1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

John Keats

Richard Ryan, in Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 3:89-90.



This imaginative being died at Rome, Feb. 23rd, 1821, whither he had gone for the benefit of his health. His complaint was a consumption, under which he had languished for some time; but his death was accelerated by a cold, caught in his voyage to Italy. It is rather singular, that, in the year 1816, he expressed an ardent desire to visit these classic regions, — and, five years after, his wish was gratified.

The Sonnet, in which he expresses a hope that he may at some period visit the shores of Italy, is one of his earliest productions, and is too beautiful to be omitted in this humble tribute to his memory.

Happy in England! I could be content
To see no other verdure than its own;
To feel no other breezes than are blown
Through its tall woods with high romances blent;
Yet, do I sometimes feel a languishment
For skies Italian, and an inward groan
To sit upon an Alp as on a throne,
And half forget what world or worldling meant.
Happy is England, sweet her artless daughters;
Enough their simple loveliness for me,
Enough their whitest arms in silence clinging;
Yet do I often warmly burn to see
Beauties of deeper glance, and hear their singing,
And float with them about the summer waters.

Keats was, in the truest sense of the word, a Poet. There is but a small portion of the public acquainted with the writings of this young man; yet they are full of elevated thoughts and delicate fancy, and his images are beautiful and more entirely his own, perhaps, than those of any living writer whatever. He had a fine ear, a tender heart, and, at times, great force and originality of expression; and notwithstanding all this, he has been suffered to rise and pass away, almost without a notice. The laurel has been awarded (for the present) to other brows; bolder aspirants have been allowed to take their station on the slippery steps of the Temple of Fame, while he has been hidden among the crowd during his life, and died at last, solitary and sorrowful, in a foreign land.