THE EVE OF ST. AGNES (1896) John Keats and What Others Have Written
John Keats was born on October 31, 1795 and past away on February 23, 1821 at the age of 25. His first surviving poem was "An Imitation of Spenser" which he wrote at in 1814 at the age of nineteen. He studied medicine, but his passion was poetry. In May 1816, Leigh Hunt agreed to publish Keats' sonnet "O Solitude" in his magazine "The Examiner", a leading magazine of the day. Keats was deeply inspired by Leigh Hunt's work. It was the first appearance of Keats' poems in print.
In March 1817, "Poems" was published, the first volume of Keats' verse. Critically it was rejected, but Leigh Hunt proceeded to publish the essay "Three Young Poets" (Shelley, Keats and Reynolds). Hunt also introduced him to other publishers and writers, which helped established Keats reputation as a leading poet.Keats continued writing and in 1819 penned "The Eve of St. Agnes", which was published in July 1820 as part of the volume "Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St Agnes and Other Poems". It was "Printed For Taylor and Hessey. Fleet-Street, London, 1820". This was the first time "The Eve of St. Agnes" was published in a volume. It also included 12 other poems. The title comes from the evening before the feast of Saint Agnes - St. Agnes' Eve or in Keats words "The Eve of St. Agnes". St. Agnes, the patron saint of virgins, died a martyr in fourth century Rome. Keats based his poem on the tale that a girl could see her future husband in a dream if she performed certain rituals on the eve of St. Agnes. She was to go to bed without supper, lie on her bed with her hands under the pillow, looking up into the heavens. Her proposed husband would appear in her dream, kiss her, and feast with her. "They told her how, upon St Agnes' Eve, Young virgins might have visions of delight"
The July 1820 issue of "The Edinburgh Monthly Review" reviewed a poem by Barry Cornwall, and included an attack on both Hunt and Keats, "... a more dubious complaint - was it Mr. Leigh Hunt, more than half cured of his cockneyism, and writing, for once, in the spirit of a gentleman, an Englishman, and a true English Poet? ...Now this is cockneyism, and the very worst kind of cockneyism too. It is quite unworthy of any person but Mr. Hunt or Mr. Keats, men who indeed are equally ignorant to all sensible purpose of ancient and modern Italy, but who seem to be very fond of giving themselves airs of a certain sort, merely, we suppose, on the strength of their having been at the King’s theatre pretty often, and perhaps of being in the habit of living among a set of fifth-rate fiddlers and composers of opera bravouras."
During 1820 Keats began suffering from tuberculosis. During the summer Leigh Hunt cared for him. Keats left the Hunt home and was nursed by Fanny Brawne at Wentworth Place.
On August 2, 1820, Leigh Hunt wrote an extensive review on "The Stories of Lamia, (Isabella or) The pot of Basil, The Eve of St. Agnes, &c. As told by Mr. Keats.", and observed concerning St. Agnes "...the passage affords a striking specimen of the sudden and strong maturity of the author's genius." The Indicator No. 43 (2 August 1820) pages 343-344. Hunt's reviews were compiled in this volume and published in 1822. The Indicator (1822) was printed and published by Joseph Appleyard.
In the August 1820 issue of the Edinburgh Review, Francis Jeffrey reviewed "Lamia. Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems." Jeffrey writes "We... have been exceedingly struck with the genius they (the poems) display, and the spirit of poetry which breathes through all their extravagances... One of the sweetest of the smaller poems is that entitled ‘The Eve of St. Agnes:’ though we can now afford but a scanty extract.. Mr. Keats has unquestionably a very beautiful imagination, a perfect ear for harmony, and a great familiarity with the finest diction of English poetry; but he must learn not to misuse or misapply these advantages; and neither to waste the good gifts of nature and study on intractable themes, not to luxuriate too recklessly on such as are more suitable." Republished in 1854 by Phillips, Sampson, and Company, Boston. James C. Derby, New York.
Keats health worsened so at his physicians urging left for Italy in the fall. In Rome his health deteriorated rapidly, and on February 23, 1821 he pasted away. He was buried in Rome. His last request was to be buried, without his name, and bearing only the legend, "Here lies one whose name was writ in water." Though he wrote for only a few short years, his writings have grown in popularity, having been published many times in book form and periodicals over the past two centuries.
