English Literature Of The 19th Century:
First Or Pre-victorian Period--1800-1837
Percy Bysshe Shelley
Samuel Taylor Coleridge
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( Originally Published Early 1900's )
John Keats was' another remarkable manifestation of the poetic spirit of this period, though he had nothing of the revolutionary outburst. Born in humble circumstances in London in 1795, he was at fifteen apprenticed to an apothecary. His sympathy with the great English poets and with the Greek mythology, though he knew nothing of that language, led to his composing a narrative poem, "Endymion." It was published in 1818, in-scribed to the memory of Chatterton, whom the new poet somewhat resembled. The ambitious epic was assailed severely by the "Edinburgh Review," and indeed all the critics, who lumped it with other poems as products of "the Cockney school." The poor consumptive Keats was wounded in spirit, yet, conscious of poetic power, he persevered in his chosen line. In 1820 appeared "Lamia," the pathetic "Isabella," the beautiful "Eve of St. Agnes," and the classical fragment, "Hyperion." The improvement in style and treatment won for them a more favorable reception than his first attempts. Keats, in expression and native melody, was of kin to Shelley, but he was free from the soaring philanthropy and passionate fierceness of the young aristocrat. He was content to live in the enjoyment of his poetic dreams without at-tempting to make an evil world better by savage denunciation. Gifted with fine fancy and a genuine predilection for Greek ideas, the slight errors due to his lack of careful culture are easily pardoned. Attacked with hemorrhage, he went to Italy, where he died in February, 1821, leaving as his epitaph, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water."