Keats was born on October 31, 1795, in London. John Keats, born into a very humble family, his father being only a livery-stable manager. Keats was the oldest of four children, he had two brothers, George and Tom and a sister, Fanny, all of whom were very devoted to each other. (online-literature. com) Keats lived a rather torn life, especially after his father died, at this time, Keats was only eight years old.

Keats' mother remarried after his father died, but this marriage was short lived. Once the marriage was broken up, they all went to live with John's grandmother at Edmonton, which is near London. John's life did not seem to get any better after that, his mother died in 1810 or tuberculosis. After the death of John's mother, his grandmother decided to appoint two London merchants as guardians, Richard Abbey and John Rowland San dell. (poets. org) For quite some while, John Keats was quite prosperous in school.

He was educated at Clarke's School in Enfield. Here he became widely read, and introduced to the fine life of poetry, music and the theater. (Safier 556) However, his guardian, Richard Abbey, decided to take him out of school and make him an apprentice to a surgeon and apothecary. "In 1815 Keats continued his study of medicine more formally at Guy's Hospital in London.

He qualified the next year to be an apothecary, but he decided, much to his guardian's displeasure, to devote his life to poetry." (Safier 556) Keats decided that medicine was not his forte, and decided that he was going to pursue what he really loved, poetry. Keats soon became friends with the editor of The Examiner, Leigh Hunt. (Safier 556) Hunt not only put his poem 'O Solitude' in The Examiner, but also introduced him to other young Romantics, including Shelley. (online-literature. com) "Hunt also introduced Keats to a circle of literary men, including the poets Percy Bys she Shelley and William Wordsworth. The group's influence enabled Keats to see his first volume, Poems by John Keats, published in 1817.

Shelley, who was fond of Keats, had advised him to develop a more substantial body of work before publishing it. Keats, who was not as fond of Shelley, did not follow his advice." (poets. org) Although Keats struggled for a large part of his life, he still strived for perfection in his writing. Even though John was quite busy taking care of his brother town, who had contracted tuberculosis, he still managed to do some work. At this time he wrote some of his finest poetry.

Mainly working on "Hyperion,"a Miltonic blank-verse epic of the Greek creation myth. He stopped writing "Hyperion" upon the death of his brother, after completing only a small portion, but in late 1819 he returned to the piece and rewrote it as "The Fall of Hyperion" (unpublished until 1856)." (poets. org) At the same time John was busy writing and taking care of his brother, he still managed to fall in love. "In the autumn of 1818, Keats fell desperately in love with Fanny Brawn e, a pretty, vivacious young woman to whom he soon became engaged.

But by the time Keats's own poor health, poverty, and relentless devotion to poetry made an immediate marriage impossible." In January 1819, Keats actually decided to take a vacation. On this vacation he just spent a few days with some good friends on the southern coast of England. Upon returning to London, Keats was all fired up to write and get back to work. In less than nine months, from January to September, Keats produced an astonishing sequence of masterpieces: "La Belle Dame sans Merci," six great odes, "Lamia," and a group of magnificent sonnets. (Safier 557) That same autumn Keats contracted tuberculosis, and by the following February he felt that death was already upon him, referring to the present as his "posthumous existence." (poets. org) "In September of 1820, five months before his death, Keats sailed to Italy with his friend Jose hp Severn." (Motion 3) On this trip, Severn tried to get to know Keats a little better, and learn more about him, his past, and his family.

Because Keats "throughout his life, he made very few remarks about his early days, and non about his distant ancestors. Even his closest friends discovered nothing about his family, except that both his parents had died young, and left his with 'a personal soreness which the world had exacerbated.' " (Motion 3) During this trip Keats went to Rome, after declining an invitation from Shelley to join him at Pisa. Keats died here, in Rome, at the tender age of twenty-five, on February 23, 1821 and was buried in the Protestant cemetery. In Keats's "To Autumn," the speaker's experience of beauty refers back to earlier odes (the swallows recall the nightingale; the fruit recalls joy's grape; the goddess drowsing among the poppies recalls Psyche and Cupid lying in the grass), but it also recalls a wealth of earlier poems.

Most importantly, the image of Autumn winnowing and harvesting (in a sequence of odes often explicitly about creativity) recalls an earlier Keats poem in which the activity of harvesting is an explicit metaphor for artistic creation. In his sonnet "When I have fears that I may cease to be," Keats makes this connection directly. "To Autumn" takes up where the other odes leave off. Like the others, it shows Keats's speaker paying respect to a particular goddess -- in this case, the deified season of Autumn. The selection of this season implicitly takes up the other odes' themes of temporal ity, mortality, and change: Autumn in Keats's ode is a time of warmth and plenty, but it is perched on the brink of winter's desolation, as the bees enjoy "later flowers," the harvest is gathered from the fields, the lambs of spring are now "full grown," and, in the final line of the poem, the swallows gather for their winter migration.

The understated sense of inevitable loss in that final line makes it one of the most moving moments in all of poetry; it can be read as a simple, uncomplaining summation of the entire human condition. Keats's Ode to Grecian Urn If the "Ode to a Nightingale" portrays Keats's speaker's engagement with flowing love of music, the "Ode on a Grecian Urn" portrays his attempt to engage with the extreme immobility of sculpture. The Grecian urn, passed down through countless centuries to the time of the speaker's viewing, exists outside of time in the human sense -- it does not age, it does not die, and indeed it is alien to all such concepts. In the speaker's meditation, this creates an intriguing paradox for the human figures carved into the side of the urn: They are free from time, but they are simultaneously frozen in time.

They do not have to confront aging and death (their love is "for ever young"), but neither can they have experience (the youth can never kiss the maiden; the figures in the procession can never return to their homes). Keats's Ode to Melancholy is his shortest ode, it is written in a very regular form that matches its logical, argumentative thematic structure. This ode is the only ode not to be written in the first person, "Melancholy" finds the speaker admonishing or advising sufferers of melancholy in the imperative mode; presumably his advice is the result of his own hard-won experience. In many ways, "Melancholy" seeks to synthesize the language of all the previous odes -- the Greek mythology of "Indolence" and "Urn," the beautiful descriptions of nature in "Psyche" and "Nightingale," the passion of "Nightingale," and the philosophy of "Urn," all find expression in its three stanzas -- but "Melancholy" is more than simply an amalgam of the previous poems.

In it, the speaker at last explores the nature of transience and the connection of pleasure and pain in a way that lets him move beyond the insufficient aesthetic understanding of "Urn" and achieve the deeper understanding of "To Autumn." (poetry notes. com).