Percy B. Shelley lamented the death of John Keats and wrote "Adonais. An Elegy on the Death of John Keats, Author of Endymion, Hyperion Etc." 1821. "Shelley speedily decided which course to follow, and put his Elegy to press at Pisa, where it was ‘printed with the types of Didot.' " In his preface Shelley writes. "The genius of the lamented person to whose memory I have dedicated these unworthy verses, was not less delicate and fragile than it was beautiful... The savage criticism of his Endymion, which appeared in the Quarterly Review, produced the most violent effect on his susceptible mind; the agitation thus originated ended in the rupture of a blood-vessel..." This later proved to be untrue. He continues "...the succeeding acknowledgments from more candid critics, of the true greatness of his powers, were ineffective to heal the wound thus wantonly inflicted. It may be well said, that these wretched men know not what they do. They scatter their insults and their slanders without heed as to whether the poisoned shaft lights on a heart made callous by many blows..." Shelley laments "I weep for Adonais - he is dead! O, weep for Adonais! though our tears, Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head! And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years, To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers, And teach them thine own sorrow, say: with me Died Adonais..."
The Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats, Complete in One Volume, was published in 1829. The section on Keats includes The Eve of St. Agnes, and begins with a "Memoir of John Keats". "The short career of John Keats was marked by the development of powers which have been rarely exhibited in one at so immature an age. .." An elaborate three-tiered engraving frames the three poets with Victorian friezes. Extensive commentary by an unnamed author. Some scholars attributed commentary to Cyrus Redding. Redding edited the "Galignani Messenger" from 1815 - 1818. From 1820 to 1830 he edited "The New Monthly Magazine". Published by A. and W. Galignani, Paris. Published in 1831 and 1832 by J. Griggs, Philadelphia. and in 1846 and 1847 by Crissy & Markley, Philadelphia.
The Poetical Works of Howitt, Milman and Keats, Complete in One Volume, 1840. As in the "The Poetical Works of Coleridge, Shelley, and Keats" volumes, the third section of this volume begins with a "Memoir of John Keats". "The short career of John Keats was marked by the development of powers which have been rarely exhibited in one at so immature an age..." Includes "The Eve of St. Agnes". An elaborate three-tiered engraving frames the three poets with Victorian friezes. Extensive commentary by an unnamed author. Some scholars attributed commentary to Cyrus Redding. Redding edited the "Galignani Messenger" from 1815 - 1818. From 1820 to 1830 he edited "The New Monthly Magazine". (Obituary: Athenaeum, 1870 p.742). Published by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia. Also published in 1841 and 1845 by Thomas, Cowperthwait & Co., Philadelphia. Published in 1847 and 1853 by Crissy & Markley, Philadelphia.
The Seer; or, Common-Places Refreshed, 1840. "Preface. The following Essays have been collected, for the first time, from such of the author’s periodical writings as it was thought might furnish another publication similar to the 'Indicator'. Most of them have been taken from the 'London Journal'; and the remainder from the 'Liberal', the 'Monthly Repository', the 'Tatler' and the 'Round Table'... this 19th day of October , 1840." Comprised of Part I and II. "The Eve of St. Agnes" is in Part II, Chapter XLII, pages 12-18. Hunt intersperses his commentary within the poem. The essay was first published in the 'London Journal', January 21, 1835. The last page of the version published by Auvergne Press in 1896 notes: "Leigh Hunt published in 1840 a delightful collection of Essays selected from many he had written for the 'London Journal'; and the remainder from the 'Liberal', the 'Monthly Repository', the 'Tatler' and the 'Round Table'. The volume was called: 'The Seer; or, Common-Places Refreshed'. His motto he selected from Shakepeare (m.s.) 'Love adds a precious seeing to the eye.' The book is rarely seen, and, perhaps, more rarely read. We have rambled through it, and have selected for re-print his gentle reading of a fellow poet. W. & W. (Winslow & Williams)". Published by Edward Moxon, London. It was republished in 1850.
"St. Agnes’ Eve. A Chit-Chat About Keats, 1842." Jeremy Short writes "...I have just been reading Keats - shame on the wretches who tortured him to death! ...Genius he had unquestionably, yet he never enjoyed a happy hour... The world, since then, has done tardy justice to his genius - but this did not soothe his sorrows, nor will it reach him in his silent grave... have you ever read ‘The Eve of St. Agnes?’ It is - let me tell you - the poem for which Keats will be loved, and you aught to walk barefoot a thousand miles, like an ancient pilgrim to Loretto, for having neglected to peruse this poem... It has the glow of a landscape seen through a rosy glass - it is warm and blushing, yet pure as a maiden in her first exceeding beauty. As Burgundy is to other wines, as a bride blushing to her lover’s side is to other virgins, so it ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ to other poems. What luxuriance of fancy, what scope of language, what graphic power it displays!" Published in Graham’s Lady’s & Gentlemen’s Magazine. April 1842, Published by George R. Graham, Philadelphia.
