John Keats who died at the age of twenty-five published only fifty-four poems in his lifetime. On leaving school in 1810 he was apprenticed to a apothecary-surgeon. His first efforts at writing poetry seem to have commenced in 1814. In 1815 he quit his apprenticeship and became a student at Guy's Hospital. However, despite his poor finances he also left Guy's in 1816 to concentrate on poetry.
Keats has always been regarded as one of the principal figures in the Romantic movement, and despite criticism during his lifetime, his stature as a poet has steadily grown through all the changes of fashion.
His letters published in 1848 and 1878, have come to be regarded with almost as much admiration given to his poetry. T.S. Eliot (1888-1965) described the letters as 'certainly the most notable and important every written by any English poet'.
Drabble, Margaret, editor, 2000, The Oxford Companion to English Literature 6th edition, Oxford University Press, Oxford, pp. 550-551.
Ode to a Nightingale (1819)
My heart aches, and a drowsy numbness pains
My sense, as though of hemlock I had drunk,
Or emptied some dull opiate to the drains
One minute past, and Lethe-wards had sunk:
'Tis not through envy of thy happy lot,
But being too happy in thine happiness -
That thou, light-winged Dryad of the trees,
In some melodious plot
Or beechen green, and shadows numberless,
Singest of summer in full-throated sense.
On our shelves:
- Keats poetical works with an introduction by John Drinkwater
- Keats: selected poetry edited with an introduction and notes by John Barnard
- The Selected poetry of Keats - Signet Classic Poetry series
History and criticism
- Critics on Keats edited by Judith O'Neill - from Readings in Literary Criticism
- John Keats by Robin Mayhead
- Keats: a collection of critical essays edited by Walter Jackson Bate - from Twentieth Century Views series
- Keats by Fred Inglis - from Literature in Perspective series
- John Keats odes: a selection of critical essays edited by G.S. Fraser - from Casebook series
- The Major poems of John Keats by Norman Talbot - from Sydney Studies in Literature series
- John Keats by Robert Gittings
- John Keats: the living year by Robert Gittings. Nearly all of Keats great poems were written in 365 days of a single year. The book concentrates on this important year in the poet's life.
Online at Project Gutenberg
Much of John Keat's poetry is in the public domain and can be read or downloaded from the Project Gutenberg site. You can also view some criticism and interpretation of his work from the same link. Search here.
On our shelves:
- A Beginner's guide - John Keats by David Edwards
- Coles Notes: Notes on Keats' poetry by John Booth
- Monarch Notes: The Poetry of John Keats by Elliot Gilbert
- Methuen Notes: Keats' poetry and prose
- Pan Study Aids / Brodies Notes: Selected poems and letters of John Keats
- Writers and their work, no. 6: John Keats by Edmund Blunden
- Cliffs Notes - John Keats
- eNotes - John Keats
- GradeSaver - Keats' poems and letters
- SparkNotes - Keats Odes - Including 'To Autumn'
- Bate, Walter, Jackson, 1964, 'The Ode 'To autumn', Keats: a collection of critical essays, Prentice-Hall, Inc., pp. 155-162.
On our shelves:
- Encyclopaedia Britannica
World Book Encyclopedia
- eLibrary - General author/title search
- John Keats poetryfoundation.org
- John Keats - The British Library
- The Life of John Keats - from English History
Criticism and interpretation:
- Flood, Alison, 2012, 'John Keats - autumnal idealist or trenchant social commentator? The Guardian, March 23
- Rumen, Carol, 2013, 'Poem of the week: To autumn by John Keats, The Guardian, September 23
- Keats House - London
- Paige, Jonathan, 2011, 'Keats love letter sells at auction for 96,000 pounds',The Guardian, March 30
- Roe, Nicholas, 2012, 'Mercury sent John Keats to an early grave', The Telegraph, October 6.
Other John Keats's poems online