Venue: Brendon Books, Old Brewery Buildings, Bath Place, Taunton, Somerset TA1 4ER
This talk, part of the 2019 Taunton Literary Festival, marks the poet’s annus mirabilis of 1819 and mensis mirabilis of May in that year, the time of the great Odes.
We think we know the 24-year-old who made the nightingale as much a watchword of our eternal earthly wonders as that bird’s own song has always been. But do we?
We may yet have the pleasure of knowing what it must have been like to open an envelope from probably the greatest letter-writer in the English language.
And what a life-story !
Yet in the face of never-ending family and physical challenges, Keats was fearlessly, tirelessly, hungrily creative on the page.
So here on Keats Night we will meet again a young man dead at 25 whose sonnets can stand alongside Shakespeare’s, whose great Odes are superlative and unspeakably exciting, and the sheer beauty of whose lyrical gift has seldom been surpassed by anyone in any language before or since. “There was”, said Joseph Severn, who was with him when he died in Rome, “a strong bias of the beautiful side of humanity in everything he did.”
William Holman Hunt: The flight of Madeline and Porphyro (The Eve of St. Agnes)