So, how much do you really know about Keats?

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

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Postby Despondence » Tue Mar 14, 2006 10:40 pm

What was the first piece of lyrical or classic literature that Keats read? (and how old was he then?)
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Postby dks » Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:22 am

Would have been either Homer or Virgil.
Most probably Homer--Chapman's--which he, of course, wrote about.
Any classical piece introduced to him early on would have been at Clarke's at Enfield--Cowden Clarke had quite a personal collection and loaned Keats many of his own books.

Can't you just see him reading in the strawberry patches? The very ones he and his fellow students watered and grew?
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Postby Despondence » Wed Mar 15, 2006 8:12 am

Ah - ok, my guess between the two would perhaps be the Aenid(?), which he started translating in the summer of 1809, apparently. Though I believe at the time he thought of it mostly as an academic excercise, and didn't really think much about the lyrical aspects of the work.

I don't know when he actually got hold of Chapman's Homer, anybody knows? I have the impression this was somehwat later, by Cowden Clarke (did he obtain the Aenid from Cowden or his father?). If it is any guide, the poem "On first looking into Chapman's Homer" seems to have been written in October 1816, or so?

Well thanks for your input! I guess my mind is still wandering a bit—around those earlier times while at Clarke's school, there was also Spenser and Shakespeare in the mix, and surely several more that I'm omitting. I was just curious which one could be cited as the very earliest work that Keats came in contact with.

Can't you just see him reading in the strawberry patches? The very ones he and his fellow students watered and grew?

...now I've got "Strawberry fields forever" stuck in my head too.. :lol:
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Postby Saturn » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:03 am

Oh, so you didn't actually know the exact answer Despondence?? :lol:

I was going to say The Aeneid myself but I'm sure that he would have come across lyrical and classsical literature even earlier than when he was translating The Aeneid.

We have to remember at this time and even indeed probably even up to the 1960s in Britain and Ireland the very bedrock of education was classical influenced with puplis being taught Latin, usually compulsorarliy, and I'm sure it was so with Keats, even though Clarke's school was known as very progressive and non-conformist, it could not have differed too much from the usual pattern of 19th Century education.

He would probably have sarted with a schoolboy Latin grammar book which of course as examples would have included many Latin poets.

He also first encountered those classical reference dictionaries at school like Lempriere's BiblothecaClassica, Andrew Tooke's Pantheon, Joseph Spence's Polymetis, Edwin Baldwin's [William Godwin] Pantheon for children and John Potter Antiquities Of Greece which would later help to account for his prodigious ability to recreate the world of Classical mythology so meticuously.

As we know it was not until his mother's illness and subsequent death that Keats began to show his more studious side but his exposure to the poetry and literature of Greece and Rome from his earliest school days certainly left him with a vivid imagination and a foundation on which to base his future works.

"Picture yourself on a boat on a river..."


Damn, now you've got me doing it too. :lol:

*Goes off to listen to some Beatles*
Last edited by Saturn on Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:38 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Despondence » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:30 am

Saturn wrote:Oh, so you didn't actually know the exact answer Despondence?? :lol:

Nope :) Sorry if that implies violating the trivia rules...I just got that question into my head and figured I might as well post it here rather than start a new topic. That's a very insightful reply you posted too, thanks!
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Postby Saturn » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:37 am

No don't worry you can pose a question even if you're not sure of the answer.

I was sure you had read some really obscure reference and were going to perplex us all with some really difficult question :lol:
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Postby dks » Wed Mar 15, 2006 6:42 pm

Yes, the Lempriere can be found in various places at his Hampstead collection. This was probably a steady reference for him around the time he 'discovered' English poetry, which was (as you said) after his mother passed. By 1814 he was already writing, though. Hence, his first attempt which was "Imitation of Spenser". So we know he was reading, or, rather, devouring, the "Faerie Queen" before he dove into Homer (Chapman's in 1816), but around the same time he undertook translating the "Aeneid" with Clarke while home (on a weekend, presumably) from Edmonton. So that puts him at about 18 or 19 when he was really becoming dazzled by English poetry and its "lulling charities".
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Postby Malia » Wed Mar 15, 2006 7:40 pm

