Well, that was a sumptuous interlude, although I fear I have been captivated by Keats for many wrong reasons, such as his life story (so short! so tragic! so prolific!) and what he said about negative capability, which totally rocks. Certainly, my favorite Keats take-aways are made much more interesting with the life back-story than without. They would be To Autumn and When I Have Fears That I May Cease to Be. Oh, and On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer (that scene on a peak in Darien is brilliant).
(I didn’t have much coherent Keats in any mental drawer before this, beyond La Belle Dame Sans Merci and various fragments from the odes, so it didn’t take much reading to put me in a much better place.)
Very instructive to read his six odes (To Indolence, To Psyche, To A Grecian Urn, To A Nightingale, On Melancholy, To Autumn) viewed as a series keyed to his own development, as well as stand-alones. I only read the fragments from Endymion and Hyperion you find in most anthologies and very generally skimmed Isabella, but I did get all the way through and enjoy The Eve of St. Agnes. (I cannot report being wowed by the choice of hero’s name here, however. Let’s see: Roland, Lochinvar, Tristan, Gawain and Porphyro?!)
I have to say that after all that lushness, I feel rather as if I’d eaten
Of candied apple, quince, and plum, and gourd;
With jellies soother than the creamy curd,
And lucent syrops, tinct with cinnamon;
Manna and dates, in argosy transferr’d
From Fez; and spiced dainties, every one,
From silken Samarcand to cedar’d Lebanon
and now find myself hankering after, oh, I don’t know — raw carrots and chamomile tea, maybe?