"A thing of beauty is a joy forever: its loveliness increases; it will never pass into nothingness."

Happy birthday John Keats!



John Keats (October 31, 1795—February 23, 1821) was an English Romantic poet. He did not experience much recognition during his lifetime, his work having only been in circulation four years before his death. He is now one of the most widely read and analyzed poets of the 19th century.


Portrait of John Keats by William Hilton

Keats was born in Moorgate, London to Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats. As a child, he attended Enfield, where he developed an interest in classics and history. When he was eight years old, his father died after being trampled by his horse. Eventually, he and his siblings went to live with their grandmother after their mother made a series of personal missteps.

The family had money, but the person who was in charge of it, Richard Abbey, did not allow the children to spend much of it.

Keats left Enfield to become the apprentice to a surgeon. He went on to study medicine and in 1816, became a licensed apothecary. However, he continued to read and write extensively throughout this time.john_keats

Eventually, Keats met the publisher of The Examiner, Leigh Hunt, who introduced him to other English poets (including Byron and Shelley) and began to have a profound effect on Keats' politics. Their relationship also led to the publication of Keats' first book of poems, Poems by John Keats (1817).

Through Hunt, Keats met lawyer Richard Woodhouse, who was certain of Keats' genius and introduced him to The Times editor Thomas Barnes, writer Charles Lamb, and poet John Hamilton Reynolds.

The following year, Keats wrote the epic poem "Endymion," based on a Greek myth to much dissent from the poetry community of the time. (Image source)

From that point through the next few years, Keats was prolific. He wrote "Isabella," "To Autumn," and "Hyperion" during this time.

In 1817, he moved to nurse his brother Tom, who was suffering from tuberculosis. In 1819, he contracted tuberculosis.

Keats published a total of three volumes of poetry in his lifetime. His last was Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, published in 1820.

Keats' letters were first published in 1848. They have garnered almost as much attention as his poems.



Excerpt from 'Endymion'

A THING of beauty is a joy for ever:

Its loveliness increases; it will never

Pass into nothingness; but still will keep

A bower quiet for us, and a sleep

Full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing. 

Therefore, on every morrow, are we wreathing

A flowery band to bind us to the earth,

Spite of despondence, of the inhuman dearth

Of noble natures, of the gloomy days,

Of all the unhealthy and o'er-darkened ways 

Made for our searching: yes, in spite of all,

Some shape of beauty moves away the pall

From our dark spirits. Such the sun, the moon,

Trees old and young, sprouting a shady boon

For simple sheep; and such are daffodils 

With the green world they live in; and clear rills

That for themselves a cooling covert make

'Gainst the hot season; the mid forest brake,

Rich with a sprinkling of fair musk-rose blooms:

And such too is the grandeur of the dooms 

We have imagined for the mighty dead;

All lovely tales that we have heard or read:

An endless fountain of immortal drink,

Pouring unto us from the heaven's brink.



"Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard, are sweeter"

"I almost wish we were butterflies and liv'd but three summer days - three such days with you I could fill with more delight than fifty common years could ever contain."

"Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?"

"Give me books, French wine, fruit, fine weather and a little music played out of doors by somebody I do not know."

"I am in that temper that if I were under water I would scarcely kick to come to the top."

"I want a brighter word than bright"

"You are always new. The last of your kisses was even the sweetest; the last smile the brightest; the last movement the gracefullest."


Additional Info

  • Birthday Date: Friday, 31 October 2014
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