Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Discussion on the works of John Keats.

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Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ravenwing » Mon Mar 18, 2013 7:07 pm

Adieu.
Last edited by Ravenwing on Mon Jun 24, 2013 9:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Sid13 » Tue Apr 02, 2013 6:00 pm

Ravenwing, I'm not sure if you're still interested in this, or have looked elsewhere for the answer by now. But you're right, there are two versions of the poem. The one you quote is from a transcript by Brown in 1819. The more famous version is a 1820 revision that Keats gave to Severn on their way to Italy. Fanny Brawne also copied the poem in the copy of Dante that Keats gave her, but I haven't been able to find out whether her copy follows the earlier or revised version, presumably the earlier, as I believe Keats gave her the book in 1819.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ravenwing » Wed Apr 03, 2013 3:19 pm

Adieu.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Raphael » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:47 pm

I've got a photocopy of the Later and most widely known version of Bright Star framed above my bookcase and my Mother was fascinated at looking at it this afternoon! She said it is interesting looking at his handwriting then she was looking at one of the biographies and has borrowed it- maybe I'll turn her into a Keatsian... :lol:
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: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Saturn » Sat Apr 06, 2013 9:51 pm

Never too late to become a Keats devotee!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Raphael » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:02 pm

Saturn wrote:Never too late to become a Keats devotee!


Yes Mum liked Bright Star film and likes history and medical history. She I think, is interested to read about how John coped with having TB and what his life was like. I can tell when she wants to borrow one of my books because she flicks through it, puts it down and keeps going back to it and asking me questions or making comments about the subject of the book. She borrowed the Stephen Coote one. I have it laying down on top of my bookcase with Passion and Keats Circle. The depth of my shelves isn't much.

Did you see the programme on BBC about the hazards of Victorian homes? Arsenic all the way!
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: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Saturn » Sat Apr 06, 2013 10:19 pm

I did actually, shocking that lead was only banned in paint in the 1970s!
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Sid13 » Sat Apr 06, 2013 11:11 pm

Hi, Ravenwing,
Keats often copied out his poems in letters to friends, so even for most of the posthumously published poems we have drafts in his own hand. Some of the minor poems are only preserved in transcripts by Brown or Woodhouse (though I can't name any at the moment).

I haven't read the Roe biography, and I don't know why he used the earlier version of Bright Star. The most famous example of a Keats poem published in two different versions is La Belle Dame Sans Merci. Keats originally wrote it in a letter to George and Georgiana in April 1819 (beginning O what can ail thee, knight-at-arms); it was published in Leigh Hunt's Indicator in the summer of 1820, in a revision beginning Ah, what can ail thee, wretched wight. Most of the changes are trivial, and seem designed to make the language less archaic (gloam becomes gloom, thee hath in thrall becomes hath thee in thrall, sidelong would she bend becomes sideways would she lean). Also, two of the stanzas are reversed in order. The knight makes a garland for La Belle Dame before he lifts her onto his horse; the wight afterwards.

The major differences come in the lines at her grot. The 1819 knight-at-arms version reads:

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she wept and sighed full sore,
And there I shut her wild wild eyes
With kisses four.

And there she lulled me asleep
And there I dreamed….

The 1820 wretched wight version reads:

She took me to her elfin grot,
And there she gaz'd and sighed deep,
And there I shut her wild sad eyes--
So kiss'd to sleep.

And there we slumber'd on the moss,
And there I dream'd….

The Penguin edition of the Complete Poems I have reprints the knight-at-arms version, as do most collections and anthologies I've seen. But there is still some controversy. I also have the Modern Library edition of the Complete Poems of Keats and Shelley, which reprints the wretched wight, for example.

By the way, which version does Roe quote?
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Raphael » Mon Apr 08, 2013 2:54 am

Saturn wrote:I did actually, shocking that lead was only banned in paint in the 1970s!


And pencils- I remember them taking the pencils off us in primary school and telling us the lead in them wasn't good and we;d be getting new lead free pencils.
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: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ravenwing » Wed Apr 17, 2013 10:24 pm

Adieu.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ravenwing » Sun May 05, 2013 3:01 pm

Adieu.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ennis » Tue May 07, 2013 5:53 pm

Saturn wrote:Never too late to become a Keats devotee!


