'I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death, ' John Keats soberly prophesied in 1818 as he started writing the blankverse epic "Hyperion." Today he endures as the archetypal Romantic genius who explored the limits of the imagination and celebrated the pleasures of the senses but suffered a tragic early death. Edmund Wilson counted him as 'one of the half dozen greatest English writers, ' and T. S. Eliot has paid tribute to the Shakespearean quality of Keats's greatness. Indeed, his work has survived better than that of any of his contemporaries the devaluation of Romantic poetry that began early in this century. This Modern Library edition contains all of Keats's magnificent verse: 'Lamia, ' 'Isabella, ' and 'The Eve of St. Agnes'; his sonnets and odes; the allegorical romance "Endymion;" and the five-act poetic tragedy "Otho the Great." Presented as well are the famous posthumous and fugitive poems, including the fragmentary 'The Eve of Saint Mark' and the great 'La Belle Dame sans Merci, ' perhaps the most distinguished literary ballad in the language. 'No one else in English poetry, save Shakespeare, has in expression quite the fascinating felicity of Keats, his perception of loveliness, ' said Matthew Arnold. 'In the faculty of naturalistic interpretation, in what we call natural magic, he ranks with Shakespeare.'
About the Author
John Keats was born in 1795, the son of a livery-stable keeper. An orphan by the age of fourteen, he was apprenticed to a surgeon for a time, but gave up medicine for poetry. His luxuriant early work was famously savaged by the critics, but he remained assured in his conviction that he would eventually "be among the English poets," and his volume of 1820 was more favorably viewed. Keats's longed-for marriage to Fanny Brawne was prevented by the onset of the tuberculosis that killed him, at the age of twenty-six, in 1821.
Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. A MacArthur fellow, he has published eight books of poems and four books of prose. He has received numerous awards and fellowships, including a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship, the Rome Prize, a Pablo Neruda Presidential Medal of Honor, and the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award for Literature. He serves as president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation and lives in Brooklyn.
"No one else in English poetry, save Shakespeare, has in expression quite the fascinating felicity of Keats, his perfection of loveliness."