How did you first meet John Keats?

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

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How did you first meet John Keats?

Postby Endymion » Fri Jan 31, 2003 1:02 am

I first picked up a volume of Keats' poetry years ago and stared longingly at the words within, wishing I understood what they said. When I got home I promptly shoved it on my bookshelf and there it stayed. I could not read it.

One chilly summer's evening, I visited a very old man, a dear friend of my family, in his ivy-covered farm house. He was eighty at the time, and had been taught to recite poetry in school. He has never forgotten what he was taught, and told me he has always admired Keats. His daughter made me a cup of tea and, stoking the fire, he began to recite Ode to a Nightingale. His wrinkled eyes closed, and his coarse voice filled the hollow room.

I'll never forget how my heart leaped at the words, "beaded bubbles winking at the brim", and the whole sound of the poem, so beautiful, so lyrical, I still can't comprehend how much that meant, and for the whole poem to be recited, from memory, by my friend, was such a haunting experience. It still echoes on his lips every time I see that old gentleman, and every time I go there I ask him to say it again. He never does.

I realise that many people visiting this site will have encountered his poems and his life for the very first time just recently, and some will have had a long affinity with the poet. What has influenced you to visit here? What was your reaction when you first read something about Keats and how were you drawn here?
"He Stood in His Shoes and he Wondered
He Wondered
He Stood in his Shoes and He Wondered."
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Postby ast3risk » Fri Feb 14, 2003 4:06 am

i first encounter keats when my mother gave me the book: "The book of the heart". Its a book written by a scholar {with a wild name}. It focuses on Keat's life and letters, which then reflects in his poetry. Ive only managaed to get 50-60 pages as the language is so complex... yet what i read about keats was so tangible... or moreso so real and yet fascinating to me.. that i started buying poetry books soley to get the poems. That y im getting more.... these forums have caught my attention though. Im soon to get more books on keats...YEY....
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books on keats

Postby lazylooly » Sat Feb 15, 2003 6:45 pm


I have hundreds of books on Keats and i still want more. The more i read about Keats the more i love and respect him!

I wish that i could find a book containing all his letters in one volume, all the books i can find only offer a selection of his most famous letters.

Do you read many of his letters, if so what insight into the personal life of Keats have they given you?

Do you think that 'On death' is such a beautiful and yet poetically tragic poem? Not many people tend to talk about this poem as much as his grander more famous poems.


Postby ast3risk » Sat Feb 15, 2003 11:23 pm

well, yes i have read a few of his letters, and snippets of a few more... and i think it shows, or more so deffines, who Keats was. Though i am still reading more, the letters to me show the mind and man behind the poems {which is something the poems dont utterly do}.
I know from my expirience that, there is nothing in a poem by accident, and there is alot in a poem {especially imbued emotions}. Thus, the letters allowed a greater understanding of Keats {his life/circumstance, heart and mind} for me.
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Postby splendide1 » Sun Apr 06, 2003 12:46 am

Sorry,i can't speak english very well :wink: ( so please forgive me some mistakes ),but when i first saw this website,i knew i have to be a member...i adore Keats and his poems.My first experience about him,was when i had to write an essay about him(high school,first class)that i later had to read to my class.It's a shame,but i must confess that before this task,i haven't even heard a word about him or his poetry :( but fortunatly i caught the possibility and since then he is my favourite non-hungarian poet...

Postby madd-dawgg » Sun Jul 13, 2003 7:35 am

I had to read him in high-school. I only remember (not memorize) "Ode on a Grecian Urn" and "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer. " Both were quite deep, or whatever. I'm only at this site because John Keats came up as a crossword puzzle question. It's still enjoyable to look back though. Oh yeah, he called Balboa Cortez... silly, silly man.

