Random Keats Questions

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

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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Apr 21, 2006 3:56 am

dks wrote:What?? Who doesn't like Harry??

Tragic, isn't it?

Anxious for your story!!! :shock:
"Holy Kleenex, Batman! It was right under our nose and we blew it!"
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:28 am

ok. So, I'm in Rome--alone...I decided to take the free weekend we were given during my Lit. London trip to fly there to (what else?) see Keats's grave and the house/room at the Piazza di Spagna. Well, I get there and take the tram to town...I get off the tram and could NOT find my hotel--I used my guide book but I just couldn't find that little TINY street, Ippolito Nievo.

I must have walked around the area for two hours--exhausted--noticing that as I was walking I was feeling horrible cold symptoms--deep, throaty cough, sniffling nose, chills, etc... I proceeded to walk for what seemed like days, until a kind couple came up to me and asked me in broken English if I was lost. I told them I was and they pointed me in the opposite direction--I retraced my steps and found that I had passed my hotel on the opposite side of the street hours ago!!! So, by now I'm shuffling and fevered.

I get to my hotel, greeted by Mr. Handsome Italian conceirge man (by the way, there is NOT a bad looking man in all of Rome) and I checked in and crawled up to my room. I tumbled onto the bed and lay there for a good while--having trouble breathing. I finally got up to get freshened and ready to find food when I look around and notice, my guide book was gone. Completely gone--without a trace--the same book I had clutched under my arm when I stumbled into the room...I must have had every staff member helping me look for this book--as it had stuffed in it a hand written letter from my professor to allow me the use of the Keats/Shelley Memorial library for research...but, after wasting everyone's time- it was no use. The book disappeared without so much as a flinty whisper.

By then, my 'cold' symptoms were racking--I was fevered, hungry, wheezing and bookless. All I could think of was getting to the Piazza di Spagna the next day. I finally managed sleep and woke up fuzzy, but ready to trek to the Spanish Steps. I needle my way through breakfast and got out onto the busy Roman streets to catch a bus--not knowing how to get to the steps.

While riding the bus and crammed up next to a vat of people, shoulder to shoulder, I kept trying to read the bus routes--trying to 'guess and feel' my way to the steps. As fate would have it, I, of course, got off at the wrong stop. I kept walking and walking again...just mesmerized by the people, the culture, the ruins, the castles, those magnificent poplars and the smell of food that will forever be imprinted on my senses. I came up on Castel de San Angelo--nestled next to Vatican City--and took gorgeous photos--I just kept walking--cold, and chilled--feeling my way to the steps...I then get to the Via Condotti and in the distance I see it--The Keats/Shelley house--the window of the room where he died...I took a picture for every marker and every block I walked until I got there--where I broke down in stifled sobs due to disbelief, exhaustion, a painful chest cough and aching limbs. I had the time of my life in there--closed the place down and didn't leave until the shadows on the walls of the room where he died started to sink along with the Roman sun.

That night, in my hotel room--I wrote volumes in my journal and realized that I'd been experiencing what seemed like phantom consumption symptoms--ready to relax and read my "Writer's Lives: Keats" book I'd bought at the British library. I go to get off the desk where it had been since I checked in and it was gone--no where in sight. I panicked a bit, thinking maybe I'd left it back in London? Maybe I never brought it? But I knew I had because I'd read from it there that morning--unable to take the loss of another important token, I climbed into bed and closed my eyes thinking, "maybe Keats will just put my book on the pillow next to me."

I opened my eyes to shut the t.v. off--and there was my book--on the pillow beside me.
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Apr 21, 2006 4:50 am

:shock:
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:02 am

:lol:

I know. It's the God's honest truth, though.
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Postby Malia » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:22 am

Did your symptoms go away immediately (when you left the Steps or when you arrived back in your hotel?) or did they linger like a real cold?

Interesting story! Wish I had one to rival it--but, unless you count the dream I had two nights ago where I (supposedly in Keats's body) met Woodhouse at a tavern to discuss poetry--I really don't have anything.

Cool that you were able to see the artifacts/manuscripts! Did anything in particular stand out?
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Postby Credo Buffa » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:44 am

Are your pictures from the trip digital, dks? Could you post any of them?

And did you ever get to go to the Protestant Cemetery?
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:58 am

Malia wrote:Did your symptoms go away immediately (when you left the Steps or when you arrived back in your hotel?) or did they linger like a real cold?

Interesting story! Wish I had one to rival it--but, unless you count the dream I had two nights ago where I (supposedly in Keats's body) met Woodhouse at a tavern to discuss poetry--I really don't have anything.

Cool that you were able to see the artifacts/manuscripts! Did anything in particular stand out?


