Keats Underlined

Brian Rejack
Illinois State University

Re: Keats’s 31 October letter to Jane Reynolds

Leave it to the consistently generous and kind-hearted Keats to give a gift to someone else on his own birthday. He seemed to never care all that much about his birthday (or to even know exactly on which day it fell). In the first of his many great journal letters sent across the Atlantic to George and Georgiana Keats, he ends with an almost throwaway postscript—“This day is my Birth day”—as if he just realized the fact himself in that moment (I, 405). It’s perhaps an afterthought because he’s so concerned about his brother and sister-in-law who are no longer with him. Likewise, in this brief letter to Jane Reynolds precisely one year earlier, Keats cares more about her well-being than about commemorating his date of birth.

Two days earlier, on 29 October, Keats had dined with the Reynolds family at their residence in Lamb’s Conduit Street. After the visit he noted in another letter to Benjamin Bailey that “Jane look’d very flush when I first went in but was much better before I left” (I, 175). It’s not entirely clear what the “flush” indicates, but presumably Jane was feeling unwell in some manner. This fact becomes clearer in today’s letter, in which Keats writes, “I hope you are getting well quite fast.” To help along her convalescence, Keats includes part of the “Ode to Sorrow,” the little ditty sung by the Indian Maid to Endymion in Book IV of the poem. He prefaces the poem thus: “I send you a few lines from my fourth Book with the desire of helping away for you five Minutes of the day—” (I, 176).

As many scholars have shown, Keats’s medical training informs his thinking about poetry continuously throughout his career, perhaps best exemplified in The Fall of Hyperion, where Keats poses the poet as a “physician to all men” who “pours out a balm upon the world.” (Books by Hermione de Almeida, Donald Goellenicht, and James Allard are great places to go for thorough treatments of Keats and medicine.) Here in late 1817—when Keats has given up his medical career and his rounds at Guy’s Hospital, and before he’ll become a nurse (and hospice worker) for his brother Tom in autumn 1818—we see Keats the physician nonetheless still in practice. It’s but one small unremembered act of kindness among a life of many performed by John Keats.

The poem itself is of interest for many reasons. It shows Keats engaging with a trope he’ll return to again and again in future poems: the yoking together of sorrow and joy. Of course there is “Welcome joy, and welcome Sorrow,” written towards the end of 1818, and the more famous union of Joy and Melancholy in the “Ode on Melancholy” from spring 1819. But I want to dwell on a very minor detail: Keats’s use of underlining in two places in the extract sent to Jane (Keats does not underline anything in the same extract he sends to Bailey in a letter a few days later). This underlining raises a few questions I’ll attempt to answer: why does Keats underline these four words? and what are Keats’s underlining practices like across his correspondence? The latter question is of particular interest for a letter coming up at the end of this year: the negative capability letter! Or, rather, I should say, the Negative Capability letter.

Detail of transcript of Keats’s 21-27 Dec 1817 letter, showing the underlining of Negative Capability. MS Keats 3.9 (Houghton Library, Harvard University).

The question about Keats’s intentions in these cases of underling, I confess, mostly baffles me. The first word underlined is “among,” which occurs at the end of the poem extract’s third stanza: “That thou may’st listen the cold dews among.” The second instance occurs in the next stanza: “Though he should dance from eve till peep of day.” If I had to hazard a guess, I’d say Keats is probably making some sort of joke or bit of word play that doesn’t land for me in a way it might have for Jane Reynolds. Perhaps there was some humorous bit of conversation at the dinner gathering on October 29 which the words “among” and “peep of day” would have signaled for her? It’s not like “among” is a particularly important word—why draw attention to it? I could see Keats maybe being proud of “peep of day” and underlining it to draw attention there. But really, I’m at a loss with these examples of underlining when it comes to what purpose underlining was meant to serve.

