'I weep for Adonaïs—he is dead!
Oh, weep for Adonaïs! 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 Adonaïs; till the Future dares
Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
An echo and a light unto eternity!'
~ 'Adonaïs: an Elegy on the Death of John Keats', by Percy Bysshe Shelley (1821). / 📚💀
On this date 197 years ago, on February 23rd, 1821, John Keats died of tuberculosis in Rome at the age of 25. Though the subject of savagely negative reviews at the time of publication, his works of poetry and posthumous letters have come to be regarded as among the most evocative, lyrical and inspired products of the English Romantic period. ✒🏰
Since I knew this particular day was approaching, I decided to go pay my respects both to him and his friend, painter Joseph Severn, who devotedly accompanied him on his last journey to Italy and nursed him until his last moments, and who is now buried beside Keats in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome. (I stopped also by the graves of my favourite Romantic poet, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and his adventurer friend Edward J. Trelawny, buried side by side in the same cemetery.)🕯🥀
Keats's tombstone has no name, as per his wishes (describing him only as 'a young english poet'), instead bearing the inscription 'Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water'; on the wall next to the tombs, however, a commemorative plaque with his name and a relief of his likeness was subsequently placed.
On the way back I visited the beautiful Keats-Shelley Memorial House in Piazza di Spagna (just beside the Spanish Steps), the rooms in which Severn and Keats sojourned until the latter's death, which today have become a museum celebrating the exponents of the Romantic movement and their literary circles, especially Shelley, Byron and Keats. 🏺🌌
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