea that poets were old and stuffy and somehow occupied another wavelength upon which 'average' people like me weren't allowed to think. When I started studying Keats in my British Literature class, however, I was first struck by the portrait that accompanied the short biography in my textbook; this was a young guy! definitely not old and stuffy like I'd imagined all poets to be. Then, when I actually read his poems, I felt like I understood what he was trying to say. He wasn't trying to hoodwink me with language I couldn't understand. From the very beginning, he was human in my mind where all other poets had been. . . something else.

I think that is why I find it so easy to love Keats. The letters are definitely a big part of that, because they show us not only the thought process which lead to his most brilliant ideas, but the moments where he's simply a friend or a brother or a 20-something. That juxtaposition is completely fascinating to me, and makes Keats so much more accessible that other poets. What we get most of the time in poetry is the 'final product', which is so often so polished and insightful that it seems super-human. I think what most readers crave, especially in the contemporary world, is the feeling that great thinkers can be vulnerable, have weaknesses, make jokes, misspell words (as Keats often did), eat and drink and sleep and comb their hair just like the rest of us. It might be almost unfair to other writers that we have so much of this preserved in the letters--after all, every great artist of any kind to ever exist has had a 'human' existence on some level that we can all identify with--but we have it, nonetheless.

Wow, what a long post this has turned out to be! And it's very late. . . oi. I hope my ramblings make sense. I'll try and clear myself up later on if I come back to this tomorrow and realize it's the work of sleep-deprivation :wink:
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Postby Malia » Thu Dec 15, 2005 8:10 pm

Credo Buffa wrote:however, I was first struck by the portrait that accompanied the short biography in my textbook; this was a young guy! definitely not old and stuffy like I'd imagined all poets to be.


Credo Buffa, I had a similar reaction when I first encountered Keats. I had read some of his poems and letters before I ever saw a picture of him and knew, from the short bio that was in the book, that he was young. But it really wasn't until I saw a picture of him (in the World Book Encyclopedia) that I really got it that he was a young man. Of course, when I discovered Keats at 15, I thought "oh, he died when he was 25--that's not so young". Now, at 31, I think to myself "my god! he was just a baby when he died!" It's amazing to think how someone so young could write such great work.

Definitely, his youth was one of the facts about him that appealed to me. I felt I could better identify with him because of his age--probably because he spent a lot of time in his poetry and letters trying to figure out and discover his philosophic principles and building a "soul" for himself. I identified (and still identify) with that search.
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Postby fleshyniteshade » Tue Dec 20, 2005 11:49 am

I'm still 19, and with the girl I date, Muprhey's law has been one active rule with our relationship or, "If something can go wrong, it will." We had to overcome the worst kinds of adversity comprehendable, still the more you are tested the more you are in love. Anyways I asked her one day, "By what you see, who is more in love? Or parent's and the people their age, or the people that are our age?"

For us, as far as expressing feelings and showing public display of affection, it was clear that the younger the love is, the more in love you are. It just got me thinking later with Keats.

In some sense to me, it is rather nice that Keats did not grow old for I fear he would lose some of his obsession for beauty and love in itself. If he had tired of Fanny and her love, it might get him to question, "is a thing of beauty a joy forever?"
"aye, my envious dreams do shyly express thy tenderous lips fairly laced with sensous honey and I like aroused virgins dwell upon such dining"
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