Here lies one whose name was writ in water

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

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Here lies one whose name was writ in water

Postby shirley » Wed May 07, 2003 10:16 am

I don't even understand these words been engravened on his Tomb Stone,tell me :oops:
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Postby Endymion » Sat May 24, 2003 8:59 pm

Hi Shirley welcome to the Bulletein Board!

The original quote that Keats modified to his own needs came from a book that he read and studied almost fanatically during his life, and I think says a lot about the depressed nature he felt as a result of his early death and poor reception with the public when they read his poems.

This link has the origin of the quote and the full text of his epitaph:

http://phrases.shu.ac.uk/bulletin_board ... s/962.html
"He Stood in His Shoes and he Wondered
He Wondered
He Stood in his Shoes and He Wondered."
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Postby kara » Fri Feb 06, 2004 5:04 am

Hi Shirley,
I'm pretty sure that the intended idea was (as the person who posted before me pointed out), that he was despondent over what he thought was going to be a life and memory that would not be remembered after his death. In other words, his memory would be fast fading from people's minds. Obviously, he wasn't aware of the impact that he would make on an innumerable amount of later generations. The quote was taken from from the play [b]Philaster[/b] by Beaumont and Fletcher.
"All your better deeds / Shall be in water writ,".
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Postby Matt » Fri Feb 06, 2004 6:51 pm

No one is actually answeing poor Shirleys question! Shirely, if you try writing your name in water (with your finger) then you will notice that the name dissapears very quickly, if it appears at all. Therefore as Despondence and Kara pointed out-Keats thought that he would be erased from peoples memories after his death.

Muchos Gracias


Matt
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uh

Postby kara » Mon Feb 09, 2004 8:36 pm

I thought that that's what Despondence and I were saying...
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Keat's Epitaph

Postby Stephen Smith » Wed May 12, 2004 9:05 pm

Now, now, don't argue. You're all getting the job done.
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Postby Junkets » Mon Oct 11, 2004 12:53 pm

The initial interpretation I formed of this epitaph was, as has been mentioned, that Keats was referring to his lack of success and assumed inferiority as a poet. But I now believe that I was wrong; this interpretation, I think, it is not justifiable. Although I don't doubt that there was some humerous reference to his lack of success and inferiority in the epitaph, I don't think that Keats would pass up the opportunity of making a final and enduring statement without incoporating any poetical flair. Ask yourself, knowing the poetry, letters and theories of Keats, as I'm sure you all do, whether such a down-hearted, almost self indulgent and weak statement would be made by a man so continually concerned with truth and beauty, a man with such a strong vision, a man with such understanding and intent . I don't believe it would. I believe that epitaph echoes that which is seen throughout his poetry, and in particular Ode to a Nightingale and Hyperion, the notion of achieving the transcendent, the ability to 'dissolve' and obtain a degree of omniscience, to become in essence an etheral part of Nature. To further a point mentioned by Matt, if you take a pen and 'write' your name in the water with ink, the ink is dissolved into the water and becomes akin to nothing, but the ink will spread throughout the water and will always be present. While my original reading of the epitaph made me feel a litle sad for Keats, this second reading makes me smile.
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Postby Despondence » Mon Oct 11, 2004 1:56 pm

That's a heroic picture you paint, and quite possible, I suppose. Still, though. While he said that "I think I shall be among the English poets after my death," I find it hard to believe he would have twisted this humble dream, that secret feeling, into a prediction on his stone. What if it were not to be? And for sure, at the time he had no reason to believe that posterity would remember him at all. To make such a bold prediction in the face of despondence seems rather arrogant. Maybe this would not have been uncharacteristic of Keats, when it comes to his confidence in his own abilities, but still. I'm not sure I can buy it. That he viewed his passing as a transcendence seems also a bit of a stretch, since his life was cut rather short.
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Postby Junkets » Mon Oct 11, 2004 3:33 pm

I think you would be right, Despondence, but I also think that you just may have got the wrong end of the stick of what I was implying (or could it be that I have not explained myself very well?). I was not intending to state that the epitaph was some sort of exaltaion of his own poetic genius; that would be erring toward arrogance. Using Nightingale, again, as an example, Keats expresses his desire to drink "a cup full of the warm south", "leave the world unseen" and "fade far away into the forest dim". Of course superficially it could be argued that he just wants to knock himself out and disappear, but to me this shows a desire to imbibe Nature in an effort to become (ok, excuse the cheese) at one with Nature, in an all embracing transcendent fashion (also to be seen in the desire to 'fly' with to the nightingale on the wings of posey - oh dear, I digress). It is this sentiment that I feel is reflected in the epitaph.

I hope this makes sense; trying to think about all this whilst doing my work and trying not to get caught by the boss is proving a significant undertaking.
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Postby Saturn » Tue Oct 12, 2004 12:40 pm

Do you think Keats gives a damn - he's dead, get over it people!!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Junkets » Tue Oct 12, 2004 2:30 pm

It would appear Mr Saturn has all the social graces of an ox.
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Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 13, 2004 11:02 am

How can you make such a judgement - you know nothing about me whatsoever.

I won't even deign such an ignorant comment with a reply.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Postby Despondence » Wed Oct 13, 2004 12:20 pm

Whoa, houl' on now.
Stephen, what happened to you, this isn't like you. Did you get burned on a woman recently or smth? Whatever the reason, I'm sure it has nothing to do with Junkets. A genuinely friendly advice: don't polemize yourself into usenet quarrels over nothing. This is not the place, and you don't have the skill. Your talents lie elsewhere; you'll loose.
Despondence
 

Quote on Keats Tombstone

Postby catlover » Sat Oct 16, 2004 6:03 pm

Hi Shirley,

The quote comes from the Beamont and Fletcher play "Philaster or Love Lies A-bleeding".Act V Scene III

As you are living ; all your better deeds shall be in water writ, but this in marble ; No chronicle shall speak you, though your own, but for the shame of men.
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Postby Despondence » Tue Jan 04, 2005 3:04 pm

Time to rehash, here. I'm wondering (in my shoes).

Two posts mention the Beaumont and Fletcher play as the source for the epitaph, and Endymion pointed to "a book that he read and studied almost fanatically during his life," and gave a link to it which unfortunately does not work anymore. Was this Burton's "Anatomy"? And is this where Beaumont and Fletcher is quoted?

Andrew Motion, on the other hand, mentions something about Keats arriving at this motto by translating something from Greek. What would that have been? But Gittings seem to say that Keats never studied Greek ("he...wished he had studied Greek with Bailey"), although he might have been able to do some minimal translations anyway, if he devoted himself to it, but probably not routinely.

What is true here, could someone clarify?
Despondence
 


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