Complete Poems

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Harvard University Press, 1982 - Literary Criticism - 493 pages
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Here is the first reliable edition of Keats's complete poems designed expressly for general readers and students.

Upon its publication in 1978, Stillinger's The Poems of John Keats won exceptionally high praise: "The definitive Keats," proclaimed The New Republic--"An authoritative edition embodying the readings the poet himself most probably intended, prepared by the leading scholar in Keats textual studies."

Now this scholarship is at last available in a graceful, clear format designed to introduce students and general readers to the "real" Keats. In place of the textual apparatus that was essential to scholars, Stillinger here provides helpful explanatory notes. These notes give dates of composition, identify quotations and allusions, gloss names and words not included in the ordinary desk dictionary, and refer the reader to the best critical interpretations of the poems. The new introduction provides central facts about Keats's life and career, describes the themes of his best work, and speculates on the causes of his greatness.

  

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Contents

Stay ruby breasted warbler stay
3
To Some Ladies
9
a mans fair form then might my sighs
16
Iam as brisk
18
How many bards gild the lapses of time
33
stood tiptoe upon a little hill
47
Unfelt unheard unseen
60
In drear nighted December
163
A Ballad
270
If by dull rhymes our English must be chaind
278
Ode on Indolence
284
Lamia
342
Pensive they sit and roll their languid eyes
359
The day is gone and all its sweets are gone
374
This living hand now warm and capable 354
384
In after time a sage of mickle lore
405

Four seasons fill the measure of the year 776
176
Mother of Hermes and still youthful Maia 799
199
Old Meg she was a gipsey
201
On Some Skulls in Beauley Abbey near Inverness 275
215
Ah woe is me poor Silverwing
228
I laugh tonight? No voice will tell
243
Abbreviations
411
Commentary
417
The Contents of 1817 and 7520 457
487
On Fame How feverd is the man 275
491
Copyright

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About the author (1982)

Keats was born in London, the oldest of four children. His father, who was a livery-stable keeper, died when Keats was 8 years old, and his mother died six years later. At age 15, he was apprenticed to an apothecary-surgeon. In 1815 he began studying medicine but soon gave up that career in favor of writing poetry. The critic Douglas Bush has said that, if one poet could be recalled to life to complete his career, the almost universal choice would be Keats, who now is regarded as one of the three or four supreme masters of the English language. His early work is badly flawed in both technique and critical judgment, but, from his casually written but brilliant letters, one can trace the development of a genius who, through fierce determination in the face of great odds, fashioned himself into an incomparable artist. In his tragically brief career, cut short at age 25 by tuberculosis, Keats constantly experimented, often with dazzling success, and always with steady progress over previous efforts. The unfinished Hyperion is the only English poem after Paradise Lost that is worthy to be called an epic, and it is breathtakingly superior to his early Endymion (1818), written just a few years before. Isabella is a fine narrative poem, but The Eve of St. Agnes (1819), written soon after, is peerless. In Lamia (1819) Keats revived the couplet form, long thought to be dead, in a gorgeous, romantic story. Above all it was in his development of the ode that Keats's supreme achievement lies. In just a few months, he wrote the odes "On a Grecian Urn" (1819), "To a Nightingale" (1819), "To Melancholy" (1819), and the marvelously serene "To Autumn" (1819). Keats is the only romantic poet whose reputation has steadily grown through all changes in critical fashion. Once patronized as a poet of beautiful images but no intellectual content, Keats is now appreciated for his powerful mind, profound grasp of poetic principles, and ceaseless quest for new forms and techniques. For many readers, old and young, Keats is a heroic figure.

Jack Stillinger is Professor of English and a permanent member of the Center for Advanced Study at the University of Illinois.

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