What does this song mean to you? Song Discussions is protected by U. Relive the biggest night in VMA history with this 2018 VMA playlist! Emerging artists you should get to know. MTV and all related titles and logos are trademarks of Viacom International Inc. John Keats was born in London on 31 October 1795, the eldest of Thomas and Frances Jennings Keats’s four children. Although he died at the age of twenty-five, Keats had perhaps the most remarkable career of any English poet. He published only fifty-four poems, in three slim volumes and a few magazines. Although he is now seen as part of the British Romantic literary tradition, in his own lifetime Keats would not have been associated with other major Romantic poets, and he himself was often uneasy among them. Keats was said to have been born in his maternal grandfather’s stable, the Swan and Hoop, near what is now Finsbury Circus, but there is no real evidence for this birthplace, or for the belief that his family was particularly poor. At the age of eight Keats entered Enfield Academy and became friends with young Charles Cowden Clarke, the fifteen-year-old son of the headmaster.
At school, Keats drew closer to the headmaster, John Clarke, and his son, Cowden. He became, in fact, one of Clarke’s favorite pupils, reading voraciously and taking first prizes in essay contests his last two or three terms. In some part this new academic interest was a response to his loneliness after his mother’s death. But he had by then already won an essay contest and begun translating Latin and French. Keats’s sense of the power and romance of literature began as the Clarkes encouraged him to turn his energy and curiosity to their library. This was the store whence he acquired his intimacy with the Greek mythology. Of course, at this point, when Keats was only fifteen or sixteen, a literary career was not a serious thought.
We know little of Keats’s life during these years 1811-1814, other than that Keats assisted Hammond and began the study of anatomy and physiology. Surgery would have been a respectable and reasonable profession for one of Keats’s means: unlike the profession of medicine, the job of surgeon in Keats’s day did not require a university degree. A surgeon, licensed by examination, was a general practitioner, setting bones, dressing wounds, giving vaccinations. Certainly this close teacher-pupil friendship with Cowden Clarke, these evenings at the headmaster’s table, and the long late-night rambles discussing books borrowed from the library, were crucial in making John Keats a poet. Keats’s turn, over the next year or two, to poetry as a vocation. Politics played a role as well—in fact, a decisive one. It may have been over political matters that Keats quarreled with Dr. We know that he did and that for some reason he left his apprenticeship early. On 1 October 1815, Keats moved to London and registered at Guy’s Hospital for a six-month course of study required for him to become a licensed surgeon and apothecary. This move to the dreary neighborhood of the Borough, just south of London Bridge, was exciting for Keats.
His brother George, to ease John’s troubled moods, introduced him to his friends Caroline and Anne Mathew and their cousin, would-be poet, George Felton Mathew. Keats’s friendship with Mathew was brief but stimulating. Few English authors have ever, in fact, had as much direct observation and experience of suffering as John Keats. His duties involved dressing wounds daily to prevent or minimize infection, setting bones, and assisting with surgery. He took to the work well, lodging with two older students at 28 St. However lofty his conception of the poet in 1816, Keats chose an unfortunate model in Leigh Hunt. But if these elements in Hunt’s poetry seemed declassé to his and Keats’s critics, today one cannot say that Hunt’s influence on Keats was in any simple sense bad.
For one thing Hunt was not Keats’s only model. Spenser was a more serious and enduring influence, as were Browne, Drayton, Milton, Wordsworth, and later, Shakespeare. Most twenty-year-old poets need a model of some sort, and there were certainly more banal models in his day from which to choose. On 25 July 1816 Keats took, and passed, the examinations that allowed him to practice surgery, and left London for the fashionable seaside resort of Margate. Keats needed to escape the hot, dirty streets of the Borough to collect his thoughts. He returned to London in late September and took rooms near Guy’s Hospital, 9 Dean Street, and amid the gloomy little alleys began again his work as a dresser until he could formally assume the duties of a surgeon on his twenty-first birthday in October. Dreary as this beginning must have seemed, the month would be fateful for the young poet. Cowden Clarke had been living in London, and this warmhearted schoolmaster was excited to receive the long epistle from Keats. One night in early October, Clarke invited Keats to his rooms in Clerkenwell. Clarke to take to Hunt at his Hampstead cottage.
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