In the Footsteps of Keats

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

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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Cybele » Sun Jun 06, 2010 3:29 am

Scotpacker, *thank you so much for those lovely descriptions!* (Read 'em twice!)
Your descriptions are so vivid -- I could see it all in my mind.

(I love that you're from Glasgow -- my husband's family came from there.)
"The philosopher proves that the philosopher exists. The poet merely enjoys existence."
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Scotpacker » Sun Jun 06, 2010 10:57 pm

Raphael,

I hadn't looked out for Elm Cottage. Motion says it was at the corner of Downshire Hill and Red Lion Hill. I've been onto google earth. I am sure you have all been on to google earth but if not this is a brilliant way to visit these places on line. Get on to street level and you can navigate your way along the streets. I can search all along Downshire Hill but Red lion hill doesn't seem to be there. Should that be Rosslyn Hill? I will continue to search but I haven't seen it yet.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Raphael » Sun Jun 06, 2010 11:07 pm

Scotpacker wrote:Raphael,

I hadn't looked out for Elm Cottage. Motion says it was at the corner of Downshire Hill and Red Lion Hill. I've been onto google earth. I am sure you have all been on to google earth but if not this is a brilliant way to visit these places on line. Get on to street level and you can navigate your way along the streets. I can search all along Downshire Hill but Red lion hill doesn't seem to be there. Should that be Rosslyn Hill? I will continue to search but I haven't seen it yet.


In the Guy Murchie biography I have it has a Hampstead map with all the places of John and his friends from their time- it marks where Elm Cottage is/was. I shall have to look on google earth with the map to guide me. I have a feeling it is no longer there because the map from Murchie's book (1955) says site of Elm Cottage.The map has Rosslyn Hill of which Downshire Hill runs off.The Cottage is located at the bottom of Downshire hill on the map.
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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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Raphael » Mon Jun 07, 2010 12:08 am

I downloaded Google Earth- learning how to use it! I have managed to find Keats House and Downshire Hill. The images are not clear though and from above so I cannot tell if Elm Cottage is there as yet- even Keats House I would not recognise from above.Anyone here an ace at using Google Earth? There is something on it to find places no longer there apparently.
Last edited by Raphael on Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Ennis » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:09 pm

Raphael --

don't care how expensive!! I hope to manage it, somehow!!
"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 Ennis » Mon Jun 07, 2010 1:36 pm

Last summer, while in Hampstead, I visited the library next to The House and asked about Red Lion Hill. I had read (in Motion's book) that Red Lion Hill was at the bottom of Downshire Hill, but after all my walking up and down that danged road (not to mention hiking up and down Well Walk, trying to find Number One), I could not find it. The librarian "on duty" took out a map of Hampstead and after quite a few minutes of searching HE couldn't find it on the map. You'd think that if he actually lived in Hampstead, he would know! I'm thinking the street name has since hanged and the Elm Cottage demolished. But what do I know, I couldn't even get to The House without getting terribly lost! Story follows: when my brother and I got off the Tube at the Hampstead stop we got turned around on High Street and got lost trying to find The House (I hadn't been there since 1990, so I had a good excuse for not remembering!!). We must have asked at least 10 people, and that's no exaggration!, where the Keats's House was and not one knew! One guy did get back in his car a checked his GPS for us, but it didn't help! But the worst of all this is that 7 of the people we asked (and we kept count after the first) DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHO KEATS WAS!!.. (Imagine this scene on a warm, bright summer day on a lovely street in Hampstead: "Who's house?" "Keats, John Keats -- the great British poet! You know "Ode to a Nightingale," Ode on a Grecian Urn . . .?" "Never heard of him." "You LIVE here and you've never heard of Keats?!" "No." "OK, thanks. . . " Then as brother and sister walked away from these unenlightened folks, faint mumblings of disbelief can be heard muttered under their breaths . . . ). After walking all the way to Camden Town, we finally made it back to Hampstead and noticed a secondary school. Ah, hah!! We got the bright idea that someone there should surely know where Keats was at. The folks in the office couldn't tell us how to get there (although they actually knew who we were talking about), but they were kind enough to print us out a map. We finally made it -- after the Grand Walking Tour of Hampstead and its environs!
"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 Saturn » Mon Jun 07, 2010 3:38 pm

