John Keats died at Rome, aged 25, on 23 February 1821. When his fatal tuberculosis finally declared itself in the previous June the Gisbornes were in London, and they sent the news to Shelley, who promptly wrote to Keats inviting him to Pisa: ‘This consumption is a disease particularly fond of people who write such good verses as you have done, and with the assistance of an English winter it can often indulge its selection.…’1 Keats’s reply was appreciative but non-committal. A month later, in September 1820, he left England with Joseph Severn, reaching Naples in October and Rome a few weeks after. There, in what is now the Keats-Shelley Memorial House in the Piazza di Spagna, Keats passed his last harrowing months, nursed devotedly by Severn. Shelley meanwhile, hearing Keats had arrived in Italy, apparently wrote to him again in February. The first news of his death reached Shelley in mid-April; but he did not know full details until mid-June, and by then he had finished his elegy Adonais, ‘the image of my regret and honour for poor Keats’.2 Few poets have had lives so unfortunate as Keats’s.
KeywordsEnglish Poetry Contemporary Review Great Poet Pastoral Convention White Radiance
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