The Rococo, New Mirror Extra - No. 8, 1844. The term Recoco referred to a style of French design and decor originating in the mid-18th century. Willis explains, "‘The Rococo’ is the quaint, but, in fact, most descriptive name of an ‘Extra’ now in press for the ‘Mirror Library.’ Those of your readers who have been lately in France will be familiar with the term rococo... It came into use about four to five years ago, when it was the rage to look up costly and old-fashioned articles of jewellery and furniture. A valuable stone, for example, in a beautiful but antique setting, was rococo... ‘The Racoco,’ published by the proprietors of the New Mirror, answers this description exactly. It comprises the three most exquisite and absolute creations of pure imagination (in my opinion) that have been produced since Shakspere - ‘Lillian,’ by Praed; ‘The Culprit Fay,’ by Drake; and ‘St. Agnes,’ by Keats..." In 1843 Morris, Willis, & Co., began publishing a weekly "The New Mirror". Supplemental to this weekly they offered "Extras" under the title "Mirror Library". By mid-year 1844 they had published 29 volumes which included fifty titles (New Mirror 7/20/44, p255). This is "No. 8" in that series. A series within these 29 volumes was titled "The Recoco", this being "No. 1" in the Recoco series. One of the three poems published in this volume was "The Eve of St. Agnes" with Leigh Hunt’s commentary interspersed through out the poem, first published in the London Journal January 21, 1835. This cover reads "Three of the most delicious poems ever written." N. P. Willis observes "The writer visited his grave at Rome, and read there the epitaph he himself directed to be graven on the head-stone: ‘Here lies one whose name was written in water.’ It almost requires a poet to appreciate the unreachable delicacy of Keats’s use of language. He plucks his epithets from the profoundest hiding-places of meaning an association." Published by Morris, Willis, & Co., New York.
Imagination and Fancy: or Selections From the English Poets, 1845. Hunt begins this volume with an essay "An Answer to the Question What is Poetry?" He includes selections from Spenser; Marlowe; Shakespeare; Ben Johnson; Beaumont and Fletcher; Middleton, Decker and Webster; Milton; Coleridge; Shelley; and Keats. This includes "The Eve of St. Agnes" and Hunts Essay, first published in "The Seer" 1840, but with modifications. Where his comments were interspersed within Agnus in 1840, the poem in totality comes first, then Hunts essay with minor modifications. He introduces the section on Keats with a biography, and who better to write this then this close supporter, colleague and friend. He writes "Keats was born a poet... Repeated editions of him in England, France, and America, attest its triumphant survival of all obloquy; and there can be no doubt that he has taken a permanent station among British Poets, of a very high, if not thoroughly mature, description. ...the Eve of Saint Agnes still appears to me the most delightful and complete specimen of his genius... It is young, but full-grown poetry of the rarest description; graceful as the beardless Apollo; glowing and gorgeous with the colours of romance. ...all good things tend to pleasure in the recollection; when the bitterness of their loss is past, their own sweetness embalms them. ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.’" First published by Smith, Elder, and Co., London in 1844. Published by Wiley and Putnam, New York. Also published as "New Edition, Complete in one volume" in 1848 by George P. Putnam, New York. Also published as "A New Edition" in 1891 by Smith, Elder, & Co., London.
The Poets and Poetry of England in the Nineteenth Century, 1844. By Rufus W. Griswold. "A Drainless Shower of Light is Poesy; ‘Tis the Supreme of Power; ‘Tis might Half Slumbering on its own right arm." John Keats. Of the approximately 75 English poets incorporated in this volume, Griswold chose to quote Keats on the title page. He writes of Keats, "...1817, appeared his first volume of poetry, and in the following spring, ‘Endymion.’ They were badly received by the critics. Every one, we suppose, has heard of the bitter review attributed to Gifford, in the Quarterly, which, with some show of reason, was said to have caused the poet’s death... Though depressed, he was not disheartened, and he wrote in two years... ‘The eve of St. Agnes’ which were printed in 1820. ‘He sent them out,’ says Shelley, with ‘a careless despair.’ without confidence or fear. But the world was now prepared to render a different verdict upon his work... Praise was not yet universal, but it came from the high-priests of genius... Keats was the greatest of all poets who have died so young. His imagination, which he most delighted to indulge through the medium of mythological fable, was affluent and warm... Many of his sonnets possess a Miltonic vigor, and his ‘Eve of St. Agnes’ is as highly finished, almost, as the masterpieces of Pope." Included is "The Eve of St, Agnes". The First, Second and Third Edition were published in 1844, 1845 and 1846 by Carey & Hart, Philadelphia. The Fourth Edition was published in 1853 by Henry Carey Baird, Philadelphia. The Fifth Edition was published in 1875 by James Miller, New York.
