19 September 2008

"if you ever have a puppy, name it keats."

that was a command from one of my favorite english professors at BYU. and it was a good one, because while john keats' contemporaries were up to their eyeballs in opiates, reproducing with half-siblings, womanizing, inebriating, THIS is what the unassuming, talented keats had to deal with:

-life has a promising start until he was 7 and his dad is "done in" by a skull fracturing horse kick.

-a year later his grandfather dies.

-mom remarries a villain, she makes a run for it with her 4 kids to her mother's house when his evil manners are exposed.

-when keats is 15 his mother dies of TB. thus implants the feeling of foreboding that he would one day be taken by the illness.

-the family cash (which had been somewhat plentiful) is tied up by a swindling uncle.

-keats is ripped out of his beloved school which sparked his love for literature and poetry, and put as a medical student.

-his brother comes down with TB, john cares for him, putting his own poetry reunion somewhat on the back-burner.

-he falls in love with fanny brawne but because he has no access to the money and is already showing to be "delicate of constitution," fanny's parents forbid the marriage. love is a torment.

-in 1820 he indeed coughs up blood, his "death warrant," and despite a move to the healing country of italy, succumbs to TB in 1821 when in his 26th year.

his poetry made the walk to class with long, wet hair in the frigid provo cold 100% worth it. he was dead wrong in thinking it would be most appropriate to write on his tombstone, "here lies one whose name was writ in water." good thing nobody listened to him (although what they actually wrote wasn't that great either).

keats, to you i tip my hat.

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