Eratosphere Forums - Metrical Poetry, Free Verse, Fiction, Art, Critique, Discussions Able Muse - a review of poetry, prose and art

Forum Left Top


Thread Tools Display Modes
Unread 02-23-2021, 03:02 AM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,027
Default Keats 200

(It's the bicentenary of Keats' death today, so I thought I'd write a little, irreverent something)

What thou among the leaves hast never known

And Lethe-wards had sunk, I guessed must mean
the Leith near Edinburgh — my dad lived there
or thereabouts, you see — so as I'd lean,
chin in my hands, at the desk, a wobbly chair
beneath (too small for 4th year lads like me)
I pictured poor John Keats condemned to meet
some tangled, drunken branch of his family tree
and leave behind the flowers at his feet
(the ones he claimed he somehow could not see)
to tread through rooms of empty Tennents cans
and Broons annuals, to share his poetry
with some Scots cousin who'd clap him by the hands
and roar, "yon easeful Death yer half in love wi'?
Dinna fash, ye cow'rin, tim'rous beastie!"

L13: say —> roar

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-24-2021 at 02:01 AM.
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 03:25 AM
conny conny is offline
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: UK
Posts: 1,843


really good to see his name on this board, where it belongs.

as i'm a terrible pedant i'm not sure i understand L.8....but,

the idea of Keats having grumpy Scottish relatives is pretty funny,
mainly because i'm an English rufugee in Glasgow myself. I have
3 Scottish children, mostly delightful, but sometimes not.

I have an unseen Keats poem myself that seems relevant. i'll maybe
put it up.
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 06:19 AM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 15,315

I enjoyed.

As you probably know, Keats totally revered Burns, so if that's the Scots cousin in question he would have been delighted.
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 08:18 AM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,319

This is fun, Mark.

The Scottish connection reminded me of a fun poem by Galway Kinnell, in which Keats plays a major role: "Oatmeal Poem." You've said before that you like cross-refs to poems in your threads, so I thought you wouldn't mind me adding this link.

I went to a reading by Kinnell once, where he read this memorably, imitating what he thought of as Keats's accent, and that's what brought the poem to mind.

Happy 200th,

Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 10:23 AM
Jane Crowson's Avatar
Jane Crowson Jane Crowson is offline
Join Date: Oct 2018
Location: UK
Posts: 336


This is fun. I have nothing particularly useful to say about it (sorry) apart from that I enjoyed reading it.

I like the Tennents cans and the voice of the Scots cousin shouting about easeful death. A lovely mental image of the meeting. I also like the ‘tangled, drunken branch’. They too sound quite fun.

I always wonder about Keats romantic vision of sheep: ‘and silent was the flock in woolly fold’ makes them sound absolutely picturesque and rather lovely. I wonder if Keats ever got close-up to a real sheep. All tangles, mud and skeletal faces. I bet he didn’t.

Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 11:02 AM
Clive Watkins Clive Watkins is offline
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Yorkshire, UK
Posts: 2,440

I agree that this is fun, Mark. But I also enjoyed your technical skill in managing a run of syntax from the third line (starting at “so”) to the end, the rhymes (and occasional half-rhymes) falling naturally into place in the informal register of the whole. The final rhyme-pair is delightful. I know at least one much published and well-regarded formalist poet, the recipient of several notable grants and awards, whose elaborate rhyming forms are achieved principally through the heaping up of noun phrases in apposition. From this it springs that most of the rhyme words employed are nouns. (No names, no pack drill.) When as a reader you have once spotted this trick (or tic), it becomes distracting. Certainly, it makes rhyming much easier than what you have done here – or so I feel.

Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 12:56 PM
David Callin David Callin is offline
Join Date: Jun 2014
Location: Ellan Vannin
Posts: 2,201

Oh I don't know. I think there's a fair bit of reverence in here. Playful reverence, but that's really - usually - the best kind.

L8 is straight out of Ode to a Nightingale. As any fule kno. (Which, in this context, actually sounds like pure Burns to me.)

And "some tangled, drunken branch of his family tree" reminded me of Jake's great poem on the subject of his rude forefathers - a phrase which he lifted from Gray's Elegy, of course, although I wouldn't be surprised if it had originated somewhere else.

