Happy Birthday, Old Boy

It’s been a while since I last wrote. I’ve got endless drafts & drafts & more drafts, but so far nothing seems to be quite finished. Still, it’s the end of October, and before I go on the road again (basically as soon as I finish typing this), I wanted to wish John Keats a happy birthday. Sorry old boy, I won’t be able to celebrate it on the proper day, being away from home and all, but I will have my Oxford Book Of English Verse with me, and your contributions are well-worn, heavily marked, and growing ever more familiar even after all these years.

Our tastes might change over the years, but I’ve yet to meet someone who doesn’t harbour a soft spot for that poet who was, for them, the first to open their eyes to a greater, deeper world. For many, it might be the first and only, but that does not matter. Even if we go to our deathbeds knowing only a single poem, that is still a good thing.

So, until I return home and tidy up the scraps, I’ll leave you with a short personal favourite of mine by the great John Keats, a young poet who produced an astonishing & enduring body of work in life that was tragically brief. He was born on October 31, 1795. He died on February 24, 1821. He was 25.

When I have Fears that I may Cease to Be

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;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love;–then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till love and fame to nothingness do sink.

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One Response to “Happy Birthday, Old Boy”

  1. Greer Says:

    Beautifully written, as ever. This poem is also a favorite of mine and was the first thing I ever posted on my own blog. It is unbelievable how gifted he was and what he accomplished in his life, especially given his hardships. He always inspires.

    Wishing you a great road trip.

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