Selected Poems

Overview

Over the course of his short life, John Keats (1795-1821) honed a raw talent into a brilliant poetic maturity. By the end of his brief career, he had written poems of such beauty, imagination and generosity of spirit, that he had - unwittingly - fulfilled his wish that he should ‘be among the English poets after my death’. This wide-ranging selection of Keats’s poetry contains youthful verse, such as his earliest known poem ‘Imitation of Spenser’; poems from his celebrated collection of 1820 - including ‘Lamia’, ...

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Overview

Over the course of his short life, John Keats (1795-1821) honed a raw talent into a brilliant poetic maturity. By the end of his brief career, he had written poems of such beauty, imagination and generosity of spirit, that he had - unwittingly - fulfilled his wish that he should ‘be among the English poets after my death’. This wide-ranging selection of Keats’s poetry contains youthful verse, such as his earliest known poem ‘Imitation of Spenser’; poems from his celebrated collection of 1820 - including ‘Lamia’, ‘Isabella’, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and ‘Hyperion’ - and later celebrated works such as ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’. Also included are many poems considered by Keats to be lesser work, but which illustrate his more earthy, playful side and superb ear for everyday language.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140424478
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA)
  • Publication date: 3/25/2008
  • Series: Penguin Classics Series
  • Edition description: Revised
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 446,689
  • Product dimensions: 5.15 (w) x 7.79 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

John Keats was born in October 1795, son of the manager of a livery stable in Moorfields. His father died in 1804 and his mother, of tuberculosis, in 1810. By then he had received a good education at John Clarke’s Enfield private school. In 1811 he was apprenticed to a surgeon, completing his professional training at Guy’s Hospital in 1816. His decision to commit himself to poetry rather than a medical career was a courageous one, based more on a challenge to himself than any actual achievement.

His genius was recognized and encouraged by early Mends like Charles Cowden Clarke and J. H. Reynolds, and in October 1816 he met Leigh Hunt, whose Examiner had already published Keats’s first poem. Only seven months later Poems (1817) appeared. Despite the high hopes of the Hunt circle, it was a failure. By the time Endymion was published in 1818 Keats’s name had been identified with Hunt’s ‘Cockney School’, and the Tory Blackwood’s Magazine delivered a violent attack on Keats as a lower-class vulgarian, with no right to aspire to ‘poetry’.

But for Keats fame lay not in contemporary literary politics but with posterity. Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, and Wordsworth were his inspiration and challenge. The extraordinary speed with which Keats matured is evident from his letters. In 1818 he had worked on the powerful epic fragment Hyperion, and in 1819 he wrote ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’, the major odes, Lamia, and the deeply exploratory Fall of Hyperion. Keats was already unwell when preparing the 1820 volume for the press; by the time it appeared in July he was desperately ill. He died in Rome in 1821. Keats’s final volume did receive some contemporary critical recognition, but it was not until the latter part of the nineteenth century that his place in English Romanticism began to be recognized, and not until this century that it became fully recognized.

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Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Note on the Text xvii
Chronology xix
Lines Written on 29 May The Anniversary of the Restoration of Charles II 1
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer 1
To my Brothers 2
Addressed to [Haydon] 2
'I stood tip-toe upon a little hill' 3
Sleep and Poetry 10
Written in Disgust of Vulgar Superstition 22
To Kosciusko 22
'After dark vapours have oppressed our plains' 23
To Leigh Hunt, Esq. 23
On the Sea 24
'The Gothic looks solemn' 25
Endymion: A Poetic Romance 26
Preface 26
Book I 27
Book II (extracts) 55
Book III (extracts) 67
Book IV (extracts) 79
Nebuchadnezzar's Dream 87
To Mrs Reynolds's Cat 88
On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again 88
'When I have fears that I may cease to be' 89
To--('Time's sea hath been five years at its slow ebb') 89
'O thou whose face hath felt the Winter's wind' 90
To J. H. Reynolds, Esq. 91
Isabella; or, The Pot of Basil 94
On Visiting the Tomb of Burns 111
A Song about Myself 112
From Fragment of the 'Castle Builder' 115
'And what is love? It is a doll dressed up' 116
Hyperion. A Fragment 117
The Eve of St Agnes 142
The Eve of St Mark 154
'Why did I laugh tonight? ...' 158
Character of Charles Brown 159
A Dream, after reading Dante's Episode of Paolo and Francesca 160
La Belle Dame sans Merci. A Ballad 160
To Sleep 162
'If by dull rhymes our English must be chained' 163
Ode to Psyche 163
On Fame (I) 165
On Fame (II) 166
'Two or three posies' 166
Ode on a Grecian Urn 167
Ode to a Nightingale 169
Ode on Melancholy 172
Ode on Indolence 173
Lamia 175
Part I175
Part II186
'Bright star! would I were steadfast as thou art' 195
'Pensive they sit, and roll their languid eyes' 196
To Autumn 197
The Fall of Hyperion. A Dream 198
Canto I198
Canto II211
'What can I do to drive away' 213
'This living hand, now warm and capable' 215
'In after-time, a sage of mickle lore' 215
Notes 216
Index of First Lines 232
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