I had not realised that today was the bicentenary. I was faintly disappointed that the title did not refer to a particular brand of outboard motor, or perhaps a classic British bike from the golden age of biking - the Keats 200, you'll never feel the same about your bike again - but not too much.


Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 01:13 PM
Andrew Frisardi Andrew Frisardi is offline
Join Date: Nov 2003
Location: Lazio, Italy
Posts: 5,319

I agree with David It's more affectionate and teasing as with a friend or relative than irreverent. I really like how Keats and the N merge through the overlapping of details, and the writing in this is both fun and delightful.
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 03:03 PM
Yves S L Yves S L is offline
Join Date: Jul 2020
Location: London
Posts: 224

Anyone want to translate "dinna fash"? I get the general emotional gist of the last line but I am curious about the details.
Reply With Quote
Unread 02-23-2021, 06:35 PM
Mark McDonnell Mark McDonnell is offline
Join Date: May 2016
Location: Staffordshire, England
Posts: 4,027

Hello folks and happy Keats Day! I just found out that Lawrence Ferlinghetti died today at the fairly incredible age of 101. The last of the beats. Very sad, of course, but to go on the same day as Keats is somehow quite wonderful. The beats were modern Romantics/Visionaries after all, whatever you think about the quality control of some of their output.

Conny — thanks. L8/9 is referring to a line from Ode to a Nightingale, as is the title and the phrases from L1 and 13.

"I cannot see what flowers are at my feet,
Nor what soft incense hangs upon the boughs"

"Cow'rin, timorous beastie", as I'm sure you know, is from Burns' "To a Mouse".

I will get round to your Keats poem soon. I'm surprised how much I've been touched by the anniversary today, reading all the tributes and pieces in the news.

Thanks Roger — I did know that. He wrote a couple of poems about him, did he not. The fact is slightly awkward for the poem, but hopefully it doesn't matter too much. The Keats in my poem exists in the imagination of a 14 year old. In "reality" the cousin couldn't have been Rabbie as he died in 1796 when Keats was 1. Glad you enjoyed.

Hey Andrew — I loved that poem! I didn't know it, though I actually have a Kinnell collected on my shelf. Part of a Christmas poetry book binge. I know I'll like him but I haven't cracked it open yet. Glad you like this. Yes, the Keats in the poem and the boy deliberately blur. The speaker is projecting his feelings about his own visits to his disturbing Scots relatives and imagining himself as the wilting, sensitive Keats figure amongst the scary, hairy Highlanders. It's playing with stereotypes, really.

Happy 200th back. I do love Keats.

Hi Sarah-Jane! I'm glad you enjoyed it, that's always useful to know. Yes, as I said to Andrew, the poem is playing with the stereotype of the wilting Romantic poet removed from reality. I'm sure Keats got his hands dirty sometimes. I love your description of sheep!

Thanks so much, Clive. Damn these award-winning poets with their tricks and tics. I'm being flippant because I'm flattered and don't know what to do with it. The poem is also, apart from the last line, all one sentence, which happened more unconsciously than by design. I don't think I've ever done that before. Thanks again.

Yes, David (and Andrew), irreverent was probably the wrong word to use in my note. I hope it's affectionate. I think I just wanted to flag up that this was on the light side, in case anyone was expecting a more serious Keats tribute, which he more than deserves. I wrote it early this morning, before the kids got up. I was originally going to put it in D and A but when I'd finished I thought it had just enough about it to squeak into the met board.

Yes to Jake. Up with the Thackrays!

And lol about the bike.

Yves, "Dinna fash" means "Don't worry about it". The rest of the line is from a Robert Burns poem.

Thanks folks. I'm glad people found this fun.

Edit: made one tiny change, inspired by Sarah-Jane saying she pictured the Scots cousin "shouting" at Keats. I liked that, so I've changed "say" to "roar".

Last edited by Mark McDonnell; 02-24-2021 at 02:09 AM.
Reply With Quote


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Forum Jump

Forum Right Top
Forum Left Bottom Forum Right Bottom
Right Left
Member Login
Forgot password?
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Statistics:
Forum Members: 8,157
Total Threads: 20,489
Total Posts: 260,192
There are 172 users
currently browsing forums.
Forum LeftForum Right

Forum Sponsor:
Donate & Support Able Muse / Eratosphere
Forum LeftForum Right
Right Right
Right Bottom Left Right Bottom Right

Hosted by ApplauZ Online