On the bicentenary of the poet’s dying, The pinnacle of English at North London Collegiate Faculty displays on his transformative three years in the north London village.
February 23 will mark the bicentenary of John Keats’ dying on the tragically younger age of twenty-five. While he had solely been severely writing poetry for six years, he continues to be considered one of the crucial distinctive voices of the Romantic motion and is beloved by the studying public.
In 1995, when the BBC surveyed its listeners and viewers for ‘The Nation’s Favorite Poems’, while Kipling’s ‘If -’ nearly inevitably topped the charts, solely Keats had two poems in the highest 10 – ‘To Autumn’ and ‘Ode to a Nightingale’.
Keats could also be related to varied areas of London and, inevitably, with Rome, the place he died of tuberculosis. However though he lived in Hampstead for lower than three years, his title and legacy have grow to be indelibly related to the village and Heath.
Born in Moorgate, Keats misplaced each mother and father in childhood and, having been apprenticed to Thomas Hammond, a surgeon and apothecary, aged 15, he registered as a medical scholar at Man’s Hospital, embarking on his research in October 1815. However on the similar time, Keats more and more got here to really feel that his true vocation lay in writing poetry moderately than training drugs, finally abandoning his research in March 1817.
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It’s with this absolute dedication to writing poetry that Keats’ relationship with Hampstead begins. Affected by a collection of colds, which he attributed to the damp rooms that he shared along with his two brothers in Southwark, they collectively relocated to rooms in 1 Effectively Stroll, in what was actually a village on the time. Hampstead was particularly engaging to Keats because it was near the house of Leigh Hunt in The Vale of Well being, who was largely answerable for publishing Keats’ early work.
Being in Hampstead additionally meant that Keats could be near different figures he revered, akin to Coleridge, at the moment residing in Highgate. Certainly, in a letter of April 18 1818, Keats wrote to his brother George that he and Coleridge had an extended stroll on the Heath, speaking of ‘nightingales, poetry, poetical sensation, metaphysics’.
Later that very same yr, Keats’ brother, George, would to migrate to America, leaving Keats, himself not properly, to nurse his different brother, Tom, exposing him to the ‘consumption’ that was then little medically understood.
Because it did for his or her mom – and finally George and his spouse in America – tuberculosis would show deadly for Tom, and he died in December 1818. Following Tom’s dying, Keats moved down the hill into the newly constructed Wentworth Place (now Keats Home), half of which was owned by a pal, one other member of the Hampstead creative circle, Charles Armitage Brown.
Having misplaced the companionship of each of his brothers and enduring monetary difficulties, this winter of hardship nonetheless gave rise to a spring of extraordinary inventive output in 1819.
Keats composed 5 of his six celebrated odes at Wentworth Place in April and Could of 1819, essentially the most well-known of which maybe are ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ and ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’. In accordance with Armitage Brown’s personal journals, Keats took a particular delight within the music of a nightingale that had nested close to the home, and that ode was written beneath an previous plum tree within the gardens of Wentworth Place on a spring morning of 1819. Whatever the veracity of this account, the poem is a profound meditation on mortality and wonder, which might be reimagined by one other of Hunt’s luminaries, Percy Bysshe Shelley.
On this ode, Keats expresses anguish at ‘the sorrow and leaden-eyed despairs’ of man, admitting to have been ‘half in love with easeful Dying’. While the hardships of the latest winter likely knowledgeable the ache expressed, this unhappiness can also be the common destiny of man. Conversely to the melancholic lyricism of the poem, the nightingale’s music is borne of pure intuition, and the ‘plaintive anthem’ serves to quickly alleviate the ache of man – an emblem of the probabilities of transcendence by artwork and of the immortality that may be endowed by creative creation.
The same contemplation of transience and permanence, of mortality and artwork, is seen in ‘Ode to a Grecian Urn’, written that very same spring after Keats had seen the artefact, taken from the Acropolis, on the British Museum. The poem famously concludes with the aphoristic ‘Magnificence is fact, fact magnificence’, proclaiming that that is ‘all ye must know’. Nevertheless it comprises an identical ambivalence to that of ‘Ode to a Nightingale’ or the later ‘To Autumn’, whereby solely the expertise and ache of life can actually give rise to human artwork, as these poems so wondrously exemplify.
Wentworth Place was the place in that very same Spring of 1819 Keats’ relationship with neighbour Fanny Brawne would burgeon, if solely to be overwhelmed by the extra highly effective consumption of his sickness. While Keats agreed to his medical doctors’ recommendation to hunt the hotter local weather of Rome in September of 1820, he knew he wouldn’t escape his destiny. He died 5 months later, abandoning the immortalising poetry he so intently aspired in the direction of.