Now THAT's an interesting dream, Malia. Yes, the masks, of course, stood out and the manuscript for "Endymion." I tried to take a photo, but the glare from the glass case caught my camera lense.
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Postby dks » Fri Apr 21, 2006 5:59 am

Credo Buffa wrote:Are your pictures from the trip digital, dks? Could you post any of them?

And did you ever get to go to the Protestant Cemetery?


Yes, and yes...trying to do some of that now...

what I can't post tonite-I'll post tomorrow...
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Re:

Postby Raphael » Sat Apr 24, 2010 12:38 am

dks wrote:ok. So, I'm in Rome--alone...I decided to take the free weekend we were given during my Lit. London trip to fly there to (what else?) see Keats's grave and the house/room at the Piazza di Spagna. Well, I get there and take the tram to town...I get off the tram and could NOT find my hotel--I used my guide book but I just couldn't find that little TINY street, Ippolito Nievo.

I must have walked around the area for two hours--exhausted--noticing that as I was walking I was feeling horrible cold symptoms--deep, throaty cough, sniffling nose, chills, etc... I proceeded to walk for what seemed like days, until a kind couple came up to me and asked me in broken English if I was lost. I told them I was and they pointed me in the opposite direction--I retraced my steps and found that I had passed my hotel on the opposite side of the street hours ago!!! So, by now I'm shuffling and fevered.

I get to my hotel, greeted by Mr. Handsome Italian conceirge man (by the way, there is NOT a bad looking man in all of Rome) and I checked in and crawled up to my room. I tumbled onto the bed and lay there for a good while--having trouble breathing. I finally got up to get freshened and ready to find food when I look around and notice, my guide book was gone. Completely gone--without a trace--the same book I had clutched under my arm when I stumbled into the room...I must have had every staff member helping me look for this book--as it had stuffed in it a hand written letter from my professor to allow me the use of the Keats/Shelley Memorial library for research...but, after wasting everyone's time- it was no use. The book disappeared without so much as a flinty whisper.

By then, my 'cold' symptoms were racking--I was fevered, hungry, wheezing and bookless. All I could think of was getting to the Piazza di Spagna the next day. I finally managed sleep and woke up fuzzy, but ready to trek to the Spanish Steps. I needle my way through breakfast and got out onto the busy Roman streets to catch a bus--not knowing how to get to the steps.

While riding the bus and crammed up next to a vat of people, shoulder to shoulder, I kept trying to read the bus routes--trying to 'guess and feel' my way to the steps. As fate would have it, I, of course, got off at the wrong stop. I kept walking and walking again...just mesmerized by the people, the culture, the ruins, the castles, those magnificent poplars and the smell of food that will forever be imprinted on my senses. I came up on Castel de San Angelo--nestled next to Vatican City--and took gorgeous photos--I just kept walking--cold, and chilled--feeling my way to the steps...I then get to the Via Condotti and in the distance I see it--The Keats/Shelley house--the window of the room where he died...I took a picture for every marker and every block I walked until I got there--where I broke down in stifled sobs due to disbelief, exhaustion, a painful chest cough and aching limbs. I had the time of my life in there--closed the place down and didn't leave until the shadows on the walls of the room where he died started to sink along with the Roman sun.

That night, in my hotel room--I wrote volumes in my journal and realized that I'd been experiencing what seemed like phantom consumption symptoms--ready to relax and read my "Writer's Lives: Keats" book I'd bought at the British library. I go to get off the desk where it had been since I checked in and it was gone--no where in sight. I panicked a bit, thinking maybe I'd left it back in London? Maybe I never brought it? But I knew I had because I'd read from it there that morning--unable to take the loss of another important token, I climbed into bed and closed my eyes thinking, "maybe Keats will just put my book on the pillow next to me."

I opened my eyes to shut the t.v. off--and there was my book--on the pillow beside me.


WOW...I know this was posted ages ago but I wasn't on this board then. Incredible story - amazing.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Spanglej » Sat Jun 26, 2010 8:39 am

What did George do to promote John's work and "keep it alive"? I haven't heard before of George's efforts. I know of the 1848 biography and Byron's, Shelly's and Tennyson's posthumous championing of his work. But George? Intriguing.

Your info most welcome.
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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Cybele » Sat Jun 26, 2010 4:38 pm

Spanglej wrote:What did George do to promote John's work and "keep it alive"? I haven't heard before of George's efforts. I know of the 1848 biography and Byron's, Shelly's and Tennyson's posthumous championing of his work. But George? Intriguing.

Your info most welcome.


IMO, the most significant thing George did to spread word of his brother's name & talent was to make friends with James Freeman Clarke. Clarke stayed with the Keats family for some of the time he lived in Louisville and was the minister at the Unitarian church where George and his family were members. Clarke had been one of the charter members of the Transcendentalist Club while a student at Harvard and moved in the same social circles as did other American Transcendentalist luminaries like Margaret Fuller (who was his cousin), Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, et al..