Part of the reason that my first hazarded guess goes to the possibility of something humorous is that I’ve done a lot of work tracking instances of underlining in Keats’s letters, and he almost always uses the tactic for some humorous, playful, or punny effect. I became interested in underlining in Keats because of negative capability, which occurs only once in Keats’s correspondence, and when it does, it is underlined. However, the negative capability MS is not extant! We have the text of the letter only because of a shoddy transcript made by John Jeffrey, the second husband of Georgiana Keats, who married Jeffrey a few years after George Keats’s death. Since we know that Jeffrey was sloppy in his transcription work (of the fifteen letters he transcribed, nine still exist in MS form, which means one can compare his work against the originals), I started wondering what the chances were that Keats would have underlined the term. So I scoured Keats’s letters that still exist for some sense of his underlining habits. The first thing I learned is that Keats very sparing in his underlining. Out of the twenty-seven extant letters written by Keats in 1817, only eleven letters feature any underlining. In all they comprise a total of ­­­sixty-six underlined words. Of those eleven letters, four exist only via transcripts (­­three by Richard Woodhouse, one by Jeffrey), and those four transcribed letters account for forty-one of the sixty-six total underlined words. In short, if Keats did underline negative capability, it was at least somewhat out of character given how rarely he uses the tactic elsewhere in his letters. And of the ten underlined words in the negative capability letter, there’s a good chance that some, and perhaps all, were not underlined in Keats’s MS. (I’m no statistician, so I can’t back up that claim with numerical analysis. But I stand by my assertion nonetheless.)

Now, when Keats does underline, he frequently does so to produce comic effect. Particularly in his letters of 1817–8, the rare instances of underlining usually signal not gravity, but wordplay or some other form of levity. The earliest examples of underlining in Keats’s correspondence occur in his 15 April 1817 letter to George and Tom. (Demonstrating how rarely Keats underlines, the thirteen extant letters preceding this one feature no underlining at all—eleven exist in MS and two others via transcripts by Woodhouse.) Keats is not engaging in wordplay per se with his underlining in this letter, but he definitely uses it to humorous effect. The first example comes amid Keats’s playful catalog of objects he viewed while traveling by stagecoach from London to Southampton. One of these sights was a “Nymph of Fountain,” which after listing, Keats clarifies, “N.B. Stone” (i.e. no, he did not see an actual nymph). A few lines later, he returns to this same method of emphasizing his playfulness, when he relays that “after having had [his] fill” of the lamplit scenes during the night, “I popped my Head out just as it began to Dawn—N.B. this tuesday Morn saw the Sun rise—of which I shall say nothing at present” (I, 128).

Detail of letter to George and Tom Keats, 15 April 1817, showing Keats’s underlining. Courtesy Princeton University Library. Click for full size.

As with the stone nymph example, here Keats’s cheeky nota bene states the obvious: yes, the morning did indeed see the sun rise. Such underlining is anti-romantic, deflating any hope for an imaginary world of pagan wonder; it resignedly but playfully conveys acceptance that “The world is too much with us.” There may also be a bit of Keats’s “boyish imagination” on display here. That he “will say nothing about” popping his head out or about the “rise” at dawn suggests some youthful phallic humor, particularly as the previous underlined reference concerned a “Nymph of Fountain.” Whatever the actual intended messages are, Keats’s underlining certainly helps him approximate “writ[ing] a wink, or a nod, or a grin” to accompany them (II, 205).

So, again, I really don’t know why Keats underlined these four words (“among” and “peep of day”) of the extract from Endymion in today’s letter to Jane Reynolds. But given that he’s hoping to “help away … five Minutes of the day” for her while she’s convalescing, I can’t help but think that he sought to add a bit of humor to his poetic prescription.

Letter #32: To Jane Reynolds, 31 October 1817

While in the midst of writing his multi-day letter to Bailey, Keats dined with the Reynoldses on 29 October. As he told Bailey when he returned to letter later that evening, he had found Jane a bit under the weather. On 31 October, he decided to send her a bit of his latest from Endymion, with the hope of “helping away for you five Minutes of the day.” What a guy. And he’s doing this on his birthday! Which, by the way, happy birthday, Keats! On completing his 22nd year, Keats had one book of poetry published under his name, and he was only a few hundred lines from completing the poem that would become his second book. Quite the precocious little scamp.

The MS of today’s letter is at Yale’s Beinecke Library, where they have a few Keats letters. Sadly, the KLP has been derelict in its duty of requesting images of said MS. So we can’t share that with you yet, but we shall update this post should we manage to emerge from our indolence.

The letter as first published in Amy Lowell’s biography (1925). She had access to it through Frederick Holland Day, who owned the letter at the time, and who was, like Lowell, one of the Bostonian “Keats lovers” who did so much to preserve and advance Keats’s legacy around the turn of the century. Ann Rowland has been doing fantastic work on Keats’s American reception, and you can find her latest on the topic in the most recent issue of the Keats-Shelley Journal! We’re not sure how the letter ended up at Yale, although Rollins notes that someone named Mitchell Kennerley owned it after Holland Day did. Again, were we not indolent (and pressed for time!), the KLP could tell you more. But for now, that’s it–time to go trick-or-treating!

