John Keats Essay

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English Literature Biographical Speech

Keats, John (1795-1821)

English poet, one of the most gifted and appealing of the 19th century and a seminal figure of the romantic movement.

Keats was born in London, October 31, 1795,and was the eldest of four children. His father was a livery-stable owner, however he was killed in a riding accident when Keats was only nine and his mother died six years later of tuberculosis. Keats was educated at the Clarke School, in Enfield, and at the age of 15 was apprenticed to a surgeon. Subsequently, from 1814 to 1816, Keats studied medicine in London hospitals; in 1816 he became a licensed apothecary (druggist) but never practiced his profession, deciding instead to be a poet.

Early Works

Keats had
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Keats's second volume, Endymion, was published in 1818. Based upon the myth of Endymion and the moon goddess, it was attacked by two of the most influential critical magazines of the time, the Quarterly Review and Blackwood's Magazine. Calling the romantic verse of Hunt's literary circle "the Cockney school of poetry," Blackwood's declared Endymion to be nonsense and recommended that Keats give up poetry.

Last Works

In 1820 Keats became ill with tuberculosis. The illness may have been aggravated by the emotional strain of his attachment to Fanny Brawne (1801-65), a young woman with whom he had fallen passionately in love. Nevertheless, the period 1818-20 was one of great creativity. In July 1820, the third and best of his volumes of poetry, Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems, was published. The three title poems, dealing with mythical and legendary themes of ancient, medieval, and Renaissance times, are rich in imagery and phrasing. The volume also contains the unfinished poem "Hyperion," containing some of Keats's finest work, and three poems considered among the finest in the English language, "Ode to a Grecian Urn," "Ode on Melancholy," and "Ode to a Nightingale."

Death

In the fall of 1820, under his doctor's orders to seek a warm climate for the winter, Keats went to Rome. He died there February 23, 1821, and was buried in the Protestant cemetery. Some of his best-known poems were…