Thursday, October 31, 2013
October 31 - John Keats
English poet John Keats was born on October 31, 1795, in London. He developed an interest in the classics and Renaissance literature, but by age 20 he had become a medical student, showing some talent as a surgeon’s assistant. But his literary ambitions were aroused by poets such as Leigh Hunt (a friend of the poet Shelley) and Lord Byron. In 1816 he published his first book of verse, Poems. It was a critical failure. But during most of 1819, while staying with a friend on London’s Hampstead Heath, Keats began writing his most mature and enduring works – six famous odes – after hearing lectures on the subject of poetic identity by literary critic William Hazlitt, and also meeting the celebrated poet William Wordsworth. That spring he wrote five poems: "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode on Indolence,” "Ode on Melancholy," "Ode to a Nightingale" and "Ode to Psyche." In September, he composed "To Autumn" shortly before he showed the first signs of the tuberculosis that would kill him. When he died at age 25, Keats had been writing poetry seriously for only six years.