Keats’s 31 Oct 1817 letter to Jane Reynolds (from The Letters of John Keats, ed. Hyder Edward Rollins, Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1958.)


Letter #31: To Benjamin Bailey, 28-30 October 1817

Keats’s progress on Endymion continues to be steady, as he now heads toward completion of Book IV. In this multi-day letter to Bailey, Keats includes the opening lines of the poem’s final book. He’ll also quote the ‘Ode to Sorrow’– the little song or ’roundelay’ which the Indian Maid sings to Endymion at the opening of Book IV–in his next letter to Jane Reynolds, and then again to Bailey on 3 November. This letter to Bailey also includes some criticism of Wordsworth, via Hazlitt, which hints at the more full-throated criticism to come in spring 1818 (when Keats will decry poetry that has a “palpable design upon us”) and fall 1818 (when Keats will distinguish his notion of the “poetical Character” from that of “the wordsworthian or egotistical sublime”).

As you can see from the below images, this letter is one of Keats’s more difficult to read letters. The letter is crossed. Although the KLP could have sworn we’d already come across a crossed letter, it appears that today’s letter is the first example of such a thing from Keats. So, let’s explain what a crossed letter is. We have four pages: two leaves formed by folding one sheet. Typically the letter-writer writes on each of the four pages, leaving the proper space on the last page for folding and addressing. After writing on all of those spaces, the letter-writer would go back to page 1, rotate the paper 90 degrees, and write cross-wise over the original writing. It allows the writer to include twice as much writing on the same amount of paper. It also makes it a bit difficult to read!

Keats does some weird stuff, though, that makes it even harder to follow what’s happening in this letter. It appears that Keats wrote only on the first three pages, and then went back to page one, rotated the sheet, and started writing cross-wise. Things get tricky again on page two, because Keats had copied the lines from Book IV of Endymion, and Keats seemed to think that he ought not to write cross-wise over the lines of verse. As such, after writing cross-wise on page one, Keats then went to page 4 (which he had not yet written on at all), where he wrote the remainder of the letter on the wings (the top and bottom spaces which would be folded into the sheet before being addressed and sent).

But wait, there’s more! Keats crossed his writing on the wings, or at least part of the original writing, taking up enough space to get in his parting wishes for Bailey to find marital bliss (“with a little Peona Wife”). Then, not content to leave any blank spaces, Keats goes back to page two, and writes cross-wise in the space left available from the indented lines of verse and over the prose writing from the first go-through on the top half of the page. Then on page three he adds a little “x” at the bottom right corner which points toward another “x” in the blank space on the left side of the page where Keats writes one final little post-script.

All of this is to say, Keats sure is all over the place! One suspects that Bailey found himself a bit lost in this “sea of prose.” He kept the letter for several decades, however, taking it with him to Sri Lanka (then Ceylon), where he became Archdeacon at Colombo. Richard Monckton Milnes, in 1848, incorrectly consigned Bailey to the grave, noting in his Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats that “Mr Bailey died soon after Keats.” In October of 1848, after having read of his own early demise, Bailey wrote a letter to Milnes explaining that he was in fact still alive and well. With his letter to Milnes, Bailey included the MS of the 28-30 October 1817 letter, and offered to let Milnes print the letter in any future editions of his life of Keats (he did so in the updated edition published in 1867). This particular letter, then, spent many years far from London and Oxford, between which it first traveled back in 1817. The letter remained in Milnes’s family collection and eventually found a home at Harvard’s Houghton Library.

Courtesy of Harvard, here are images of the letter–good luck trying to track all of Keats’s scribblings! A print version of the letter can be found here, via Harry Buxton Forman, who used Milnes 1867 Life as his copy text. He follows Milnes in leaving out the Endymion extract and some other minor parts.