George cherished his brother's letters. When he made his brief return visit to England after Tom's death he brought back the letters John had written to Tom from Scotland. He also copied several of John's poems from their manuscripts.

George made this material available to Clarke and, in fact, gave him some of the treasured manuscripts. (This is beautifully documented in "John Keats -- A Poet and His Manuscripts" by Steven Hebron, a book I heard about on this forum and was lucky to receive as a birthday present this year. :) It's a wonderful book, with photos of many of Keats's manuscripts.)

The first American publication of the poetry of John Keats was in the pages of "The Western Messenger," a literary, transcendentalist, Unitarian magazine that Clarke edited. (The history of this little magazine is fascinating, and it's -- again, IMO :) -- hard to overstate its eventual influence on American lit.

Keats's aesthetic (I guess that's what you'd call it) fit in very well with the transcendentalist viewpoint and love of nature. And yet again IMO, that which had been criticized in England as excessively sensual found a happy home among American intellectuals.
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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Ennis » Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:12 pm

Malia, et. al. --

In response to Keats's haunting of a place, I thought you would be interested in this poem by Thomas Hardy (July, 1920). My apologies if y'all are already familiar with it (and perhaps, Saturn, I'm putting this under [in?] the incorrect thread. Sorry, if I am . . . ).

At a House in Hampstead: Sometime the Dwelling of John Keats

O poet, come you haunting here
Where streets have stolen up all around,
And never a nightingale pours one
Full-throated sound?

Drawn from your drowse by the Seven famed Hills,
Thought you to find all just the same
Here shining, as in hours of old,
If you but came?

What will you do in your surprise
At seeing that changes wrought in Rome
Are wrought yet more on the misty slope
One time your home?

Will you wake wind-wafts on these stairs?
Swing the doors open noisily?
Show as an umbraged ghost beside
Your ancient tree?

Or will you, softening, the while
You look further and yet further look,
Learn that a laggard few would fain
Preserve your nook? . . .

--Where the Piazza steps incline,
And catch late light at eventide,
I once stood, in that Rome, and thought,
"'Twas here he died."

I drew to a violet-sprinkled spot,
Where day and night a pyramid keeps
Uplifted its white hand, and said,
"'Twas there he sleeps."

Pleasanter now it is to hold
That there, where he sang he, more of him
remains than where he, tuneless, cold,
Passed to the dim.


I so like the verse: "Will you wake the wind-wafts on these stairs?"
I hope the next time I visit The House (and can ACTUALLY get inside!), I feel those "wind-wafts" or hear that "slight coughing" (prehaps in the parlour - from where He hoped to "see her show herself in the garden. . . "). My apologies to the poster who mentioned the 'slight coughing." I forgot who you were and I don't know enough about navigating around (through, over, or beyond!?!?) a computer to identify you by name.

Anyway, enjoy Mr. Hardy. . .
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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 27, 2010 7:31 pm

Nice poem Ennis, thanks.
John....you did not live to see-
who we are because of what you left,
what it is we are in what we make of you.

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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Cybele » Sun Jun 27, 2010 8:58 pm

Thank you, Ennis --
I hadn't seen this poem before.

Someone once asked me if I had the choice, would I rather go to London or to Rome.
I didn't have to think too long and answered right away, "I'd rather go to where he lived than where he died."

Anyway, those who have been to Rome to the Keats-Shelley house report that the house is not at all spooky, but is instead a calm place apart from all the touristy activity outside near the fountain.

I was hoping to make it to London this year, but the turns my life has taken has ruled out such a trip.

Next year. . . next year. . . next year. :(
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Re: Random Keats Questions

Postby Malia » Sun Jun 27, 2010 9:18 pm

Wonderful poem, Ennis. So many poets have honored Keats with verse--and a lot of them are well done! You can tell they love Keats to the core of their being. I suspect they, as poets, understand Keats on a deeper level than most of us laypeople.

The first time I visited Keats House, it was literally falling apart (this was in 1995) and I felt a sort of ironic, irritated sadness--much as Keats felt when visiting Burns' cottage. The line "a shadow of a magnitude" kept repeating in my ears like a ghost whispering a mantra . . . it was the oddest feeling, as if the living were desperately trying to forestall the inevitable decay and Keats' spirit was willing us to stop trying--to let life take its course into death. I felt his living presence much more fully on the Heath, then.

The second time, after the renovation (I visited in November 2009), my sensations were quite different. I felt a calmness and peace in the house that permeated my soul. I remember wanting to just sit in Keats's sitting room and become a fixture there. I understood fully how such a place could feel like a retreat for him.
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