Novel Dedicated to Keats, Launched on his 213th Birthday

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Novel Dedicated to Keats, Launched on his 213th Birthday

Postby RogerForsythe » Tue Dec 23, 2008 2:39 am

"Were I dead, sir, I should like a Book dedicated to me."
--John Keats, from the rejected first Preface to Endymion.

My Dear Forum Friends,
I rather feel as if I am treading on hallowed ground. I love John Keats. I love him with all my heart. Today, my 47th birthday, I am sharing it with you because I am, for the moment, somewhat numbed by my own transient peace to feel the weight of where it is I am posting this little missive.
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Roger W. Forsythe and I have just published my first novel, "A Crucible of Innocence." It is dedicated to John Keats and the official launch date was Oct. 31st, Keats' 213th birthday and the anniversary of the accident which took the life of my beloved sister, Angie. She was 22.
I was first introduced to my dear friend John Keats in a literature course during the fall 1982. In addressing a class mate behaving rather childishly, Jim Bullis announced to the class that "John Keats is more alive in the pages of this book than you are sitting in that chair."
As an aspiring writer with a Romantic bent, I immediately perked up in my chair to take notice. I was convinced Mr. Bullis was right and that such things were, indeed, possible.
Later, when I entered graduate school, John Keats was the only subject I considered for my "Art of Literary Research" term project. Attracted by our similar physical characteristics (I am 5'6"; he was/is 5'1") and similar personality traits ("terrier courage" as a child--frenetic, irrepressible energy) I was drawn deeply to him. I mourned, too, his too tragic, too bitter loss. His death greatly affected me, especially since he never enjoyed in life the Reputation he so richly deserves.
Anyway, after being struck broadside by a school bus on Halloween 1985, my sister fell into a coma. The entire time my parents and I sat in the hospital waiting room, cafeteria, and parking lot RV, I blocked this tragedy from my mind by throwing all my energy into the life and work of John Keats.
As my professor (Dr. Max Cordonnier) later pointed out, my project was flawed by the way I treated primary and secondary sources. It wasn't until a year or so ago that I realized what I had done was simply look for John Keats' name everywhere I could find it; I sorted these according to major and minor references. In my grief, with my sister passing on Friday, December 13, 1985, I found solace in my dear "Junkets."
In the spring of 1987 I was lucky enough to study with the University of London, Imperial College, as part of the Missouri London Program. My independent graduate course work was a creative research project on John Keats. I read the complete poems and letters, made my literary tour a pilgrimage in his honor, following him everywhere "The Oxford Guide to the British Isles" led me. I secured my British Museum and Keats' House Memorial Library credentials. Over the years, I have written many poems about and for him, as well as a number of letters addressed directly to him. I have fallen in love with the man.
Shortly after my return to the States, at Thanksgiving 1987, I was institutionalized for my belief that I had been Keats in a past life.
Which brings me to a primary plot point in my novel, which was published Sept. 30 by Outskirts Press. My web page is at: Besides the dedication page, four complete chapters, and numerous poems (as well as a recreation of Keats' drawing of the Sosibios Vase), Keats is mentioned first on page 16--as well as the back cover. It is also the first volume in "The James Conrad Scott Chronicles."
I care not for success of any kind for myself if John Keats is not given proper credit and due. I am closing with a couple poems, but as my novel has such interest to fellow Keatsian friends/scholars I would consider it a privilege and an honor to personally email (without charge) a copy of my complete E-Book to those interested in reading what I have written ... pending, of course, approval from the John Keats Forum web masters, who may wish to view my work first. I do not wish to offend in any way.


in the bitterness of his heart, the great
immortal Poet sighed youth's dying breath
tragic. Grieving souls rise to meet, though late,
walks shared across Hampstead Heath before death
untimely ripped her honest bosom from
Fame's fleeting visage. What love there is to
be shared between friends, timeless and true. Come!
Dreamers unknown will wish on stars anew,
bright-shaded beneath veils which darkly mourn
the loss of one who died before 'twas born.

"Ode" ('Secret, the friendship we shared')

"Secret, the friendship we shared
in the neon blaze of night
at arms unfaithful deceiving--
squire-like aiding three tourists lost
from far off Michigan exotic.
America! To see her wilderness
in backwoods undefiled, chaste
as the search for one's true Soul--
and bountiful, too, as the Beauty
of St. Paul's by progress unchanged.
Parting, I--the city dweller--strolled
across Vauxhall Bridge, incorrectly
pronounced when in unknown direction
heading with this Stranger's dialect
rasping in my throat. Disbelieving, then,
how revolutionary the Stones
sound when in the 24-Severn
you music crank eardrums for this--
our Twentieth Century shared."