Page 1 of Keats’s 28-30 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.14). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 2 of Keats’s 28-30 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.14). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 3 of Keats’s 28-30 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.14). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 4 of Keats’s 28-30 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.14). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Poetry as Labor; or, Keats Gets Down and Dirty

Deven Parker
University of Colorado, Boulder

Re: Keats’s 8 October letter to Benjamin Bailey

In his letter to Benjamin Bailey on October 8, 1817, Keats quantifies poetic fame: to be a great poet, he argues, one must write a poem of at least four-thousand lines. The passage, originally excerpted from a letter he wrote to his brother George the previous spring, documents his attempt to reach this goal by writing Endymion (1818), the famously bad “poetic romance” that garnered so much attention in the press. Keats writes:

The high Idea I have of poetical fame makes me think I see it towering high above me. At any rate I have no right to talk until Endymion is finished—it will be a test, a trial of my Powers of Imagination and chiefly of my invention which is a rare thing indeed—by which I must make 4000 Lines of one bare circumstance and fill them with Poetry; and when I consider that this is a great task, and that when done it will take me but a dozen paces towards the Temple of Fame—it makes me say—God forbid that I should be without such a task! [….] Did our great Poets ever write short Pieces? [….] I put on no Laurels till I shall have finished Endymion […].”

Besides his remarkable combination of audacity and anxiety—that he presumes to crown himself with laurels even before completing a poem that he knows will be difficult—Keats uses an unusual image to describe Endymion’s writing process: that he “must make 4000 Lines of one bare circumstance and fill them with Poetry.” In this odd turn of phrase, he envisions the work’s physical shape and formal structure paradoxically preexisting its composition: its four-thousand lines serve as a holding-vessel for its contents, the poem taking the shape of the mold into which he pours it. Like a sitcom writer working under required lengths and rhythms dictated by commercial breaks, Keats keenly feels the constraints under which he writes. In addition, his claim that he must “make” four thousand lines suggests something labor intensive about his poetic process: like a carpenter or metalworker, he must manually create his work of art.

Taking my cue from this letter, this response explores how, in Endymion, Keats casts poetic composition as manual labor and calls attention to the physical and formal constraints that mediate his process, inscribing the poem with the marks of its making. I also suggest that Endymion’s repeated references to its own creation and its existence in the world as a print object partly account for its bad reception (in addition to those many political and class factors that others have brought to light). The poem’s unabashed embrace of labor marks Keats as a middle-class poet, one who, according to his Tory critics, had no legitimate claim to laurels.

In Endymion’s preface, Keats brings the work’s material constraints to the fore, allowing his compositional process to intrude on the imaginative landscape of the poem. In an unusual move, he guarantees that readers will attend to these moments of transparent self-reflexivity when he explains that:

Knowing within myself the manner in which this Poem has been produced, it is not without a feeling of regret that I make it public. What manner I mean, will be quite clear to the reader, who must soon perceive great inexperience, immaturity, and every error denoting a feverish attempt, rather than a deed accomplished (Keats 147).

We might understand “the manner in which this Poem has been produced” to refer to any of constraints under which Keats worked, including the fixed length, deadline, or the fact that printers Taylor and Hessey were eager to publish his work. We are clued in from the start that Endymion is a physical object with a concrete history of making.

In the poem proper, Keats delineates Endymion as the written remediation of an oral myth. His first readers would have been familiar with the original tale of the shepherd-prince who falls in love with the goddess of the moon from Ovid’s Metamorphoses and from classical handbooks like Lempriere’s Classical Dictionary and Tooke’s Pantheon (1809). Of course, Keats wasn’t the only one rewriting classical mythology, with Wordsworth taking up myth in book IV of The Excursion (1814) and Shelley using classical ideas in Alastor (1816). Unlike them, Keats depicts the poem’s poet-narrator as scribal rather than vocal: what is an “adventurous song” for Milton or a “solemn song” for Shelley is for Keats a written endeavor:

Therefore, ‘tis with full happiness that I
Will trace the story of Endymion.
The very music of the name has gone
Into my being, and each pleasant scene
Is growing fresh before me as the green
Of our own vallies: so I will begin
Now while I cannot hear the city’s din….
Many and many a verse I hope to write,
Before the daisies, vermeil rimm’d and white,
Hide in deep herbage; and ere yet the bees
Hum about globes of clover and sweet peas,
I must be near the middle of my story.
O may no wintry season, bare and hoary,
See it half finished: but let Autumn bold,
With universal tinge of sober gold,
Be all about me when I make an end (I: 34-40, 49-57)

The poet-narrator opens not with a sung invocation to the Muse, but what’s effectively an outline of his composition process. Instead of singing, he “traces” the story, evoking the act of putting pen to page. While the “music” of Endymion’s name inspires him, it pushes him to write rather than produce music in response. The noise of the outside world—“the city’s din”—juxtaposes the peaceful solitude of the writer’s mind as he sets a plan to write “many and many a verse” in the span of one year, using the changing seasons to mark his progress. Keats doesn’t elide the process of writing under the guise of song, but makes explicit the constraints under which he writes—his schedule for completion—as well as the bodily act of writing.