It's not that surprising that those people hadn't heard of Keats, most people, unless they're into poetry or are studying at school probably haven't heard of him. I must confess until I started reading poetry seriously I'd barely heard of him, and certainly never 'did' any Keats at school, it was all more modern poets like Yeats and Larkin and other 20th century poets and of course Shakespeare, and that was a Grammar School.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Raphael » Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:49 pm

Last summer, while in Hampstead, I visited the library next to The House and asked about Red Lion Hill. I had read (in Motion's book) that Red Lion Hill was at the bottom of Downshire Hill, but after all my walking up and down that danged road (not to mention hiking up and down Well Walk, trying to find Number One), I could not find it. The librarian "on duty" took out a map of Hampstead and after quite a few minutes of searching HE couldn't find it on the map. You'd think that if he actually lived in Hampstead, he would know! I'm thinking the street name has since changed and the Elm Cottage demolished.



The map I have in Guy Murchie's book shows Hampstead at the time of John and his friends- 1820. There is no Red Lion hill but Rosslyn Hill- Motion has got the name wrong. Downshire hill is now in Camden (the boundaries have been changed or Camden is a new town created after the Regency period). I had a good look on Google Earth and could find where the cottage might have stood- Downshire Hill is full of houses now with the Heath at the end. Fanny's cottage was at the Heath end.I doubt it is there now as even Murchie's map says site of Elm Cottage.Isn't that a shame? Elm Cottage could also have been made into a museum if it was still standing.I also looked at Well Walk and could guess where the Bentley's house once stood. There is still quite a lot of the Heath left-I'm so glad it's not all built over. It was kind of sad looking at Hampstead as much of it has got urban- modern houses, car filled streets etc and Elm Cottage and the Bentley's gone. When I think of it it has always been back as it was.


But the worst of all this is that 7 of the people we asked (and we kept count after the first) DID NOT EVEN KNOW WHO KEATS WAS!!.. (Imagine this scene on a warm, bright summer day on a lovely street in Hampstead: "Who's house?" "Keats, John Keats -- the great British poet! You know "Ode to a Nightingale," Ode on a Grecian Urn . . .?" "Never heard of him." "You LIVE here and you've never heard of Keats?!" "No." "OK, thanks. . . "




Appalling- no-one in Scotland would say "Burns...Robert Burns...who?" There should be a national Keats Night!!!
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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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Cybele » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:10 am

Raphael wrote:Appalling- no-one in Scotland would say "Burns...Robert Burns...who?" There should be a national Keats Night!!!


You've got that right, Raphael!

One of my husband's aunties had a picture of the Burns cottage on her bedroom wall. When I recognized it, I scored some very serious "brownie points." This, plus my love of a good cup of tea (and knowing how to make one) started me off on the right track with my spouse's family. :)
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Raphael » Tue Jun 08, 2010 1:32 am

Cybele wrote:
Raphael wrote:Appalling- no-one in Scotland would say "Burns...Robert Burns...who?" There should be a national Keats Night!!!


You've got that right, Raphael!

One of my husband's aunties had a picture of the Burns cottage on her bedroom wall. When I recognized it, I scored some very serious "brownie points." This, plus my love of a good cup of tea (and knowing how to make one) started me off on the right track with my spouse's family. :)


Was the aunt Scottish/of Scottish descent?
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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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Scotpacker » Wed Jun 09, 2010 11:39 am