Life, Letters, and Literary Remains, of John Keats, 1848. Edited by Richard Monckton Milnes. In Two Volumes. Published by Edward Moxon, London. In 1848 it was also published "Complete in One Volume" by George P. Putnam, New York. In 1867 it was republished as The Life and Letters of John Keats. By Lord Houghton. A New Edition. In One Volume. Published by Edward Moxon & Co., London. This was the first biography written about John Keats. Volume one begins with a dedication "To Francis Jeffrey, one of the Senators of the College of Justice in Scotland. Dear Lord Jeffrey, It is with great pleasure that I dedicate to you these late memorials and relics of a man, whose early genius you did much to rescue from the alternative of obloquy or oblivion. The merits which your generous sagacity perceive under so many disadvantages, are now recognised (sp) by every student and lover of poetry in this country, and have acquired a still brighter fame, in that other and wider England beyond the Atlantic, whose national youth is, perhaps, more keenly susceptible of poetic impressions and delights, than the maturer and more conscious fatherland..." Volume one covers through the summer of 1819. Volume two carries on and ends with Keats’s Last Sonnet, Bright star. The 1867 version included revisions and "A considerable portion of the Literary Remains are inserted in this edition of the Life of Keats in the places to which they naturally belong. The rest, including the Dramatic pieces, will more fitly form part of an editions of his collected Works, to be printed with this volume."
Selections From The British Classics. Shelley and Keats, 1852. The section on Keats begins with a short biography by the publisher. "...In 1818 he published his ‘Endymion;’ and this poem was so severely - nay, savagely, criticized in the Quarterly Review, that the author became excited in an extraordinary degree, ‘the first effects of which,’ says Shelley, ‘are described to me to have resembled insanity, and it was by assiduous watching that he was restrained from suicide... In 1820, he published... ‘The Eve of St. Agnes.’ These were reviewed by the critics with a kinder spirit, and with an author less sensitive... It has been truly said of Keats that He was a true poet... He appears to be one of the greatest of self-taught poets." Included is "The Eve of St. Agnes." Published by Arthur Morrell, New York.
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1848. In 1850 Edward Moxon published a version of "The Poetical Works of John Keats" that had previously been published in 1840 (Taylor) and 1841 (Smith). This 1854 edition, first published in 1848, was an expanded version with an extensive "Memoir of John Keats" by Richard Monckton Milnes (Lord Houghton). In 1848 it was originally Volume II, published along with "Life, Letters, and Literary Remains of John Keats" (Volume I). George Cupples writes in the Eclectic Review "A new path may be considered to open in the plan taken this season, by a very elegant edition of Keats. No less than a hundred and twenty designs... have here been on wood by George Scharf... The volume is not only a marvel of wood-engraving, while it exhibits qualities entitled to high praise, from the artistic point of view... Here Mr. Scharf, whose own designs are sometimes excellent, stands yet higher in care for correct transference to the block, with minuteness not to be surpassed..." As in the other three volumes it combines "Endymion" published in 1818, "Lamia. Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems" published in 1820, as well as miscellaneous poems, sonnets, epistles and stanzas. Published by Edward Moxon, London. Published in 1855 by E. H. Butler & Co., Philadelphia.
Contributions To The Edinburgh Review. By Francis Jeffrey, 1854. Four Volumes. Complete in One. First published in August 1820, Jeffrey reviewed "Lamia. Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems." Jeffrey writes "We... have been exceedingly struck with the genius they (the poems) display, and the spirit of poetry which breathes through all their extravagances... One of the sweetest of the smaller poems is that entitled ‘The Eve of St. Agnes:’ though we can now afford but a scanty extract.. Mr. Keats has unquestionably a very beautiful imagination, a perfect ear for harmony, and a great familiarity with the finest diction of English poetry; but he must learn not to misuse or misapply these advantages; and neither to waste the good gifts of nature and study on intractable themes, not to luxuriate too recklessly on such as are more suitable." Published by Phillips, Sampson, and Company, Boston. James C. Derby, New York. Republished in 1873 by D. Appleton and Company, New York.
