English Romantic poet John Keats was born on October 31, 1795, in London. The oldest of four children, he lost both his parents at a young age. His father, a livery-stable keeper, died when Keats was eight; his mother died of tuberculosis six years later. After his mother’s death, Keats’s maternal grandmother appointed two London merchants, John Rowland Sandell and Richard Abbey, as guardians. Abbey, a prosperous tea broker, assumed the bulk of this responsibility, while Sandell played only a minor role. When Keats was fifteen, Abbey withdrew him from the Clarke School, Enfield, to apprentice with an apothecary-surgeon and study medicine in a London hospital. In 1816 Keats became a licensed apothecary, but he never practiced his profession, deciding instead to write poetry.
Keats met and fell in love with a woman named Fanny Brawne.Keats contracted tuberculosis, and by the following February he felt that death was already upon him, referring to the present as his “posthumous existence.”He went to Rome and died there.Brawne was forever in love with him.
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art –
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like Nature’s patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth’s human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors –
No – yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever – or else swoon to death.
JOHN KEATS – 1819
A Selected Bibliography
Collections: The Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats (1831)
Endymion: A Poetic Romance (1818)
Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems (1820)
The Poems of John Keats (1970)
The Poems of John Keats (1978)