I like the sound of his voice
in my throat: Twin Spirits;
one Soul.


"February 23rd: Tonight I crossed Tower Bridge on my way to Guy's Hospital. There, I searched for the Keats Memorial Lecture, but no one knew anything about it. Same thing with the staff at St. Thomas'.
With Time drawing close, I phoned Keats' House to find the lecture was being held at Blackfriars, not Guy's. Close to an hour, I spent, on the Tube trying to get there on time.
I didn't make it. When I finally found Apothecaries Hall, they told me the lecture had begun at 6:00, not 6:30. I checked my pocket watch. It was 6:40, too late to do much more.
Despondent, I shuffled home in the rain, tired from having experienced all I could in the Time made available. That it wasn't a lecture on Keats at all--and, rather, a medical seminar being held in his honor--failed to set well with me either. Some tribute!
After buying a bottle of wine and some food at St. Sesame's, I arrived at the flat to find some friends going out for a birthday party. I was too tired and poor to join them. Instead, I hung around the floor for a while and eventually drifted to sleep while reading Endymion."

I knelt in Wonder,
Thankful of my True self


"He's more natural than I expected,
home grown and--Gifted--wild frenetic;
irrepressible, too, if only he'd
shut up every once in a while:
'It's going to be great this Time around,'
he said. 'The last one ended bad--
as, I'm sure, you well recall.'
'What is it you want me to confess?
That I failed at everything I tried
to do? That I could have finagled
a seat inside the coach or borrowed
a scarf and waist coat--if my Grief
had not in punishment slipped strength
to its end? Yes! I was mad--bitter
long before Death's unrepentant
rapture beheld me--Free--at last.
All who ever loved me died, stranding
me Orphan to the awful cravings
of my heart: Gnawing, churning, spitting
dark blood. Ach! Pour on! I'm man enough;
I've proven that a thousand times over
atop hills where Fame's fortunate soldiers
on tiptoe march soundless their final
good-bye. Hello, and then--' Hello again!"

A friend still loves a friend.

In Hollywood pitch parlance, my book may be summarized as follows: Think "A Beautiful Mind" and replace literature for mathematics and manic depression for schizophrenia. Then add the TV show "Quantum Leap." Because angels and reincarnation are primary themes, it is being marketed in both the literary and spiritual markets. Finally, should anyone be interested, my book is available in Great Britain at:,, Bookfellas, Sprintbooks, and Tesco; and in the States at,,, and Borders.
The first press release emphasized the fact that this 469-page novel is an expansion of my Masters Degree creative research project on John Keats. I am sincere in my offer of submitting to anyone interested a free copy of the E-Book; I do not wish to offend.
I teach writing and literature at Barry University and Edison State College in Naples, Florida. In my lit class, I always spend nearly a month on Keats, taking them chronologically through his early work to show his remarkable growth and development. This past semester over half the class had not been introduced to him before. It makes me very happy to share the passion which exudes from between his lines.
In fact, while I can lecture extemporaneously for hours on Hemingway and dissect "Hamlet" and "The Fall of the House of Usher" distinctly with casual ease, I never feel ready or fully prepared to teach the Great Odes. I guess no one does. Their brilliance is too, too great.
As I write this, celebrating in my own way my 47th birthday (Dec. 22 here in the States), I wish all fellow lovers of John Keats a very Merry Christmas and a blessed new year. Thank you for your time, and God bless!

Roger W. Forsythe
Last edited by RogerForsythe on Wed Dec 24, 2008 12:51 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Posts: 1
Joined: Tue Dec 23, 2008 1:14 am
Location: Naples, Florida, U. S. A.

Re: Novel Dedicated to Keats, Launched on his 213th Birthday

Postby Saturn » Tue Dec 23, 2008 7:45 pm

An interesting and tragic tale Roger, I myself have no objection to you offering your work to anyone who wishes to read it.

Thank you for your post, a Happy Birthday to you, have a wonderful Christmas and a prosperous New Year.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Novel Dedicated to Keats, Launched on his 213th Birthday

Postby Saturn » Sun Dec 28, 2008 4:30 pm

I've found the novel on amazon for those interested:

Image ... 14&sr=1-10
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Novel Dedicated to Keats, Launched on his 213th Birthday

Postby patricia39 » Sat Oct 30, 2010 4:07 am

I read some of John Keats' books and I like them all. They were all thought provoking. May I ask why you dedicate your book entitled "A Crucible of Innocence" to him? Please post here an epitome of your work.

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