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John Keats : An apothecary , surgeon and Poet !

Kavishala LabsKavishala Labs October 13, 2021
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There is something infinitely healing in

the repeated refrains of nature-the

assurance that dawn comes after night,

and spring after winter.

—Rachel Carson

John Keats’s the famous author who has a poetic achievement in a span of a mere 6 years can only be described as astonishing.

The Journey from Medicine to Poetry

Having been born and raised in London in Oct 1795, unfortunately, while he was 8 years he had lost his father, and his mother to tuberculosis when he was 14 years. In 1815 he had begun medical training at Guy’s Hospital and despite qualifying, he never practised medicine, turning instead to writing poetry.

His very first volume of poems, which was primarily published in 1817, attracted little attention beyond the odd dismissive remark and despite including ‘On First Looking Into Chapman’s Homer’.

Whereas in the same year, when Blackwood’s Magazine has published a series of reviews denouncing what it called the ‘Cockney school’.

His Ambitions and Procrastination

In 1818 his long and ambitious Endymion fared little better critically than the 1817 volume. During 1819, the most fertile period of his life, was when he fell in love with his ‘Bright Star’ Fanny Brawne, and produced his 6 famous odes, and such great narrative poems as 'Isabella, or The Pot of Basil‘, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’, 'Hyperion‘, ‘Lamia’, and ‘La Belle Dame Sans Merci’.


On the 23rd of Feb 1821, his mother and brother Tom, fatally stricken with tuberculosis. He sailed for Italy in the hope of recovering but accidentally died.

The second half-century, at last, brought him fame and was praised by Alfred, Lord Tennyson Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Pre-Raphaelites.

Today he is considered to be one of the best-loved of all English poets.

John had trained as an apothecary and a surgeon before deciding to dedicate himself to poetry.

Professor Sharon Ruston considers how his medical background influenced his writing.

In the poem, Lamia Keats claimed that scientific knowledge ruins our sense of beauty. The more we get to know a thing the less we appreciate it:

There was an awful rainbow once in heaven:
We know her woof, her texture; she is given
In the dull catalogue of common things.

The truth behind this lies is that Keats is considered to be one of the most sensual poets. He had written mainly about bodily pain, pleasure and sexual desire. While Keats had finally decided, at last, to pursue poetry rather than a career in medicine, his scientific knowledge helped him to innovate poetry of great beauty.

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