John Keats
Otho The Great
The Poems of John Keats

"My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk"

Keats was born in London on October 31st, 1795 and spent most of his young life with his grandmother in Middlesex. His mother had a series of unhappy marriages and the Keats children: John, Fanny, Tom and George grew very close. Keats' grandmother sent him to the local school where he learnt from Charles Cowden Clarke. He began to read insatiably and in 1814, at the age of 19, left Middlesex to return to London, where he worked as a porter at Guy's Hospital.

Keats' first poems were published in March 1817 and were deeply influenced by Leigh Hunt (who also strongly influenced Keats' contemporary, Shelley). In the same year, he began work on his great long poem, Endymion. In the summer of 1818, Keats went on a walking tour in the Lake District with his friend Charles Brown. Keats was frail and began to cough blood after walking too far. It was the first appearance of the tuberculosis that would cause his death. He returned to London and met a girl called Fanny Brawne, whose caring nature and generosity caused him to fall madly in love with her. She reciprocated his wild statements of love with placid affection. Soon they were engaged.

In 1819, Keats wrote the Odes which many see as his most successful work. "Ode to a Nightingale" is certainly one of the works which best define the Romantic era, combining as it does the wistful Romantic pining for the past with a reflective contemplation of nature. In 1820, all of Keats' great poems were published: the Odes, Isabella, Hyperion and The Eve of St. Agnes. However, Keats' time was limited. On February 23rd, 1821 he died of tuberculosis in Rome, never fulfilling the potential which his early career promised. He is buried in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. Shelley's great poem Adonais was written on the death of Keats.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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