To John Keats

When I first started at secondary school, most of the girls in my class at Minchenden Grammar had stuck pictures of their heroes inside their desk lids.

I wasn’t into pop singers or footballers but I was in love with John Keats.

When I was eighteen I wrote this. A few years later it was published in the poetry magazine, ‘Enigma.’

To John Keats 

At thirteen I was in love with you

Asked to read a sonnet out aloud in class, I trembled

Blushing, I stumbled over the words

When I have fears that I may cease to be

The tears standing in my eyes                                                                                                       

While other girls talked boys

I wandered the playground

and relived our conversations

dredged up from nightly dreams

At sixteen I cried for a whole week

when I discovered you were dead.

Yes, I truly believed that John Keats was a living poet!

And no, I didn’t really cry for a whole week.

 Here’s the Keats poem. It wasn’t published until 1848, twenty seven years after his death.

When I have fears

When I have fears that I may cease to be
Before my pen has glean’d my teeming brain,
Before high piled books, in charact’ry,
Hold like rich garners the full-ripen’d grain;
When I behold, upon the night’s starr’d face,
Huge cloudy symbols of a high romance,
And think that I may never live to trace
Their shadows, with the magic hand of chance;
And when I feel, fair creature of an hour,
That I shall never look upon thee more,
Never have relish in the faery power
Of unreflecting love!—then on the shore
Of the wide world I stand alone, and think
Till Love and Fame to nothingness do sink.

 

© Andrea Neidle. My Life in Poems

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