This said, he rose, faint-smiling like a star
Through autumn mists, and took Peona's hand:
They stepped into the boat, and launch'd from land.
-Endymion, Book I, 1818
Today is the anniversary of the death of John Keats, who is known as one of the great poets of the Romantic period. His major works of poetry were composed between the ages of nineteen and twenty six; the age of his death. Like the other major poets of the Romantic period such as Byron or Shelley, his life was struck by complexities and tragedy. His father died due to an accident when Keats was still a child, and the rest of his immediate family, save his sister Frances, would succumb to tuberculosis . Though many people of the time would also have been struck by the effects of this horrid disease, the significance of the deaths of his family cannot be lessened. The last days of his life were wrought with pain both physical and emotional; the woman he loved was thousands of kilometers away in England, while he himself lay dying in a bed in Rome. He was unable to read the last letters Fanny Brawne wrote to him, so profound was his heartbreak.
The poems he wrote during his short and difficult life remind me that even an existence plagued by darkness and shadow can still be a source of yet unimagined beauty and light. The physical life he led was brief, though that which he produced during that life inspires us still.
For more information on Keats and the products of his life, click here.