John Keats's abiding poetic legacy is one of extraordinary and triumphant richness. Before the moment of 'self-will' when he declared his intention to be a poet, Keats (1795-1821) had chosen the medical profession. His apothecary's training influenced his conception of poetry as an art that could mitigate the world's suffering. Keats's generous spirit triumphed over personal sadness, finding expression in his concept of life as a 'vale of Soul-making' rather than a vale of tears. He published only three volumes before his death at the age of 25, and, while many of his contemporaries quickly recognized his genius, snobbery and political hostility led the Tory press to vilify him. This selection, chosen from the Oxford Authors critical edition of Keats's major works, demonstrates the remarkable growth in maturity of his verse, from early poems such as 'Imitation of Spenser' and 'Ode to Apollo' to later work such as 'The Eve of St Agnes', 'Ode to a Nightingale', and 'To Autumn'. Elizabeth Cook's introduction, notes and glossary of classical names offer helpful insights into Keats's life and work.
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