In the Footsteps of Keats

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

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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:49 pm

I was so close to getting to see Ben Nevis on the recent whirlwind Highland tour that I took with my friend when she came to visit me. . . but we were just a bit too short on time :( I have, however, been to the Lake District, and have been to Rydal Mount, where Keats went to visit Wordsworth only to find him not at home.

I'm also FINALLY getting to see the Keats House when I go to London next week! I'm hoping to see as many Keats sights as I can while I'm there (I've recently read that the house where he was born has been turned into a pub. . . totally going there for a pint!), so if any of you know of any more obscure ones, I'd love to know!
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Postby Saturn » Tue Oct 18, 2005 10:51 pm

Do you have a digital camera??

Could you take some pictures for us - I'm thinking of adding a photo gallery to the site and pictures of places where Keats lived and worked would be great to start off. :D
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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:08 pm

Definitely!
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Postby Saturn » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:15 pm

That would be fantastic - thanks a lot.

I went past Ailsa Craig on a ferry last year and got some great photos of that but I lost them. :roll:
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Postby Credo Buffa » Tue Oct 18, 2005 11:19 pm

Ugh, I hate it when that happens.

Apparently they have literary events on Wednesday evenings at the Keats House, so I might see if I can drop in on that next week as well :) I'm so excited I can hardly stand it!
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Postby Saturn » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:10 am

Sounds interesting - enjoy yourself :D
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Postby Credo Buffa » Sat Oct 29, 2005 6:42 am

Well, it's bright and early and I'm back from London! I've got plenty of pictures from the Keats path in London: Wentworth Place, Well Walk, Hampstead Heath, The Spaniards Inn, Moorgate. . . The one place I didn't get to was the Apothecaries Hall. In any case, I'll be sure to post some of my better pictures soon, once I get some sleep!
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Postby Saturn » Sat Oct 29, 2005 10:48 am

Terrific News - could you maybe send them to me and I could start a new Photo Gallery section on the site and start off with a bang :D
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Scotpacker » Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:17 pm

Having had a bit of freedom from work for the first time in my life I decided to read a biography of John Keats. I am still reading the Motion Book but have been to Rome. The house there is marvellous, I think, it's position overlooking the fountain and Spanish steps, hardly needs any more embellishment to capture the essential atmosphere of the place. The grave too in the cemetery at Pyramid Station has a marvellous location and sense of peace, particularly on a warm sunny day with the deep emerald green foliage and early spring blossom. Later on in may 2010, I was able to travel to London. I visited the house in Hampstead twice. The cost of £5 for a ticket that lasts for a year was excellent value especially to a man with a mission, as I had become. On my second visit, I took the train to Highgate and walked over to the High Street spying the house in the Grove where Coleridge had stayed and then following the road downhill to Millgate Lane at the edge of Hampstead Heath, tried to envisage the spot where Keats had met Coleridge and walked some way with him. Then walking across the Heath to Well Walk tried to locate the house number 1 Well Walk where he lived with his brothers and where Tom died. The numbers have now changed and it seems the house was demolished and the well tavern is now on the spot where the house was. I then followed the edge of the Heath round to the Keats house again. I liked what they did with the front room putting a lounger in the position where Keats lay convalescing from his latest illness. Few visitors is great because you can exercise your imagination and when no one is looking, sit on the lounger and think of the man who once lay there in much different circumstances and a much different world from our own. It was excellent also to visit the Portrait gallery and see the original picture of Keats sitting in the rear sitting room. Today I am reading of his trip across Mull to see Iona and Staffa, wishing that he had not gone because seemingly it helped to weaken his constitution and bring on the TB. My wife and I were able to visit these places two years ago but we travelled in a coach across Mull and were well nourished. Poor Keats and Brown were soaked, starved and exhausted.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Saturn » Fri Jun 04, 2010 5:37 pm

First of all welcome to the forum Scotpacker.

That is quite a Keatsian Odyssey!
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby BrokenLyre » Fri Jun 04, 2010 7:37 pm

Thanks scotpacker for the wonderful "word tour" of the places you have visited. My heart aches...when I read of such travels to Keats' places. I get emotional just reading and imagining myself being there. But New York State and children and job prevent me from going.

Thanks for the descriptions. Welcome to the Forum as well. A pleasure to hear from you.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Ennis » Fri Jun 04, 2010 9:00 pm

Scotpacker -
Thank you, thank you, thank you for clearing something up for me! Last summer I was able to go on a Keats pilgrimage to Rome and London. While out in Hampstead, I too, tried to locate Number One Well Walk. I walked up and down that dang street/hill about 3 times trying to locate it. If I had had any sense, I would have gone to the Hampstead Museum at the top of the street and asked. So it has been demolished? Damn! Is the Well Tavern that pub I saw near the top of the hill across the road from the well?? I saw a pub there, and considered going in and asking the pub-keeper about house number one, but I didn't and I didn't notice the name of it.
I want to go back so badly I ache at the thought I may never get to. When I retire from teaching I want to live and die in Hampstead.
Oh! Welcome to the forum! I'm very new, as well. The more the merrier! What would Mr. Keats think if he knew there still was a Keats Circle 189 - 190 years later! I think he'd be pleased . . .
"But if you will fully love me, though there may be some fire, 'twill not be more than we can bear when moistened and bedewed with Pleasures." JK to FB 08.07.1819
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Malia » Fri Jun 04, 2010 10:19 pm

