The Last Journey of John Keats

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

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Re: The Last Journey of John Keats

Postby Cathat906 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:02 am

Keat's decision to leave "this cold wet, uncertain climate" in 1820 may have been in part a result of a geological event that happened five years previously. In April 1815 Mount Tambora in the Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia) erupted in what is still the largest volcanic event in recorded history. The enormous eruption column reached the stratosphere and significantly reduced temperatures around the world, including northern Europe, for several years. The severe cold probably also contributed to a reduction in Vitamin D levels as people were wearing heavier clothing for longer, reducing their skin exposure to sunlight. Vit D deficiency is now associated with the activation of TB. His ride on the outside of a coach on a bitterly cold night in February 1820 without a winter coat led to his infamous haemorrhage at Wentworth Place. "I know the colour of that blood; it is arterial blood. I cannot be deceived in that colour. That drop of blood is my death-warrant. I must die."
Last edited by Cathat906 on Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: The Last Journey of John Keats

Postby CasaMagni » Mon Sep 21, 2020 11:06 am

Ironically, the great odes to a nightingale and melancholy were written 'during the beautiful spell of fine weather that lasted from 26 April 26 to 18 May 1819 (Gittings). But you're right of course, there were significant meteorological consequences of the eruption, which in a literary sense resulted in Frankenstein and Byron's 'Darkness' among others. And apparently some fabulous sunsets also, which the Shelleys waxed lyrical about from Italy.

Just one small typo there, the coach ride was in Feb 1820 rather than 1819. It is an interesting theory, similarly the suggestion that his ingestion of mercury may have speeded up the onset of TB.
St. Agnes' Eve - Ah, bitter chill it was! The owl, for all his feathers, was a-cold...
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Re: The Last Journey of John Keats

Postby Cathat906 » Mon Sep 21, 2020 12:37 pm

Have amended the typo thank you. The spell of warm fine weather must have been an aberration that was worth remarking on. It appears he felt particularly mentally and physically well during this critically creative time. The welcome heat would have reduced the airborne particulates from coal and wood that are now known to inhibit the macrophages that control TB. Mercury also inhibits immune function so it would have also contributed to his early decline.
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