Our director, Todd Swift, as a young man, visited the Spanish Steps museum for Keats, set in the small house where the great Romantic poet died, on February 23, 1821, at the young age of 25. This visit never left Swift, and lead to this poem below.
Keats was already a published and supremely gifted writer of poems, and letters, and had trained and worked as a surgeon, when, very ill and coughing blood, he left his beloved friend and fiancée Frances 'Fanny' Brawne, and moved to Rome.
Born in London, and part of the so-called 'Cockney School', his work was not well-reviewed in his lifetime, and conservative critics mocked him. Keats, who knew he was dying, ended his life thinking he would be lost to future generations, but composed to the last, some of the finest and most poignant poems in the English language.
Along with Shakespeare, Wordsworth, and Milton, he is likely the most-quoted and respected English poet. In honour of his 200th anniversary, Swift composed a poem on February 23rd, using the 15-minute fast-poem approach that Keats and his friends themselves employed. We offer it here respectfully, to our readers.
five half-sonnets, POEM FOR JOHN KEATS COMPOSED EXACTLY 200 YEARS AFTER HIS DEATH, IN LONDON