Scotpacker, welcome to our forum! And I am so excited to read of your Keatsian journey. I would love to go down to Rome and visit the house and grave site. I think I'll always feel as if a piece is missing from my Keats experience until I can do that. I'm always interested and happy to hear about others' who have had the chance to visit. Last November, a friend and I toured Scotland and England and interestingly enough, much of our Scotland leg led us through places Keats and Brown visited on their walking tour. I saw Loch Lomond, Inverness, Ayr and Alloway, visited the outside of Burns Cottage (it was closed for renovations), stood atop Brig 'o Dunne . . . it was very much like a Keats pilgrimage for me. And of course, the absolute topper was visiting Hampstead and Keats House during our stay in London. I've visited Keats House before (back in '95) and it was such a spiritual experience to be there again. I could have just sat in Keats's parlor for hours and hours . . . just soaking it all in.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Scotpacker » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:33 am

Thanks for the feedback. I live in Glasgow and my liking for the romantic poets begun at secondary school (age 15) when my English Teacher read a few Keats poems, most memorably ode to Autumn. She also mentioned the grave and the epitaph "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." I have been fortunate to be able to go to Rome 3 times in the last 4 years, for a week each time. Rome has many levels of interest and having visited the house and grave on my first visit I was determined to make a proper study of Keats life this time. The weather in Rome in May is perfect for me and there can be just enough rain to keep the foliage fresh and green. I also have the good fortune to be fit enough and young enough in heart to enjoy back packing and camping. To wake at 8am breakfast and fill the day pack with the days essentials, secure the tent and set off in short sleeves and shorts to explore the great cities of Europe is a marvellous delight that I am able to enjoy after working in Glasgow Architect's offices and building sites for 40 years. Imagine the day I went to Keats house at the Spanish steps. I walked from the campsite to the nearby train station, the train soon crossed the Tiber and arrived at Flaminio station. I walked through the Piazza del Popolo but not straight towards Piazza Spagna, I took a detour up the long flight of steps to the park il Pincio where Keats walked and rode as much as he was able in the last tragic months of his life. From that vantage point there is a marvellous view over the trees, rooftops and domes of the city. It is good sometimes to be alone because we can think and imagine how he felt, the strange posthumous existence in such a beautiful place. Having gained the elevation of the park the walk along to the Spanish steps is glorious with the fresh smell of vegetation and the clear freshness of the air is an easy stroll and soon the Spanish steps come into view. The side window of Keats house with the plaque can be seen before the detail of the steps. The majestic buildings all around are glorious and the site of Keats' rooms could not be more appropriate. The stair to the rooms is clean and fresh. The rooms themselves are set out with display cabinets and books lining the walls. The furniture is sparse and not original but ample to invoke the sense of tragedy and drama that was experience within these walls. It is impossible to spend time there without a certain solemnity descending on the heart and a chastening of the feelings. It's better to be quiet and meditate alone, to mourn a little for the young man whom we know through his poetry and the writings of those who cared enough to record them. And when we leave we feel better for the experience, hopefully nobler and more sensitive to the suffering of others. We move on to the grave perhaps ten miles away but easily reached by the metro. When I arrived there for the third time, a few weeks ago now, I was all alone, I was able to sit on the bench beside the grave, in the dappled shade of the trees and the warmth of the day. I spent upwards of half an hour there all alone and I opened the biography at the final pages and read of his last days. I wanted to feel some of his pain and perhaps identify with his suffering. Perhaps I prayed a little and perhaps a tear or two fell as I thought of his age (25) the same age as my elder son and I mourned for the loss of such promising youthful life cut off so tragically short. I read of his desire to have daisies at his grave and I looked down and saw daisies growing there.
The house in Wentworth Place, happily, does not have the same solemnity. There were some times of happiness and romance. There was the writing of wonderful poems and there was the companionship of like minds.
As a Scot who has lived and worked in Scotland for all of my life, all of the sights that Keats saw in Scotland are familiar to me and I consider that few of them will have changed much over the two centuries. Glasgow however has changed and expanded greatly over that time. I wonder where he stayed when he came top Glasgow. He and Brown visited the cathedral which is open to the public and in full use as a church today. The area around Burns cottage has only changed by becoming more visitor friendly, I hope in a good sense. A study of Burn's life is also a useful exercise. One big advantage in studying the lives of such people is the detail that emerges of the times in which they lived and invariably that is much different from our own and that can add to the fascination.

One thing I was not able to locate in Hampstead was the location of Leigh Hunt's house in the Vale of Health.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 06, 2010 12:55 am

Welcome Scotpacker! I'm from NW England- not been to any Keatsian locations yet sadly.It was great to read your travel accounts. Do you know if Elm Cottage (where the Brawnes used to live) is still there in Hampstead?

P.S I hope you egt your dream Ennis to retire in Hampstead- but do you know that it is one of the most expensive places to live in the whole of Britain? Houses cost millions there!
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.

Peter Sanson, 1995.
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