1832 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Keats

William Clarke and Robert Shelton Mackenzie, in The Georgian Era: Memoirs of the most Eminent Persons (1832-34) 3:586.



JOHN KEATS was born in Moorfields, at a livery-stable, kept by his grandfather, on the 29th of October, 1796. After having received his education at a school at Enfield, he was apprenticed to a surgeon, in Edmonton, and afterwards attended St. Thomas's Hospital, but soon abandoned his profession, and devoted himself to poetry, for which he had early developed an extraordinary capacity. Being encouraged by Mr. Leigh Hunt and others, he, in 1817, published a volume of poems; in the following year, Endymion, a poetic romance; and, in 1820, his last work, entitled Lamia, Isabella, and other poems. These were all received with general applause, but were attacked by one review with a virulence which was painfully felt by Keats, who, at the time, laboured under other perplexities, besides lying ill of a rapid consumption. With a full conviction of his approaching death, he left England for Italy, and died at Rome, in the November of the year last-mentioned; having observed, a short while previously to his dissolution, that he felt the daisies growing over him. He was handsome in person, and, notwithstanding his physical weakness, and sensitiveness of mind, is said to have possessed great personal courage, and a manly, though somewhat proud, and independent spirit. His poetry is of an original and peculiar cast, though unlikely to meet with admirers in any not possessing, in an equal degree, the sensibility and imagination manifested by himself. It abounds both with faults and beauties, but the latter prevail; and, in the opinion of some critics, are such as to render Keats superior to any young poet that this country has produced. His fragment of Hyperion, was highly commended by Lord Byron, and has been compared "to those bones of enormous creatures which are occasionally dug up, and remind us of extraordinary times."