Even as Keats’ studied medicine, his love and passion for literature never ceased. His first leap into the world of poetry happened when he was introduced to Leigh Hunt. By 1817 Keats’ blossoming new friendship had guided him to publishing his first book, “Poems” by John Keats. The following year, Keats' published "Endymion,” a mammoth four-thousand line poem based on the Greek myth of the same name. Keats' audacious yet spirited style earned him nothing but criticism from two of England's more beloved publications, Blackwood's Magazine and the Quarterly Review.
Unfortunately, in 1819 Keats’ contracted Tuberculosis which caused a quick deterioration in his health. Under doctor counsel to be in a warmer climate, Keats’ decided after his last volume of poetry was published he would venture off to Rome to visit his long time friend and confidant, Joseph Severn. Keats’ arrived in Rome in November of that year and briefly started to feel better. However, within a month he was back in bed and it marked the start of a painful decline for this historic poet. At the young age of 26, John Keats passed away on February 23, 1821. It has been said the last moments of Keats’ life were spent hand in hand with Severn.
The love of Keats’ short life was a woman by the name of Fanny Brawne. She was his muse for several years before his death, inspiring the following poem, and a feature film of the same name…
Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art--
Not in lone splendor hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors--
No--yet still steadfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever--or else swoon to death.