By the Great Mother Goddess, how true, Saturn, how true!! That's the one thing I miss about teaching: turning at least one nubile mind on to Keats! Not intending to boast, but I was successful with about two student per year, which isn't so bad when considering I'm talking about American (as opposed to English) 8th graders. As a matter of fact (my apologies in advance Evie, if you're reading this), ChildofWoz, who posts on the "Where's the Poet? Show Him! Show Him!" thread is one of my most recent Keats devotees. The last thing most of them were interested in was literature in any form, but the poetry of some dead guy who wasn't even an American! Really (they most likely thought at the time), you've got to be kidding! But I never let him go: I could "worm" Keats into almost any lesson! Some students were hooked right from the beginning with the tragedy of Keats's young life. Once I snagged them with that, the rest of it was fairly easy. If they didn't "turn on" to Keats, I have to hand it to them, they at least endured my obsession! And I'm positive that most will remember the Keats I gave them in the 8th grade when they get to their senior English in high school, which is, of course, British literature.
"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: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ravenwing » Wed May 08, 2013 10:25 am

Adieu.
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Re: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Ennis » Wed May 08, 2013 7:15 pm

Ravenwing wrote:Do any of you find it frustrating that there are so many different versions of Keats' poems, due to editors having slightly changed them? Especially the words that he himself capitalized, being printed as having a lowercase first letter—which was not the way that he wrote his poems. Also, I have noticed some editors have had printed a semi-colon where Keats in his own hand did use an M dash, or a colon where Keats did use a period, and an utter abomination: changing "ye" to "you." What right that any of them thought they did have, that they could change Keats' poems, without even a notice to the reader, is not a right at all, but an arrogance.

Are there any books of Keats' poems which you know of, recent or otherwise, that are faithful to how he actually wrote them—word for word, letter for letter, capitalization for capitalization, and punctuation marks for punctuation marks?

Also, can those who have tried to hijack this thread, or, to put it nicely, tried to take it on a tangent which has nothing to do with discussing the accurate printing of Keats' poems exactly as he wrote them—please be considerate and do start a new thread, perhaps in the Miscellaneous section of this Forum. Thank you.

From Ravenwing.


I have several books in my Keats library that may be of some interest to all interested in Keats (and who might that not be on this forum!?); however, I'm not too sure they will be of help with the question of concern: John Keats: A Poet and His Manuscripts by Stephen Hebron. It traces the life and career of Keats through the surviving manuscripts of many of his finest poems and letters. Most of the manuscripts in the book are shown in their entirety and many are shown at actual size. Hebron's commentary that accompanies each manuscript discusses/explores each in detail, highlighting the literary landmarks, and traces Keats's development as a writer and a thinker. Of interest, Hebron also tells the story of how many of Keats's letters and poems changed hands in the 150 years after his death, passing, as we know, from the Keats family and friends to private collectors and finally to public collection in both England and America. Unfortunately, "Bright Star" isn't one of the manuscripts; however, for any Keatsian this book is extremely interesting.
Another book is Keats Poems Published in 1820, copyright 1909, edited by M. Robertson. I bought this book because, according to its preface, it is a reprint "page for page and line for line of a copy of an original of the 1820 edition that is now housed in the British Museum. For convenience of reference line numbers have been added; but this is the only change. . . ." I figured since I'll never be able to afford an actual first edition of the 1820 volume - at 35,000$ - this will be as close as I'll ever get! Unfortunately, since "Bright Star" was published posthumously, it's not in this book. However, I believe it's a good collection for us to have, since the editor made a concerted effort to be true to the original.
The third book I have I is John Keats: Poetry and Manuscripts at Harvard, A Facsimile Edition. It's edited by Stillinger and Helen Vendler wrote the accompanying essays. Since Stillinger and Vendler just limit their discussions to the manuscripts found at Harvard, "Bright Star" isn't included.
I hope these are of interest.
"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: Bright Star in John Keats: A New Life

Postby Saturn » Wed May 08, 2013 8:42 pm

I don't know about Keats but I have an excellent edition of John clare's poems that retains his own idiosyncratic spelling [Clare's spelling was notoriously erratic] and it's a fascinating read, minus modern editorial punctuation and regularised spelling.
Would definitely be interesting to have a similar edition of Keats.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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