Selections From The English Poets, 1861. A republishing of "Imagination and Fancy: or Selections From the English Poets", first published in 1845, but under the shortened title "Selections From The English Poets". This is Volume II with 255 pages. The second half is Volume 3, same title, but the sub-title is "Imagination and Fancy" with an essay titled "Wit and Humor" with 261 pages. Hunt begins this volume with an essay "An Answer to the Question What is Poetry?" He includes selections from Spenser; Marlowe; Shakspeare; Ben Johnson; Beaumont and Fletcher; Middleton, Decker and Webster; Milton; Coleridge; Shelley; and Keats. This includes "The Eve of St. Agnes" and Hunts Essay, first published in "The Seer" 1840, but with modifications. Where his comments were interspersed within Agnus in 1840, the poem in totality comes first, then Hunts essay with minor modifications. He introduces the section on Keats with a biography, and who better to write this then this close supporter, colleague and friend. He writes "Keats was born a poet... Repeated editions of him in England, France, and America, attest its triumphant survival of all obloquy; and there can be no doubt that he has taken a permanent station among British Poets, of a very high, if not thoroughly mature, description. ...the Eve of Saint Agnes still appears to me the most delightful and complete specimen of his genius... It is young, but full-grown poetry of the rarest description; graceful as the beardless Apollo; glowing and gorgeous with the colours of romance. ...all good things tend to pleasure in the recollection; when the bitterness of their loss is past, their own sweetness embalms them. ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever.’" Published by H. W. Derby, New York. First published in 1845 as "Imagination and Fancy: or Selections From the English Poets" by Wiley and Putnam, New York. Published again in 1848 as a "New Edition, Complete in one volume" by George P. Putnam, New York. This volume was published again in 1891 entitled "Imagination and Fancy: or Selections From the English Poets" as "A New Edition" by Smith, Elder, & Co., London.
On The Vicissitudes of Keats’s Fame, By Joseph Severn. The Atlantic Monthly. April 1863. Introduction: "[...Shelley wrote in 1821: - ‘He (Keats) was accompanied to Rome and attended in his last illness by Mr. Severn, a young artist of the highest promise...]" "I well remember being struck with the clear and independent manner in which Washington Allston, in the year 1818, expressed his opinion of John Keats’s verse, when the young poet’s writings first appeared, amid the ridicule of most English readers. Mr. Allston was at that time the only discriminating judge among the strangers to Keats who were residing abroad, and he took occasion to emphasize in my hearing his opinion of the early effusions of the young poet in words like these: - ‘They are crude materials of real poetry, and Keats is sure to become a great poet.’ ...in America he (Keats) has always had a solid fame, independent of the old English prejudices." Published by Ticknor and Fields, Boston. Trubner and company, London.
The Poetical Works of John Keats. 1872. Edited, With a critical Memoir, By William Michael Rossetti. Illustrated By Thomas Seccombe. This volume begins with a memoir by Rossetti. He writes, "...A scribe in the Quarterly Review - I believe it was the editor, Mr. Gifford - undertook to write Keats down an ass, and many a responsive bray, sounding loudest and most jubilant from Blackwood’s Magazine, ratified the dictum at the time; but lo! After a few years had elapsed, it was found that the reviewer had only succeeded in writing himself down an ass. The lash brandished against Keats’s back had but recoiled, and scored the more pachydermatous loins of Gifford." In 1820 "Lamia, Isabella, the Eve of St. Agnes, and other Poems" was published. It was "received in a fairly respectful tone; and a notice by Jeffrey shortly appeared in the Edinburgh Review, calculated to redress the stolid injustice previously done by the Quarterly and by Blackwood." Published by E. Moxon, Son, & Co., London. Second copy published by E. Moxon, Son, & Co., London. Published as part of Moxon’s Popular Poets Series.
Recollection of John Keats, 1874. By Charles Cowden Clarke. "...It was about this period (1816) that, going to call upon Mr. Leigh Hunt... I took with me two or three of the poems I had received from Keats. I could not but anticipate that hunt would speak encouragingly, and indeed approvingly, of the compositions - Written, too, by a youth under age; but my partial spirit was not prepared for the unhesitating and prompt admiration which broke forth before he had read twenty lines of the first poem. Horance Smith happened to be there on the occasion, and he was not less demonstrative in his appreciation of their merits... Smith repeated with applause the lines in italics, saying ‘What a well-condensed expression for a youth so young!’" The Gentleman’s Magazine. February 1874 Published by Grant & Co., London.