18 or 19 when he began being enthralled with English poetry. Wow. That just amazes me--considering he wrote ALL of his work--some of it considered among the greatest English poetry ever written--within 5-6 years of that time. He went from just being interested in it to composing master work in that short space of time. It absolutely boggles the mind. . .and here I've been studying Keats for 16 years now--I shouldn't be startled by that timeline, but I *still* am. Amzaing achievement!
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Postby Despondence » Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:32 pm

Malia wrote:. . .and here I've been studying Keats for 16 years now--
Blimey. We're all duly dwarfed an humbled now. . . :oops:

Welcome to new member dks, btw!
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Postby dks » Wed Mar 15, 2006 9:40 pm

Thank you, Despondence.

I'm so happy to be able to wile away the time talking about the man I've been in love with for about 18 years. Is there anything better than Keats trivia? I daresay there is not.

I just went to Hampstead and Rome (Protestant Cemetery) in January for the first time. It was, indeed, a pilgrimmage.
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Postby Malia » Wed Mar 15, 2006 10:50 pm

Yes, welcome dks! It's great to have you here :)

dks wrote: I just went to Hampstead and Rome (Protestant Cemetery) in January for the first time. It was, indeed, a pilgrimmage.


OK, now I'm jeallous. I would LOVE to go on a Keats pilgrimage. I've been to Keats House at Hampstead--but that was over 10 years ago. My brother visited Rome a few years back and visited the Keats-Shelley museum there for me. He tried to visit the graveyeard, but it was closed when he tried to visit it--and he was a little leery of climbing the walls to have a walk around inside.

Can you tell us what Keats House at Hampstead looks like now--after the rennovation? We've got some pics of what it looked like when I visited up on the forum somewhere.

What did you enjoy most about your visit to Keats House and the Keats-Shelley Museum?


Is there anything better than Keats trivia? I daresay there is not


Agreed! :D
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Postby dks » Wed Mar 15, 2006 11:01 pm

Well, I'm not sure what it looked like pre-renovation, but I believe the Brawne's side of the house is now a period, display dining area.
I lingered there as long as possible...until it was almost dark.
I, too, found the Piramide closed in Rome when I arrived. I had a good cry and squelched my upper body into one of the tiny, screened windows that dot the outer cemetery walls. I will go back for sure so I may lay a single rose in front of his tombstone. There was one there when I peered through the window.
The Protestant Cemetery is a most beautiful, serene place.
The Keats house at the Piazza di Spagna was nothing short of magnificent. I stood at the very same window he looked out of while very ill and very tortuously in love with Fanny.
I then proceeded to Cafe Greco where he took his tea with Joseph Severn...a great little Italian coffee house. It was surreal...
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Postby Fortuna » Fri Mar 31, 2006 10:53 am

Malia wrote:I think I know this one! Keats gave her a garnet ring which perhaps belonged to his mother. (Hmm.. .that has a certain Oedipal feeling to it, doesn't it?) It is said that Fanny Brawne wore this ring until she died.


I visited a ring designer today and the prospect of having a garnet engagement ring really appeals to me! I was wondering if any of you have any ideas about what Keats' engagement ring looked like... I'd certainly love to consider them when it comes to telling the designers what I'm looking for. :) Thank you.
"Call’d him soft names in many a mused rhyme,
To take into the air my quiet breath"
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Postby dks » Fri Mar 31, 2006 4:08 pm

Garnets are beautiful stones and make gorgeous engagement rings.

The garnet ring Keats gave Fanny is much bigger than I expected it to be; it's not as dainty as I thought it would look--the stone itself is fairly large in an antique filigree setting. I saw it at Hampstead back in January. :)
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Postby Malia » Fri Mar 31, 2006 5:56 pm

I don't know if I'm remembering this correctly or not--but I've seen pictures of this ring (a long time ago, mind you) and I remember that the band was fashioned to look like intertwined serpents (you know--as seen in the symbol for the medical profession). I thought that was interesting considering Keats's having been a doctor. It was a pretty cool way to fashion the band, too.
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