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English Romantic lyric poet John Keats was dedicated to the perfection of poetry marked by vivid imagery that expressed a philosophy through classical legend.
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Born in London, England, on October 31, 1795, John Keats devoted his short life to the perfection of poetry marked by vivid imagery, great sensuous appeal and an attempt to express a philosophy through classical legend. In 1818 he went on a walking tour in the Lake District. His exposure and overexertion on that trip brought on the first symptoms of the tuberculosis, which ended his life.
"If Poetry comes not as naturally as Leaves to a tree it had better not come at all."
A revered English poet whose short life spanned just 25 years, John Keats was born October 31, 1795, in London, England. He was the oldest of Thomas and Frances Keats’ four children.
Keats lost his parents at an early age. He was eight years old when his father, a livery stable-keeper, was killed after being trampled by a horse.
His father's death had a profound effect on the young boy's life. In a more abstract sense, it shaped Keats' understanding for the human condition, both its suffering and its loss. This tragedy and others helped ground Keats' later poetry—one that found its beauty and grandeur from the human experience.
In a more mundane sense, Keats' father's death greatly disrupted the family's financial security. His mother, Frances, seemed to have launched a series of missteps and mistakes after her husband’s death; she quickly remarried and just as quickly lost a good portion of the family's wealth. After her second marriage fell apart, Frances left the family, leaving her children in the care of her mother.
She eventually returned to her children's life, but her life was in tatters. In early 1810, she died of tuberculosis.
During this period, Keats found solace and comfort in art and literature. At Enfield Academy, where he started shortly before his father's passing, Keats proved to be a voracious reader. He also became close to the school's headmaster, John Clarke, who served as a sort of a father figure to the orphaned student and encouraged Keats' interest in literature.
Back home, Keats' maternal grandmother turned over control of the family's finances, which was considerable at the time, to a London merchant named Richard Abbey. Overzealous in protecting the family's money, Abbey showed himself to be reluctant to let the Keats children spend much of it. He refused to be forthcoming about how much money the family actually had and in some cases was downright deceitful.
There is some debate as to whose decision it was to pull Keats out of Enfield, but in the fall of 1810, Keats left the school for studies to become a surgeon. He eventually studied medicine at a London hospital and became a licensed apothecary in 1816.
But Keats' career in medicine never truly took off. Even as he studied medicine, Keats’ devotion to literature and the arts never ceased. Through his friend, Cowden Clarke, whose father was the headmaster at Enfield, Keats met publisher, Leigh Hunt of The Examiner.
Hunt's radicalism and biting pen had landed him in prison in 1813 for libeling Prince Regent.
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