Postby corydroid » Sat Aug 02, 2003 12:18 am

My father owns a small library of books. He has almost anything on European, Asain, and Indian philosophy, poetry, religions and metaphysics. I never really became mentally strong enough to stop reading fantasy novels and read real good poetry until I turned 15. I read mostly William Morris and Novalis up until about mid-16. Then one day I was browsing through my dad’s English poetry section, and “Keats” just caught my eye. It must have been that the name sounded so cool to me. My first book of his was a small books of selected literary criticisms. The lines in his poetry, especially the paradoxical section of The Fall of Hyperion:

Then saw I a wan face,
Not pin'd by human sorrows, but bright blanch'd
By an immortal sickness which kills not;
It works a constant change, which happy death
Can put no end to; deathwards progressing
To no death was that visage; it had pass'd
The lily and the snow; and beyond these
I must not think now,

After that I was hooked. After reading that short book, my dad gave me a thick, hundred year old (gotta love the feeling of old books) “Complete Poems of Keats and Shelly”. Since then I’ve read all of “Poems” and mostly all of “Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Anges, and other poems”. I’ve also read Shelly’s elegy to Keats. I’m 17 now, and I’ve read 2/3rds of the way through Andrew Motion’s “Keats” biography, and another book of literary criticism. I make it my duty to read or reread at least one Keats poem a day. Reading his poetry really puts my mind into a soft trance, and makes me feel good about life.
"Oh sister, O daughter of Giuki, O child of my mother's womb
, By what death shall the Niblungs perish, what day is the day of their doom?"-Hogni
"Ye shall die to-day, Oh brethren, at the hands of a king forsworn."-Gudrun
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Postby H3lix » Sat Feb 28, 2004 1:54 am

I'm a big science-fiction fan. One day Dan Simmons' Hyperion caught my eye. After this book, I read Simmons' The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and The Rise of Endymion.

In these books, Simmons is constantly refering to the poet John Keats and his poems. The capital city of planet Hyperion is even called Keats, and the last moments of Keats' life and discribed in all their cruelty, as the resurrected poet has to experience the painful death by 'consumption' again...

After these wonderful books I started searching about Keats... And that's how I ended up here...

As A Revolutionary

Postby LoandBehold » Wed Mar 17, 2004 6:27 am


Postby Homegrown » Wed Mar 31, 2004 11:52 pm

a cultist is more like it. LaRouche?

First Reading Keats

Postby Stephen Smith » Wed May 12, 2004 9:11 pm

I think[color=red] I was most effected by "First Reading Chapman's Homer."

The image of the desert, the fallen heads burned into my mind. Yes, it was desolate but entirely the opposite from the depressingly boring English class in which I was sitting.

Doc Keats would have made a good novelist. As I recall he might have written a couple that failed miserably but he had a wonderful way of getting things across.

That story about the old man sounds like pure b.s. to me but good b.s. [/color]
Stephen Smith
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First meeting with Keats

Postby Saturn » Mon Jun 28, 2004 10:46 am

I'm struggling to remember when I first read any Keats - He seems to have been with me for such a long time, but I probably read the 'Ode on a Nightingale' in school or something, but when I first got interested in poetry, I started reading a lot of cheap editions of different poets like Byron, Shelley, Coleridge etc. when I enventually just picked up a handy little cheap volume of selected poems - it had no notes or glosses whatever (the best way to read a poet is to be entranced by the music first, not the meaning) and then after I learned of his tragic, brief life.

Has anyone else just bought a book on sheer impulse alone, and become entranced by it?
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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How I met Keats

Postby catlover » Sat Oct 16, 2004 6:15 pm

I read Keats briefly when I was in High school and never forgot Ode to a nightingale.But it in my 20's when I felt I really met him for the first time.I was in tears over being broke and living with a nasty roommate and also I just broke up with a boyfriend.I was alone in the studio where I lived and a book of Keats was on the floor.I picked it up and read " I stood Tip Toe." The poem revived me like nothing ever could.After that I sought to get my hands on anything to do with Keats.The poem is a favorite to this day out all his others because of the association I have with it.
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Postby BrightStar » Wed Nov 17, 2004 3:24 am

I first "met" Keats in Rome, actually, when I was studying there as a sophomore in college during 1999/2000. I was just flipping through my guide book and saw the description of the Keats/Shelley Memorial Museum in Piazza di Spagna and thought it sounded interesting, especially since I was considering majoring in English. I couldn't get anyone to go with me, so I went alone and ended up being there for hours. I was so taken with both Keats' poetry and the story of his life and death. I've been a fan ever since. :)
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Postby Saturn » Wed Nov 17, 2004 10:54 am

The Keats-Shelley House in Rome is really nice - the perfect escape from a boiling hot Summer day in Rome.
"Oh what a misery it is to have an intellect in splints".
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