Sunday, July 16, 2017

The radiance of John Keats

I have now at hand one of the great treasures of the English literary tradition, the letters of Keats. His poetry touches me only at places, but in his short career he did touch perfection and one is left wondering as one always will be with him: what incredible brilliance there could have been if only some more years, not to think of decades of production? It's a bitter thought of loss.

But then there is his shining person; his marvellous, intelligent, joyful, loving and gentle, sharp and ironic letters. Not much at all in the whole majestic genre of letter writing in English to compare with this blinding young flame. As always with Keats as with Sorley I'm thinking of myself in the same early age: clumsy, insecure, fearful, blindly fleeing life and experience with not a trace of wisdom or compassion - a hideous emotional cripple. But illuminated at least by light even if at one remove, and gaining at least some grace and some wisdom with age having been led among others by these youths.