Among My Books, 1876. By James Russell Lowell. This volume is comprises of five biographies by Harvard Professor James Russell Lowell, and include Dante, Spenser, Wordsworth, Milton and Keats. Of Keats he writes, "Three men almost contemporaneous with each other, - Wordsworth, Keats, and Byron, - were the great means of bringing back English poetry from the sandy deserts of rhetoric, and recovering for her triple inheritance of simplicity, sensuousness, and passion... Keats had the broadest mind, or at least his mind was open on more sides, and he was able to understand Wordsworth and judge Bryon, equally conscious, through his artistic sense, of the greatnesses of the one and the many littlenesses of the other... Keats certainly had more of the penetrative and sympathetic imagination which belongs to the poet, of that imagination which identifies itself with the momentary object of its contemplative, than any man of these later days... His imagination was his bliss and bane... in him we have an example of the renaissance going on almost under our own eyes, and that the intellectual ferment was in him kindled by a purely English leaven.... Keats had an instinct for fine words, which are in themselves pictures and ideas, and had more of the power of poetic expression than any modern English poet... The poems of Keats mark an epoch in English poetry..." Published by James R. Osgood and Company, Boston. Also published in 1887 by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston.
The Eve of St. Agnes, 1880. By John Keats. Illustrated in Nineteen Etchings. By Charles O. Murray. "Few poets have ever gained a deeper hold on the affections of their readers than John Keats; and it is with a feeling almost of personal gratulation that these will view the new edition of ‘The Eve of St. Agnes.’ in which that sweetest and tenderest of poems appears with sumptuous provisions of print and paper, and illustrated with nineteen beautiful etchings by Charles O. Murray. So delicately fine are these designs, and so harmonious are all the details of the book, one hesitates to describe or praise it, but feels rather like going at once and bringing his and Keats’s dearest friend, and saying in triumph, ’Look!’ The honor of the publication of this work belongs to Sampson, Low & Co., of London; and Dodd, Mead & Co. are the importers of an American imprint edition." As reviewed in the "Dial", December 1880 p.160. "Thoroughly artistic and appealing to the most cultured taste; a really beautiful book." (p.168). Published by Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, and Rivington, London. And Dodd, Mead, and Company, New York.
John Keats. A Study, 1880. By F. M. Owen. Of "The Eve of St. Agnes" Owen writes, "...is told with a richness of detail, an exquisite poise of imagination, a reticence which controls its enthusiastic expansion, and a grace and purity and calm which modulate its passion. It is one of the best known of the poems of Keats, and rightly, for it appeals strongly to our human feeling, though it lacks, because it does not need, the prophetic element of ‘Endymion’ and ‘Hyperion’. The ‘Eve of St Agnes’ is the most picturesque of all the poems of Keats, its descriptions by far the most artistic." Published by C. Kegan Paul & Co., London.
Modern Classics 1881. "Characteristics." By Thomas Carlyle. "Favorite Poems." By Percy Bysshe Shelley. "The Eve of St. Agnes, and Other Poems." By John Keats. James Russell Lowell is quoted "The poems of Keats mark an epoch in English poetry. In him a vigorous understanding developed itself in equal measure with the divine faculty; thought emancipated itself from expression without becoming its tyrant; and music and meaning floated together, accordant as swan and shadow, on the smooth element of his verse. We recognize in Keats that indefinable newness and unexpected which we call genius." Published by Houghton, Mifflin and Company, Boston.
The Eve of St. Agnes, 1883. "But who would part with what he has left us, let the faults be what they may? No works of our literature are more truly poetical, none more completely carry one away into an ideal realm, where worldly noises come to the ear, it they reach it al all, subdued and deadened; none breathe out of them, and around them, a more bewitching atmosphere." English Classics Series (No. 40), with philological and explanatory notes by J. W. Hales, M. A., late fellow and assistant tutor of Christ’s College, Cambridge; Barrister at-law of Lincoln’s Inn; Lecturer in English literature and classical composition at King’s College, London. Published by Clark & Maynard, New York.
The Poetical Works and Other Writings of John Keats, 1883. Now first brought together, Including poems and numerous letters not before published. Edited with notes and appendices by Harry Buxton Forman. In four volumes. Volume II begins with "Keats’s third and last book, issued in the summer of 1820 ‘Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes’". Reprinted page for page, Forman has added commentary plus footnotes related to the original manuscript. "In a letter to George Keats and his wife dated the 14th of February (1819), Keats says that he took with him to Chichester, where he had been staying in January, 'some of the thin paper, and wrote on it a little poem called ‘St. Agnes’ Eve,’ which you will have as it is, when I have finished the blank part of the rest for you.’ " The balance of Volume II includes poems and sonnets, as well as thirteen appendixes. Appendix I: Hunt’s review of "Lamia, Isabella and Eve" first published in "The Indicator", 1820. Appendix II: "Later remarks on Keats by Leigh Hunt" was first published by Smith, Elder, and Co., London in 1844, entitled "Imagination and Fancy". He writes "Keats was born a poet... Repeated editions of him in England, France, and America, attest its triumphant survival of all obloquy; and there can be no doubt that he has taken a permanent station among British Poets, of a very high, if not thoroughly mature, description. ...the Eve of Saint Agnes still appears to me the most delightful and complete specimen of his genius..." Published by Reeves & Turner, London.