Yes Raphael, I reckon Motion got it wrong Rosslyn Hill not Red Lion Hill. There are some older houses in that location but none that look like a cottage and if it was mentioned on a map as "site of Elm Cottage" it must be gone. Not to worry though, I think it makes the places that do remain more precious. A few years ago when I was doing some serious study of the life of Coleridge, I finally made it to his final resting place. Thinking that he was interred in the church graveyard in Highgate, I walked into the open door of the church and asked a cleaner where to look. The lady said she had heard something about a poet in the church but didn't know for sure. I went in and walked down the aisle of the church and there in the middle of the aisle was a large plaque saying that under it lay the final remains of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. The lady had been walking over it for years and had not realised what it was. Many English folk here in Scotland know very little about Keats or the other romantic poets and one guy I spoke to in Hampstead hadn't heard of Keats or Coleridge. The thing about Burns and Scotland is that we only have one poet of stature and his poems and songs are down to earth and easily understood by all. They also capture Scottishness to the extent that Burn's night 25th January is more celebrated than St Andrew's day. The poems and songs are also kept alive by Burn's suppers all over the world. Wordsworth maintains his appeal because he represents the Lake District and it is impossible to go there without being aware of his presence. Not many of his poems are widely known but he himself will always be popular because he is associated with a wonderful location. Many of Keats poems are difficult for all but the most serious student to understand but some have widespread popular appeal and because of that he will live on and be remembered at least by those who love the poems. Some people just don't have an inclination towards poetry and romanticism just like I don't like mathematics or Chemistry. Sorry, this sounds like a lecture.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Saturn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 12:22 pm

I hear you, you're quite right and your story about Coleridge doesn't surprise me. Alas poetry in general is a neglected subject, rammed down the throat in a 'It's good for you now read it' way at school and most people of not put off by the teaching of it, see no relevance or interest, or find it difficult to find time or the effort required to read anything at all, never mind poetry [which takes a lot more effort than the silly brain-dead blockbusters of Dan Brown]. Ironically with the greater access we have to have to literature and knowledge the less and less people actually read. But now this is beginning to read like a sermon on the death of literature, but you all know what I mean, right?...right?
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Ennis » Wed Jun 09, 2010 4:21 pm

Saturn --

The death of literature?? Hell, no ! Not if I have anything to do with it! I refuse to ram/cram lit down the throats of my students. They will appreciate the talent and genius that is necessary for the creation of these beautiful works. This year, with my middle-schoolers, before we began our poetry unit (of which Keats was a part of), I prefaced the unit with the "poetry lesson" excerpt from "Bright Star" where Keats tells Fanny:

"The point of diving into a lake is not immediately to swim to the shore, but to be in the lake; to luxuriate in the sensation of water. You do not work the lake out -- it is an experience beyond thought. Poetry soothes and emboldens the soul to accept mystery."

We discussed what Keats meant by that, and THEY came to the conclusion that he means it's okay not to understand it at first, that you should just enjoy the sounds and the words and the images evoked by them. These are 12 - 13 year old kids. I WILL win one or two of them over to "our side" -- I WILL if it "kills" me.
"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 Saturn » Wed Jun 09, 2010 5:39 pm

Good for you, I hope so.
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Re: In the Footsteps of Keats

Postby Ennis » Wed Jun 09, 2010 9:29 pm

Saturn --

Thanks for the "vote of confidence"! I have been lucky so far to snare a couple of kids this year. I have 2 in my advanced group who actually took it upon themselves to read some of Keats poetry -- before we even began my Keats unit. Last year, I "hooked" just one that I know of. What seems to intrigue most of the kids is that Keats was only 10 years older than most of them when he composed the 1820 volume and some of the works that were posthumously published. This year, they really liked "Isabella, or the Pot of Basil" - which figures! It has all that stuff middle-schoolers love: Romeo-and-Juliet type of love, murder, decapitation, insanity (poor Isabella!!), and death - from a broken heart, no less. They also enjoyed the "When I Have Fears" sonnet, primarily because of the fact Keats was so young when he died. Actually, they really got in to his life story more than anything else. My advanced group enjoyed the "Ode to Autumn" and with explanation, "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode on a Grecian Urn" as well.
"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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