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The Poetical Works of John Keats (1817)

by John Keats, John Keats (Author)

Other authors: Simon Brett (Engravings)

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Oxford Standard Authors

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
2,89763,278 (4.23)35
The complete poems of an English master Keats's first volume of poems, published in 1817, demonstrated both his belief in the consummate power of poetry and his liberal views. While he was criticized by many for his politics, his immediate circle of friends and family immediately recognized his genius. In his short life he proved to be one of the greatest and most original thinkers of the second generation of Romantic poets, with such poems as 'Ode to a Nightingale', 'On First Looking into Chapman's Homer' and 'La Belle Dame sans Merci'. While his writing is illuminated by his exaltation of the imagination and abounds with sensuous descriptions of nature's beauty, it also explores profound philosophical questions. John Barnard's acclaimed volume contains all the poems known to have been written by Keats, arranged by date of composition. The texts are lightly modernized and are complemented by extensive notes, a comprehensive introduction, an index of classical names, selected extracts from Keats's letters and a number of pieces not widely available, including his annotations to Milton's Paradise Lost. For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.… (more)



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» See also 35 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 6 (next | show all)
The classic odes that are supposedly his masterpieces, I enjoyed, but overall I did not enjoy the volume and according to the commentary I found within and without on Keats' career that's probably about to be expected? ( )
  jhudsui | May 15, 2014 |
Lovely audio edition, read by Sir Ralph Richardson. Poetry is so much better when it is read aloud!! ( )
  hemlokgang | Dec 16, 2013 |
There is northing comparable to this as far as top notch poetry is concerned. I picked this book up as a last minute purchase, due to a buy two get third free offer a few years ago, and yet this book is the one I've spent the most time reading. I haven't quite finished reading it all but have read all the short poems, and keep coming back to dip into it when the mood takes me. Since reading it, I've noticed his works being quoted, referenced, and alluded to in nearly every other book I read, from Pullman and Rushdie's fiction to the scientific writings of Dawkins. I would recommend that you find a book of Keat's poems if you only have as much as a passing interest in poetry, you might find yourself inspired as so many others have been by it. That he died at the age of 25 is perhaps the greatest tragedy in the history of literature. ( )
4 vote P_S_Patrick | Jan 27, 2008 |
Looking back over my life in books—or books in my life—there are those I read for pleasure and those I read for information and those I read for spiritual enlightenment. There are books I taught time and time again, and books I studied, and textbooks that engaged me as a student from second grade to graduate school. There are books I’ve read more than once, and books I’ve only read around in, and books I fully intend to read one of these days. There are massive tomes, and little books that just fit in the palm of one’s hand. There are books that are artifacts, like works of art or antiques, that I need to keep in sight or within easy reach—maybe because they’re beautiful, maybe because they’re old, maybe because of what they mean to me personally. Like the three old Grosset & Dunlaps my sister gave me for Christmas when I was nine years old (Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Little Men). Like the Goodpasture Bible I won as a senior graduating from college, heading (I thought then) into the ministry. There is a whole bookcase of well-worn children’s books that we read aloud as a family when our children were growing up. There are books that speak to the eye, to the intellect, to the imagination, to the soul.

We define ourselves by the books we cherish. They speak volumes.

For Father’s Day, June 19, 1966, my first son—he was all of two and a half years old—gave me a leather-bound copy of The Poetical Works of John Keats (Oxford, 1962). Of course, his mother chose the book, arranged the custom binding, penned the inscription, and somehow managed what would have been the outlandish cost for the family of a poor graduate student living in married-student housing. Among the many books I treasure, it is the apex.

Understand, I rarely let myself read in it. I have other editions of Keats’ poetry that I have read—indeed, studied carefully—through the years. This one I revere. I enshrine it upon a pedestal, as it were, always near at hand.

Keats’ youthful sonnet written to his friend and tutor, Charles Cowden Clarke, “On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer,” speaks for me. It tells how I felt upon discovering Keats himself and, through him, the world of poetry. “Then felt I like some watcher of the skies / When a new planet swims into his ken.” Just three pages on in this volume is another sonnet, “On the Grasshopper and the Cricket,” not as well known, but one that spoke to me as a young man finding himself: “The poetry of earth is never dead . . . .”

I always rejoice to see how many of Keats’ works make it into those lists of 100 greatest poems of all time. If I were publishing such an anthology, besides the two poems I’ve already cited it would include the first thirty-three lines of Endymion (“A thing of beauty is a joy forever: / Its loveliness increases . . . .”), Lamia, “The Eve of St. Agnes,” “La Belle Dame sans Merci,” “To Autumn,” “Ode to a Nightingale,” and “On Sitting Down to Read King Lear Once Again”:

Chief Poet! and ye clouds of Albion,
Begetters of our deep-eternal theme!
When through the old oak Forest I am gone,
Let me not wander in a barren dream,
But, when I am consumed in the fire,
Give me new Phoenix wings to fly at my desire.

For young readers, I would have to start with the verse he wrote about himself in a letter to his young sister Fanny, while he was on that final, fateful walking tour to the north:

There was a naughty Boy,
A naughty boy was he,
For nothing would he do
But scribble poetry—

No collecton of Keats’ poetry would be complete without his own subconscious elegy to himself:

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high-piled books, in charactery,
Hold like rich garners the full ripen’d grain . . . .

But, of course #1 in my list of all-time favorites would be “Ode on a Grecian Urn.” This poem persuaded me to major in English (who as a high school student just a year earlier would have whooped and hollered in protest at the merest suggestion that I might make such a decision—but that’s another story); it has been one I have taught over and over again; it rewards me still each time I read it:

Heard melodies are sweet, but those unheard
Are sweeter; therefore, ye soft pipes, play on;
Not to the sensual ear, but, more endear’d,
Pipe to the spirit ditties of no tone . . . .

That one to challenge the mind, and this one to evoke the deepest emotions:

Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
. . . . . . . . . .
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow’d upon my fair love’s ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.

Ah, yes, Keats spoke to me as a young man, and speaks still to the young man deep within me.

The leather binding of this gift is deep burgundy, embossed with gold. It is still as new, pure luxury to hold in one’s hand. It is an “objective correlative” to the touch, an artifact suitable for the unheard melodies it houses: a thing of beauty, a joy forever.

Therefore, ye soft pipes, play on . . . . ( )
8 vote bfrank | Aug 14, 2007 |
"A thing of beauty is a joy forever;/ Its loveliness increases; it will never/ Pass into nothingness; but still will keep/ A bower quiet for us."
Keats poetry is this. ( )
  a211423 | Aug 19, 2006 |
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» Add other authors (66 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Keats, Johnprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Keats, JohnAuthormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Forman, H. BuxtonEditormain authorsome editionsconfirmed
Brett, SimonEngravingssecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Forman, H. BuxtonEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Garrod, Heathcote WilliamEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Hodge, DouglasNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Stillinger, JackEditorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0140422102, 0140424792

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