Yesterday, in Maria’s blog, I read a post in which she had written about John Keats. Intrigued, I googled a bit about his life and came back to write a post on him myself. I was inspired to write about him because life had nothing but hurdles to offer him, yet, he had accomplished a lot within the short span of his stay on earth, unlike many of us.
John Keats was born in the eighteenth century, and was the eldest of the four children his parents birthed. His father died when Keats was very young, leaving the family devastated. His mother, however, doesn’t seem like a woman who stuck to the moral etiquette, and didn’t stay around her children for long, either. She ran away from her family, leaving her children to be tended by her mother.
But when she later came back, she couldn’t stay with her children for long, because The Mass Killer of the olden times, tuberculosis, had got to her. This might have come to Keats as a heavy blow, but he continued studying. It must have been very hard for him, dealing with an unforgiving life… his parents dead, his siblings in need of care, himself all alone… but still, he wrote poems! He had a deep interest in the arts and architecture, and even after he left school to study surgery, his mind always kept coming back to poetry.
And he did write many poems.
He even managed to fall in love with a woman – Isbella Jones – and began writing sensual poems thinking of her, young as he was. And later, he fell in love with another woman – Frances Brawne – who would’ve become his wife, had he not died. When John and Frances were getting intimate, and were slowly but surely falling in love, life decided that John had lived long enough without any mishaps and there had to be something to interrupt his smooth going. And so, his brother, Tom Keats, fell sick… and life had succeeded in preventing Keats from enjoying life further, preventing him from being carefree.
Yet, his love towards Brawne had never once changed. He wrote her letters telling her how much she meant to him, but Tom Keats’ death had brought even more gloom into his life. Imagine having nursed a tuberculosis patient in vain. But she continued to be his distant dream, and he hers. As his health went down, Keats was advised by his doctor to go south and live in better climatic conditions, and so he went, leaving poor Brawne alone, but Rome did nothing to prevent his downfall. He lay in bed for many months, sick.
This site says: Keats’ agony was so severe that at one point he pressed his doctor and asked him, “How long is this posthumous existence of mine to go on?”
One fine day, he finally extricated himself from the mortal flesh that bound his poetic soul and floated towards the gates of heaven. And that marks the end of the 25-year old poetic celebrity. He had written about three volumes of text before he died. Could I be able to do that? Doubtful. But none of his work was popular back then. His books had starting being published only four years before his death… and he had sold only 200 books until he died. But a few decades later, people dug out his work and began appreciating them. Thus, his works were able to survive, though he was not.
Looking at biographies like these make me feel that I’m a freaking parasite living off my parents’ hard work, and more than that, it makes me guilty because I haven’t achieved anything yet in life. Even though Keats died at the tender age of 25, he had written so much that he could finally die in peace. His poems would one day find their way to the world packed with awed fanatics. But if I die tomorrow, I will die as a plain old ordinary South Indian who whiled off her time in the net. Not that I even have the eligibility to be compared with this genius, but I’m just trying to face the facts here.