Wise Beyond His Years

“Do you not see how necessary a world of pains and troubles is to school an intelligence and make it a soul?” – John Keats.

Sentiments from the 19th century English poet from which I oft feed when seeking to reconcile tougher life episodes which tap me on the shoulder and tarry unwantedly for a while. An observation by Keatsy (as he was known by everyone who called him Keatsy), written in his early 20’s. Remarkable erudition and insight for one so young.

My eccentric great uncle Bob claimed he used to be good buddies with John Keats. However, as my mum’s uncle was born in 1917 and the poet died in 1821, I suspect his boast was delivered via conduit posterior.

Unless of course he means his idiosyncratic workmate of the same moniker, from Normanton. A fella whose attempt to improve long distance telecommunications in the 1930s was scuppered by being unable to source a second empty bean can and a 400 mile long piece of string.

Following a long battle with tuberculosis and the trauma of being unable to spell the word Constantinople.John Keats, sadly died at the tender age of 25 years old in Rome, where he’d moved on doctors advice a few months earlier for efficacious motives.

Ironically, the journey transporting him to Italy nearly killed him when heavy storms battered the ship Maria Crowther. This turbulence contributing to the young man suffering a relapse of previous internal haemorrhaging…… Blimey, it sounds like 18-30 holidays weren’t up to much in the early 19th century!!

Footnote – The John Keats I refer to who passed at the age of 25 was the poet, not the idiot who attempting to connect Landsend and John 0’Groats folk via bean cans and string…… As an aside, I’m unable to confirm either way if Maria Crowther, who the ship was named after, was a forebear of 1970s TV show Crackerjack presenter Leslie Crowther!

Sadly for Keats, during life his work wasn’t afforded the accolades his accomplished, romantic prose warranted. It wasn’t until the late 19th century until his importance and lofty position within English poetry community was acknowledged.

This sea change of opinion manifesting when one of his literary contemporaries opined “Keats’ work is nowhere near a s***e as I’d thought it would be!…… Although, if I had one criticism, I’d suggest he needs to master the spelling of the word Constantinople.

During his final hours, in February 1821, the poet was attended by his friend Joseph Severn. On his death bed, through fading breaths, Keats muttered almost inaudibly “Kiss me, Hardy!”….. Actually, they was Horatio Nelson’s final words…… As you were!!

During his final hours, in February 1821, the poet was attended by his friend Joseph Severn. On his death bed, through fading breaths, Keats muttered almost inaudibly “”Severn—I—lift me up—I am dying—I shall die easy; don’t be frightened—be firm, and thank God it has come.”

I’m no poetry critic, but from a personal perspective, from the verses of Keats sensitive prose I’ve witnessed, his words strike me as important philosophically as they are creatively. These penned by a man aged between 19-25 years of age with an insightful head perched on young shoulders. Thought provoking locutions without pretentiousness which, unlike many of his contemporaries, are verses the layman can interpret.

For me, the following highlighting how this young man was wise beyond his years:-

“Don’t be discouraged by a failure…. It can be a positive experience….. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success in as much as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true….And every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.” – John Keats

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