Throughout the remainder of the poem, Keats continually portrays the work as an epic of pen and paper rather than song and voice. During Endymion and Selena’s first sexual encounter in Book II, for instance, the poet-narrator conveniently interrupts by asking, “Who, who can write / Of these first minutes?” (II. 531-532) After being drawn in by the scene’s sensuous detail and evocative content, the line abruptly pulls us back into the writer’s present, preventing us from fully entering into the fictive setting. The scene of writing forcibly interrupts the story’s eroticism again in Book II:

They trembled to each other. – Helicon!
O fountain’d hill! Old Homer’s Helicon!
That thou wouldst spout a little streamlet o’er
These sorry pages; then the verse would soar
And sing above this gentle pair (II. 716-720)

The sudden invocation to Helicon, marked by an abrupt period and dash, interrupts the trembling couple, even as we learn that the sun god, a traditional source of epic inspiration, is nowhere to be found. With Helicon’s help, Keats’s verses might “soar / And sing,” but in his absence they merely consist of “sorry pages.” In these self-referential moves, Endymion draws attention to the object in the readers’ hands even in the midst of its sensuous eroticism.

Endymion makes transparent the process of poetic composition not only through explicit references to writing, pages, and pens but also through its notoriously convoluted heroic couplets. In what are usually seen as evidence of Keats’s unpracticed talent—what Jack Stillinger calls “faulty rhymes, faulty meter, and […] passages of physical and rhetorical extravagance” (xiii)—I read as Keats’s labor rising to the surface of his poem. In these moments, his couplets prove so unwieldy that they obscure the lines’ content and momentarily derail the narrative. Distracted by their artificiality, we’re unable to ignore the work’s feeling of being constructed. Especially evident in descriptions of natural imagery, Keats’s remarkably unnatural verses feel almost tongue-in-cheek:

Fountains grotesque, new trees, bespangled caves,
Echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves
And moonlight; aye, to all the mazy world
Of silvery enchantment! (I: 458-464).

Intricate wordplay and inconsistent line length distract from the images they mean to evoke. If a verse succeeds in conjuring one, another quickly replaces it. Before we can consider what “fountains grotesque” might possibly be, we’re abruptly faced with “new trees, bespangled caves / echoing grottos, full of tumbling waves.” Images and language pile up on one another until the line comes to an abrupt stop with “silvery enchantment!” Keats deploys natural imagery in heavily unnatural diction, emphasizing the texture of language instead of the images it means to convey.

In selecting excerpts of Endymion to mock, an anonymous reviewer in the British Critic pays special attention to stanzas that explicitly mention writing, including “many and many a verse I hope to write,” remarking that the poem’s “flimsy veil of words” (Cox 249) can’t hide its explicit immorality. The reviewer finds the work’s physical form only redeeming quality: “We do most solemnly assure our readers that this poem, containing 4047 lines, is printed on very nice hot-pressed paper, and sold for nine shillings by a very respectable London bookseller” (Cox 250). For this reviewer, the quality of Endymion’s medium overshadows its content—it’s “flimsy” language draws attention to the material that comprises it.

In the Quarterly Review, John Wilson Croker claims to have “painfully toiled” through Endymion’s “uncouth language” (Cox 277), which leave him unable to summarize it. He accuses Keats of playing “bout rimes” (Cox 278), a game that involves creating a poem out of a list of rhymed words, suggesting that formal constraints of rhymed couplets drive the poem forward and contribute to its incoherent narrative: “He seems to write a line at random, and then he follows not the thought excited by this line, but the rhyme with which it concludes. There is hardly a complete couplet inclosing a complete idea in the whole book. He wanders from one subject to another, from the association, not of ideas but of sounds” (Cox 278). Endymion’s formal artifice effaces the content proper. For Croker, good poetry is led on by ideas rather than language and poetic form provides an invisible structure that should support but not shape ideas.