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1884. Reprinted From The Original Editions With Notes by Francis T. Palgrave. This version of "The Poetical Works of John Keats" begins with a short introduction by Francis T. Palgrave, dated August 1884, and ends with his extensive note on Keats writings. Palgrave also arranges Keats writings according to when they were published; 1817, 1818, 1820 and "Posthuma" (published after his death). He also includes "A drawing by the great and tender-souled Flaxman... to enable me to please myself by prefacing Keats with a design which is so much in harmony with his own art, in point of grandeur and of beauty." Published by MacMillan and Co., London. Reprinted in 1886, 1889, and 1892.
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1884. Given From His Own Editions and Other Authentic Sources and Collated With Many Manuscripts. Edited by Harry Buxton Forman. This volume begins with the extensive Editor’s Preface, dated December 1883. Forman writes: "The manuscripts of 'Endymoin', 'Lamia', 'The Eve of St. Agnes' and portions of 'Isabella' should be mentioned as especially important among a great mass of manuscripts which have been consulted... Hunt, in his admirable remarks upon 'The Eve of St. Agnes', points to the fainting of Porphyre at sight of Madeline as the one flaw in the poem, and apologizes for it on the score of the poet’s enfeebled state of health at the time. But I think this is rather hard on all three - poem, poet and disease. If it be so decided a fault, I fear we must acquit bodily disease of any part or lot in it, for Keats’s young people always had a way of fainting, whether conceived in his more vigorous or in his less vigorous period..." Published by Reeves & Turner, London.
The Poems of John Keats, 1885. With Prefatory Memoir. "Every year, since the death of Keats, has added to the number of those who appreciate and love his poems, and every new Edition of them has been welcomed by the Public. The present one contains all the Poems published during the young poet’s life: those in the ‘Literary Remains,’ gathered together after his death by his sympathetic editor, Lord Houghton; and several taken from papers and magazines to which Keats contributed... his short life was not a happy one, and he died without knowing that he had won the laurel of immortality." His first "volume of poems, which appeared in 1817, fell unnoticed from the press... In 1820 appeared ‘Lamia, Isabella, Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems'. It was praised, but sold slowly. Of these poems, and of ‘Endymion,’ Lord Jeffrey, in the Edinburgh Review of August, 1820, says:- ‘We had never happened to see either of these volumes till very lately, and have been exceedingly struck with the genius they display and the spirit of poetry which breathes through all their extravagances... The ‘Eve of St. Agnes’... is unequalled for the for beauty of description... His brief, hapless life - his exquisite genius - the modesty and even bitterness of his self-given epitaph - have greatly endeared him to his countrymen, and the one name they, perhaps, hold most dear amongst the names of their national poets is that of Keats." Excerpts from the introductory Prefactory Memoir, left unnamed, but most likely Frederick Warne. Published by Frederick Warne and Co., LTD. London and New York.
Keats. By Sidney Colvin, 1887. Edited by John Morley. A biography and study of Keats life and work. "Science may one day ascertain the laws of distribution and descent which govern the firths of genius, but in meantime a birth like that of Keats presents to the ordinary mind a striking instance of nature's inscrutability. If we consider the other chief poets of the time, we can commonly recognize either some strain of power in their blood or some strong inspiring influence in the scenery and traditions of their home... We know not how much of Hyperion had been written when he laid it aside in January to take up the composition of St. Agnes's Eve, that unsurpassed example — nay, must we not rather call it unequalled? — of the pure charm of coloured and romantic narrative in English verse." Published by Harper & Brothers, New York.
