John Keats

(31 October 1795 – 23 February 1821 / London, England)

Quotations

  • ''Praise or blame has but a momentary effect on the man whose love of beauty in the abstract makes him a severe critic on his own works.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Oct. 9, 1818. Letters of John Keats, no. 90, ed. Frederick Page (1954). Despite Shelley's assertion in his preface to his elegy Adonais that Keats had suffered from the savage criticism of Endymion (published April 1818)Mwhich, Shelley claimed, "produced the most violent effect on his susceptible mind," and led to Keats' last, fatal illness—Keats himself described Endymion, in the same letter quoted above, as "slip-shod": "Had I been nervous about its being a perfect piece, & with that view asked advice, & trembled over every page, it would not have been written."
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  • ''I have been astonished that men could die martyrs for religion—I have shuddered at it. I shudder no more—I could be martyred for my religion—Love is my religion—I could die for that.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Oct. 13, 1819, to his fiancée Fanny Brawne. Letters of John Keats, no. 160, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Feb. 14-May 3, 1819, to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Letters of John Keats, no. 123, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''It appears to me that almost any man may like the spider spin from his own inwards his own airy citadel.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Feb. 19, 1818. Letters of John Keats, no. 48, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''You speak of Lord Byron and me—there is this great difference between us. He describes what he sees—I describe what I imagine. Mine is the hardest task.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Sept. 17-27, 1819, to his brother and sister-in-law George and Georgiana Keats. The Letters of John Keats, no. 156, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''We hate poetry that has a palpable design upon us—and if we do not agree, seems to put its hand in its breeches pocket. Poetry should be great and unobtrusive, a thing which enters into one's soul, and does not startle it or amaze it with itself, but with its subject.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Feb. 3, 1818. Letters of John Keats, no. 44, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''Call the world if you please "the vale of soul-making." Then you will find out the use of the world.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, written Feb. 14-May 3, 1819, to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Letters of John Keats, no. 123, ed. Frederick Page (1954).
  • ''The roaring of the wind is my wife and the stars through the window pane are my children. The mighty abstract idea I have of beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Oct. 14-31, 1818, to his brother and sister-in-law. Letters of John Keats, no. 94, ed. Frederick Page (1954). George and Georgiana Keats, married in June of that year and recently settled in the United States, had urged the poet to think of starting a family.
  • ''I always made an awkward bow.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Nov. 30, 1820. Letters of John Keats, no. 242, ed. Frederick Page (1954). Last words of the last letter sent by Keats, following his remark, "I can scarcely bid you goodbye, even in a letter." Two weeks earlier, desperately ill with tuberculosis, the poet had arrived in Rome, where he was to die Feb. 23, 1821.
  • ''The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mind about nothing—to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts. Not a select party.''
    John Keats (1795-1821), British poet. letter, Sept. 17-27, 1819, to his brother and sister-in-law, George and Georgiana Keats. Letters of John Keats, no. 156, ed. Frederick Page (1954).

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Ode

Bards of Passion and of Mirth,
Ye have left your souls on earth!
Have ye souls in heaven too,
Double lived in regions new?
Yes, and those of heaven commune
With the spheres of sun and moon;
With the noise of fountains wound'rous,
And the parle of voices thund'rous;
With the whisper of heaven's trees

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