John Keats: Places, Patterns and Poetical Purposes


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FACULTY OF THE HISTORY AND PHILOSOPHY OF MEDICINE & PHARMACY & KING’S COLLEGE LONDON

KEATS LECTURE presented by Professor Nicholas Roe, FBA FRSE

Keats’s first published poem, his sonnet ‘To Solitude’, announced a creative conjunction of places and verbal patterns that would reappear in nearly everything he wrote. Each of the four books of Endymion was written at a different place – at Carisbrooke, Margate, Hampstead, Oxford, Burford Bridge and Box Hill – and those places shaped the verbal landscapes in his poem – the opening lines, for instance, are set on the Isle of Wight near Carisbrooke Castle. ‘I stood tiptoe’ describes scenes and sights on Hampstead Heath; ‘Sleep and Poetry’ surveys Leigh Hunt’s study at the Vale of Health; Isabella turns Teignmouth into Tuscany; and Lamia, set in classical Corinth, draws some scenic props from the ancient cathedral city, Winchester.  Even the cider press in ‘To Autumn’ had a local habitation, in the precincts of St Cross Hospital. In this illustrated talk I want to salute an energetic, physically active Keats for whom ‘footing slow’ through the mountains of Scotland stirred his imagination and the iambic pulse of his poetry.

Keats Flier

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