Perhaps most telling of all, John Gibson Lockhart’s review in Blackwood’s Edinburgh Review calls Keats a “versifier” who writes “laboriously affected descriptions” (Cox 272)—perhaps suggesting that he notices the marks of labor in Endymion’s highly-wrought couplets—and claims that this kind of writing is characteristic of middle and laboring class poets. “Uneducated and flimsy striplings,” like Keats, who can’t produce “one original image” are part of the larger trend of “metromanie,” in which “our very footman compose tragedies, and there is scarcely a superannuated governess in the island that does not leave a roll of lyrics behind her in her bandbox” (Cox 272). Good poetry, Lockhart and Croker suggest, renders invisible the formal markers of its creation while the poetry of Keats and others of his class quite literally contains signs of their labor and position.


Works Cited

John Keats. The Letters of John Keats. Ed. Hyder Edward Rollins (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1958). Print.

–. Keats’s Poetry and Prose, Ed. Jeffrey N. Cox (New York and London: W. W. Norton and Company, 2009). Print.

Stillinger, Jack. “Introduction.” John Keats Poetry Manuscripts at Harvard (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1990). Print.

Letter #30: To Benjamin Bailey, 8 October 1817

Keats is now back in London, after his productive stay at Oxford with Benjamin Bailey for all of September 1817. Keats completed Book III of Endymion while there. Over the coming weeks he’d finish the poem, then start getting to the work of copying and revising as he readied the poem for publication with his new publishers, John Taylor and James Augustus Hessey.

One remarkable thing to note about these fall months is how quickly he and Bailey became friends. They had barely just met when Bailey invited Keats to stay with him in Oxford, and after a month together, they were thick as thieves. Bailey becomes a regular interlocutor for the rest of 1817 and well into 1818, after which they seemed to grow apart. But for now, in October and November of 1817, Keats finds in Bailey an indispensable epistolary confidant. At this important moment in Keats’s poetic career (nearing the conclusion of Endymion and starting to contemplate his next steps—no rest for the weary!), Bailey is on the receiving end of some of Keats’s most sustained thinking about poetry, to this point, expressed in epistolary form.

Today’s letter is no exception. Keats opines at length about the thinking behind his undertaking of Endymion. And Deven Parker’s response to the letter for today uses the occasion to explore how in Endymion Keats “casts poetic composition as manual labor and calls attention to the physical and formal constraints that mediate his process, inscribing the poem with the marks of its making.” Before you head over to read her brilliant post, one final thing to note about the letter and its history.

We know that the letters we have are only a small fraction of the letters Keats wrote. Sad but true. In some cases we have some knowledge about those lost letters (we’ll call them the “known unknown” letters). Today’s letter to Bailey includes a long extract from a letter which Keats says he “wrote to George in the Spring.” Back in London with his brothers, Keats clearly had that letter (and others) at hand, ready for him to reread, rethink, and then repeat to Bailey with some new framing and insight. It’s a fascinating piece of evidence testifying to the correspondence’s status, even just weeks or months after the moment of first composition and circulation, as artefacts to be revisited and recirculated. Here at the KLP we’re undertaking a sustained sitting down to read Keats’s letters again, 200 years on, but it’s worth noting with today’s letter that Keats himself was doing a bit of rereading himself. The ongoing lives of the letters seem to, like the poetry of the earth, never die.

Images of the letter courtesy of Harvard, once again. And for a 19-century reading edition, our good pal Harry Buxton Forman, as per usual.

*Programming note: some members of the KLP editorial team were attending the 2017 Romantic Bicentennials Curran Symposium at Fordham University, the topic of which was Keats’s Emergence as a Poet. It was a great day! But that also means internet access while traveling home today is a bit spotty (this post has gone live courtesy of United Airlines wifi—currently providing access somewhere over Ohio maybe?). Deven Parker’s post will go live later today when this editor returns to the surface of the Earth and its more widely available internet connections. And images to the current post will be added later as well. Airline wifi can’t handle much, it seems…

**Ok, the KLP has now left the sky. Here are the images of the letter, as promised.

Page 1 of Keats’s 8 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.13). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 2 of Keats’s 8 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.13). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 3 of Keats’s 8 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.13). Houghton Library, Harvard University.

Page 4 of Keats’s 8 Oct 1817 letter to Benjamin Bailey. Keats Collection, 1814-1891 (MS Keats 1.13). Houghton Library, Harvard University.