Life of John Keats, 1887. By William Michael Rossetti. "‘The Eve of St. Agnes’, though it assumes a narrative form, is hardly a narrative, but rather a monody of dreamy richness, a pictured and scenic presentment, which sentiment again permeates and over-rules. I rate it far above ‘Isabella’ - and indeed above all those poems of Keats, not purely lyrical, in which human or quasi-human agents bear their part, except only the ballad ‘La Belle Dame sans Merci’ and the uncompleted ‘Eve of St. Mark.’ 'Hyperion’ stands aloof in lonely majesty; but I think that, in the long run, even ‘Hyperion’ represents the genius of Keats less adequately, and past question less characteristically, than ‘The Eve of St, Agnes’... The power of ‘The Eve of St, Agnes’... lies in the delicate transfusion of sight and emotion into sound; in making pictures out of words, or turning words into pictures; of giving a visionary beauty to the closest items of description; of holding all the materials of the poem in a long-drawn suspense of music and reverie... is par excellence the poem of ‘glamour’... Perhaps no reader has ever risen from ‘The Eve of St. Agnes’ dissatisfied. After a while he can question the grounds of his satisfaction, and may possibly find them wanting; but he has only to peruse the poem again, and the same spell is upon him." Published by Walter Scott, London.
The Poetical Works of John Keats, 1888. With an Introductory Sketch by John Hogben. The Canterbury Poets. Edited by William Sharp. This volume begins with an extensive introductory sketch by John Hogben. "The impression the subject of the sketch has made on the world is, in may ways, a deep and notable one. The high value, and the Spring-freshness of his poems; the harsh treatment he received at the hand of his inferiors; the unfulfilled, yet devouring, love for the woman of his choice; the early death in a foreign land - all serve to fill the picture of his life with tenderest light and shadow. On instinctively hushes one’s voice while speaking of Keats; and it is difficult to restrain a certain enthusiasm of generosity which might easily be spent at the expense of judgment." Published by Walter Scott, London, New York.
The Poetical Works and Other Writings of John Keats, 1889. Edited with Notes and Appendices By H. Buxton Forman. Forman writes: "The manuscripts of 'Endymoin', 'Lamia', 'The Eve of St. Agnes' and portions of 'Isabella' should be mentioned as especially fruitful of various readings and canceled passages... Hunt, in his admirable remarks upon 'The Eve of St. Agnes', points to the fainting of Porphyre at sight of Madeline as the one flaw in the poem, and apologizes for it on the score of the poet’s enfeebled state of health at the time. But I think this is rather hard on all three - poem, poet and disease. If it be so decided a fault, I fear we must acquit bodily disease of any part or lot in it, for Keats’s young people always had a way of fainting, whether conceived in his more vigorous or in his less vigorous period..." Published by Reeves & Turner, London.
The Complete Poetical Works of John Keats, 1895. With Notes and Appendices by H. Buxton Forman. This 1895 edition includes a new extensive biographical sketch by Nathan Haskell Dole, and includes Forman’s notes as well as Hunt’s Reviews from 1820 and 1844. Dole writes of his earlier work "It is interesting to note that the modern worshippers of Keats, treasure with peculiar tenderness his very faults, his words quaintly misspelled, his grammatical errors, his exuberant immaturities of form and idea, his crude unconventionalities." Published by Thomas Y. Crowell Company, New York.
John Keats. A Critical Essay, 1895. By Robert Bridges. An extensive essay on the writings of John Keats. Bridges writes, "The Eve of St. Agnes... is much more powerful. It is well done throughout, and except for some expressions, criticism could only quarrel with the machinery of the story... The Eve of St. Agnes is not only a passionate tale, but it is very rich in the kind of beauty characteristic of Keats, and contains high poetry both of diction and felling: the majority of readers would not wish it different from what it is... Had Keats left us only his Odes, his rank among the poets would not be lower that it is, for they have stood apart in literature... Keats’ vocabulary, to judge by the impression that one gets from reading his poems, is rich, and his use of quite a large number of words that are not commonly found must be reckoned among the factors of his style... the very seal of his poetry, that which sets poetry above the other arts; I mean the power of concentrating all the far-reaching resources of language on one point, so that a single and apparently effortless expression rejoices the aesthetic imagination at the moment when it is most expectant and exacting, and at the same time astonishes the intellect with a new aspect of truth. This is only found in the greatest of poets, and is rare in them; and it is no doubt for the possession of this power that Keats has been often likened to Shakespeare." Privately Printed.
Poems by John Keats, 1896. Edited, and with Introduction and Notes by Arlo Bates. Bates writes "He continued in failing health through the spring, sometimes better and sometimes worse, unable to do any work beyond the revising of his last volume of poems for the press. This appears in the summer of 1820. It was called, ‘Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and Other Poems’. The fragment of ‘Hyperion’ was included at the request of the publishers. The reviews of this volume were respectful, and in many cases even enthusiastic. Jeffrey praised it in the 'Edinburgh Review', and poor Keats, in poverty, despairing and dying, began to be recognized as a man of genius." Published as part of the Atbenaeum Series, by Ginn & Company, Boston and London.
Text by Douglas M. Steiner, Copyright 2010.